The following is a transcript of the opening of the January 17, 2020 episode of the CzabeCast Premium Podcast “Football Five Ways”. If you like what you “hear”, be sure to subscribe today!
256 regular-season contests.
11 postseason clashes.
And on Sunday, we’ll get games 9 and 10 out of 11 for the postseason. We all need to make sure to savor them as best we can.
This NFL Championship Sunday features four stories. In a league that’s really a TV show about quarterbacks, this weekend is, of course, about the quarterbacks. But it’s also about a whole lot more . . .
Game 1: Chiefs vs. Titans
On the Chiefs, we start with a young phenom in Patrick Mahomes, sidetracked by injury this year and passed in fan popularity buy a new “it girl” in Baltimore by the name of Lamar Jackson. And yet Mahomes is still as formidable, as likable and as creative as ever. He is the Steph Curry of football before Steph Curry became easily hateable.
Then you got coach Andy Reid the NFL’s lovable, almost winner. He’s not a loser. In fact, he’s a gentle formula-driven man who has won big in two cities with very little down years amongst them. He’s won with good quarterbacks and with scrubs. Veterans and young guys. And now he’s got Mahomes, the ultimate weapon.
And then there’s that sickening talent and speed all over the field — my god, especially at wide receiver. The Chiefs are like a 4 x 100 relay team, with Tyreek Hill at the anchor. Controversial still . . . unforgiven by many . . . maybe not the greatest guy but, my god, when you see him run somebody down from behind when they’re scoring a touchdown you’re like “who is that guy?” Last year, the Patriots put a dome on Hill defensively that kept him in check. This year, teams are going to have a lot more to worry about, the Titans in particular. And then there is Travis Kelce, now healthy. He’s a smoother running Gronk, a less murdering version of Aaron Hernandez in his prime, a tight-end weapon that nobody this side of George Kittle has at their disposal.
The Chiefs will be taking on Ryan Tannehill and the Titans. What a story for Tannehill. The reclamation project threw for a meer 88 yards last week . . . buuuuut . . . his day included two ball-zy as hell touchdown passes that got the Ravens rockin’ back on their heels and they never found their balance. In Tennessee, you’ve got the cagey coach in Mike Vrabel who has put his penis — yes, his penis — on the line this postseason.
Vrabel’s a disciple of loopholes, like his mentor and head coach Bill Belichick in New England and he’s got a running back in Derrick Henry who looks like he was made in Minecraft or something and imported into real life. This is a team with no named stars besides Henry and is also a team that doesn’t care about who you do, or do not know on their roster.
GAME 2: Niners vs. Packers
If that wasn’t enough, Game 2 is soooo juicy. It’s the Niners and Packers who have met multiple times in the past. It is Rodgers vs Garoppolo, two guys that had to sit and wait and watch legends in front of them, and they had to watch it end awkwardly in both cases, even though the circumstances were a lot different.
Jimmy Garoppolo has to be the most impossibly handsome quarterback to ever buckle up a helmet. He’s the guy who makes Brady, Aikman and Drew Brees look, dammit, ugly. Jimmy G is the second-rounder out of Eastern Illinois who sat behind Brady for two full years and then got pressed into duty to start the 2016 season. You remember. It was the season when Brady was told to go sit in the corner and think about what he did with those footballs. Garoppolo quickly went 2-0 out of the gate, completing 68% of his passes, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions and it was “oooohhhhhh shit” for the Towmmy-stans.
The race was now on. Brady had to get Garoppolo’s ass out of Foxborough midway through his fourth season — Jimmy’s walk year. Out of nowhere it seemed, the Patriots dumped Jimmy to San Francisco for a lone second-round pick. An unimaginably low price for a guy that had seemingly been seasoned and trained by the best and had proven he could play in this league. What a coup for the Niners. The second round pick was, of course, the same thing the Patriots had spent on Garoppolo, so they justified it as a net wash.
Then Garoppolo quickly went 5-0 as a starter out of the gate in San Francisco. My God, the sky was the limit. The future was bright. But the next season, 3 games in . . . a calamity. A blown-out knee on a long scramble. Season done and a future a bit more cloudy for Garoppolo. The rest of the Niners’ season quickly sank and they ended up with the second pick in the draft. Look who came along out of Ohio State? Nick Bosa. Oh my God.
I remember earlier this year, there were reports of Garoppolo throwing four straight picks in practice. Practice . . . we talking about practice . . . in August.
Well, nobody’s talking about that right now and here Garoppolo is on a Niners team that defensively is as nasty and as vicious as the Legion of Boom in its prime. Not as well-known . . . yet. But if they crumple the Packers and go on to win the Super Bowl, they will quickly attain that status.
And then opposing Jimmy G and the Niners is Aaron Charles Rodgers of Chico, California, by way of Cal Berkely. Rogers too famously idled behind a legend, sitting behind Brett Favre for 4 years in Green Bay until the Packers finally said we’ve got to “shit or get off the pot” with this guy ‘cause we like him a lot. The Packers essentially told Favre “aren’t you ready to retire?” Of course, Favre wasn’t and it got ugly and awkward.
Rogers got the keys to the car and jumped in and started driving it really, really fast. Rogers used his ungodly arm skills and savant-like quarterback brain to just tear the league a new asshole on a weekly basis. While Favre was the rugged gunslinger, Rogers became the thoughtful tactician. A bit moody at times, yes, but still a new hero to cheer for in Green Bay.
Rogers was the sniper who barely talked at the back of the platoon, but he could take out your eye with a Hail Mary from the other side of the 50. Holy shit, what a talent. The most epic run for Rodgers — his best football ever played — resulted in a Super Bowl win over the Steelers in Dallas, where the highlights of those throws on that day in Jerry World or amongst the most sublime works of art you’ll ever see, including some plays that make you say, “how did he throw it in there?”
But along the way, the Packers came to lean on Rogers more and more. They didn’t really think they were, but they were asking Rogers to just do that magic that he does. “Come on man, just go out there and win us the game Aaron.” The defense atrophied. The running game was an afterthought.
Now, this Packer team is so much different. Is Rogers so much less “important” — if that’ even right to say? Whether he’s less important or more important, on Sunday in this game against the Niners, there is an urgency for Rogers, no doubt. He has standards higher than we’ll ever know. He’s got a memory longer than is healthy. And you know the first game earlier this year between the Packers and Niners burns his ass. I’m pretty sure the best Aaron Rodgers possible at age 36 is coming to play on Sunday.
Folks, this is why we’ve parked ourselves on the couch for all these glorious Sundays starting in September. It’s why I passed up the best golf weather of the season for two straight months — September and October — as I watched this league. It’s why we’ve maneuvered around family obligations, holiday parties and other intrusions just to watch and soak up this glorious game.
Oh man, there is nothing like professional tackle football in America. A brutal game of attrition that is yet laced with storylines of failure and redemption. Heartbreak and glory. Where the winners write the legacies and we argue about it for months and years after the fact.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some football!!!!