So, you're probably thinking to yourself "What a stupid analogy Bikeist! Football and Cycling have exactly nothing in common!" Well, either that, or like everybody else out there, you're just sitting there staring at your preferred device wondering when Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus will finally get together and go on a cross-country crime spree -- effectively blowing up the interwebs forever!
For those of you in the distinct minority, though, the Super Bowl and Le Tour have more in common than meets the eye. Besides the facts that they are both the biggest events in their respective sports, watched intently by millions of rabid fans around the globe, and akin to national holidays for their host nations -- there is the additional fact that they have long been the premier venues for displaying what humans can do when fed ridiculous amounts of performance enhancing drugs. The big difference, though, is that, while sports fans, the media, governments, concerned moms, the Vatican (I think), and the Bikeist, have expressed universal outrage at the scandalous use of PED's in cycling (and baseball), nobody seems to care when it comes to football. It took until 2011 for the NFL to actually get a (supposed) testing program in place, but did you know that, according to the Bleacher Report, they don't even test for HGH? Think about that when you watch these tractor-sized behemoths flying around the field trying to concuss each other into submission.
Remember this guy fellow Bolts fans?
That's supposed to be a wide receiver people! Defensive linemen weren't this big when I was a kid (which was still the "modern" era of football)!
Now this is what a wide receiver is supposed to look like:
I know what you're thinking -- "He went to USC, so he doesn't count!" Hey -- USC or not, you can't argue with the Hall of Fame people. Where is David Boston these days anyway?
With all the talk about safety in the NFL, how safe is it to allow these already impressively large, fast individuals pump themselves up to super-human proportions? Of course, the league probably takes solace in the fact that they are giving the fans what they want, but so, too, did the organizers of the Gladiator contests in the Coliseum and of public executions in the stadiums of Afghanistan. At some point, there is a moral obligation to not feed the blood-lust of the masses. I say all this as a lover of all sports, including football, but -as with cycling- the more I watch and cheer every year, the more I start to feel somewhat complicit in the fraud being perpetuated by pretending they are not artificially enhanced and in the abuse the competitors subject themselves too (by ingesting unsafe drugs and competing without adequate safety precautions) for my enjoyment.
That all said, I'll be glued to my seat this Sunday just as I am every year . . .
Break, break . . . (that's Navy jargon, folks, for "let's change the subject a bit)
One of my favorite Super Bowl traditions is "Media Day," when they subject the players to legions of reporters from around the world who ask them inane, uninformed, questions for several hours. My favorite moments of Media Day are usually when foreign reporters (who know NOTHING about football) put their ignorance on display to the utter confusion of the poor players who have no idea how to answer them. In that vein, I have this fantasy (now that I'm a full-fledged member of the national media) of showing up in spandex with bike in tow and asking all of the participants only bike-related questions.
Bikeist: "So, Peyton, what do you ride?"
Manning: "Well, you must be familiar with my ads that air on a continuous loop during any and all breaks during any and all NFL games -- you know, where I drive along talking to the car? So, of course, Peyton Manning's ride is a Buick."
Bikeist: "No, what do you RIDE, not drive? A Roubaix? A Madone? Do you prefer a classic Bianchi perhaps?"
Manning: "I don't get it. (To handler) Who is this guy anyway? I just told you I drive Buicks -- not European cars."
Bikeist: "Mr. Manning, I'm not talking about cars, I'm talking about bikes."
Manning: "Is this guy for real? Who cares about bikes. I'm about to go play in front of the entire world and try to not have my spleen ripped out by a bunch of hopped-up science experiments in cleats, and he wants to ask me about bikes? I'm out of here . . ."
Bikeist: "Where's that Richard Sherman dude? Maybe I can get him to call Alberto Contador "mediocre" (which he is, as well as a cheat) . . .
Finally, to complete this special Super Bowl edition of The Bikeist, here is a (way too long) interview of Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe as he discusses his transition from NFL superstar to avid cyclist: