After all, both the Packers and Steelers earned their spots in the big game thanks in large part to our local football teams. The Jets' failure to play the first half of the AFC Championship Game served the Steelers quite well, something that will gall Jets fans every second of this potentially extended offseason. There probably isn't a Giants fan alive who didn't watch Aaron Rodgers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy without masochistically remembering that eight minutes of woe handed the Packers their playoff spot in the first place.
Self-pity and regret shouldn't totally dominate the aftermath of Super Bowl XLV, however. Watching the game and the teams provided some pretty good lessons for the Jets and Giants to take to heart in an effort to make sure that some of us actually have a rooting interest in Super Bowls to come.
For the Jets, the lesson is from the way both the Packers and Steelers used the draft to build their teams. There's no mistaking the level of talent on the Jets roster over the last few seasons, but their reliance on players from outside the organization means both constant turnover and a high average age on the roster. Free agents cost a lot, trades erode the team's base of draft picks and the whole thing leaves the team thinner than you'd like for the long haul.
They also learned something about attitude, namely that there's nothing wrong with the way they swagger. The Packers had their players measured for Super Bowl rings before Sunday's game. That reads like it comes right out of the Rex Ryan playbook, although you'd hope that the lesson about team building is the one that catches a little more interest.
If the Jets should be focused on a more patient approach, the Giants might want to make more note of the times that Sunday's participants veered off the beaten path. The Steelers took a huge risk by trading Santonio Holmes and they've shown little deference to keeping players who they feel have moved past their usefulness. That's doubly true of the Packers, who made one of the bolder moves in some time when they told Brett Favre to hit the bricks so that Rodgers could take over.
We're not suggesting that the Giants boot Eli Manning or any other player in particular, but the last few years have seen the Giants cling to veterans the way desperate men cling to lottery tickets as their way out of financial hardship. Patience and planning are great, but the Giants often seem to lack a critical eye about their own players and staff.
They also lack a certain fondness for taking a risk. We've already mentioned Rodgers, but the Packers also made a huge bet on Charles Woodson and handed their left tackle job to rookie Bryan Bulaga this season. In both cases, the Packers needed help at that position and went out and got it. Woodson was eight years into his career and not a sure thing, while Bulaga struggled early, but he improved and the team solidified a crucial position for years to come. The Giants never draft for need and while they play free agency, they haven't made bold moves for players who might come with risk since Plaxico Burress. That signing helped bring a Super Bowl ring to the team, something that appears to have been forgotten in the three years that have followed.
Let's hope that the teams were watching with an analytical eye instead of simply trying to see how awful the Black Eyed Peas would be during halftime.