When we say “The Chancellor never sleeps”, we mean there is always football on. Whether we’re talking about the Hall of Fame exhibition game between the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints, or a former landmark game, there is always football on in the imagination. Although I’m writing a football book based upon the Super Bowls, my favorite week are those of the AFC and NFC Championship Games. There you will find the last of the games between passionate fans of the home teams versus the sterile groups that attend the Super Bowl. The season ticket holder who has been cheering and screaming for 4 months… it leads to a contrast that can’t be underscored by the corporate Super Bowl ticket holder.
When the home team wins the conference championship the celebration reverberates throughout the stadium. The fans don’t want to leave and in some instances players take a victory lap long after the cameras are gone. On the other hand the silence that can overcome a stadium when the home team goes down can be deafening. It’s almost like something has gone wrong with your ears. How can 80,000 people go that silent?? Yet you remember last January how quiet it got in Candlestick Park when Lawrence Tynes kicked the New York Giants to the Super Bowl.
In 1986, the Championships were two tightly fought games. The New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins 17-0 and did so based upon good field position with a fierce wind in the first quarter. In Cleveland a defensive battle gave way to John Elway coming of age with “The Drive”. From there the Broncos, who had gained 216 total yards throughout the first 54:00 of the game, drove 98 yards to the tying score. Then won it in overtime. These fiercely contested game made Super Bowl XXI anti-climactic. They had intensity that bordered on the Hatfields and the McCoy’s and all four defenses played terrific football that day. The two games before the Super Bowl are normally better games than the Super Bowl and my love for the conference finals started with these fiercely fought games.
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