By Spencer Bowen
The most intriguing NFL conference championship weekend in many moons owes a lot to the four quarterbacks at play tomorrow afternoon. All four are firmly in the “you don’t want to play them” category for their own reasons. It could be an epic weekend, so what better way to analyze the four remaining QBs with a chance at Super Bowl glory than to compare them to characters from the most epic trilogy of all time, the Lord of the Rings?
This is the hard-hitting journalism you’ve come to expect at Antland.
Ben Roethlisberger – Sauron
Big Ben is a villain. No, he’ll never buy a beer again anywhere in the larger Pittsburgh area, but yinz guyz have to undahstahnd that the rest of the nation can’t stand this dude. Don’t get me wrong, I respect his game. Much like Sauron, Roethlisberger is unnaturally huge and extremely imposing. He similarly relies on some intimidating sidekicks to do his nefarious bidding. And he hails from a smoky land bordered by steep mountains. Sometimes, it seems like Big Ben can’t lose. Sometimes, Frodo’s quest seemed truly hopeless. And yet, there are chinks in the armor of the Dark Lord.
Tom Brady – Gollum
Ok, so Gollum doesn’t wear Uggs. And as far as I’m aware, Gollum doesn’t date Middle Earth’s Gisele (Arwen? Galadriel? Éowyn? This is an important debate for another day). But besides that, the parallels are striking. Both have a strong affinity for rings. Both make some interesting fashion decisions. Both have dreamy blue eyes. And both do what they do almost entirely by themselves. Brady is carving up the NFL at age 39 without his best skill player and without his best defensive teammate, now languishing in Cleveland. Gollum led two stumble-prone hobbits into the dismal black confines of Mordor all by his damn self. Most importantly, neither one will go away, no matter how hard you try to shake them off.
Matt Ryan – Treebeard
While you weren’t looking, Matt Ryan became a nine year (!) NFL veteran and quietly established himself as your likely MVP winner. If you were an inhabitant of Fangorn Forest, you probably literally did not notice Treebeard age into the oldest mortal creature in Middle Earth. Ryan and Treebeard are forgotten heroes. Ryan has been a devastatingly efficient quarterback mired on mediocre teams for much of his career. Much like the Ewoks of Endor, the good guys never would have won without Treebeard’s timely assistance. Matty Ice is looking for his Isengard – a moment to shift the entire narrative and show off the immense capacity at his disposal. There’s only one person standing in the way of Ryan’s “Ent moment.”
Aaron Rodgers – Legolas
Rodgers is in GodMode. He’s looks bored on the field, as if he’s operating on some higher plane of awareness than mere humans. Ergo, he might actually be an elf, in which case the inescapable comparison is
William Turner Legolas, King of the Mirkwood elves. Neither misses. Neither appears challenged by any foe. Both have a swashbuckling, dashing air about them. Both show off impressive footwork in the face of dire stress. And both are devastatingly handsome. We may be witnessing Aaron Rodgers pull a LeBron, except pulling a LeBron is so much harder in the NFL than the NBA. So maybe we shouldn’t even use “pulling a LeBron” and instead go with “pulling a Legolas” because Rodgers keeps taking down “oliphants” like it’s nothing.
Green Bay 30, Atlanta 26
New England 28, Pittsburgh 16