There have been a lot of people flapping their gums on AFC sidelines this season. They will all be sitting at home watching the Super Bowl.
After the Jets beat the Patriots just over a week ago, many fans thought the new coaching standard would be the brash, confrontational style employed by Rex Ryan. But both coaches in the Super Bowl are the understated, let-your-play-do-the-talking kind in Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin.
When Ryan came out talking big, he had every reason to be confident. His team was ahead in the second half of the AFC Championship Game the year before, and they added players like Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, Kyle Wilson, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Santonio Holmes. Mark Sanchez had an extra year under his belt in the toughest position in sports to master.
Sure, he lost Thomas Jones, but the aging star had the lowest percentage of his yards after contact in the league. They should have won the Super Bowl.
But you do not win those things in the offseason, or the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington team with the extremely offensive name would have been splitting Super Bowl titles for years. You win it as a team, and you win it by respecting your opponents so you do not get cocky.
You may win an isolated game here and there the way the Jets did, but eventually if you are running on emotion you will empty yourself of adrenaline. Eventually, you have to be better prepared and execute better than the man across from you.
When New York figured out they could not manufacture a grudge against Pittsburgh, they lost the engine that drives them. Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words—a boring but effective cliche.
That is why the Pittsburgh Steelers, who let their play do the talking, beat both the Jets and the Ravens, the two biggest trash-talking teams in the league. Those players disrespected teams in the media because they did not properly respect them on the field.
Can't wait, indeed. After seeing the first half, it seems you waited almost two hours too long. And even during the game, during an attempted second half comeback, there were Steelers players helping up Jets players, hopefully showing them the sportsmanship the Jets did not learn as children—though from the way they are acting, they are not done with that stage of their lives.
In the NFC, the teams were not talking. Every game featured players battling it out on the field, not through the media.
But Chicago fans sure talked, and I am not referring to isolated incidents that exist in every fan base.
As soon as they won the division, they were right there to rub it in. When the point was made about the injuries, Packers fans were making excuses; but when the Bears lost in the season finale, it was because they did not try.
There was a report of two brothers rooting for different teams in the game. The younger brother said he would refrain from trash-talking and that the game would be close. The older brother said he had no such reservations and that the game would be a blowout. Guess which one was the Bears fan.
Chicago fans even posted an "Application to become a Green Bay Packer fan" that was quite derogatory, pushing forth the theory that Wisconsin people are uneducated. Never mind that Wisconsin sets the national standard for public schools.
On a Chicago news report about the application, no animosity was found from Packers fans. By contrast, Bears fans interviewed talked about hating all Cheeseheads (what if they had said black people in place of Cheeseheads? prejudice is prejudice...) and claimed they talk "Hey dare, hi dare, ho dare" in Wisconsin. I once even read the following in the Chicago Tribune: "In Wisconsin, where the IQ is as low as the wind chill..."
Now Bears fans are eating crow, and the Packers are heading to the Super Bowl for the fifth time (three more than the Bears) and seeking their 13th NFL title, four more than the older Bears, who are second in the league, have. And Jets fans and coaches can keep talking, but no one cares what they say any more than they do the rest of us watching the Super Bowl at home.