Saturday marks the start of the NFL playoffs. I love the euphoric atmosphere of wildcard weekend, where the hopes of eight pro teams and their undying fans hinge on two fast and furious days of gridiron action. It takes me back to my childhood where I learned the game from my dad as we sat together on a couch munching on Fritos and bean dip during many exciting contests, cheering for the hometown Los Angeles Rams, of course. Ah, the 70s.
And it gets me thinking. What if Governor Sarah Palin were a quarterback, the midterms were the regular season, and the presidential election represented the playoffs? Would she be voted MVP this year? Will she lead her team all the way to the Super Bowl and knock out the reigning champion in the process?
To assess her chances we should rightly evaluate her record in the just completed “fall season” and the momentum her team carries into the “playoffs” … Isn’t that the way it works in the world of sports?
Indeed, “QB Palin” helped lead “Team GOP” back from a devastating ’08 season, roaring to a net 80-“game” improvement (69 house and senate seats, 11 governorships), a turnaround not seen since FDR donned a leather helmet on television. No doubt the GOP was aided by some astute draft picks, including a few late-round gems who blossomed under Palin’s encouragement.
If we include her uncanny accuracy in the “preseason” primaries, QB Palin completed an eye-popping 72% of her passes last fall. Sure, some of those passes were to wide-open receivers against inferior defenses. Other times she slung the rock bravely into triple coverage against Pro Bowl competitors. Her aim may have faltered at times, but a QB can only do so much. No doubt the completion percentage and win total would have been higher if teammates had always held on to the ball or managed to break a few tackles.
Moreover, who can forget the failures of “offensive linemen” Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer, who inexplicably stopped blocking on a few pass plays, letting both the QB and receiver get creamed!
Or the costly excessive celebration and holding penalities committed by rookie tight end Joe Miller.
While we’re at it, let’s mention benched starter Mike Castle, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct from the sidelines against his own team, giving away valuable yardage in crunch time.
Yes, in the end, there was the gut-wrenching home loss in Alaska where seeming victory was overturned by “replay.” And there were sobering 17-point and five-point losses on the road in Delaware and Nevada, where Team GOP hadn’t won since 1974 and 1986 respectively.
All in all, though, QB Palin performed exceptionally well this fall leading some to call her the MVP of the league. It’s tough to say for certain, however, since no major newspapers tracked the “passing statistics” of her competitors. We’ll likely never know how many interceptions Mitt “the Medical Mandate” Romney threw in 2010. Little was written about his embarrassing fumble on a handoff to billionaire running back, “e-Adios” Whitman, in California that turned the ball and the game over to the Jerry Browns.
And Mike “The Spoiler” Huckabee certainly lived up to his reputation throwing bafflling interceptions and suffering losses in Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois. Nobody seemed to notice those defeats, we must add, as the games weren’t televised.
One thing’s for sure. QB Palin can fill up the stadiums and sell jerseys, if the 2.5 million Facebook fans and two best-selling books are any indication. And the Vegas “oddsmakers” rank her chances of making the Super Bowl as about equal with QB Romney and far ahead of QB Huckabee. Not bad for the surprising draft pick who backed up the surly veteran John McCain for two tumultuous months in 2008.
Still, games are won and lost on the field. That’s why we’ll keep ignoring the TV pundits who trash QB Palin, saying she is more suited to playing cheerleader than team captain.
Palin has proven she can get under the skin of opponents, and has the arm to throw for distance and accuracy. She also knows how to scramble under pressure. Pundits claim that while QB Palin may advance, even far into the playoffs, she’ll never win a Super Bowl.
“Can’t win a Super Bowl.”
Now, where have we heard that before?
Oh yeah, isn’t that what people said about the New Orleans Saints last year?
That’s the great thing about sports. It has a tendency to make fools out of so-called experts, and experts out of so-called fools. It’s a lot like politics, that way.
And on that note, please pass the bean dip. Go Rams Eagles!