A Day of Football
Posted Feb. 06 at 07:55 AM
I'm a "What If" guy, always have been. I'm not saying What If Rob Gronkowski had been healthy, although certainly most Patriots fans are wondering that; instead I look at individual plays here and there and wonder what would have happened if those plays had turned out differently. I still wonder what if the Vikings got an overtime possession in the championship game two years ago, or what if Ryan Longwell got a chance to kick a game-winner at the end of regulation. In some parallel universe, perhaps, those things occurred.
So what if either Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez had capped their incredible seasons by catching a Hail Mary touchdown on the Super Bowl's final play? Hernandez got his hands on it, Gronkowski was just a yard away from the thing. A slightly higher deflection, Gronkowski being a step closer to the play. Wes Welker's wondering what if he'd caught that late pass, somebody else is wondering what if they'd fallen on Ahmad Bradshaw's fumble.
On some of these questions, we know what the answer is. Different ensuing sequence of events, different outcome, different Super Bowl winner. Giants fans are sad, Patriots fans are happy, We're speculating whether the teams can make it a best two out of three in next year's Super Bowl. Instead, this is the result we got, and it's the only one there is.
On a smaller scale, What Ifs influence fantasy football, too. What if I bench slumping Roddy White one week before he catches 15 passes? What if I sit down Maurice Jones-Drew coming off a 4-TD game because his matchup seems poor? What if I trust my gut, don't trust my gut? What if I trade Jake Locker and stuff for Cam Newton in my dynasty league, and it's Locker who looks like the better fantasy quarterback 3 years from now? What if I DON'T do it, and Locker is more The Next Rick Mirer than The Next Brett Favre?
What if Welker catches that pass? Maybe the Patriots win, maybe they end up kicking a field goal and the Giants still win (only this time they'd actually celebrate the winning touchdown rather than cursing it, certainly one of the more surreal things we've seen in Super Bowl history). Or else we all spend the next few years criticizing Ahmad Bradshaw for scoring a final-minute touchdown in a Super Bowl. (I have to say though: Imagine if New England had blocked a final-second field goal attempt. That would have been argued about forEVER.)
Back to fantasy. You make the decisions that seem right to you at the time, and you live with them. Maybe a guy continues to struggle and you wish you'd benched him, maybe you bench somebody and he blows up on your bench, maybe your season is filled with wrong decisions and those are the ones you remember over the right ones. I guarantee that most Patriots fans lamenting Welker's drop today haven't spent much time thinking about Lee Evans' drop that enabled them to get to the Super Bowl in the first place. Even though they should.
You set your lineup and the game kicks off. The ball is in the air and sometimes the guy catches it and sometimes it bounces on the turf. It happens every week and every game and if you want to say What If (or even if you don't, like me), you're always going to be able to see multiple outcomes: what could have happened, what should have happened, and what happened.
Back when I traded away Cam Newton in that same dynasty league, I spent a few minutes thinking, What if he goes on to have a great season and I deeply regret the trade? The great thing is that today, I have the answer: A year later I'll be able to reacquire him if I give up yet another promising young quarterback and oh yeah Chris Johnson and a high draft pick.
In short, no matter what you do, there's another What If right around the corner. A year from now, maybe the Patriots will have an answer for their own.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Feb. 06 at 09:19 AM
Andy: Two great teams, two great coaches, two great quarterbacks, another great game. Every time they play, there seems to be one or two What if's. That's what makes football great. Thanks for giving your readers the opportunity to comment all season (and actually receive responses) and enjoy the offseason. Pitcher and catchers report shortly.
Posted by Scott Anderson | Feb. 06 at 01:37 PM
Andy: your column has been one of my faves this season, and your quick responses & input were invaluable. Of course, losing my 4th Super Bowl IN A ROW is pretty hard to handle; but at least there were no "what ifs" this time (unlike Josh Freeman's 33pts sitting on the bench in 2010). Thanks for another year of great columns! And oh yea, Peter, pitchers & catchers...a long weekend at Talking Stick Resort awaits the 2nd week in March...
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Feb. 07 at 07:26 AM
Scott: We're on opposite ends of the country. I'll be visiting some spots in the Clearwater, FL area and catching a couple games in March. Isn't spring training great? Enjoy.
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