Monday, February 8, 2010

Game 44: Barack Obama vs. Super Bowl XLIV

  There was some pre-game debate about how this one was going to work. Would we compare Barack Obama against the whole Super Bowl XLIV, or only the game's first quarter? Obama has just reached the first quarter of his four-year term, after all. Is it fair to judge him against a Super Bowl that played out to the end, so everyone knows how it turned out?

  Well, yes. That's what a Super Bowl is. Four quarters of football. If you'd judged Super Bowl XLIV by its first quarter, it would have been a bit premature: the Colts won the quarter, 10-0, the Saints couldn't get a thing done against an unbending Indianapolis defense, and the game didn't seem exciting or surprising at all.

    In the second quarter, the Saints started to find their groove. They ran 26 offensive plays, compared to 6 for the Colts. They couldn't reach the end zone yet, but kicker Garrett Hartley drilled two field goals, and the New Orleans defense held the Colts scoreless, to make it 10-6 at the half.  The Saints busted out of halftime by recovering a bold onside kick. Six plays later, QB Drew Brees hit RB Pierre Thomas with a pass behind the line of scrimmage at the Colts' 20, and Thomas twisted his way into the end zone to give underdog New Orleans its first lead. 

  Unflappable Colts QB Peyton Manning led the experienced Colts back -- 76 yards in ten plays, capped by Joseph Addai's own pinball-wizard run to put the Colts back on top 17-13.  A Saints FG made it 17-16 heading into the final 15 minutes. Then the Saints' D stepped up, forcing the Colts into a long FG attempt that missed, and Brees stormed back. With 5:46 left, he hit TE Jeremy Shockey running a slant at the goal line, and a clutch two-point conversion put the Saints back up, 24-17.  

  Still, the Colts had managed seven fourth-quarter comebacks during the season, and Manning can never be counted out. Manning himself was trailing after the first quarter of Super Bowl XLI before coming back to beat the Bears. Another Colts TD almost seemed inevitable, and then as Indy drove downfield it happened: Saints CB Tracy Porter stepped in front of Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, picked off a Manning pass, and took it to the house. Saints 31, Colts 17. A gigantic upset, a terrific game, and a storybook ending for the city of New Orleans.

  Obama entered office amid the same kind of hopes many fans had for the Saints. He was the first African-American President in history. Already an historic figure when he took the oath of office, he promised more change. He had the smarts and the charisma, the popular mandate and the Congressional majority do get it done. Then he got smacked by reality.  

   A down economy forced Obama to commit billions of dollars to a massive stimulus plan.  He said he'd close the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, but couldn't work out the details. His attempts to reform healthcare were met by a tenacious "prevent" defense, intended to keep him from scoring any points. By the end of his first year -- his first quarter -- Obama could take credit only for not letting things get worse. It took a strident State of the Union speech and a feisty, televised discussion with Republican leaders to remind many people why they'd voted for him.

   Score this one for the Super Bowls. It's hard to compare Obama's Presidency favorably to Super Bowl XLIV. After a sputtering start, the game just kept getting better. Outside of America Bowl, at least, Obama still has time on the clock, and -- because we won't stop cheering for great football games and hoping for great Presidents -- he still has a chance to do the same.

Final score of America Bowl:  Super Bowls 24, Presidents 20.

Come back tomorrow for a complete post-America Bowl recap.


Blogger Wade said...

Nicely done, and a lovely way to end the game.

February 8, 2010 10:03 AM  
Blogger Steve Freeman said...

Nice job with all this. Really only two disagreements: Coolidge was not a grandstander, but a good Pres; and the 1985 Bears vs. Garfield? c'mon. But the result is the same: Super Bowls have gotten better and Presidents worse.

February 8, 2010 2:43 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I fully stand behind your use of poetic license in the following instance: we didn't just compare the first quarter of XXIX v. Obama. The quarters of XXIX fit the drama of 44's first quarter. What a game. What games. What a President. What Presidents. Also, I can't believe you left out the fact that Sonny Jurgenson is the only Super Bowl quarterback to serve as President. What? Oh.

February 9, 2010 11:27 AM  
Blogger Mrs_S said...

I love you, man! Nice job.

February 10, 2010 8:56 PM  

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