Gumbo, cajun, catfish, katrina, jazz, saints. The aforementioned are all things about the storied city of New Orleans that we love and dislike. One thing for certain and two things for sure, the Saints, as a result of being unceremoniously dumped by the Seattle Seahawks from this year’s postseason, will not be marching west to Dallas to defend their crown in Super Bowl XLV. Sometimes things like that happen when we begin to believe our own hype and get an early start on our own personal Mardi Gras.
See I, Aubrey Bruce being of an honest nature did not give the Seahawks any sort of indirect or direct shot at upending the defending Super Bowl Champs on any field, anytime, anywhere. As a matter of fact, I already had the Atlanta Falcons or the Saints penciled in.
The only person that gave Seattle a legitimate shot at defeating the Saints was former wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson. When he picked Seattle, I personally thought that he had taken one too many hits jogging across the middle.
The Seahawks now have to travel to visit Chicago. I truly believe da Bears will not be taken by surprise as were the boys from the “big queasy.” However that being said, sometimes you can know what’s coming but can ya stop it?
The Seahawks’ wings will certainly be clipped by the Bears. Why, because Bears head coach Lovie Smith will not allow Seattle QB Matt Hassleback to throw for four touchdowns. Neither will the wind or the weather conditions at Soldier Field (Bears 21-10).
Now can we get to the real AFC North Championship? When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens playing in the “end of the world” bowl that is another story. The playbooks these teams are studying are taken straight from the “Book of Eli.” This game is going to make Armageddon appear like brunch at the ‘Golden Corral.’ Throw stats out of the window. Only a tiebreaker separated Pittsburgh from Baltimore, that is how evenly matched these teams are.
Both have graduates from ‘Thug University.” I am not alluding to their off the gridiron activities, I am talking about their on the field adventures. Steelers ex-head coach Charles Henry Noll once described certain players including his own Hall-of-Fame cornerback Mel Blount as being a part of a “criminal element” that existed in the NFL. He was not referring to their “rap” sheets but describing the nasty and vicious tactics they employed as part of their normal activity on the field. Noll also singled out another ‘Thug U’ alumnus, the late former Raiders cornerback Jack Tatum. Tatum sadly must list the paralysis of former Patriots wide receiver the late Darryl Stingley as one of his victims as well as Steelers former Hall-of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann, who he sent to la-la land during a game in which the Steelers and Raiders were rumbling.
Let’s hit FF to 2011. The Ravens and Steelers have a few players that if not for the NFL, might be featured on a few post office walls. The first two are Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Both these gentlemen seem to almost have a sort of internal “primal” scream jumping off. That would be okay in a normal sense, playing a normal game. However, that internal chaos, compounded with a sort of “manufactured” paranoia that seems to suggest to them that everything everywhere is out to get them amounts to a volatile psychosis that may at times almost be homicidal, at least for their opponents. A couple of years ago, Lewis administered a vicious hit to Rashard Mendenhall, injuring his shoulder and ending his rookie season. The Steelers makeshift offensive line had better always have an APB out on Lewis. Steelers’ fans aren’t you feeling a bit queasy?
In regards to Harrison, thank God for rule changes because of the way that he flies around. If it moves Harrison will kill it or at least attempt to. Okay, no more helmet to helmet but has anyone considered the alternative? You lower the target area six inches or more, could a well placed hit stop the heart? Steelers and Ravens nations make sure you send plenty of mint julep and pecan pie to Mr. Harrison before the upcoming match. In all of my years of observing and covering Steelers football I have never witnessed a linebacker who has competed with the guile, strength and tenacity of Mr. Harrison. He is a madman without the foam around his mouth. Steelers’ fans aren’t you feeling a bit queasy?
There are other miniature psycho’s roaming on the defensive side of the ball for both squads. This game is going to be the “war of all wars.” I agree with a few of the talking heads. Will either the Ravens or the Steelers have any juice left to face the winner of the Jets/Patriots’ matchup? Who knows? Aubrey knows (Steelers win a nail biter, 20-17).
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)