No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My very late Superbowl post

So, it's taken me a while to get around to get around to my Superbowl post. Let's just consider it a slightly early part of the pregame show. Or has the pregame show started already? It is 10:00 a.m. on the day of the big game. Someone must be talking football on CBS by now.

So let's get to what is really important in the day ahead? Who's gonna win? Nope, that's not the most important thing - maybe for the guys on the field and the ones with stacks of cash to bet - no, for us regular folks, what really matters is looking like we know what the hell we are talking about at a Superbowl party. So, let's break down some of the top stories of the week:

The 3 Buccaneers:
Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy gave Bears coach Lovie Smith his first NFL coaching job back in 1996 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kansas City coach Herm Edwards was on that staff too. Together, the three are still close friends - they all had dinner together the night before Indy beat KC in the playoffs. They are also three of the most successful black coaches in the history of the league. Don't kid yourself - this is a big deal. This is, after all, the league that had such ingrained racism that they had to institute a rule to ensure that teams would interview at least one minority coach per job opening. It's called the Rooney Rule - named after Steelers owner Art Rooney II, who helped draft the regulation. The Rooney Rule almost certainly helped Lovie Smith get his job with the Bears - he wasn't really on the top of the candidates list until they met with him. Today, either Smith or Dungy will become the first black head coach to win a Superbowl ring.

The Colts Kicking Corps:
Last year, the Colts failed to make the Superbowl because their kicker, Mike Vanderjagt - a Canadian and the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL - missed a 46-yard clutch kick in the dying minutes against the Steelers. At the time, my friend Randy and I agreed that Vanderjagt - who just two years years before went an entire regular season without missing a kick - was done with the Colts and possibly with football. He was, after all, a lot more trouble than he was worth. A hot-head with a big mouth, Vanderjagt had mouthed off in the media, criticizing both QB Peyton Manning and coach Dungy. Now that he had screwed up large, Indy let him walk away to sign with Dallas this season. After clashing with Dallas coach Bill Parcells and missing a few kicks along the way, Vanderjagt was cut and spent the rest of the season watching from home. In his place, Indy made possibly their most important acquisition since Peyton Manning. They signed former Patriots kicker Adam Viniateri. Viniateri has three Superbowl rings and a reputation as the best clutch kicker in the league. He misses a few here and there but always, always makes the kicks when they count. He's also an anomaly among kickers for his place on the team. Most kickers are considered peripheral - not 'real' football players. Viniateri has as much football knowledge as anyone on the team - and watches almost as much film as Manning, which is a hell of a lot. On media day, he was afforded one of the prime interview spots along with the other undisputed stars of the team. Viniateri could be the difference today - as he was so often for the Pats.

The QBs:
Lots of people hate Peyton Manning. He was born to the game - son of former star QB Archie Manning of the New Orleans Saints - so some people think he's had it too easy, that he was born with a silver football in his hand. Other think he's a prima donna. No question, Peyton has whined in the media in the past. He's also, indisputably, a great big nerd. I mean, have you seen the guy? The fact is, I can't think of a QB who works harder in the film room, at practice and in the game. I love Peyton- likely at least in part because we're never gonna see him dating the world's top supermodel. This year, Peyton may finally have shed a growing rep as a regular season star who couldn't win the big game. He came up big against the Pats - his nemesis - and mounting a stunning second-half comeback to win the AFC Championship game. At this point, he's looking to shed the Dan Marino label as the best QB in football to never win a Superbowl. Then there's Rex Grossman. What to say? He can be very good. He can suck hard. If he wins the big game, Grossman will stand along side Trent Dilfer (of the Baltimore Ravens, 2001), Brad Johnson (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2003) and probably Phil Simms (of the New York Giants, way back in the 80s) as the least lauded pivots to gain a ring.

The Defense:
Remember, defense wins in the play-offs. The Bears have, alongside the Baltimore Ravens, the best defense on football. Smart, strong and intimidating as hell, they'll be looking to put Manning out of his rhythm and onto the ground. Led by future Hall-of-Famer Brian Urlacher, the Bears are poised to put the best defense of the field today. But don't discount the Indy D just because they played like pre-teen girls in the regular season. They have been phenomenal in the post-season - and were the reason the Colts won their first two playoff games. Why so much better? One guy - Bob Sanders. In just his second year in the league, this fast, hard-hitting safety has emerged as the Colts' leader on D. Out most of the regular season with a knee injury, his return transformed the performance of the entire defensive unit. Keep an eye on him - he's number #21. Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson figure to see a lot of him today.

Names to know:
Colts: Manning, Viniateri, Sanders, plus: Marvin Harrison (supremely talented and soft-spoken wide receiver - expect to see him in double coverage a lot), Joseph Addai (rookie RB replaced superstar superstar Edgerrin James - he's been great this year), Reggie Wayne (another WR - he'll get lots of balls thrown his way when Harrison is covered), Dallas Clark (tight end - when Indy struggled to throw the ball to Wayne and Harrison last week, they switched to Clark, to great effect). Dwight Freeney (Defensive End - he'll be looking to mash Grossman into the ground).
Bears: Urlacher, Grossman plus: Jones and Benson (the running backs - they'll see a lot of plays heading their way if Grossman stumbles and Smith wants to keep him from throwing the game away), Muhsin Muhammed (a WR with a big mouth - shocking - and some big skills), Bernard Berrian (another major player at WR), Adewale Ogunleye (defensive end - he'll be all over Manning today), Charles Tillman and Ricky Manning Jr. (cornerbacks - if Manning throws interceptions today, it'll probably be to them).

And finally, here my favourite piece of information I heard about the protagonists in the lead-up to the Superbowl:

Lovie?
Yup, it's his real name. His parents thought they were having a girl, who they planned to name Lavena. When a boy came along, they adapted it to the much more manly Lovie.

And the winner is? Hmmm. There's the Bears def... Oh come on. You all know I'm taking the Colts. See you after the game.

1 Comments:

  • At 4:50 PM, Blogger Marky Mark said…

    You've missed your calling-now I feel ultra prepared for the game and without missing either the Raptors game (in person) or the end of the Habs game (on RDS). Rnjoy!

     

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