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A post Super Bowl blurb…

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

So the Super Bowl was last Sunday. I know this because there’s about eighteen pounds of meat still rolling around in my stomach. However, that has to be better than what’s rolling around in Peyton Manning’s stomach. It was all right there, as I wrote last week, Peyton was on the precipice of being considered the NFL’s greatest quarterback, but then Tracy Porter stepped in front of Manning’s fourth quarter pass and now Manning’s a great quarterback with a 9-9 playoff record.

I’ve long believed that the worst time to judge a player’s place in history is directly after a big game loss (or win for that matter), and there remain several years left for Manning to get back to that spot (after all John Elway destroyed the stigma of all those lost Super Bowls by winning back to back titles in his final two years). However, there can be no doubt that this was a crushing defeat for Peyton and his legacy.

The problem is that whatever else happened in the game, the pick will be remembered as causing the Colts defeat. While it might have been the result of a bad route run, it looks to the naked eye like a terrible throw from number 18, so the interception, and subsequently the loss, lands directly on Peyton. This is of course a simplistic view, there were many other reasons the Colts lost (I thought Pierre Garcons’ second quarter drop changed the game from an emerging rout, and the Cotls’ special teams were also particularly abhorrent), but it will cling to his legacy like Super Bowl fat to my veins…

For their part, the Saints seem a little like Cinderella at the ball. For the last three weeks of the season they couldn’t beat the bottom dwellers of the NFL, and then in successive weeks they beat Arizona, Minnesota, and Indianopolis. Or, put another way, they beat Kurt Warner, Brett Farve, and Peyton Manning. Say what you want about Greg Williams and the Saints’ defense, but they did what they needed to do to win the Super Bowl.

Of course it helps when you have Drew Brees basically throwing a perfect game, and it helps when you have Sean Peyton. While it didn’t work out, Peyton made the right call when he went for it on fourth down inside the ten; he made the right call to challenge the two point conversion ruling; and he definitely made the right call when he decided to start the second half with an onside kick. That moment, more than any other, was the moment when I thought to myself… Oh, I think the Saints are going to win this thing.

So yes, while Peyton’s interception was bad, the Saints did what they needed to do to win. They didn’t win big, and they didn’t score a ton of points, they just won. And that will definitely be enough to keep Bourbon street singing and dancing for weeks.

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A Super Column about a Super Bowl…

February 7, 2010 1 comment

So, there’s this little game of football this weekend, which I think you might have heard of. Given the importance of this game, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve spent all week writing about hoops? Honestly? It’s mostly because all the Super Bowl hype makes me feel a little like Tiger after a quick drive with Elin (or is that from Elin…?).

I mean, for two weeks we have been inundated with articles by writers who are too busy glad handing former athletes, D-level celebrities and fame seeking women to actually write something coherent and intelligent about football. The whole thing is a deluge of drivel, with the limited pieces of intelligent analysis lost amongst the rubbish like tears in rain.

Now, an intro like that suggests that I’m about to expel some salient words of Super Bowl wisdom, but you, my four loyal readers, know better. If you want to read someone break apart the game, analyzing positional battles, debating whether New Orleans can run against the Colts D, or how Gregg Williams’ blitz schemes will affect Peyton Manning then read the excellent work of Football Outsiders. I don’t really have a lot to add to that, and I certainly don’t have any of those fancy graphs, so… instead I’ll talk about the game generally.

I’m torn about who I will cheer for. Like most neutral observers, I’m moved by the story of the Saints. Hardcore New Orleans’ lifers, like James “Just measure my penis and let me on the plane” Carville speak eloquently about what the Saints have meant to New Orleans as it rebuilds after Katrina. A victory for the team would bring real jubilation to a city that has had more than its share of pain and suffering. Given that the restoration of the city is far from a finished project and that the world’s attention has long passed on to other calamities, bringing the citizens a reason to celebrate and reminding outsiders of the devastation felt in New Orleans would be an important step in the city’s convalescence.

On the other hand, as you know, I am always a fan of witnessing greatness. For me, the best part of sports is watching a player or team so in command of the game that they control it the way Neo controlled fights in the Matrix films. Watching Jordan defy gravity as he flew towards the basket, using inhuman body control to contort in mid air, transfer the ball to the other hand, and gently lay it in on the opposite side of the hoop; Watching Gretzky from the back of the net, playing with some poor defender like a cat with yarn, until he finally sees something nobody else sees, and before you or the opposing goalie knows it, the pucks is in the back of the net. Watching Pujols wait on his pitch, watch him take, take, foul, foul, and then watching his eyes explode, his hands whip through the zone, the little stick he wields connect with the ball, and his extension driving it 500 feet away; Watching Tiger deftly approach a waitress in a restaurant 2,000 miles away from his wife… Masters of their craft at the top of their game.

Which brings me to the reason I may be cheering for the Colts… Peyton Manning is playing this little old game of football better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Now, obviously I never saw Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, or Bart Starr, but I have seen Dan Marino, John Elway, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Farve, Tom Brady, and, most importantly, Joe Montana. Before this year I would have said that of the guys I’ve watched play quarterback, Peyton was probably fourth (Joe, Elway, Brady, him), but the command of the game that he has shown this year is otherworldly. He is turning first year receivers into stars, he is calling all of the plays, he is figuring out ways to break down defenses in the first quarter and then destroying them the rest of the game, and he’s still convincing opposing teams that the Colts might run, when they haven’t had a 100 yard back since Moses was parting the Red Sea. We are watching greatness and with a victory in this game I believe Peyton would firmly entrench his name into the discussion of the NFLs all time best quarterback.

Don’t worry however, I’m not planning on being a sports bigamist, when the gloves drop I’ll know which force is pulling on me more. I’ve long maintained that if you’re unclear of where your loyalties lie, the fastest way to know is to watch the game. If one team scores and you instinctively cheer, well, then, you know your answer. If both teams score and you don’t cheer for either, well then you’re a neutral observer. Now, if both teams score and you cheer each time, well, then you’re just a bandwagon jumping knob.

I know what you’re saying, enough about cheering, columns like this are for picking games… which brings me to the other reason I couldn’t write this column until today. I couldn’t offer my prediction until I’d finished ironing out my Super Bowl bet with my old friend T-Bone. I couldn’t have T-Bone reading my prediction and using that to force me into better odds. But yesterday we finally finished haggling over our points (I’m giving him 3.5 to take the Saints), so it’s time for me to make a prediction. Remember if I were any good at prognosticating, I’d be living in Vegas, spending my time in an office with a guy named Vinny and eating $1.00 steaks for lunch every day. Instead I’m here flipping patties and adding pickles to your cheeseburgers, so… don’t take this to the bank or anything.

This game will either be a blowout for the Colts, or tight. I doubt New Orleans has the defensive chops to blow out the Colts and for all of the Colts dominance this year, they rarely destroyed teams, so close seems the safer route. A tight high scoring game will benefit the Saints, who have a quick strike offense that if it gets in a rhythm will be hard for the hobbled Colts defense to stop. On the other hand, if the Saints don’t score from forty yards out, then they stagnate in the red zone. And, as I noted above, I believe that Peyton has ascended to the point of greatness, where he controls a football like nobody I’ve never seen.

I think Peyton throws three touchdown passes, the Colts run for another and they kick two field goals. On the other side, I think that Drew Brees leads the Saints to three scores, but that the offence bogs down in the red zone three times and that the Saints are forced to kick three field goals. Both teams score six times, but add it all up and it spells a 34-30 Colts victory. Not a resounding victory, but enough for Peyton to have his second Super Bowl and enter into that greatest QB ever conversation, and, more importantly, just enough for me to cover and finally win a bet with T-Bone.

Archie’s World…

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Archie Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback in New Orleans Saints’ history (Although if Drew Brees wins the Super Bowl, then I think he takes the prize and marches down Bourbon St. with it). He played for the Saints for most of his career and after his playing career was finished, he settled in New Orleans and raised his children there. He’s been visible at Saints games for twenty-seven years and on February 7th in his team’s most important game, he’s going to cheer for their opponent.

I’m sure this is obvious to most of you, but of course one of the children that Manning raised in New Orleans was a precocious young lad named Peyton and today, Archie told the associated press that,

“It’s a game I’m going to pull for my son. [Saints coach] Sean Payton knows that. He’s a great friend of mine,” Manning said. “[Saints quarterback] Drew Brees knows that. That’s just the way it is.”

Seems pretty logical to me. The money quote,

“Anybody who thinks it’s different must not have children.”

Now, I don’t have children, at least none that I know of, but… I’m fairly certain that anybody who is a child should understand this. Cheering for your child is a no-brainer… And really, while I imagine if the Colts loose Archie will feel bad for his son, he’ll still be able to celebrate the greatest moment in Saints history. It’s not quite a win-win for him, but it’s close. Really, it’s Archie’s world and we’re all just living in it…

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