What does it take to be a champion?
In the NFL of 2013, not as much as one would think.
With either Colin Kaepernick or Joe Flacco guaranteed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, it begs the question—does having the 15th-ranked passing offense (Baltimore) facing off against the 23rd-ranked passing offense (San Francisco) diminish the value and excitement of the Super Bowl?
Flacco's 8-0 touchdown/interception ratio in this year's postseason exceeds the efficiency ever produced by the likes of Tom Brady, John Elway or Terry Bradshaw during "the only time of year that matters."
Common sense would likely kick in—no way we'd consider Flacco to be in their class.
Reinforcing the obvious: that the entirety of the regular season supersedes the short four-game postseason. Only, we tend to pick and choose who we'd like to ascend. If Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers played the way Flacco is right now in the postseason, the "experts" would scream substantiation.
What (insert sarcasm) regular-season exploits could possibly top that?
Flacco has won more road playoff games than any quarterback in NFL history and his Super Bowl opponent sports an undefeated playoff record (2-0).
Did you know: It took Peyton Manning over half a decade to win as many playoff games as Colin Kaepernick already has under his belt.
Either Flacco or Kaepernick is set to reach the top of the mountain.
For the masses who have been raised to look upon the Super Bowl as the ultimate pinnacle of professional sports, many have come to look the value of "rings" as the ultimate criteria for evaluating quarterbacks.
Because the quarterback position is the most important position in football, most assume that the quarterbacks who win the most championships are the ones who are at the top of the food chain.
That just doesn't always happen to be the case:
- Joe Namath
- Jim Plunkett (twice)
- Jim McMahon
- Phil Simms
- Doug Williams
- Jeff Hostetler
- Mark Rypien
- Trent Dilfer
- Brad Johnson
Oftentimes the best quarterback in football fails to win a championship.
Did you know: Out of the 29 quarterbacks named league MVP since the merger, only six have won the Super Bowl during their MVP seasons.
It's a matter of practicality really: rarely does the best player in football end up simultaneously playing for the best team in football.
To further complicate matters, oftentimes the best teams in football are not the ones who end up winning championships.
Even since the dawn of the 2000's, the league has been replete with inferior championship teams:
- 2001 New England Patriots
- 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2006 Indianapolis Colts
- 2007 New York Giants
- 2010 Green Bay Packers
- 2011 New York Giants
Good teams naturally, but not quite the best teams in professional football.
The advent of the "single elimination" rewards 3-4 game "hot streaks" over a sustained level of dominance over the course of an entire season.
That's why 9-7 teams like the 2008 Arizona Cardinals can come minutes away from being crowned Super Bowl champions.
It's exciting to see how unpredictable the playoffs can be—that doesn't make the actual outcomes reflective of who is better than who.
Simply put, the "any given Sunday" moniker is true—even Buster Douglas could knock out Mike Tyson.
When was the last time the Super Bowl featured two quarterbacks who wouldn't even crack the Top 10 the league has to offer?
It's easy to focus upon the "Harbaugh Bowl."
Perhaps the significance of inferior quarterback play can be covered up by sub-plots.
Super Bowl XLVII is a testament to the playoffs' flawed structure.
Because we are not being treated to the best two teams in football.
We're certainly not being treated to the top two quarterbacks in football.
We're getting a "Sub-Plot Bowl"—full of theatricality and promotion.
Truthfully, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers needed to be eliminated from playoff contention. The masses needed a serious wake up call.
A champion will be named in New Orleans, Louisiana—it's just that the team and quarterback representative involved will fall a little short of "Super."
It might not be a popular opinion, but "it is what it is."
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael