sports psychologist & clinical psychology

MONSON: MY DOG SAYS SEAHAWKS, SO DO I

The Salt Lake Tribune – Feb 06, 2006 – Gordon Monson – So, we’ve got to make our annual Super Bowl picks here, as per the norm, and attempt to make ourselves – one of us, anyway, whoever gets lucky and selects the winner – look like a genius, while the other poor sap, forced to champion the counterpoint, the eventual loser, winds up a schmuck.

Laaaaa-deeee-frickin’-daaahhh.

The reality, of course, is that Kragthorpe and I are just guessing.
Same as you.

The only difference is, neither of us is betting cash on this crazy mother. Therefore, we can take our shots, then dig into the Vienna wieners, the grilled tube steaks and brats, the super-nacho-stack-loaded-with-who-knows-what, and knock back a few cold beverages, balmed by the comfort that comes in knowing that, no matter how wrong either of us is, we will lose not one cent on the outcome of this extra large Super Bowl, only our reputations for sporting clairvoyance.

Kurt is yet a bit jumpy in that last regard, on account of these haunting words: Emerald Bowl.

Sneak up behind him and yell Georgia Tech, and watch a grown man quiver.

He’ll get over it.

We all do.

The chic notion this time around is to just ride the Steelers’ wave, to take Pittsburgh because it supposedly is a team of destiny. How else can anyone explain the Steelers winning three straight road games in these playoffs, beating Cincinnati, Indy, and Denver?

Moreover, the Bus is rolling into his hometown of Detroit, a place that never should have been granted the privilege of hosting a national celebration the magnitude of the biggest of bowls. That determination has nothing to do with a cheap-shot characterization of the Motor City as a riotous, ruinous, burned-out heap of urban blight. It has to do with the fact that Detroit is wickedly frozen this time of year. Super Bowls should be toasted by bikini-clad revelers in South Beach, not unemployed autoworkers in Pontiac.

There is much to like about the Steelers, though, first and foremost because Ben Roethlisberger, despite being the second-youngest starting quarterback in the game’s history, is slinging the ball like a mad reincarnation of John Elway. On the other hand, how many times did Elway lose under the brightest of lights before finally wrapping up Vince Lombardi’s hardware?

Still, it’s a quarterback’s game, and Big Ben is the best reason to choose Pittsburgh. Him, and the Steelers’ ever-likable owner, Dan Rooney, upon whom the football gods have got to be tempted to shower their blessings. Everybody loves Dear Old Dan, don’t they? He’s a football man through and through, carrying on his family’s tradition with warmth and dignity.

Counter that with Seattle owner Paul Allen, who doesn’t just own the Seahawks. He quite literally owns the entire city, as well as half the computer technology in America, and probably in half the free world, to boot.

The only problem with picking the Steelers is the controversial away-jersey thing. Callers to sports-talk radio shows around Pittsburgh are upset that management went with the fortuitous-for-the-moment white jerseys, instead of draping the club in the notorious black, in which the Steelers’ winning poses are so familiar – at least for those with long memories.

It’s a bold move, disturbing the ghosts of rich – albeit a bit dusty – tradition.

Hell’s bells.

I’m going with Seattle, then, in part, because of such reckless disregard for dark-and-daunting images of Pittsburgh’s past. But there’s more. The Seahawks have a hot quarterback of their own in Matt Hasselbeck. And the league’s MVP in Shaun Alexander. And the raging good-karma backing of a community that hasn’t won a title in any major sport since . . . since . . . well, long before Starbucks and Microsoft and grunge rock emerged from the back alleys and garages of said metropolis.

Beyond that, there’s the mental edge.

I recently got an e-mail from a sports psychologist in Florida, named John F. Murray, who says the ‘Hawks will beat the Steelers because of conclusions drawn from something he calls the Mental Performance Index. He uses the index “to quantify the degree to which a team performs to perfection.”

According to Murray, Seattle has scored much higher in his calculations for “focused execution” and “pressure management” than Pittsburgh, deducing that the Steelers will have to play “almost flawless” football to beat the Seahawks.

All of that psycho-gobblety-gook sounds impressive, but somehow less than absolute.

Vegas favors the Steelers.

An unscientific poll of some 50 friends and colleagues also gives the nod to Pittsburgh.

What do they know?

My dog, Kiu, a black German Shepherd, by way of barking at pictures of Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher held directly in front of his nose, indicated that Seattle is the smart pick.

Turns out, the dog likes the ‘dog.

Good enough for me.

Seahawks, by seven.

Seahawks by 7

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.

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