As is well documented, I was a Raiders fan before anything else (in football, in baseball I the Dodgers were my team) growing up, and, well, they were indeed a team to love. Although, much like Pete Rose in baseball, the Raiders do not conjure much in the way of neutral feelings: either you love them, or you hate them.
I loved them. No question, and I never really paid too much attention to the 49ers simply because I loved the Raiders. And, while the Niners had many good players from time-to-time, like John Brodie, Joe "the Jet" Perry, and Y.A.Tittle, it was not until Bill Walsh arrived in the early 80's, there was not much to root for.
However, around the time San Francisco became the team in that decade, the Raiders began to slip (though they did win it all in 1981 and 1983), the team plagued with personnel and management woes, along with the legal issues that sent the squad to Los Angeles, and then precipitated their return to Oakland a few years later.
But, within a few years of when I began playing serious fantasy baseball, and then football, I began writing about fantasy as well, and the confluence of the three forced my objectivity. So, I really tried to back off having team favorites, yielding more to players who were commodoties I could have on my own fantasy franchises.
Still, those Niner teams of the 80's were wonderful, and, as when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series a couple of years back, well, a winning team in the area really does boost community spirit. And Jim Harbaugh's first NFL coaching foray has been pivitol in engerizing the team and the area.
For, that spirit was back last Saturday, for as I went on a run of Saturday errands, everyone I spoke with was marking time till game time. In fact at the supermarket, there was a pair of women who were clearly planning for a game watching party. They were each tossing foodstuff liberally into their basket. The catch was one wore a San Francisco jersey, while her cohort wore a Saints one.
And over the past week, KFOG, the local rock'n'roll station was giving away tickets to see the Black Keys when the band plays Oakland this coming May. The station also had an extra drawing, allowing those who called in and won tickets to see the Key to also win a pair last week to see the Divisional game against New Orleans, and this week for the game against the New York.
As much as I love the Black Keys (whose new disc, El Camino, is terrific) getting a chance to see the game was pretty cool, something all the winners I heard agreed to. In fact KFOG is suspending broadcasting music Sunday afternoon, and will rather be broadcasting the game instead which is really something different.
Still, I don't think any of us really thought the Niners, untested in any post-season format, would prevail and most folks thought the Packers would overcome the dominant Giants.
But, suddenly here we are, a few hours before kickoff with one more game separating San Francisco and New York from an entry to the Super Bowl.
I do think last week set the tone, as both the Pack and the Niners won by taking advantage of turnovers. So, whichever squad can exploit those will be in the best shape.
When I was in Vegas last week as part of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association convention, San Francisco was favored, but that was largely the result of the team playing at home.
And, though I do like Tom Coughlin, not to mention Eli Manning and his stellar corps of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham, I will give the edge to Harbaugh and company. In fact, the prospect of a Harbaugh versus Harbaugh Super Bowl is pretty good. At least better than Ryan versus Ryan, though if somehow the Manning brothers could be coached by the Harbaughs or Ryans and square off in a post season game, that would be fun!
The first reason is if the San Francisco defense can hit hard and contain, as they did last week, that will be half the battle. The other half is that Harbaugh/Walsh connection.
For, if you remember, Walsh cut his head coach teeth down the peninsula, at Stanford, and so did Harbaugh.AnywayThat is good enough for me.