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NFL: A Super spectacle
Local fans share Bowl thoughts, memories
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Forsyth County News

Bill Reichart may be one of the few local residents with something more than a passing interest in the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII.

Reichart, who spent two separate stints of several years living in Baltimore, Md., before relocating to Forsyth County in 2005, hopes to see his hometown Baltimore Ravens defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in New Orleans to win their second Lombardi Trophy in the franchise’s short 17-year history.

Reichart believes today’s incarnation of the Ravens is much more well-rounded than the one that won Super Bowl XXXV in 2001 behind a record-setting defense, and he hopes the team seizes the opportunity to erase any perception that its previous championship run was a fluke.

"If they win again I think it will prove [Baltimore] is a winning franchise," Reichart said. "It would definitely confirm that the franchise is ... more than a one-hit wonder."

Unlike other franchises that have reached the Super Bowl in the past few years, including the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, neither of the two teams in Sunday’s game appear to have a significant fan base in the Southeast, let alone in Forsyth County.

Many local fans are left to enjoy this year’s big game for the event that it has become and the memories it often creates.

For South Forsyth head football coach Jeff Arnette, a love of white and blue extends beyond the colors worn by his War Eagles on the high school gridiron.

Arnette, a longtime Indianapolis Colts fan, most enjoyed the 2007 Super Bowl, when his favorite team defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17. But Arnette acknowledged that the Super Bowl moment which sticks out most in his mind came a year later.

"The Giants game when they beat the Patriots," Arnette said, referring to Super Bowl XLII in 2008. "The Patriots were undefeated and [David Tyree] made that catch [against his helmet on the game-winning drive]. It was the best catch and maybe one of the best games I’ve ever seen."

Arnette believes the subplots surrounding Sunday’s game could help it become a classic as well.

"It’s a great matchup with lots of intangibles ... [49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh facing his brother, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh] and [Ravens linebacker] Ray Lewis [playing his final game]," Arnette said. "It’s going to be great."

Super Bowl drama has been hit or miss since the game’s inception in 1967. Through 1995, 16 of the first 29 Super Bowls were decided by a margin of 17 points or more.

More recently the effects of the salary cap, which was introduced in the NFL in 1994, have led to more competitive games.

All nine Super Bowls played since 2004 have been decided by 14 points or less, and four of the past five were determined by a single possession.

New York Giants fan and Forsyth County News contributing columnist Denton Ashway has appreciated the late heroics his preferred club has provided during its two Super Bowl victories since 2007, but in 1987 he was still waiting for the "G-Men" to end their title drought when they took on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.

Though the game ended in a comfortable 39-20 Giants’ victory, it didn’t look good halfway through.

"I had just about given up hope of ever seeing the Giants win their final game of the season," Ashway said.

"Giants fans had waited 30 years for a championship, and it came as a decided underdog in a game they trailed, 10-9, at the half.  The Giants drove for a touchdown early in the third quarter, when Bill Parcells gambled on a fake punt on fourth and one near midfield.

"Phil Simms went on to complete 22 of 25 passes, Denver gained two yards on 10 plays in the third quarter, and the Giants presented Wellington Mara with his first championship since 1956."

Ashway pointed to the Ravens and 49ers turning in strong performances on both sides of the ball late this season, and thinks that if the two squads are able to repeat their performances from the AFC and NFC Championship games, Sunday’s contest will provide plenty of thrills.

"If you take the Ravens’ second half against the Patriots, and the Niners’ second half against the Falcons, those are two of the best finishing halves in championship game history," Ashway said. "If those are the two teams that show up this Sunday, it will be a whale of a ballgame."

The odds makers have deemed the 49ers a 4-point favorite in their quest to improve to 6-0 all-time in Super Bowl appearances.

That’s just fine with Reichart, who actually prefers that his team is the underdog.

"The Ravens kind of work best when they’re not favored," Reichart said.

"With Ray Lewis, I think he’s got a lot on the line. He can go out with a signature win to finish his career. ... I’ll say 21-17, Baltimore [wins]."