Epilogue: Football is over, nothing to do but reflect

Jim Vallet, for the Fernley Reporter

All the company has gone home. The beer and soda cans are all in the recycling. Leftovers are in the refrigerator. Winning tickets are on the shelf, and the many losing tickets are in the trash. 

The 2023 NFL season is over. The champion has been crowned, and now all the other teams that are not the champions are thinking about next year.

I think it’s a good time to look back and reflect on last year. What was good and what was bad? What can be done better, and what’s next?


First of all, there are two reasons that the Kansas City Chiefs are the Super Bowl Champions, and the San Francisco 49ers are not. One reason is Patrick Mahomes, the other is the 49ers inability to capitalize on their many opportunities to finish off the Chiefs.

By his standards, Mahomes did not have a great year. Much of that can fairly be attributed to receivers who drop passes more than any group of receivers in the NFL, and much can be blamed on offensive tackles who hold defensive linemen more often than a loving husband holds his wife. Then there is the issue of many dumb plays and a very tough schedule. There were times during the season when Mahomes seemed exasperated to the point of frustration.

Then the playoffs came, and the Patrick Mahoimes of other years was back. 

Certainly, Patrick Mahomes is the NFL MVP, no matter to whom they gave the award. He is the best quarterback in the league. Arguably, he is the greatest of all time, and at 28 he still has lots of time to add to his already G.O.A.T. resume. 

Last Sunday, it looked like the Chiefs were going to lose. They could not move the ball. After one quarter, they had 80 total yards of offense, 52 of them on one play. A player assaulted his head coach. Players were calling sideline meetings like they got paid extra for them. The Chiefs at one point were down by 10 points.

But Patrick Mahomes had an unbelievable 8-2 record in the playoffs when down by 10 or more points. Now, make that 9-2. He also has an incredible 60% winning percentage when down by 14 or more in the regular season.

In the 4th Quarter and Overtime, the Chiefs’ #15 took over the game. He is the best.

The Chiefs scored 6 points on their first nine possessions, and had as many turnovers during that time as scoring plays. Even though the 49ers at one point had a 10 point lead and were leading by 7 at halftime, they should have been ahead by a lot more. The 49ers were clearly dominating the line of scrimmage, but that dominance was not evident on the scoreboard. Even their kicker, who kicked two field goals of over 50 yards, missed an extra point and, since the game went to overtime, that turned out to be crucial.  

In the end, the 49ers should have won, but didn’t. And you can’t give arguably the best QB in NFL history the chance to get off the mat.

Leaders give their people hope. Leaders who can only criticize and call their adversaries derogatory names are small, while those that give hope through, “We, not me” inspire. That goes in politics, business, sports, the military, or anywhere else we look to someone for leadership.

Detroit Lions’ Head Coach Dan Campbell does not always make the right decisions. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is so passionate that he is frequently the target of insults from those who sit on the sidelines and complain. 

But Campbell gives Detroit fans and players hope. According to Lions’ star Aiden Hutchinson, Campbell told his team that they were going to the Super Bowl right after their heart-breaking NFC Championship game defeat. Campbell was looking ahead, not worrying about the past. With the help of (finally) some great moves in acquiring some very good football players, the Detroit Lions players believe because of Dan Campbell. And  now, Detroit Lions fans are coming out of the woodwork. 

It all started with hope.

I wonder if Campbell would run for President of the United States.

The NFL is sitting pretty now, but they’d better be careful. According to many sources I have cited in other articles, Super Bowl ticket prices STARTED at over $8,000.00 apiece. Suites were going for (gulp) $3,000,000. Many NFL teams (including the Raiders) require fans to buy a license to buy season tickets before they can purchase their season tickets. Season ticket holders are forced to buy tickets for all preseason games at regular season prices to keep their season tickets. Parking and concession prices are out of this world. If you want to watch NFL Football on Thursday nights, you must purchase an extra cable station, and yet another one if you want to watch the Saturday night game during “Super Wild Card” Weekend.

How much will the public accept? For me, although I love watching NFL football, there are other things I can do on Sundays and Monday nights.

What is going too far? 

Travis Kelce went too far when he got in his own coach’s face, almost knocking him down in the process, because (I guess) he was pulled from the Super Bowl for one play. Almost as bad was Andy Reid excusing Kelce’s behavior after the game. That is exactly why players like Kelce act like they frequently do when things don’t go their way. I lost a great deal of respect for Travis Kelce after witnessing that.

The “fans”, actually, drunken louts, at the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, AZ also went too far. You do have the right to get drunk if your life is that sad but you do not have the right to spoil others’ enjoyment at an event they paid to see, too.

If your words or actions cross the line, you must be held responsible. The only way the behavior will change at the WM Open is to limit attendance and limit alcohol sales. Of course, it appears the PGA Tour is no better than the NFL in its pursuit of money. 

This year, William Hill Sportsbooks changed the way bettors make bets. In the past, bettors would specify their teams by number when making a bet. This year, for some reason, William Hill (and maybe others) changed that so the bettors would name their teams by name, instead of a number assigned.

At first, I thought this system would work out better since I have been guilty in the past of giving the incorrect number of the team I wanted to bet, thereby betting on the wrong team. Sadly for me, the change in systems did not prevent me from betting on the wrong team, and I even had to name the wrong team! No brains, no headaches.

But all the prop bets popular for the Super Bowl seem to doom William Hill’s new system. William Hill had 12 pages of prop bets, and the ticket writers had a very hard time locating a particular prop in a timely manner. This led to very long lines which led to angry customers which led to frazzled ticket writers which led to some ticket writers giving incorrect information. 

My wife on the day before the Super Bowl tried to make a two team parlay bet of the Chiefs to win to the Chiefs under the total of 47 ½. The ticket writer told my wife that she could not parlay prop bets, which she was not trying to do, and would not listen to my wife’s protests. So, my wife made a straight bet on the Chiefs.

When my wife told me the story, I chose not to stand in a line that I estimated to be about 45 minutes long and not make the bet I wanted, which was the Chiefs to the over 47 ½. So even though William Hill would have lost my wife’s parlay bet, they would have won mine and I saved 20 dollars, proving the best bet is sometimes the one you don’t make.

I wonder how many prospective bettors like me William Hill lost because of people either not wanting to stand in the long lines or being told they couldn’t make bets that they normally can. Ticket writer anxiety and customer anger and frustration may not make William Hill change their policy, but losing money will. Same with the WM Phoenix Open and the NFL.

In spite of my trepidations about the future and my own petty complaints, the 2023 NFL season was fun. A lot of that for me was because of the Lions’ resurgence (Resurgence? More like a birth) but it’s more than that for me. Maybe spending Sundays watching football is not the most productive way to spend my fall Sundays but I like it. Maybe I could be spending my time making our world a better place but I guess I could also be doing something unhelpful, like gambling or drinking all day. And in the end, I get to judge if watching the NFL is something I don’t want to do anymore. Also, how can I beat that I get a platform to spout all the nonsense that goes on in my head?

How many days until Baseball’s Opening Day? 

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