Words from the Wise

All roads lead to Detroit.

By DAVID WISEMAN
January 25, 2006 04:26
2 minute read.
good ol' pigskin

USA football ball 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Super Bowl XL promises to be an interesting contest. You have a one time superpower of the NFL experiencing a modern-day renaissance, against a one time laughing stock of the sport. Seattle was once known as the wilderness of the NFL, but no longer. The once dominant San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, who dominated the NFC Championship, now have to make way for the next generation of contenders. Indeed it was a generation between playoff victories for the Seahawks. Until their victory over Washington in the divisional game their last playoff victory was in 1984. The Steelers know all about waiting a long time between victory toasts. It took Pittsburgh 42 seasons to win its initial championship. But thereafter it won three in the next five years, becoming one of the NFL's most famous dynasties. Led by Hall of Famers like Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert and Jack Ham the Steelers were simply irresistible. The only thing which could tackle them head on was time. And as age wearied them the team was brought back to the pack before being surpassed. Coach Bill Cowher came on board in 1992 and immediately took the team to the postseason in his first six years in charge. They played in Super Bowl XXX only to be flogged by the Dallas Cowboys. Since then they have been knocking on the door many times, only to be foiled, most notably by the New England Patriots. After struggling to win a postseason game under Cowher the Steelers have now won three in a row. This is in contrast to the Seahawks who won both of their postseason matches quite comfortably at home. Success in the NFL, like all other sports, is built on momentum. When the Steelers lost three in a row to slide to 7-5 it was assumed that they had lost it. But aided by an advantageous schedule they recaptured their good form and have since won seven games straight. Even though they defeated the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds on their way to the Super Bowl, the Steelers will be pleased that the Patriots were taken care of for them. But with the confidence they are playing with who would have bet against them beating New England? Just like baseball's Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox before them, the Seahawks are demonstrating that a tragic past should not be a factor in preventing current success. They have been the most settled team in the NFL this year and if they were wearing different uniforms the pundits would be more excited about them. Except that the Seahawks are still the Seahawks and while they are having their moment in the sun, it will take years of consistent success before they lose the reputation they spent 30 years cultivating. Wonder what Lindsay Davenport will be making of her reputation at the moment. She would not have had too many more disappointing losses than Wednesday's defeat by Justine Henin-Hardenne in the quarter finals of the Australian Open. For a player with all the talent of Davenport she has just three major titles to her name with the last coming in 2000. The American lost the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals last year, both times winning the first set before losing in three. Often overshadowed by the Williams sisters and the Belgian duo of Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, Davenport let a golden chance slip through her grasp. dwisemanaway@hotmail.com

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