A moment of schadenfreude, because I’m a petty, petty man

Tell me which one you like better:

Or:

Or:

Take your pick, or choose ’em all, if you want. Because they all work for me.

Congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers on winning their respective conference championships, setting up a Super Bowl that has a sneaky number of interesting-enough storylines to bring an NFL fan with no vested rooting interest along for the ride.  To wit:

  • the Cardinals’ Pinocchio-style attempt to become a real, honest-to-goodness professional football franchise right before our very eyes;
  • the Steelers’ drive to add another championship to reinforce their claim as the greatest organization in league history (or at least, the last four decades);
  • Ben Roethlisberger’s push for a second ring that would go a long way toward legitimizing him as one of the three or four best quarterbacks in the game;
  • Kurt Warner’s inexplicable push for the same;
  • Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt and assistant head coach Russ Grimm, both former Bill Cowher assistants passed over for the Steelers’ job in favor of Mike Tomlin, locking up with their ex-employer in a bitterness bowl;
  • whether or not Larry Fitzgerald can continue his supernova routine against the league’s fastest and most active defense;
  • the Pittsburgh defense’s bid to merit consideration as one of the most dominant units in recent NFL history;
  • the Arizona defense’s bid to get defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast a head coaching job somewhere, either this offseason or next;
  • the potential atomic mindfreak that could ensue when Ryan Clark’s ceaseless vendetta against receivers’ skeletal structures crosses paths with Anquan Boldin’s adamantium-infused body;
  • Santonio Holmes’ efforts to singlehandedly invert the conventional wisdom that big-play Buckeye wideouts turn into hot piles of fail once they enter the League;
  • and on and on.

Add in the fact that Whisenhunt and Tomlin appear to be quality coaches who seem unlikely to make the kind of horrendous decisions that just throw the game away, and we could have a compelling game on our hands.

And though I certainly enjoyed watching Arizona come back and smack Philly in the face on that last scoring drive, I have to offer my begrudging congratulations to the Iggles and their fans.  The bearded horror and everyone’s least favorite franchise QB brought their coterie of ne’er-do-wells within one win, one quarter — one drive, really — of a second Super Bowl trip this decade.  It was a remarkable run, and probably a more noteworthy and impressive accomplishment than any of the title-game runs (save the one that culminated in Super Bowl XXXIX, of course) where the Eagles were expected to run through the competition.  They scrapped and clawed and earned their way to everything they accomplished this year; sadly for Philly fans, though, they came up just a bit short.  But in falling to Arizona, they still showed a ton of balls.

So for one day, at least, I say to the Birds and their brethren: Like Corky St. Clair, I hate you and I hate your ass faces, but dammit, I have to respect you.  Have a good offseason, gang.  You earned it.

Also, let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King (I know, West Wing clip, boo-urns, wah wah).  No disrespect meant to the Martin King who played team tennis for The Citadel, or the Martin King who writes for the Northampton Chronicle & Echo newspaper, or the Martin King immortalized in Hoolifan, the story of one man’s career of semi-profesional soccer hooliganism, but if I had to pick one Martin King who made a significant impact in the world, it’d probably be Martin Luther King Jr.  After all, dude said this:

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where do we go from here?”, that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are 40 million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there 40 million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Enjoy your day off, those of you who get it, and if you get a second, spare a thought for a guy that smart.

Photos courtesy of Reuters, via the wonderful folks at Daylife.

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