Tuesday Morning Overreactions
The Superbowl is only five days away. I hope everyone enjoyed this past weekend, where for the first time in 20 weeks there wasn't any NFL to be found, because after this weekend there isn't another meaningful NFL game for another 7 months. I know it seems like that's an impossible amount of time, but if you break it up into smaller segment it's easier to get through.
First, One week after the Superbowl is the Pro Bowl. Although not a meaningful game, and at times boring to watch, it's still football. Plus if your team has a pro bowler, it will be the last chance to see your teams helmet on the field.
The last week of February is the NFL scouting combine, where tomorrow's superstars go to be poked, prodded, timed, measured, pinched, evaluated, and whatever else the scouts of the NFL can do, to try and see who will be a good fit for their team.
March, unfortunately doesn't have much football related stuff going on, so this will give you plenty of time to scour the College Player scouting reports, and get ready for the draft. Plus March Madness is a great sporting event to watch, and since it won't be interfering with football you can just enjoy it. Remember when filling out your brackets beware the 5/12 games.
April is a good month. For starters, NFL Europe begins. Although, it's not NFL football, all teams send 4 or 5 players over to Europe to play. NFL Europe has helped develop many star players in the NFL, such as 2 time league MVP Kurt Warner. Stateside the NFL releases it's schedule in mid April. Now you'll be able to look down and see when your team faces it rival, how many Monday Night, or Sunday Night games you have, and look for all the great matchups. It will also be the first chance for some to complain about how the NFL schedule is unfair to their team.
But wait, there's more April is also when the NFL holds their draft. Two days of hearing about tomorrow superstars, and how they will shine in the NFL. This is about the only time all year where all 32 teams get exactly what they wanted (well if you listen to the coaches after every pick.) You'll also get to find out which players you will now be rooting for and against.
Once the Draft is over the rest of April, May, and June, bring us mini camps. Though not much happens, mini camps usually last about 4 days, and it's the first time players report. It will be the first time to see some of the new rookies, (before contract holdouts keep them out of training camp), as well as some of you old favorites.
July is when we all start getting that feeling back. Contract negotiations with rookies, and free agents really start heating up. Season previews start coming on all the websites, and at the end of the month, training camp starts.
Training camp goes into August, where for the first time since February we actually get to see some game action. Not very good game action, but hey after 6 months, even preseason football is a sight for very sore eyes.
Labor Day comes and goes, and for many, it can't come soon enough. The Reason why is the next week is the 1st week of the next season. All teams are undefeated. Everyone is a contender. Is the most joyous time of the season.
So take it day by day, and use your old game tapes to get through the really rough days, but remember, we are all in this together. We can make it. Only 7 more months. But until then, get ready for the Biggest game of the year. The one that matters, it's Superbowl T.O.?
Now before we can start...
Tuesday is the annual Superbowl Media Day. This is where each team gets on the field, and members of the media from all over the world are set free to ask the players every stupid quesiton they can think of. Even Channels like E!, Lifetime, Oxygen, Comedy Central, and MTV have media members at Media Day. Most of the questions asked are the same thing you always hear, like “How do you feel?”, “Will you be ready?”, “What's it like to finally make it?”.
Some media will try to goat players into saying something that can be construed as bulleting board material, although Freddie Mitchell has already started that.
Of course one of the Superbowl's biggest urban legends originated at Media Day. You've heard of the reporter who, prior to Superbowl XXII asked Doug Williams “How long have you been a black quarterback?” Thing is, the question was never asked. Prior to Superbowl XXII Doug Williams was the story of the game, much like T.O. and his ankle is the story of this year's Superbowl. A black QB had never started a Superbowl before, and so it was major news that Williams had led his skins to the promised land. During the media day, reporters swarmed Williams, asking him countless times, to the point of overkill, about how he felt being the first black qb.
Well finally a reporter for Clarion-Ledger out of Jackson, Mississippi, finally was fed up, and decided to poke a little fun at his bobbleheaded colleagues and asked Williams the following question. “Doug, it's obvious you've always been a black quarterback all your life. When did it start to matter?" Everyone at the scene had a good chuckle recognizing it for the joke it was, but history has twisted the question around into the urban legend of “Doug, how long have you been a black quarterback?”
I vote we change the name of the position!
Philadelphia WR Freddie Mitchell, began the trash talking this week by mentioning how he doesn't even know the names of the secondary of the Patriots only their numbers. Which considering the fact that the Patriots secondary has been patchwork for most of the season, isn't that surprising, it's been hard to keep track of whose playing and whose not playing for them. Mitchell however went further by saying he had a little something for Patriots DB Rodney Harrison.
Now remember Freddie Mitchell was the teams 3rd WR coming into the year. The only reason he was able to start in the playoffs, was because of an injury to the Eagles other loud mouth, Terrell Owens. Yet here he is, shooting off his mouth trying to get things started.
Earlier in the year, I commented on how I didn't understand why the WR in the league seem to be the biggest prima donnas in the league. This is the one position whose job more than anybody elses, is to run away from people and avoid contact. After all a good WR is one who can run past the defense, and get wide open. Yet WR's are usually the first to open their mouth. I think the NFL shoul rename the position from Wide Receiver to Prima Donna.
Ankle Watch, Day 9
As mentioned above, and last week, one of the biggest stories this Superbowl is whether Terrell Owens will be able to play 6 weeks after have surgery on a broken ankle. True to bobblehead form there has been a different article in the AP, and on ESPN.com, every single week day since the Conference Championships. Many bobbleheads seem amazed at the idea that someone could play on a broken ankle a mere 6 weeks after injuring it. And of course Terrell Owens is loving the attention.
The media seems to be forgetting about a man who played on a broken leg about 30 minutes after breaking it 25 years ago.
During the first round of the NFC Playoffs in the 1979 season, Rams DE Jack Youngblood has his leg snapped. He was taken into the locker room where X-rays confirmed his leg was indeed broken. The team medical staff prepared to wrap up the leg, and end Youngblood's season. Youngblood would have no part of it. Instead he had the team staff wrap up the leg as tight as they could. He spent the rest of the first half getting used to the pain, and finding out just how much he could do with it. He then played the rest of the second half of the game. A game which the Rams won.
During the next week, as people started to learn that his leg was broken, they kept trying to tell him that he was crazy to be playing on it. That there was no way he could play. Youngblood didn't list, and instead had a brace made that would help keep the bone as stable as possible. The next Sunday he suited up, and was on the field as the Rams beat the Buccaneers 9-0 to advance to Superbowl XIV.
Now having already played a game and a half on the broken leg, there was no way they were going to keep him off the field for the Superbowl. Sure enough he was out there. As the Rams led 19-17 in the 3rd Quarter Bradshaw there a 73 yard pass to John Stallworth, that put the Steelers up for good. On the play Youngblood was about a half a step away from making a Sack that would have prevented the pass. Had his leg been healthy he would have been there no problem. Instead the Steelers won their 4th Superbowl in 6 years.
Asked later if he regretted playing, despite not being able to perform at his top level, he replied his only regret would have been not playing.
Earlier this week when Sports Illustrated Columnist Peter King asked him what he thought about the whole Terrell Owens saga, Youngblood replied "To be honest it's hard to compare my injury to [Owens']. He's been out of the game for what, five weeks? He's been convalescing. After four weeks, an amputation should be healed. Shouldn't it?''
Touche Jack, and he's right. Owens is no Youngblood. Youngblood later healed in the offseason and was perfectly healthy and ready for the 1980 season. Back then there wasn't a big hype over the story, and that's just the way Youngblood wanted it. To him it wasn't about his heart, and the guts it took to play on the broken leg. To him it was all about being out there for his team.
Now hear's the thing...
All the talk about the Terrell Owens ankle is both positive and negative for both teams. It's negative for me, because, well, I just don't care that much. But the fact that the bobbleheads are all focusing on the ankle is good for the Eagles, because normally media would be scrutinizing every detail about a team's game plan. Since the Eagles don't have to hear all the talk about whether they have a chance or not. This will make it easier for Eagles staff and players to relax and prepare for the game. It also means they won't get to inundated with Belichick is a genius, and hard to stop his defensive game plan talk.
For the Patriots, it's also helping to cut down on the Dynasty Yes or No talk. Although, there has still been a lot of it, there's not as much as their normally would be. The Patriots though I'm sure are tired of being asked how do they game plan. Will they game plan for Owens, or for the Eagles to be without Owens.
Here's the thing.... It doesn't matter. Belichick has been here before. He has come up with gameplans to Stop the Greatest Show on Turf. He's stopped the Greatest regular season Quarterback in NFL history (7 times). Do we honestly believed that he's all that worried about a guy who's going to be playing at about 70%, on a weakened ankle. Does he think T.O. can still be a threat, I'm sure he does, but let's be honest. T.O. is more likely to go out, catch a 7 yard out pattern, play 5-10 plays the entire game, and go back to the bench, than he is to be a major factor in the game and break a long catch for a T.D.
All this T.O. talk is mainly decoy. The media bobbleheads are helping to perpetuate the decoy, and I'm sure both coaches are just fine with that. Just remember when it's all said and done the T.O. ankle, probably won't be a factor.
I have incorrectly predict the Patriots past two Superbowls. In XXXVI I was firmly behind my beloved Rams, and suffered as Vinatieri kicked the game winning field goal, and broke hearts of myself and many Rams fans. Two years later I was still bitter but honestly believed the Panthers had a legitimate shot to beat the Patriots. Only to watch in deja vu as Vinatieri kicked another game winning fieldgoal. The game was very similar right down to the man who caught the game tying TD for the Panthers, was the same man who caught the game tying TD for the Rams. WR Ricky Proehl.
This year though I don't think the NFC team can win. Belichick and his Patriots, will be ready to take their place in history as they win their 3rd Superbowl in 4 years, 37-17, in a game that's not even that close. However Brady will not get his 3rd MVP, as that honor will go to either Corey Dillon, or Rodney Harrison.
Just remember if I'm wrong, well, it's your own fault for believing somebody nicknamed Sideshow!