Sports Watch

Bill Kwon

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, January 28, 1999

Here’s hoping Falcons and
Palmer have super Sundays

IS this the week that the underdogs will take over the world? And stop being Mr. Nice Guys, who finish last?

It's said that the "meek shall inherit the earth." The non-meeks don't mind, as long as it's not Pebble Beach or Waialae-Kahala.

In the real life, though, nice guys finish last, as Leo Durocher once opined.

That's why, as a sentimentalist at heart, I'm pulling for the underdogs in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami and the Senior Skins Game at the Mauna Lani Resort on Sunday. Actually, an underdog winning makes for a far better story anyway.

So, go Atlanta Falcons, and go Arnold Palmer.

Of course, it's hard rooting against the Denver Broncos. They're the closest thing to being "Hawaii's Team" in the National Football League because two of their standouts played for Hawaii -- kicker Jason Elam and defensive end Maa Tanuvasa.

And it figures to be the last game for Denver quarterback John Elway. Like Michael Jordan, Elway evidently plans on retiring while at the top of his game.

Anyway, Elway had better retire after all his histrionics at Mile High Stadium in the AFC championship game -- trying to throw for a touchdown in his last pass there and taking a nostalgic lap around the field.

BESIDES, Elway has his Super Bowl ring. You remember, Elway was the underdog everyone was pulling for in last year's Super Bowl and he finally won the ultimate game after being on the short end three previous times.

Elam and Tanuvasa can wait another year because they figure to get more championship rings as long as Terrell Davis is still carrying the ball for the Broncos.

Well, the Broncos aren't underdogs anymore. They're top dogs now.

So, let's hear it for the Falcons, truly one of the NFL's most downtrodden teams. They had the misfortune of being in the same division as the San Francisco 49ers, although don't ask me why Atlanta is in the NFC West.

Atlanta has won its division only once (1980), but never made it to the NFC Championship game, let alone the Super Bowl.

What a story that'd be: a team that has never been to a Super Bowl, knocking off the Super Bowl defending champions.

Also, this time the sympathetic figure in this year's Super Bowl is Atlanta's coach Dan Reeves, who had a quadruple bypass surgery five weeks ago. How can you root against someone like that?

And Reeves showing up Elway and Denver coach Mike Shanahan by winning Sunday would give this Super Bowl tale its final, ironic twist.

Go Falcons.

THEN there's Arnold Palmer, who's playing in the Senior Skins Game for the 10th time in 11 years. The only year he missed (1997) was when he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

In a foursome that will include Ray Floyd, who's seeking his sixth straight title, the Senior PGA Tour's single-season money winner Hale Irwin and Jim Colbert, you just hope that Arnie can pick up a single skin or two. He picked up one skin last year worth $30,000.

Like the favored Denver Broncos, Floyd also will be hard to beat. He has made Mauna Lani Resort's South Course his private game reserve, earning $1.4 million in winning the event for the last five years in a row.

Irwin and Colbert could end Floyd's streak, but the best story of all would be Palmer winning. He is everyone's sentimental choice.

Besides his own recovery, Palmer's wife Winnie recently had her own battle with cancer.

"It's going to be tough," Palmer said about his chances this weekend, "but I'm going to give it my best."

Go, Arnie.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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