The biggest sporting event in the world is finally upon us. Super Bowl LIV will close out the 2019 season with an excellent matchup between two teams that represent the two major schools of thought regarding how to win in the NFL.
On the one hand, you have the San Francisco 49ers who have established the run so well in the playoffs that they’ve been able to throw on just 25% of their offensive plays. They’ve had one of the best defenses in the NFL this year, led by an incredible defensive line and an opportunistic secondary. The 49ers are about as old school as it comes in today’s NFL. If you think “defense wins championships” and “establishing the run” is how you win in the playoffs, then they are the team for you. However, if you are of the analytic crowd that believes the most efficient way to play offense is by throwing the football, then you are the Kansas City Chiefs, who have displayed the best passing attack over the last couple of seasons led by 2018’s MVP Patrick Mahomes.
For me personally, Super Bowl LIV represents my childhood as a football fan come full circle.
When I was two my dad was transferred from Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base in England to Adelanto, California to continue his service in the United States Air Force. From the ages of 2-14, Adelanto and Apple Valley, California was home. Though much different than what you’d expect Southern California to be like, the High Desert was about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. That was in the 80s. And in the 80s, the best team in the NFL was the San Francisco 49ers led by Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
As a kid growing up in the 80s and finding a passion for sports in general, when it came to football the 49ers were my first love and Joe Montana was my favorite player. I had a gold San Francisco 49ers Starter jacket and my first jersey in any sport was a red number 16 Joe Montana jersey. Anytime my friends and I were out in the yard playing football and I got the opportunity to play quarterback, I was Joe Montana running Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense. I would methodically move my team down the field with slants and out routes, forcing the defense to play closer to the line of scrimmage and then taking shots down the field.
I felt about Joe Montana what kids growing up in the 90s felt about Troy Aikman. That’s why when the 49ers made the decision to hand the keys to the franchise over to Steve Young in 1993, my heart sank and my sports fandom was rocked.
At this point, I was 10 years old. So when Joe Montana signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for the 1993 season, I became a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Odd, I know to jump franchises, but when you’re 10, the heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart wanted to root for Joe Montana. My absolute favorite athlete. So when the 49ers decided to move on from Joe, I decided to move on from them.
Montana would play two seasons for the Chiefs. He led them to the AFC Championship game in 1993 and then back to the playoffs in 1994 before calling it a career.
After Montana retired, I thought, let me stick with the Chiefs. They were able to get decent quarterback play from Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, and Rich Gannon under the tutelage of none other than new Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy. They made some deep runs to the playoffs and I got a kick out of watching Derrick Thomas at linebacker, Tony Gonzalez at tight end, and the most electric kick returner of the late 90s, “The X-Factor” Tamarick Vanover, but football wasn’t the same without Montana.
In 1997, my family moved from California to Texas to be closer to family. We arrived in the first week of January and of the first people I met was a neighbor who lived across the street. He was a couple of years younger than me, but he and his dad were diehard members of Cowboys Nation. Even as friends, that was one of our big debates; Chiefs or Cowboys.
Eventually, as time wore on in the late 90s as I’m spending my high school years listening to Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas and reading the Fort Worth Star-Telegram every morning, the Dallas Cowboys were all I heard about and all I read about. Even though I wouldn’t have called myself a fan of the Cowboys, yet, I was following them through the Chan Gailey years.
In my family, we always made it a habit to support the local teams, so when we moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, we followed the Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, and the Dallas Cowboys. The teams we quickly became fans of were the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers.
In fact, before moving to Texas, my Grandparents took me to the very first opening day at the Ballpark in Arlington to watch Ken Hill win the first game in what became affectionately known as “The Temple.” Prior to that, I was fortunate enough to watch Nolan Ryan pitch in old Arlington Stadium.
So, my DFW Sports education had begun long before we had moved to Texas and by the year 2000, I had succumbed to the allure of The Star.
By that fateful 2000 season, I was watching every Cowboys game. The first professional football game I ever attended was a Cowboys game at Texas Stadium.
This team, unlike the 49ers and the Chiefs before, became my team. Even through the ups and downs of the 2000 season, which saw Troy Aikman suffer a back injury that ultimately led to his retirement.
Though I got to the Cowboys Nation party later than most, my fandom was forged in the fires of the 5-11 seasons of the Dave Campo era. The quarterback purgatory further tested my loyalty to the team.
So, when Tony Romo came in for Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the 2006 season and led the Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs, I was thrilled. My team was in the playoffs and it got there because of really good quarterback play.
After years of watching Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Rich Gannon, late in his career Troy Aikman, Anthony Wright, Randall Cunningham, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson, and late in his career Drew Bledsoe, for the first time in a 13 years, I got to witness a franchise quarterback leading his team in Tony Romo.
It’s the reason that I have a lot of respect for Tony Romo the player even though the Cowboys weren’t able to win a Super Bowl during his tenure. And it’s the same reason why I’m excited about Dak Prescott.
NFL teams have a hard enough time finding a franchise quarterback — cough, Cleveland Browns, cough — let alone finding back to back franchise quarterbacks as the Cowboys did in Romo and Prescott. It’s especially amazing that they found them via undrafted free agency in the case of Romo and in the fourth round of the NFL Draft in the case of Prescott.
There’s a saying amongst transplant Texans that goes something like, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” The same is true for me and the Dallas Cowboys. I wasn’t always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as fast as I could.
I know my story is a unique one and not one that everyone will relate to, but it’s my story. I absolutely love the Dallas Cowboys even though the hope and disappointment that has been every season of my existence as a member of Cowboys Nation. It’s somewhat frustrating and disappointing, that the two teams of my childhood, the 49ers and the Chiefs, are facing each other in Super Bowl LIV and the Dallas Cowboys will be sitting at home for the 25th Super Bowl in a row.
At some point, the dam will break and the Cowboys will find their way back to playing in the NFL’s championship game. Despite a disappointing 2019, they’re closer than many think. With Mike McCarthy in to lead the charge, the Cowboys may find themselves playing in the big game this time next year.
With that, let’s get onto some predictions from the InsideTheStar.com staff.
Kansas City Chiefs 37, San Francisco 49ers 27
Pat Mahomes has proven that he doesn’t shrink in the postseason. This game feels like his official coronation as the face of the NFL, which seems very appropriate with retirement talk swirling around Brady and Brees right now. I think the 49ers will make it competitive for their own validation but the Chiefs are just on another level. Hoping for a close game for entertainment purposes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if KC wins in a blowout.
Jess Haynie, Senior Writer
San Francisco 49ers 20, Kansas City Chiefs 17
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it 1000 times, “Defense wins championships”. I hate to bet against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ prolific passing attack, but the 49ers defense has won them a lot of games this year. They ranked second in DOVA and yielded the fewest passing yards per game (169.9) with the fifth-most sacks (48) this season. Combine that with the Niners ability to run the ball and Kansas City’s porous run defense, and I think I’m going to have to go with San Francisco on this one.
Brian Martin, Staff Writer
Kansas City Chiefs 35, San Francisco 49ers 30
You gotta love the 49ers defense. Nick Bosa leading a hungry defensive line that has been remarkable all season long has to get to Patrick Mahomes frequently. But Mahomes is just too good and will be able to play under the pressure. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are a lot to deal with but we haven’t talked enough about Sammy Watkins. I don’t see the Chiefs’ offense being slowed down. On the other hand, I see the 49ers offense living up to their status as the #2 offense in points scored. Give me Andy Reid and the NFL’s best quarterback.
Mauricio Rodriguez, Junior Writer
Kansas City Chiefs 34, San Francisco 49ers 28
This will be a battle of strength vs strength. The San Francisco 49ers finished second in defense and the Kansas Chiefs finished sixth in offense. I’m trusting Patrick Mahomes to make more key and important throws than Jimmy Garoppolo.
Matthew Lenix, Staff Writer
Kansas City Chiefs 30, San Francisco 49ers 20
Super Bowl LIV features one of the best defenses in the NFL vs one of the best offenses in the NFL and it will be a great game. The difference in this game is the offensive firepower that the Kansas City Chiefs will feature. Patrick Mahomes is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and he has a tremendous group of players to throw to in Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman. The 49ers, with as good as their defense is, will have to be perfect on offense and I don’t think they’re capable enough as a passing offense to keep pace. Kansas City’s speed with Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman will be the difference in this game. They put so much stress on the defense, which will open up so much space for the Chiefs other really good weapons.
John Williams, Staff Writer
Though the Dallas Cowboys and Cowboys Nation have moved onto the business of the offseason, the Super Bowl offers one more opportunity to watch real football. Enjoy it. There won’t be another real NFL game for another eight months. While the offseason in the NFL is great, nothing beats a real game. Enjoy your time with family and friends today and enjoy the talent on the field and the coaching on the sidelines regardless of how the game goes.