Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Greatness of Coming in Second

This week the playoffs get serious. Six of the teams are fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity to eventually lose to the Patriots, while one team, Jacksonville, gets the honor of playing that role this Saturday.

If you ask me, second place gets a bad rap. Some might say it is a terrible attitude to desire to be anything less than first place. I prefer to call it “expectation-adjustment.” Look forward to coming in second, then when you achieve it, you’ll feel like a winner. Even if the rest of the world calls you a loser, it’s what is on the inside that counts.

Sure, first place gets you all the fame, fortune and endorsement deals. But by coming in second, you don’t have to deal with all the burdens of fame and wealth. Like Biggie said, “Mo money, mo problems, … hey was that a firecracker?!” Nobody ever tried to kill Young MC.

So this week, I wish to pay tribute to all the teams vying to be runner up to the Patriots. I also wish to pay homage to some other great second place finishers. It’s easy to honor the winners but since most of us have never won anything, don’t we all relate a little bit more to these lovable runner-ups.

The Chico Bail Bonds Bears
Perhaps the greatest runner-ups in movie history. They inspired young kids in the ‘70s to look up to beer swilling pitchers. And one of those little kids grew up to be David Wells.

The Buffalo Bills
Talk about driving home the point. Four consecutive second place finishes make them the ultimate runner-ups. But seriously, one player and one play makes them great. Don Beebe running down Leon Lett when the game was hopelessly out of hand. That’s what make a great second place finisher, the guy willing to hustle to maintain a little bit of pride.

Wile E Coyote
Perseverance makes Wile great. He knows he is not fast enough. He knows ACME is the worst supplier of ammunition in the world. And he knows, even if he caught the road runner, he couldn’t eat him because his doctor put him on a low-cholesterol diet.

The only horse in the history of racing to finish second in all three Triple Crown races. He would grow to bigger fame as the symbol for Alydar Glue Products.

Apollo Creed
Let’s face it, he really lost the first fight with Rocky too. But the man had style and grace and was the only one who could pull off wearing those trunks.

Buzz Aldrin
“Um.. okay what do I say when I step on the moon? Nothing? But people will expect to hear something from the second guy on the moon. You have to cut to commercial when it’s my turn? What the hell!”

I went a respectable 2-1-1 last week so you might not want to discount my advice completely…only partially.

Seattle +8.5 at Green Bay
To paraphrase Matt Hasselbeck, “I’ll take this bet and I am going to cash it!” He took a lot of grief for making the bold “we are going to score” comment the last time these two played in the playoffs. But honestly, would you rather he say “We are going to take the ball, and really give it the old college try to score but we may not and that’s okay because you guys are really good and, oh look at the time, my sister-in-law’s show is on and that Joy Behar cracks me up.”

Jacksonville +13.5 at New England
I call this the “breaking 100” game. When a guy goes bowling with his friends, he at least wants to “break a 100” so he looks somewhat respectable. There is no chance for Jacksonville to actually win this game outright, but with their running game and defense, they should be able to make it respectable. And when it comes to playing the Patriots, isn’t that what any team wants to do.

San Diego at Indianapolis –9
The last time these teams played, Peyton threw something like 22 interceptions and the Colts still should have won. So, all Peyton has to do is keep the INTs down to single digits and they’ll win. Basically, play like Eli.

NY Giants +7.5 at Dallas
This Jessica Simpson jinx thing is getting out of control. No one on the Cowboys seriously believes it. But not to take changes Jerry Jones this week tried to set up Eli Manning with Britney Spears. Between the bad luck those two possess, their union could swallow the planet in a black hole.

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