Monday, February 7, 2011

Hat, Packers! (Long live the small markets ...)

These are two great teams who competed yesterday in Dallas in the Super Bowl removing, which kept us on the edge of our seats until the end. Two major organizations, too, which are models of success in professional sports.
On the one hand, the Green Bay Packers, a legendary club, owned by 112,000 shareholders, all fans of the team. A club that publicly disclose its financial results each year, except in the hermetic world of the super league. A club established in the smallest market of the circuit, but which has supporters all over America.
On the other, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a club with tradition as unique, used matches the Super Bowl, and led by just three different coaches over the past 42 years. (To illustrate how this is an anomaly, I recall that 17 men were followed behind the Canadiens bench during the same period!)
In American society, the Steelers can also boast of a rare: they have been involved in social change. It was under their leadership that the NFL has required its teams to interview African-American candidate when seeking a new coach. This simple gesture opened the door to men who believed, however, double-locked.
Between the Packers and Steelers, it was not easy to make a sentimental choice yesterday. Their philosophy is to light years of the organizations most arrogant of the NFL. Besides, what nice irony that their dramatic confrontation was presented yesterday at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Ultimately, the Steelers have not established a new chapter in the history of the Super Bowl. They could become the first team to win the match after trailing by 10 points or more at halftime. After the injury to Charles Woodson shortly before halftime, though I would bet on their chances. Without their number 21, the Packers have the same bite in defense. And Ben Roethlisberger came close to enjoy them.
"Big Ben" has enjoyed a splendid opportunity to earn a spot in the pantheon of great players. A rebound with two minutes remaining in the game, would have won a third Super Bowl title and a record of 11 wins and two losses in playoff games. But it was not. The Packers reached far from their ultimate energy reserves to halt the attack of the Steelers.
The oldest law of football made the difference. Avoiding turnovers is key to success ... and the Steelers have been incapable. The Packers scored 21 points after two passes intercepted and one fumble. Recover from such errors is too great a challenge.
Named MVP of the game, Aaron Rodgers deserves this honor. This young man has traveled a remarkable journey since he was selected heir to Brett Favre, a role that required nerves of steel. Succeeding a legend is not for everyone. But Rodgers, well supported by his coaches, has remained focused on its objectives. It grew each season until the coronation yesterday. Impressive.
After the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell was proud to say that the Vince Lombardi trophy went home. It would have been entitled to add how much this victory demonstrated the quality of the organizational model of the NFL.
The small town of Green Bay, lost in the Midwest, this morning finds himself champion of the Super Bowl. It trumps in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston ... All because revenue sharing is a way of life in the NFL since the days of Pete Rozelle. Equality of opportunity is not only a myth but a reality.
Goodell had reason to smile on the podium. But starting today, it faces the greatest challenge of his career: to conclude before March 4 next a new collective agreement with the Players Association. The two sides discussed on Saturday for the first time since November, but a gigantic task still lies ahead.
In fact, the challenge is Goodell tougher than the one Ben Roethlisberger has stumbled with two minutes remaining in the game yesterday! Wish the Commissioner more success with his own two-minute drill.

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