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On Sunday evening, Super Bowl 53 will be played between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Sports bars, restaurants, dives, lounges, and other places of public gathering will be bubbling with party-goers. As will the various homes and other private establishments of those who prefer a less public atmosphere. .
Different people have their own preferences about how they choose to consume and remember different Super Bowls. Some are marked by bets made and money won. Some are looked upon fondly because your team won, or you spent it with people having an amazing party. Here's how I remember some past Super Bowls:
Super Bowl 31 (1997)
1997's Super Bowl was a first and a last for me
Taking place on January 26, 1997, Super Bowl 31 saw the Packers beat the Patriots 35-21. It was the first time the game was held in my hometown and I was old enough to enjoy some of the sites and sounds. Imagine being a 16-year old living in New Orleans, and your teacher takes your English class on a field trip to see a play in The French Quarter, then cutting your class loose for hours to roam freely. It was also the last time I got to enjoy it with my little brother who was murdered a few weeks later. To this day, I've never been the same and have had a love/hate relationship with this time of year.
Super Bowl 38 (2004)
When "wardrobe malfunction" entered the lexicon
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
On February 1, 2004, we were treated to a great game and learned a new phrase. The Patriots beat the Panthers on a field goal with four seconds left in the game. During the halftime show, technically after the game and the next day, we learned about the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" when Justin Timberlake pulled on Janet Jackson's top revealing her bare boob complete with ornate nipple ring on live broadcast television. My 10 month old son was almost dropped due to my shock and awe reaction. This was also the start of our family tradition of watching the game at our own home.
Super Bowl 44 (2010)
Brees' son, Baylen, was fascinated with confetti
Bill Feig/The Advocate
I'll never forget February 7, 2010 as long as I'm of sound body and mind. The Saints beat the Colts 31-17. The team I grew up watching and rooting for my whole life, the team that had caused me so much grief and pain, they had finally topped the football mountain. I took a road trip with my friend Geno to New Orleans to watch the game with my family. Because we also saw the Manning boys grow up and play football nearby, my maternal grandmother felt the need to troll the family by wearing Colts gear. When Tracy Porter caught the pick six to seal the game, I took my jersey off, ran outside and danced in the street and on top of my truck. Turns out it was the last Super Bowl I watched with my maternal grandmother as she passed away a few years later. My wife later told me my son was so upset at how the game was going, that they took him to watch a movie at halftime. Wonder where he gets that from?
There are plenty of good memories, and bad ones that surround Super Bowls. I shared some of mine here today that were pretty near and dear to my heart. As hard as it may be sometimes, I like being vulnerable to you guys. One of my favorite recent memories was last year being able to write a column on Super Bowl 52 for this website. I look forward to doing the same thing this year. Go out this weekend and create some memories this Super Bowl Sunday.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.