I am not, as it were, a sports "fan" in any legitimate meaning of the word. While I played numerous sports in my youth – softball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse – I cannot now say I follow any sport closely. Casual fandom is probably a stretch, even though I maintain that watching a bit of rugby or soccer is usually enjoyable. And I do love a live baseball game from time to time. All of these factors make it all the more interesting that my fiancé and I were a season ticket-holders for UConn Football up until very recently.
No one would accuse me of being a football fan in particular, unless you're talking about the type played with a round ball. I’m not even a UConn fan (though I will forever appreciate the denizens of Horse Barn Hill because I am a Connecticuttian). I am not even an alumna of UConn, though as I am from CT, about half my social circle is. And yet, there we were: ticket holders. And I have gotten really good at not necessarily faking my fandom, but nailing down the tailgating like a bloody professional. Because, let's be honest here, I am an enthusiast not of any sporting activity, but of eating and drinking outdoors with purpose. And with minimal effort, you, too, can take your weekend sports outings to tailgating success!
The “fetch” to our Gretchen Wieners as sports fans, for years we never thought we were going to make professional soccer happen in the United States. But with The United States Women’s National Team’s trouncing of Japan in the World Cup, have we finally come around to professional footy as a nation?
Every few years – World Cup time, typically – think pieces like this one rush out from media outlets as disparate CNN.com and ReturnofKings.com (ugh), pushing opinions on whether or not professional soccer will ever achieve “real” success in the United States. The overarching opinion seems to remain that Major League Soccer will never really get *there*. In fact, most commentators and opinion hurlers seem to think that the widespread love for MLS is a pipedream fostered by hordes of former fullbacks with desk jobs and nostalgia streaks a mile wide. And while I can’t disagree that MLS will probably never achieve NBA or NFL levels of commercial success, I do think the tide is changing.
The storylines in play at this season's Super Bowl seem endless. They go from stupid and overblown (deflategate) to historic (New England Head Coach Bill Belichick going for a record-tying fourth title). One of my favorites though is the match-up of quarterbacks. On one side you have Tom Brady, the 37 year-old veteran playing in his sixth Super Bowl; and on the other side you have Russell Wilson, the third-year player and defending champion. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, and it often takes a great quarterback to become a champion. Everyone has a list of their top Super Bowl QBs, so I decided to take a crack at it myself:
#1. Tom Brady
Yes, I am biased. Yes, I am a New England Patriots fan. In this case, however, I think I have a pretty strong argument. This is his aforementioned sixth time playing in the big game, winning three times before. The other two times, the Pats lost late in the fourth quarter. He is a few breaks away from winning all five. He has won two game MVPs and now is the all-time leader in postseason touchdown passes. You can make an argument for other players, but it's tough to knock the credentials of Brady.
#2. Joe Montana
While I have Brady slightly ahead, most other people place Joe Montana at the top of their lists, and with good reason. Montana played in and won all four times he appeared in the Super Bowl. He was game MVP three of those times, and in the only game he didn't win MVP, he led the 49ers on a last minute drive to win the game.
#1 (Maybe ever). Odell Beckham Jr. vs. the Cowboys
Wow. The catch that Odell Beckham made in their Week 12 game vs. the Cowboys on Sunday night was one of the those plays that transcends sports and has been described as one of the best plays in sports history, not just football. LeBron James took notice. So did Mike Trout. As did fellow wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin. Get ready to see replays of the catch, because it will be shown for years to come.
#2. Rob Gronkowski vs. the Broncos
Prior to Beckham's catch, the best one-handed grab of the year belonged to Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. Against the Denver Broncos in Week 10, Gronk snagged ball out of the air with his left hand and was nearly able to find his way into the end zone (one play later, he caught a touchdown pass). In the weeks since the catch, Tom Brady has said that it was the greatest catch he had ever seen on one of his passes. Randy Moss disagreed.
In honor of TicketNetwork.com 7th Anniversary celebration this week, we are talking about all things "7". We are giving away a gift card for $777, giving customers the chances to save 7% off of their next order of $200 or more (use the code "TN7Years" if you're interested), as well as having 7 days of silly giveaways on our Facebook page. Today, I've decided to post my choices of the best sports stars to ever wear the number 7 on their jerseys. In honor of George Costanza, we kink off the list with "The Mick":
From 1957 to 1968, Mickey Mantle was arguably the best player in the game of baseball. Mantle was an All-Star 20 times (MLB used to have two All-Star games per year), was the league MVP three times, and helped lead the Yankees to seven World Series titles over his career. His #7 is retired by the Yankees and he was a first ballot hall-of-famer in 1974. All of those accomplishments led to George Constanza to want to name his first child Seven, which is perhaps Mantle's greatest honor.