Sports Comments: Winning is all that matters, History and QB's, Hockey goalies, Super Bowl XL

-It's all about winning. Once upon a time, sports was viewed as an integral component of what made up a renaissance man; a gentleman in the Victorian age. It was more important to shake a hand and lose graciously than to win by cheating or at all costs. Slowly, the philosophy (or idea anyway) of amateur sports helping to form men of integrity and high morals gave way to the professional ethic. No, this did not happen recently but rather early in the 20th century. It only reached the levels we are accustomed to late in the century. Things take time, you know.

Anyway, here's the trade-off: better athletes with more money who operate in a sports business environment that cares little for the 'spirit' or 'essence' of the sport. All rivalries are superficially created, whereas before it was athletes with no financial security who played for love of sport and hatred of opponent. That's why we romanticize the earlier decades as 'golden.'

-We've all heard the saying "history judges the quarterbacks who win a title." Just like history gets to be written by the winner in a war. This is true but not necessarily right. Many great nations have lost critical wars. Some wars are won by the slightest of margins that is usually determined by intangible factors not thought of by military 'geniuses.' Like nature, for instance. Outside factors do have an impact.

Dan Marino is the latest sad sack figure among football fans. The King of 'Never won the big one' syndrome. 'Great regular season figures but he never won.' Some people disregard stats and go straight to the heart of the matter: did he win or not? I thought there was no 'I' in team. While there is some merit to these arguments, they are rather shortsighted to me.

Is Marino (or Dan Fouts, Fran Tarkenton and to a lesser extent, Jim Kelley and Warren Moon) to be judged less favorably than lesser QB's (and there many) who have won? Jim Plunkett, Mark Rypien, Doug Williams, Brad Johnson, Jeff Hostetler and Trent Dilfer have all won super bowls, yet we are to somehow believe by this virtue that they stand ahead of Marino? One could argue that people will remember Plunkett over Marino because he won. Baloney. The fact is that Marino is far superior than many QB's who have won the SB. It's not his fault the Dolphins weren't good enough. There are limits to what a person can do and I somehow doubt lesser QB's made their teams better.

-Interestingly, hockey goalies suffer the same type of nonsense. 'He's great but he's never won anything.' One such goalie is Curtis Joseph. I can barely recall a goalie that stood more on his head for bad playoff teams than he. Time and again in St.Louis and Edmonton he made saves that only a hockey immortal can pull off. Yet, those teams were not good enough to make him a winner. Furthermore, in 2003 Joseph allowed only 10 goals in 4 games for Detroit, while his teammates popped six behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Joseph was absurdly made the scapegoat for the loss. Does the same fate await great young goalies like Roberto Luongo? FYI: The rate of great goalies winning the Stanley Cup is higher than great QB's winning a Super Bowl. The same goes for all sorts of great players in different sports: Barry Bonds, John Stockton and Karl Malone, Marcel Dionne etc.

-Just want to comment on the officiating during Super Bowl XL. Let me first say that Seattle lost the game on their own. Pittsburgh, while not doing anything that forced Seattle to make mental errors, still made the plays when they had to. End of story. Sports is driven by results. However, bad officiating is a momentum killer. Seattle had some calls go against them that were hard to overcome.

It's not the first time we see this sort of thing. Buffalo Sabres fans will recall Brett Hull's 'toe in the crease' infraction that was overlooked. What was interesting about that non-call was the fact that all year long the referees called that infraction with consistent fervor then suddenly they ignored it. During the 2002 World Cup in soccer, the third-rate officiating was an absolute disgrace. There should be an asterisk next to that one. Anyway, these are just two tiny examples among many that have happened. Everyone has a memory of one. Seattle did get the shaft, but hey, join the club.

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