Cook: Keeping score on Lombardi trophies is meaningless


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NEW ORLEANS -- Ray Lewis spent the past week talking about his last ride in the NFL and how wonderful it's going to feel tonight at the end of Super Bowl XLVII when he looks toward heaven to say thank you and sees the confetti falling from the massive roof of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in honor of the Baltimore Ravens' win against the San Francisco 49ers.

Do you really want to see that?

Please say you don't.

I know what it will mean if it doesn't happen. It will mean the 49ers are the world champs. It will mean they will be 6-0 in Super Bowls. It will mean they will match the Steelers for most Lombardi trophies.

There's just one thing to say about that.

So what?

Why is that such a big deal?

First of all, pro football didn't begin during the 1966 season, the start of the Super Bowl era. The Steelers' six titles are down the list if you look at the big picture. The Green Bay Packers have won 13 professional football championships. Even the Cleveland Browns, the poor, pitiful Cleveland Browns, have won eight. That's about all Cleveland has going for it in the way of sports considering it hasn't had a championship parade in any sport since 1964. Not to rub it in.

Don't hold it against the 49ers if they get to that magical No. 6 in their first Super Bowl in 18 years. Sure, they will gloat a bit. "You walk through our facility and all of the past Lombardi trophies that we have won," offensive tackle Joe Staley said. "They are proudly displayed. It is a great tradition there ... "

Does that sound familiar or what?

"You do not want to live in the past," Staley added. "We are trying to create our own tradition."

Or, as cornerback Tarell Brown put it, "We're just trying to get this organization back where it's supposed to be."

OK, so maybe that hurts a little.

But you'll live if the 49ers get it done.

You'll just expect the Steelers to win No. 7 next season.

Beyond that, it's hard to work up a good case of hate against the 49ers. Not so with the Ravens. There is Ray-Ray. There are the two or three ferocious hair-pulls every season with the Steelers. There is Ray-Ray. There is Terrell Suggs, who once claimed to "own Ben Roethlisberger's ass" on the football field. There is Ray-Ray ...

You get the idea.

What is there to hate about the 49ers? That they are coached by a Harbaugh? Well, you might have heard the Ravens also are coached by a Harbaugh. Talk about off-setting penalties.

The 49ers are a better team with better players. Someone said they have 15 No. 1 draft choices on their roster. I'd double-check it, but I can't count that high. I wasn't a mathematics major in college.

"It's ridiculous," defensive tackle Justin Smith said of the 49ers' talent. "You look around the locker room and, from head to toe, the offensive line, receivers, defensive backs, defensive line. This roster is loaded."

The 49ers have quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the latest "it" in the NFL. He is known for running their read-option pistol offense, but he also makes all of the throws. "You can pretty much do anything with him at quarterback," running back LaMichael James said. "I would call him a freak," tight end Vernon Davis added.

The 49ers have running back Frank Gore, the projection here as Super Bowl MVP. He would become the first running back to win MVP since Denver's Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII after the 1996 season. "Nobody does it better than Frank Gore," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I have the greatest respect for Frank because he has the greatest respect for the game." Gore, humbled by his coach's remarks, said, quietly, "I'm not one of the high-maintenance guys."

The 49ers have big-time receiver Michael Crabtree, the big-time tight end Davis and big-time braggart Randy Moss to catch the ball. Moss made a few headlines last week by saying he's the greatest receiver of all time. That made 'em laugh even in San Francisco, where they watched one Jerry Rice perform his magic. But Moss still has enough left to hit a home run or two tonight.

Then, there's the 49ers defense. It's very, very stout. It has six Pro Bowl players, including All-Pro linemen Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and safety Dashon Goldson.

"Nobody can beat us but ourselves," Crabtree said.

I agree.

49ers 23, Ravens 21.

If you still are having a hard time wrapping your arms around the 49ers winning because of that whole sixth Lombardi business, try looking at it this way. The confetti still will fall from the sky and stick to Lewis' sweaty face. But it won't be in his honor. It won't be in the Ravens' honor. And it won't feel wonderful.

No need to thank me.

mobilehome - roncook

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.


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