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The NFL tried to prolong the 2021 season for as long as it could, but the inevitable has finally happened: the greatest football season I’ve experienced as a fan is over. It finished with a storybook ending for the approximately 360 people that make up the Los Angeles Rams: 53 players, 21 coaches, 276 employees and 10 fans.
Today is Feb. 10, which normally marks a sad time in the lives of people who spend way too much time watching football. Normally, the Super Bowl takes place during the first week of February, which leaves us scrambling to develop friendships, hobbies and goals to pass the time until Week 1 finally rolls around in September.
Filling out a perfect bracket in March Madness is practically impossible. It requires picking 65 consecutive games correctly, many of which are toss-ups and many of which end in massive upsets. It has never been done before, and it may never be done.
In last week’s column, I promised a Divisional Round weekend full of exciting matchups, “perhaps even a classic Divisional Round moment like the Minneapolis Miracle, the Vernon Davis catch, or the Joe Flacco Hail Mary.”
As the loyal readers of this column may know, my name is Baily Deeter, and I am a senior here at Dartmouth. I was born on March 27, 2000, making me 21 years old. I am old enough to vote, buy a lottery ticket and drink alcohol legally (although I’m still not able to rent a car).
It’s been two years since I wrote my first edition of “From the Bleachers” about a changing of the guard in the NFL during the 2020 playoffs.
A few weeks ago, I sat in the stacks of the Dartmouth library, scrolling aimlessly through YouTube videos in hopes of finding anything remotely interesting to prevent me from having to write my three discussion posts. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a video chronicling the 2007 college football season, the “craziest college football season of all time” and the “year of the upset.” The University of Michigan lost to Appalachian State University. No. 1 University of Southern California lost to Stanford University, a 41-point home favorite. The University of South Florida was ranked No. 2 overall at one point. Harvard University won the Ivy League championship. It was all chaos.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the highly anticipated Giants vs. Dodgers winner-take-all Game 5 was the most crucial game of the MLB season. With 107 and 106 regular-season wins, respectively, San Francisco and Los Angeles had been battling all season for NL West supremacy. So surely the series winner, having overcome its most formidable obstacle, would coast to the World Series.
In 1951, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers played a best-of-three series to determine the winner of the National League pennant. In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3, New York’s Bobby Thomson hit what will forever be known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” a three-run home run to give the Giants a miraculous 5-4 victory.
It’s been more than four months since I last wrote, and much has changed since then in the sports world. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA champion. Russell Westbrook is a Los Angeles Laker. The San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball. I’m in the weight room one to three days per week training for intramural flag football and basketball. Needless to say, there is a lot going on.
Seven months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers summited the NBA mountaintop, capturing LeBron James’ fourth championship in a triumph over the Miami Heat. Now, with the 2021 NBA playoffs about to begin, new contenders have emerged, and the Lakers find themselves in a far more precarious position.
The most important position in professional sports is quarterback, and this weekend’s NFL draft proved just how important the coveted position is. In one of the most exciting drafts in recent memory, quarterbacks were chosen with the first three picks, giving many new organizations hope that their savior has arrived.
Since my last column, not much has changed outside of a couple of injuries in the NBA and Hideki Matsuyama’s triumph in the 2021 Masters. But we’ll get to the NBA much more in the next few weeks, and I don’t feel like talking about golf until I can consistently hit my driver more than 100 yards; maybe in a few years I’ll write about the PGA Tour.
The sports world looks very different since I wrote my last column in mid-November. As vaccination rollout continues across the country, fans begin to file back into seats, and the world inches toward normalcy, we’ve been able to enjoy a spectacular few weeks in the sports world. Last year, COVID-19 hit just as March Madness was about to begin, forcing the cancellation of the 2020 tournament and depriving us of buzzer-beaters and Cinderella stories. Fortunately, the 2021 tournament has provided two years worth of excitement.
I tried to drag the NBA season on as long as possible, but now that we’re four weeks removed from LeBron James’ fourth ring, I think it’s time we move on to a new league (and a new superstar athlete). So let’s talk football.
With the NFL season in full swing, it’s about time for sports fans to turn their attention to the gridiron for the next few months. That being said, my LeBron James fandom still has me fired up about the NBA after a thrilling couple of months in the bubble. So, before I turn my attention to the NFL for the next few months of this column, I’m going to pay homage to a great NBA season and preview what should be an even better one next year.
In 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship with Shaquille O’Neal as Finals MVP. In 2010, the Lakers won an NBA championship with Kobe Bryant as Finals MVP. In 2020, the Lakers emerged victorious once again, with a new face of the franchise taking home the hardware.
We might have expected to see the Los Angeles Lakers clash with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in 2011, when Kobe Bryant and LeBron James would have led their respective squads into battle. In 2020? Not so much.
In this year of the unexpected, at least basketball fans can expect a familiar sight: LeBron James competing for an NBA championship.
As the months drone on without live sporting events and the NFL draft fades further in the rearview mirror, sports fans continue to get by with a steady diet of watching old games and taking NFL Sporcle quizzes. Or maybe that’s just me. Regardless, pickings are slim.