We all know how it works at this point, right? Everything in life can be labeled one of two ways: Good for Ball or Bad for Ball. Everything.
Example: Checked out “Empire” on Fox yet? Do. You’ll end up in one of two camps, and both will keep you engaged. The Good for Ballers will be riveted because it’s a great show, led by a perfectly cast Terrence Howard as the dying patriarch-mogul, deliciously named Lucious Lyon. The Bad for Ballers will stick with it because they find characters such as Lucious and his just-out-of-the-’pen-and-vindictive-as-hell ex, Cookie (of COURSE her name is Cookie), so utterly and ridiculously over the top that it’s impossible to change the channel.
For the purposes of this column, we stick to sports, but seriously … peep that show. Or Lucious will have Cookie make their thug-rapper bad boy of a son do, like, evil shizz to y’all. Ya herrrd? Away we go …
– I get paid to write stuff like the previous three ’graphs — in a sports column! — and my boss seems to like it when I take things right to that edge. Good for Ball.
– There’s a culture of fearlessness at The San Francisco Examiner, a willingness to encourage voice and honesty and unreserved opinion. Sadly, that’s not given at many media outlets. Bad for Ball.
– Also no given: Marshawn Lynch scoring from the half-yard line Sunday. Or so say the miniscule minority of so-called experts defending the dumbest play call in Super Bowl history. The same people say the coaching book in that situation calls for a pass, to ensure the availability of a fourth down. Tell you what: You can take that book and put it in the same general region of those experts’ anatomy up which “Beast Mode” would have shoved the football for the New England Patriots on either second or third down, rendering fourth down moot. Some people just can’t resist the attention that comes with being contrarian, even at the risk of credibility. Bad for Ball.
– Moments before the dumbest play call in Super Bowl history, we saw the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. Sure, David Tyree’s helmet piece was a stunning physical feat. Santonio Holmes’ toe-dragger was about as dramatic as they come. Lynn Swann’s masterpiece in concentration deserves at least a mention, too. But Jermaine Kearse’s five-touch freak show combined the best of the aforementioned elements times, oh, about a billion. Good for Ball.
– Moments after the dumbest play call in history, we saw the dumbest penalty in Super Bowl history. Tom Brady couldn’t take a knee there. He HAD to try a dive, and while the rules dictate that his mere attempt at forward progress ensures no LOSS of yardage, the Seahawks still had a slimmest of hopes to force a fumble or have something similarly insane unfold. The way that game was going, who knows? Alas, we never will. The Seattle Seahawks flinched. Game essentially over. Unreal. Bad for Ball.
– Moments after the dumbest penalty in Super Bowl history, we saw the greatest brawl in Super Bowl history. Classless of Seattle to start it, of course, but this is the same team that brings us Richard Sherman routinely living down to the short version of his first name, and fellow Stanford product Doug Baldwin mimicking what he and Sherman routinely do to Stanford’s reputation for trafficking only in the brightest of the bright. The Seahawks starting a brawl there was practically a given. Humiliation, frustration and idiocy are a toxic brew. But the brawl was a doozy, wasn’t it? And any time you get to see a lunkhead like Gronk throwing hands with vicious but almost gleeful impunity, it serves as a reminder that for all its many faults, football quenches for us a primal, subconscious thirst for occasional flashes of unadulterated, unchecked mayhem. Good for Ball.
– And finally, moments after the greatest game in Super Bowl history, Brady was presented his third MVP award, officially sparking the Tom-vs.-Joe debate that will rage ad infinitum. You know where I’m going with this, right? Wrong. I just want to know why Brady wasn’t presented said award by the greatest award presenter in sport history, period. Turns out the technology and stuff guy was busy boozin’ it up with Lucious, Cookie and Robert Kraft. Bad for Ball!
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).