Monday, September 25, 2006

Revenge, Thy Name is Cincinnati!

Another Sunday, more annoyances courtesy of the sports media. My favorite NFL subplot this weekend was Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh. The media kept playing this matchup as "A Chance for Cincinnati to Exact Revenge!".

In case you've been in a bunker for the last 9 months, Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the AFC title game last season, taking out Cincy's starting QB Carson Palmer in the process. On the second play of the game, no less. Cincy never recovered, and Pittsburgh went on to win the Superbowl.

Much has been made of this game; Palmer's first chance to face the team that destroyed his knee, Cincinnati's belief that they were the better team last year, yada yada yada.

The CBS announcers took the ball and ran (to use a cliche in the spirit of the media) with the payback theme while Cincy was in the process of winning the game, essentially saying that revenge had been exacted on those evil Steelers.

Even today, I read the following headline from SI's feed on Google's personalized home page:

"Palmer pays back Steelers"

Even ESPN got in on the act, saying:

"Palmer, Bengals get Revenge"

So let me get this straight. By beating the Steelers in a regular season football game, they got revenge on the team that beat them in the AFC championship game, a playoff game?

The sports media has long had a fascination with taking a story, any story really, and blowing it up bigger than it really is. All in hopes of making their coverage of the story seem all that more important.

This game was certainly important. But it was not about a team exacting revenge on another team. Unless these two teams face each other in a game where the stakes are as high as they were in last year's playoffs, there is no revenge. Just a victory.

The victory was certainly sweet for Cincinnati, as they beat a divisional (and much hated) rival. But payback? Retribution? Revenge? I just don't see it.

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