Super Bowl lessons for America

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Russell Wilson delivered.

It might have been an interesting game – if the Denver Broncos had bothered to show up.

Instead, it was all over from that first Denver snap when Peyton Manning – Peyton Manning! – blew it for a two-point touchback.

The Seattle Seahawks played superbly and no one should have been surprised at their win. Best defense has trumped best offense now in a ration of four to one in every Super Bowl where they clashed over the past 36 years, back to 1978.

But at least those were real games.

Did someone lace the Broncos’ Gatorade with Dramamine?

Can America now at last give the Seahawks the respect they’ve deserved for at least two seasons now?

This is a truly great team, and the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is a home from home for them. In their last two appearances there, including this one, they have wiped out teams quarterbacked by the two Manning brothers with a combined three Super Bowl victories between them and held them to a total of eight points (all only scored in the closing section of tonight’s game when it was all over anyway).

The NFL is designed to be unpredictable and volatile, but even allowing for that, the Seahawks are now hot favorites to repeat or three-peat this year’s march to triumph. This is a team as supreme as the Joe Montana-Steve Young 49-ers, the Tom Brady Patriots or the gold standard of them all, the Troy Aikman-Michael Irvin-Emmitt Smith Cowboys in their heydays.

The Seahawks have also done America a major service. They have shown it a way to grow up and finally get past its hopeless addiction to feel good “narratives.”

Not this time. First play for Peyton was not a good omen. (Screen shot)
Not this time. First play for Peyton was not a good omen. (Screen shot)

Peyton Manning’s 2013 season was one of the brightest jewels in the storied history of the NFL and it will always shine. However, heroes don’t always bring home the bacon and the miracle, whatever the Disney movies say, so get over it, America.

Damon Runyon got it right: In the NFL, as in war, business and life in in general, the race may not always be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s still the way to bet.

The Broncos were always a one-man show. Peyton was so good, so miraculous and so charismatic, that he lifted the game of everyone else on the roster. But the Seahawks are a superbly assembled, led and coached team.
They teem with excellence.

It was always clear that the Seahawks’ outstanding defense was going to shut down the Broncos’ passing game. Runyon would have grasped that at once. The game therefore was going to hinge on the ground running game in both directions, and the Seahawks won that on both offense and defense hands down.

For every American football fan under the emotional age of six, this will have been a downer of a Super Bowl, a night to forget, never one to remember. But for those of a more adult turn of mind, there are deep satisfactions to be drawn from this blow-out, and none of them reflect negatively in any way on Peyton, a class act in adversity even more than he has been through so many triumphs.

Fairy tales are usually false and always absurd, misleadingly simplistic even when they come true. Professionalism and excellence ought to matter, ought to win. No single, childish charismatic hero is going to always turn up and play Superman. Tough, macho, unsexy teams and players who don’t smile on demand and turn out the appropriately bland sound-bite will often have the answers the American people truly need but never want.

Grown-ups won Super Bowl XLVIII. Get used to it, America.