For football fans everywhere, this weekend is the best the sport has to offer. Right about now you’re probably asking about the Super Bowl. While, yes, for most casual sports fans the Super Bowl is the biggest game in football and possibly all of professional American sports, the spectacle of the event has turned it into more of a theatrical production than a football game.

Championship weekend is actually the pinnacle of the sport from the fans’ perspective. This weekend we get two games, as opposed to one, that could very well be Super Bowls in their own right.

It rarely works out this way, but, for the first time in recent memory, the two best teams from each conference will be competing in their respective championships. Each game will offer something different for football fans.

The first match features two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the position. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have long been the gold standard in the National Football League, and they’re set to battle once more in the AFC Championship. The skill and precision these two men demonstrate in running their offenses has been unrivaled in the last decade plus. If you want to see two of the greatest square off against one another in what is sure to be a high-scoring affair, then the AFC Championship game is for you.

Perhaps you are old school. You do math with a pen and pad rather than a calculator. You don’t use Twitter, and you have no idea what SnapChat is. You still read the newspaper. Thanks for that by the way.

If any or all of those things apply to you, then you might want to tune into the NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. This is an old-school football match-up where hard-hitting defenses and borderline brutality will reign supreme.

Recently, the NFL woke up and finally admitted the physical nature of football is causing brain damage to its players long after their careers are finished. In the last few years, the league has made a dramatic effort to make the game safer. Some argue those efforts, mainly rule changes, are changing the dynamics of the sport. That’s exactly what the rule changes are doing, but it’s giving the sport a chance to survive long-term.

At its very core, football is the most physically violent of sports, and there isn’t really anyway to get around that. The two teams playing in the NFC Championship are the most violent teams in the most violent sport. It’s a match-up that will be played with such ferocity, I anticipate it might be the last of its kind the NFL will allow. Most teams are adapting to the new rule changes, but these two aren’t. Their goal is still to hit their opponents and hit them hard. That’s what will make this game so interesting, but every hard hit makes us cringe a little more.

Sunday, we could see the final battle between two of the greatest signal callers ever. We could also see the last game played how the creators of football intended.

What every style of play suits your fancy, you’ll have your pick come Sunday. Possibly for the last time, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

— Zach Beehler is the sports reporter for the Hermiston Herald. He can be reached at zbeehler@hermistonherald.com.

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