by | Jan 25, 2003 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

SAN DIEGO — Curt, my friend, your roots are showing.

Not your home roots. Your hair roots. As in gray. A deep shade of gray. Why else would you go with the Oakland Raiders? I know. Birds of a feather flock together. As in Early Birds? The Early Bird special? You? The Raiders? Dinner at 4 p.m?

Listen, Curt. I know it’s rare to find a team with players older than you, but come on. You like the Raiders only because when you interview them they say,
“Yes, son?”

But that is no reason to pick them to win the Super Bowl.

No. That honor goes to the fastest (Tampa Bay), the strongest (Tampa Bay), the nastiest (Tampa Bay) and, sadly, the mouthiest (Tampa Bay). Remember when the Raiders used to be the bad guys? Remember when they used to yak and brag and boast?

Now they are led by Rich Gannon, who makes a mortician look dynamic, and Jerry Rice, who is such an elder statesman, he’ll be playing the game in a tux. Their coach is . . . um . . . wait, I know this . . . don’t tell me . . .

Meanwhile, who does the talking at this Super Bowl? Warren Sapp. Keyshawn Johnson. Jon Gruden. Yep. The Yucaneers are now the Yaketeers. Such is the world today, Curt. The team from Tampa Bay is the tiger and the team from Oakland is the pussycat.

Don’t tell me about offense. When you say offense, I say Baltimore Ravens, who won the Super Bowl.

Don’t tell me about experience. When you say experience, I say New England Patriots, who won the Super Bowl.

The fact is, winning this game is mostly about avoiding mistakes, hitting people hard and taking advantage. Tampa Bay is more likely to do that than Oakland. Remember, the Raiders may still have Al Davis, but when he’s the toughest guy on the roster, you’re in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really WANT Tampa to win. But what I want and what happens are usually polar opposites on Super Sunday. Keyshawn will get his ring and we can only imagine how insufferable he’ll be. Sapp will get his ring and declare Planet Earth his own. Gruden will get his ring and be dubbed a bigger genius than Albert Einstein AND Thomas Edison.

And the Raiders? They’ll drown their sorrows like most California teams, by going to the movies. I think the film is “On Golden Pond.” They get a senior discount. Just like you, Curt.Buccaneers 20, Raiders 17.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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