Monday, January 19, 2009

The Eagles Have Landed

It is not in my nature to ever pick the winning team
Sometimes I think I'm happy then I remember it's a dream

Now it isn't in my nature to ever pick a winner
Kirsty MacColl, "England 2 Colombia 0"

That's how I felt as the Philadelphia Eagles lost their NFL playoff game to the Arizona Cardinals today. I lived in Philly for a couple of years and have a strong memory of watching them lose a playoff game back then, so I should have known better than to have actually cheered for them and cared about them making the Super Bowl. In a year in which I cheered on the Patriots, Buccaneers and then the Eagles, I am left without a team I care about for the big game.

Oh well, at least by losing the Eagles have made this a significant day for us in Australia. The Cardinals' punter, Ben Graham, will now become the first Aussie to ever play in the Super Bowl. He used to play Australian Rules football at Geelong where he was the team captain. But at the age of 31 he moved from the AFL to the NFL when he signed a contract with the New York Jets.

Given today's result, he must certainly qualify as one of the luckiest guys around. He started this season with the New York Jets and got fired. He got picked up by the New Orleans Saints and got fired. The Cardinals did not hire him until December. And now he'll be playing in the Super Bowl.

I cannot think of any other athlete who got sacked twice in the same season by teams that didn't even make the playoffs and then ended up playing in the championship game with his third team. Talk about good luck. But in this regard, Graham is a little bit like another icon of Australian sport - Steven Bradbury.

Bradbury won Australia's first ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics at the 2002 Salt Lake City games. He competed in the 1000-meter short track speed skating finals against four others. The race lasts just a tick over a minute, and Bradbury was hopelessly behind the other four as they turned for home.

Within sight of the finish line, the other four collided and in a split second they were sprawled across the track. Bradbury carefully skated around them and became the gold medal winner. After thinking about Ben Graham and Steven Bradbury, it's not hard to understand why Australia is called the Lucky Country.

PS - The other day my father complained that I never write about sports. So, Dad, this one was for you.

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