Maria Sharapova, I still love you.

Let’s talk sports today.

After all, I am a man of many hats. It’s not all politics and pop culture around these parts. I’m also an avid student of athletics, history, horticulture, quantum mechanics, seismology and, of course, bugs.

But I’ll save those latter categories for a rainy day. After I move somewhere where it never rains. California, I’m coming.

Anyway, most sports fans woke up this morning expecting the sports news narrative to center around one person: Peyton Manning.

Peyton ManningThe legendary, generation-defining quarterback who was known as much for his marketability off the field as his prowess on the field, called it quits. He walks off into the sunset having won his second Superbowl in his final NFL game.

For some people, like me, who’ve grown up watching sports, and watching the same people dominate those sports throughout their entire life, it’s a weird feeling to see these greats say goodbye. Derek Jeter. Kobe Bryant. Now Peyton Manning.

It’s a reminder that time is the ultimate equalizer. No one is immune; not even the world’s greatest athletes.

Although, Peyton does walk away from football following allegations of performance enhancing drug use, and a rehashed story regarding sexual assault during his college days, but, most people will probably just choose to remember him screaming “Omaha! Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage at the top of his lungs as their ultimate takeaway of the man.

Hey, you throw 539 touchdowns in your career, and you kind of get to dictate the narrative.

But it turns out this wasn’t all that happened on this Monday. Maria Sharapova, the most glamorous tennis player of the last decade, admitted she failed a drug test.

Long story short: she’s been taking a specific drug — legally — to ail several health issuesMaria Sharapova for the last 10 years. On Jan. 1, that drug was added to the banned substance list. She didn’t know that, and failed a test a few weeks later.

Disappointing, sure, but hardly scandalous.

This brings about mixed emotions for me. Actually, no it doesn’t. I love Maria Sharapova. And I’ve never been afraid to admit it.

She’s likely facing a suspension, possibly a lengthy one, but if anything, this makes me like her more. It gives her an edge. She’s mischievous. And not afraid to bend the rules.

In all seriousness, though, it was refreshing to see her be forthright and admit that she screwed up. So many athletes play the ignorance card and act like they did nothing wrong. They pretend they are the innocent victim even when the evidence is staring them right in the face.

Maria didn’t cower. She didn’t hide. She owned up to her mistake.

And Maria, if you want to continue down this road and make another lapse in judgment, then how about you let me take you to dinner on Friday night?

I mean, honestly, what’s one more bad decision? You can’t sink any lower then the place you’re at right now, and I promise it will not be the worst date you’ve ever been on in your life. Though I can’t guarantee it won’t be in the bottom five.

Most of all, the only drug that I’ll supply you with is my loving affection, which, last I checked, is not on the International Tennis Federation’s banned substance list.

Oh wait. It is? Crap.

Damn it, ITF, will you never let me find love?

Peyton Manning’s last hurrah, Super Bowl Babies and Coldplay’s vanishing act

It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for me to sit and enjoy a game of football knowing what we know now about concussions and the damaging effect that repeated blows to the head has on player’s long-term sanity.

That being said … YESTERDAY WAS SUPER BOWL 50 PEOPLE. BREAK OUT THE HEAVY ARTILLERY AND CRUSH THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF THE OTHER TEAM AS HARD AS YOU CAN. BASH THEIR SKULLS AND SHOW NO MERCY! KILL KILL KILL.

Woah. Sorry about that. I don’t know what just happened.

On what has become the most American of nights, all of us, football lovers or not, sit on our couch on Super Bowl Sunday and ignore the fact that everyone we see on the screen will probably have early onset dementia in their 50s.

Super Bowl 50

But let me not get too preachy here. Football players know the risks. And with the knowledge that exists now, young people can at least make their own informed decisions as to whether they wish to pursue the sport.

Honestly, a better script couldn’t really have been written for the game. Peyton Manning, one of the most successful, well-liked and marketable players in the sport’s history, is now able to go out on top. It’s your classic storybook ending.

A defensive battle throughout, the game itself was actually pretty boring. None of the offenses never got in a groove. It doesn’t mean it was a bad game — it just wasn’t exciting.

And the commercials were not much better. The only one that actually made me laugh was a T-Mobile ad featuring Drake.

On the opposite end of the coin, the most cringeworthy commercial was one by the NFL itself, with its “Super Bowl Babies” campaign, which not-so-implicitly celebrated unprotected sex following two most likely drunk football fans immediately following their favorite team’s Super Bowl win. And for some reason, Seal was a part of it.

The commercial probably caused many people born in December to enter into a deep and horrifying trance as they pondered the reason and cause for their existence.

Super Bowl 50 halftime show.jpg
And finally, the halftime show. I know that Coldplay is not universally loved, but I’m a fan. They make pretty good music and who hasn’t blasted the song “Fix You” during a time in their life when they were in dire need of an emotional pick-me-up?

That being said, though Coldplay was featured as the headliner, they very clearly played second fiddle to Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

I have no problem with those two — in fact, they were pretty awesome on Sunday — but, if you’re going to announce a headlining act, shouldn’t they be the most prominently featured part of the performance? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, the halftime show needed more Coldplay.

And even when they re-entered the performance with a closing rendition of the aforementioned “Fix You,” the NFL missed a golden opportunity to let former NFL players with CTE sway arm-in-arm around the stage.

Oh well. Despite the savagery, the brain trauma and the NFL’s blatant disregard for their players’ safety, you know we will all be back, one year from now, for Super Bowl 51.

And nine months later will come the Super Bowl babies.