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February 2, 2013

The Daily Star Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

(Continued)

… I’d like to start a campaign to keep Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rumor has it that they’ll be on the veterans committee ballot this year. If Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire can’t get into the Hall because they abused drugs, then the managers who said nothing while their players were cheating also should be left out. Their silence means they condoned it or didn’t know about it, which seems unlikely. Either way, I say they’re out.

If it seems like I’m avoiding the Super Bowl, it’s because I am.

As a Steelers fan, I don’t like the Ravens. As a Steelers fan, I don’t want to see the 49ers tie our record for Super Bowl victories.

But I’m told I have to make a pick.

Prediction: Ravens 31, 49ers 20

Justin Vernold

Copy Editor

My below-the-radar Super Bowl story is Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie, a supremely gifted ex-University of Miami All-American and Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler who could have gone down as his generation’s greatest lineman had he applied himself.

After eating his way off Minnesota’s roster in 2010, the 6-foot-8, 360-pounder got one last chance to salvage his career from Ravens coach John Harbaugh and worked himself into the best shape of his career. After sitting out all 16 regular-season games, McKinnie’s been an upgrade over steady veteran Michael Oher, who has shifted to his more natural right tackle spot, allowing rookie brawler Kelechi Osemele to shift inside to the less-demanding left guard spot.

In three postseason games with McKinnie starting, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked four times. It’s no coincidence that Flacco, a stationary pocket passer, has thrived (eight touchdowns, zero interceptions) with such solid protection. Can McKinnie stop 49ers All Pro linebacker Aldon Smith (33.5 sacks in 32 career games)? Probably. Smith hasn’t had a sack in five games, and McKinnie held up fine against Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney and Denver’s Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

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