There are a lot of bad things about living in America’s new snow belt. Losing power is no fun. Seeing people losing their minds in the grocery store is comedic but just a little bit scary. But not getting the newspapers in the morning makes me crazy. Sure, I can read online but it’s NOT THE SAME. I spend enough time sitting at the computer most days without having to sit here to read the papers.
Okay, that is today’s whine-du-jour. Suffice to say it hasn’t been a fun winter in these parts and apparently there’s more to come. The roads still aren’t clear (largely because there’s just no place to put the snow) and more snow is expected tomorrow and Wednesday. The only ones who are happy right now are the kids.
I did manage to make it home from West Point last night—although the last 35 miles was treacherous and frightening—in time to see most of The Super Bowl. My first comment on the game and the telecast is this: Have all the smart advertising execs retired? I did not see every commercial and I probably wasn’t completely focused on a lot of the ones I saw, but it certainly appeared that the days of the memorable Super Bowl commercial have gone the way of the low-key postgame celebration.
Enough already with the talking baby.
Onto the game. Most Super Bowls have three or four moments that stand out and are replayed forever and this game was no exception. The Saints recovery of the onside kick to start the second half will be shown a million times along with announcers crediting Sean Payton (correctly) for taking such a bold gamble. The Tracy Porter interception will always be the signature play of the game, not only because it broke the Colts back but because it rendered Peyton Manning human again. Now we’re going to hear over and over again that Manning has won the same number of Super Bowls as Mark Rypien and Brad Johnson, not to mention little brother Eli.
But for me, the most vivid memory will be Drew Brees’s tears, first when he was holding his one-year-old son Baylen during the (overblown) pre-trophy presentation celebration and then as he stood on the podium waiting for Tom Benson to stop blathering so Payton could finally hand him the trophy.
His voice never cracked on the podium or in his postgame press conference but his emotion was apparent and clearly quite genuine. He talked about feeling as if he was meant to land in New Orleans and to be a part of the rebuilding of the team and the city and the region, but there was no Joe Gibbs/Kurt Warner evangelism just a clear picture that this was a man of faith who felt that his presence in New Orleans was part of a plan he didn’t need to understand but had been able to help carry out.
Good for him. Good for the entire city which suffered the modest angst that comes with a consistently bad football team and then the tragedy of Katrina. It’s a little harder to feel good for Saints owner Tom Benson who was ready to yank the team from New Orleans and move it to San Antonio or Los Angeles after Katrina and is now taking bows for all that has gone right the last couple of years, culminating with Sunday’s victory.
You can’t help but wonder how hard Manning will get hit by his critics for this loss. He did not play poorly by any means—he never plays poorly. But the defining moment of the game was the Porter interception. I don’t think there’s anything that can happen that will remove Manning from the pantheon of great NFL quarterbacks. He’s certainly somewhere on the list although the talk that he is THE greatest will quiet now until he wins another Super Bowl.
I have one other question on the subject of great quarterbacks. Whenever people talk about Joe Montana as the best of all time, they talk about his four Super Bowl wins—as they should. Tom Brady’s three Super Bowl wins puts him in the conversation and then names like Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, John Elway and old-timers like Sammy Baugh and Otto Graham get mentioned. I never hear Terry Bradshaw’s name. Sure, the Steelers of his era were built around a great defense but Bradshaw was awfully good and his teams won four Super Bowls. Shouldn’t that merit at least a mention, regardless of how many bad commercials he’s made?
For me, there’s always a sense of relief when The Super Bowl is over. The hype is behind us for a while and we don’t have to dodge every single ex-player on earth, “breaking down the game.” What the playing of the game almost always proves is that all the, “breaking down,” is meaningless. The consensus among the experts was that sooner or later Manning would be too good for the Saints defense. I was among those who thought that, the only difference between me and some of the others is that I don’t consider myself an expert. I’m just someone who has been around football a lot and I think I know SOMETHING about the game but I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone to go out and bet his house on what I think about the outcome of a game. I thought Navy was too beat up physically to go into Notre Dame and win this past season. Shows you how much I know.
Now, unless you are an NFL Network geek who can’t wait for The Combine, football is behind us for a little while. The Winter Olympics begin Friday. I can live without the opening ceremonies and ALL the figure skating. But I enjoy things like speed skating, luge and bobsled and Alpine skiing, even if I don’t completely understand them or know any of the athletes. The hockey should be fun and the best thing about it is that the Islanders can’t lose any more games while the Olympics are going on. (The Caps, if you’re paying attention, may never lose another game. I didn’t get to see the comeback on Sunday but if they didn’t lose that game, that’s it, they’re never losing again).
It is also less than five weeks now to Selection Sunday. I went through the conference standings this morning and I have to tell you, coming up with a list of 34 teams that are absolutely, without question deserving of a bid wasn’t easy. Which raises this question: If coming up with 34 teams is tough, how the heck does the NCAA propose to come up with 65 at-large teams with a 96 team field?
This is the worst idea anyone has come up with since New Coke. Even Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and I agree on this and we agree on NOTHING. Of course that probably means that it is a lock to happen.
Okay, I have to go and find food for my family before it starts snowing again tomorrow. I wish I was joking.