What are your guys’ favorite #SB45 prop bets? I just saw one for Gree Bay Points vs. Dwight Howard Points (Dwight plays Boston). GB -3.5!
So I’ve gotten a few e-mails/Facebook comments/Twitter DMs about neglecting to put up my next pick in the series of “Best Super Bowls of My Life as a Football Fan.”
Well, you hungry leeches, here’s #7!
7. Broncos over Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII
This may be a stunner for some, since my Packers lost. But let’s look at this objectively: The game was great. We had superstars on each side, quarterbacks that peppered their respective teams’ record books throughout their illustrious careers, iconic plays, questionable coaching decisions, an expected blowout that went from a close game to a surprising upset, the works.
Also, I cried when this game was over. It ripped my heart out. And when I say “I cried,” I mean “people who watched the game with me were concerned about my well-being and put off by how emotionally involved with the team I was.” I need to piggy-back this statement with the I Am An Enormous Wuss asterisk, but I still doubt I’m the only Green Bay fan in America who shed some tears over this loss.
I thought this was going to be a lousy game, which would’ve been fine by me. The Packers had gone 26-6 between 1996 and 1997 and Brett won his 3rd straight MVP award. Dorsey Levens had come into his own that season, the receivers were outstanding, the defense was considered the league’s best, and the Pack had been relatively unchallenged in the playoffs over the past two years.
On top of that, John Elway wasn’t considered a quarterback capable of winning the Super Bowl: he’d had ample opportunities in the big game and failed. Often miserably. Sure, he had a good squad around him and a solid young coaching staff, but it didn’t seem like Elway had championship DNA. He had AFC Championship DNA, but that was as far as his pedigree seemed to be able to take him.
And you know what’s frustrating? John Elway sucked in this game. He threw for 123 yards and had a QB rating of just 51.9, hardly Super Bowl-worthy numbers. Brett Favre ran rings around him performance-wise, and until a crippling late interception (why does this sentence feel so familiar?), he was putting up a Super Bowl for the ages.
No, this game was won by one man? Terrell Davis. TD catapulted himself into the national consciousness with one of the most unstoppable Super Bowl performances ever put together by a running back. This made Davis the undisputed #2-best running back in the NFL (behind Barry Sanders), and since he was on a winner, you could make the argument he became more celebrated than Barry.
Granted, TD had a better 1998 than 1997: He eclipsed the 2,000-yard barrier and won another Super Bowl (you will NOT be seeing the Broncos-Falcons matchup on this list).
But the highlight of his career was that Super Bowl XXXII box score: 157 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winning score (that Holmgren totally let happen). He won MVP of the game and became a certified Denver legend. Good for him.
MY problem is still with the decision to let Davis score immediately. Sure, you get the ball back with a little extra time on the clock. But to give up the lead in the final minutes of the Super Bowl? Voluntarily?! And not just give up the lead… you surrender a touchdown. I mean, if you’re gonna go down, please at least go down fighting.
I also feel like I should give props to the whole John Elway helicopter thing. I remember one thing about when it happened: As a fan, it didn’t matter to me one bit that he twirled through the air like a propeller on some retarded kid’s hat. But the result of the play? It deflated me. I felt like I had been punched in the gut: We had them (we had them), and then Elway pulls that crap. It didn’t matter to me how he got the first down, he just got it. It moved the chains. I didn’t care that he flew through the air, I cared that he kept the drive alive.
Legendary plays are legendary to everyone except the team they happen against. Then it’s just a play, or at most worthy of a frustrated groan at the thought of it. If you talk to any non-Patriots fan, David Tyree’s catch was “Unbelievable! It was simply unbelievable; that was the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed in a Super Bowl. You can say what you want about Santonio Holmes’ grab the next year, but it doesn’t hold a candle to that guy doing what he did AGAINST AN UNDEFEATED TEAM ON THEIR FINAL DRIVE!!!” Mention the catch to a Pats season ticket holder, and they grumble a few obscenities and miiiiiiight admit that, okay, it was a pretty damn good catch.
That’s what I ultimately have to come to terms with regarding Super Bowl XXXII. The game itself pisses me off, I cried when it was over, it was the last time I’d ever see Brett Favre strap his helmet on in a Super Bowl (even if I didn’t know it at the time). The game ripped my heart out and left me empty.
…But, yeah, it was a pretty damn good game.
My pleasure! Thanks for the insight! RT @Aaron_Nagler Thanks to @frysportsradio for having me on to talk Packers & #SB45. .
http://frysportsradio.podbean.com/ Check out the podcast! It’s up NOW; if you missed @ShanePHallam @Aaron_Nagler & more, download podcast!
Here’s a quick guest lineup for this evening:
10:12- Donald Starver with SteelersToday.com
10:35- David O’Hara from the Iowa Sports Connection
11:05- Shane Hallam of DraftCountdown.com
11:20- Aaron Nagler from Cheeseheadtv.com
11:35- Michael Chrysanthopolous with DivorceMyTeam.com
It’s gonna be a great night of sports talk!
My dad is on Facebook. So don’t even TRY to convince me the Apocalypse isn’t upon us.
Guests on Saturday’s show: @ShanePHallam @gkiss06 @stephenlitel Donald Starver of SteelersToday.com Dave O’Hara of @IowaSportsConnect & more
I was going to write a Top 10 Super Bowls list that only included games since 1996 (when I started paying attention to football; I haven’t missed a Super Bowl since then). But as I went through all the games, I realized something:
There have only been 8 Super Bowls since then that I’d qualify as “good.” I felt guilt subjecting you to a list that included crappy games, so we’ll just go ahead and keep it to eight.
(I’ll be doing one Super Bowl per day Monday-Friday this week and next until Thursday, then I’ll have an article Thursday and picks on Friday)
Hope you enjoy.
8. Pats over Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX
The only dog I had in this race was the “I dislike Tom Brady” dog. I felt he was being overrated because of his chance to win a 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years, which would qualify New England as a dynasty by football standards.
To me, it’d qualify them as the 1990s Dallas Cowboys with a less talented QB, RB, and #1 WR. But I’m just one man.
Meanwhile, the Eagles had finally broken through: Philadelphia was a perennial NFC Championship qualifier that had fallen just short of making it to the Big Game time and time again. Donovan McNabb, a supremely skilled quarterback who was almost like Randall Cunningham Lite, was being criticized as a guy who couldn’t quite get his team over the hump. Andy Reid was being criticized as a guy who was fat as hell. Okay, some of the comments may have been warranted.
And not only that, but the Eagles had TO! In his first year with the Eagles, Terrell Owens had been everything they had hoped for: He averaged 100 yards a game and a touchdown each week. The only question mark for the Eagles’ offense was whether or not TO would be healthy: he hadn’t played yet in the postseason and was going to be testing out a delicate ankle for the first time in 2 months for the Super Bowl.
Even though McNabb and Owens connected on pass plays of 30 and 36 yards at certain points of the game (McNabb actually completed 4 pass plays over 30 yards on the night), Philly’s Brian Westbrook was held in check all night to the tune of just 44 yards on 15 carries. In fact, Philadelphia as a team accounted for just 45 yards on the ground all night.
As you can imagine, that puts a little pressure on the passing game. McNabb had to throw the ball 51 times, accumulating 357 yards through the air (122 to Owens) and 3 touchdown passes. While that’s all well and good, McNabb also through 3 critical interceptions. He also immortalized himself in Super Bowl infamy by allegedly vomiting in the huddle during a crucial 4th-quarter drive, thus drawing the ire of the bombastic Terrell Owens. McNabb is still struggling to overcome this perception 6 years later, while Owens certainly lived up to his now-permanent billing as a QB- and coach- killer.
Meanwhile, New England employed a balanced attack headed by an efficient Tom Brady (23-for-33 passing, 2 TD, 0 INT and a 110.2 passer rating) and balanced out by a good enough Corey Dillon (18 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD). Over half of Brady’s passing yards went to Deion Branch, who put up a Super Bowl performance for the ages: 11 catches for 133 yards.
The deciding score was an Adam Vinatieri field goal. As it was during so many Patriots win in the first half of the last decade.
This was a close game (tied after each of first 3 quarters), the 4th quarter was relevant, and there were marquee players on both teams that could be considered the best of their era. While not one of my personal favorites, and certainly the worst “good” Super Bowl I’ve witnessed, it was a game befitting of the world’s highest sports stage.
To make it very clear: I am a Packers fan. I’ve never wavered from that, even through 4-12 and 6-10 seasons. I’ve been in love with this team since 1996 when I saw them beat a hapless Detroit Lions team 31-3. Their Super Bowl win didn’t sell me on the franchise; the fact is I was swayed by a group of hunters that were staying at my grandfather’s cabin (good pheasant ground).
The hunters were from LaCrosse, WI and came up to my grandpa’s house one Sunday to watch a Packers game. I was there too and very bored. They asked me if I liked football (I lied and said I did), and invited me to watch the game with them.
Over the next three hours, I went from someone who had no clue about football to a smitten 9-year-old who was developing a deep love for the game— and, more specifically, Green Bay. They hunters (there were 4 or 5 of them) spent a considerable amount of time teaching me players’ names, Packers history, why it was dumb of Holmgren to use up all of the team’s first-half timeouts just a couple minutes into the 2nd quarter, the works.
My dad has always pointed out the happy coincidence of me becoming a Packers fan just as the team was in the midst of a stellar winning streak that culminated in a 35-21 domination of New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
That sorta spoiled me, especially since the Packers had essentially the same team coming back for 1997 (except that they shucked an injury-prone Edgar Bennett for a dynamic and elusive Dorsey Levens). They steamrolled to another 13-3 record, Brett won his 3rd MVP award (I had spent that entire year falling in love with him, his playing style, his records, and everything else that Brett Favre meant to the Packers organization), and they went into Super Bowl XXXII heavily favored over a tough-luck John Elway and some up-and-coming RB named Terrell Davis.
The Broncos also had an unproven loudmouth named Shannon Sharpe, an under-the-radar #1 receiver in Rod Smith, and white wideout named Ed McCaffrey (my figuring back in 1998 was you never trust a white receiver not named Don Beebe). I liked our chances, and so did Vegas: The Pack were something like a 13-point favorite for that game.
Since that Sunday, I’ve had to deal with the following:
-Elway’s helicopter impression
-Brett throwing an interception to seal their fate against the Broncos
-A non-fumble against the 49ers the next postseason that ended up being the straw the broke the Instant Replay Camel’s back
-TO’s “The Catch 2”
-The Packers missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record behind Coach Idiot (Er, I meant Rhodes… no, wait, I meant Idiot)
-Brett throwing 22 TDs against 23 picks
-Year after year of promising 10- and 12- win regular seasons followed by postseason disappointment (Michael Vick OWNING us one year, a “Season of Destiny” falling short even after Matt Hasselbeck made an idiot of himself, etc.)
-Brett’s dad dying
-Ahman Green’s magic fizzling out
-A 4-12 season with Brett throwing for 20 touchdowns vs 29 picks
-The constant retirement circus
-A “last gasp” 13-3 season that had all the makings of a storybook ending for our franchise’s greatest folk hero… until that very same folk hero personally craps on that dream by chucking agonizing picks against the Giants AND THEN GOING TO PLAY FOR THE JETS INSTEAD OF RETIRING IN GOOD STANDING WITH THE FRANCHISE THAT GAVE HIM A SHOT AFTER ATLANTA DROPPED HIS OVERWEIGHT IMMATURE ALOOF ASS AND PUT UP WITH THE SOAP OPERA HE PRODUCED EVERY OFFSEASON FROM 2003-2008
-A 6-10 season with our first new starting QB in over 15 years, although that wasn’t so bad because the new guy was okay at times and the team has potential if the defense sures itself up
-A promising season shot down in a thrilling matchup between two of the game’s most prolific QBs from the regular season (Rodgers and Kurt Warner in the Wild Card round of the playoffs)
And now this season. It’s been a long 13 years between Super Bowl visits. I went from being a 9-year-old with the assumption that “sure, the Packers are good every year and always win and always make the Super Bowl” to a 23-year-old who knows that one Super Bowl appearance a decade is too few on paper, but pretty damn special in reality.
Here’s what the Packers have given me:
-An opportunity to watch the most prolific and fun quarterback in NFL history (at least until Peyton Manning crushes every single one of his records)
-A winning football team for a decade and a half
-A Top-5 in the league quarterback following an NFL legend (which almost NEVER happens for teams)
-A slew of talented players on both sides of the ball and perennial Pro Bowlers at multiple positions
-The ability to cheer for my team in January many, many times (rather than having to pick a free agent playoff team to “root for”)
-The Improbably Bobble
-Three of the Four Sports Moments in my Life That Made Me Cry (Losing SB XXXII, “The Catch 2,” and the Giants beating them in the NFC Championship)
-A 15-year-old me yelling “F**king GET HIM!” while watching Packers defenders whiff consistently on trying to tackle Michael Vick during an NFC Wild Card game that I watched with my parents
-Christmas presents from distant family members who know nothing about me other than “He’s a Packers fan”
-Something to talk about when a group of hunters who would otherwise be total strangers visit my Grandma’s cabin to hunt pheasant
Yep, being a Cheesehead’s pretty sweet.
Packers-Steelers. I like the way that sounds.
It’s all come down to the two games that decide who goes on to the game that comes down to it all. Bears-Packers! Jets-Steelers! Gotta love it.
I texted G-Kiss yesterday saying “I just hope we don’t have the same Super Bowl picks.”
G-Kiss replied, “I have a feeling we will.” Oh, reeeeeeeeeeeeally?
(Quick note: G-Kiss is finally on Twitter! You can follow him @gkiss06)
Here are mine and G-Kiss’ picks:
G-Kiss’ pick: Packers.
Better team, better defense, better QB, and they’re playing at a higher level than the rest of the NFC. The Bears do have Hester though, who can break a return at any time and has given the Bears the best average field position all year. If he goes off, the Bears have a chance to pull out a close one.
My pick: Packers.
The only thing that kept Green Bay from sweeping the Monsters of the Midway during the 2010 regular season was a lack of discipline in their first tilt. Take away the 287,316 penalties and the Packers almost certainly would have come away from that match-up with a victory.
The Pack beat two higher seeds to get to the NFC title game, while Chicago had to take on a Seattle squad that were 10-point underdogs and played ridiculously over their heads in the Wild Card round for the honor of getting spanked by the Bears in the Divisional Round. Why wouldn’t I take the Packers?
Law of averages says Aaron Rodgers won’t put up the same numbers today that he put up in his first three career playoff games; every player has to come down to Earth at some point and he hasn’t been a Bear world-beater in his career. The Bears’ D is too good for Rodgers to turn their secondary into Suck Filets like he did to the Falcons. That said, James Starks will likely perform better than he did vs. Atlanta (thanks to Chicago’s concentrated effort to stop Rodgers).
Law of averages also says Jay Cutler will come down to Earth a little bit from his performance against the Seahawks. The Packers’ D is significantly better than Seattle and he’ll have the tandem of Raji/Matthews breathing down his neck all day. They might be breaking the very neck they breath down, too.
My score pick: Packers 31, Bears 20
G-Kiss’ Pick: Steelers.
The Jets will finally have to face a defense as talented as theirs. Don’t expect Sanchez to get away with 3 quarters of crappy play, 4th quarter I’m Peyton Sanchez routine. Polamolu and Miller will be back this week and you can’t doubt a 9-2 Ben Roethlisberger in the playoffs. Look for Sanders and Brown to have big impacts and Wallace to get one deep ball in broken coverage.
My Pick: Jets.
I learned something the past two weeks: If you are the best remaining AFC quarterback in the playoffs, Rex Ryan will stop you. He did it in round one against Peyton Manning (regardless of what Tom Terrific does, I maintain that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback in NFL history). He did it in round two against Tom Brady. Now the best remaining QB in the American Football Conference is Ben Roethlisberger. Ruh-roh.
Mark Sanchez is 4-1 in the playoffs. That said, so are Shonn Greene and Rex Ryan, so I don’t really know why I’m pinning all of their success on Sanchez. But when you’ve been to two conference championship games in your first two seasons, I guess you’ve earned that right as a quarterback. Sanchez is getting further and further removed from that pretty boy at USC who beat up some pretty inferior opponents; he’s been getting beat up by defensive coordinators and the New York press to the degree that he’s become one of the more grizzled athletes under 25 that I can think of. As a rookie, Mark had a game or two where he was truly abominable, including a start where it felt like he was throwing as many interceptions as completions. There were even questions earlier this season as to whether or not Rex would stick with Sanchize as his starting QB.
But now, while he’s not a player that’ll single-handedly carry a team to victory, he’s growing into a quarterback that, with the right personnel and game plan surrounding him, you can hook a saddle up to and ride to the Super Bowl.
Hey… that last paragraph could’ve also been used to describe Ben Roethlisberger in his second season. And he won the Super Bowl that year. Weird.
My score pick: Jets 23, Steelers 14
E-mail YOUR picks to email@example.com or throw them at me on Twitter! @frysportsradio (or G-Kiss @gkiss06)
Blake Griffin can hit threes? Wtf can’t this guy do??
Watching “Yo Gabba Gabba.” Why has my life come to this?
Random, non-sports-related thoughts for January 2011
- When I die, if I go to Heaven, this is the first thing I’m going to do: I am going to ask God if I can watch the 10 best dreams I’ve ever forgotten, as chosen by Him. Not MY Top Ten; I want God’s Top Ten of his favorite dreams I have no recollection of. You know when you have an unbelievable dream, but when you wake up it’s completely forgotten within two minutes? But the feeling of how awesome that dream was is still inside you, and it creates a longing for the dream itself to be remembered? That’s why it’d be my #1 priority— to re-remember the absolute best dreams I’ve ever had. Even before being reunited with friends and family who had made it to Heaven before me.
- The best cities in America I have been to that are not in Iowa (in order): Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Indianapolis, Daytona, Nashville, Peoria, Milwaukee, Atlanta.
- If I could have one person’s job, it would be Conan O’Brien.
- If I could make sure that one person never has a job or makes money again as long as they live, it would be Tucker Max.
- I’m incredibly thankful that Steve Martin has a Twitter account, because I feel like it’s his 21st-Century version of the stand-up act he used to do. This is refreshing and exciting because I am too young to have ever been able to see him live. It’s a huge thrill to my generation.
- If I had one wish about my show, it would be that I receive more e-mails from my listeners (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- My least favorite word is “fart.”
- I wish I could go back in time just to see what color dinosaurs were.
- I cry every Good Friday.
- I am terrified of heights. As much as I love Denver, I never want to go up Mt. Evans again… it was the most awful experience of my entire life.
I wanted to put together a postseason award of my own for the NFL. What I ended up deciding on was one that answered a simple question: If you could hire an architect to build a player that’s perfect at each position, which player at that position would come closest to such architectural perfection?
Thus, the Frank Lloyd Wright Awards were born. I want to make a quick note: These are not necessarily the BEST at their position judging by statistics or general consensus, per se; these are just the players that I’d say most perfectly fit the expectations of their position.
Here are the offensive FLW Award Winners:
Aaron Rodgers, Packers. He combines everything you’d want in an effective (and winning) signal-caller: He’s got a fantastic arm, throws a tight spiral accurately, and unlike Brady & Manning, isn’t a statue in the pocket.
Do you know who has the 2nd most rushing yards at the QB position this year (behind Michael Vick)? Yup, it’s Aaron Rodgers. He’s not fast enough that he bails on pass plays too early, but not slow enough that he’s a liability once the pocket breaks down and has to either take a sack or throw it out of bounds. He’s got the respect of his teammates and can carry a team if there’s no running game to speak of. He’s a heady quarterback who makes good decisions. The minute he learns that he’s not made of steel and is capable of getting knocked out of games if he isn’t careful, there won’t be a better quarterback in professional football.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings. Don’t let the fact that he finished 6th in the NFL in rushing this year change your mind about All Day: there’s no RB in football I’d rather have. He’s durable, fearless, fast, tough, can run North-South and East-West, and finally is able to hold on to the football (just 1 fumble in 283 carries). Peterson’s 12 touchdowns and 4.6 yards per carry were considered a drop-off by his standards, and something tells me having zero help from the QB position all year certainly didn’t help his cause. Defenses were able to key on AP and he still put up gaudy numbers.
The 25-year-old Peterson already has over 5,500 career rushing yards and 52 touchdowns. He’s got plenty of mileage left in his legs and will go down as one of the all-time greats if he stays healthy for even just 3 or 4 more years.
Ovie Mughelli, Falcons. He totally gets it: Unselfish, incredible blocker. All I need out of my fullback is someone to clear a path for my running back. No need for a Mike Alstott character; just make a hole. Ovie’s my boy for that.
Andre Johnson, Texans. This guy is Herman Moore 2.0: A big, powerful receiver who is effective both on the outside running 9s and going over the middle. He’s never intimidated and ridiculously consistent. I love the way the guy goes about his business. I don’t need my star WR to be making headlines for any reason other than his box score lines of 8 catches for 146 yards and a pair of TDs. It’s NEVER shocking when Johnson puts up a line like that, by the way.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals. The most athletic receiver in football. He’s a step below Randy Moss in his prime, but Fitzgerald’s the closest thing we have to that level of “If-my-QB-throws-the-ball-up-I’ll-catch-it-no-matter-what” dominance.
Larry’s relatively young, so expect him to spend the next five years to position himself as a threat to move into the Top 10 in most receiver stats as he heads into the twilight of his career.
Calvin Johnson, Lions. The only receiver I can honestly compare Johnson to is a younger Reggie Wayne or a Terrell Owens with more innate body control. Johnson’s just a little better than several other receivers at key things, and he’s able to catch literally any ball that he’s able to touch. With that, he’s also got the speed and athleticism to get to passes that most other receivers would write off as uncatchable. Since he’s been floundering on a struggling Lions team for his entire career, his true skills haven’t been put on display in a large enough sample size that we can fully appreciate what he’s able to do on the gridiron. But the Lions finally appear to have something good going on offense, and that certainly bodes well for Johnson’s numbers (and Pro Bowl/All-Pro potential) in the future.
Dallas Clark, Colts. Question: Who is the one player in the NFL that shocks you the most when they drop a pass? Answer for me: Dallas Clark. Over the course of his career, Clark has gone from “nice prospect” to “Peyton Manning’s Safety Valve” to ”postseason X-Factor” to “regular season X-Factor” to “Peyton Manning’s Most Consistent Pass-Catcher” to “Receiver Defensive Coordinators Worry About The Most When Facing Indianapolis.” He’s a joy to watch and gets more yards per catch than Wes Welker… which is saying nothing, but still.
Antonio Gates, Chargers. Perhaps the most athletic tight end ever. I love watching this guy play; he’s more Shannon Sharpe than Tony Gonzalez, except he’s a better deep ball threat and he can run any route in football. He’s the one constant for Phillip Rivers over the past several years, and a huge part of why Rivers has become one of the premier statistical QBs in football (despite throwing a piece-of-crap ball; funny how having a break-the-mold TE can make that enormous mechanical fault seem miniscule).
Jake Long, Dolphins. Consensus is he’s the best offensive lineman in football. Jake Long is what Robert Gallery would’ve been if he had a better grasp of the NFL game, more muscle, and less fat. He’s that good.
D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Jets. Great redemption story: people had written this guy off as a bust and now he’s perhaps one of the 2 or 3 most-feared OTs in the game. Bonus points for having the name D’Brickshaw; it’s the kind of name someone would give a lineman if they were going to build one from scratch.
Logan Mankins, Pats. The anchor of that offensive line. Brady’s not a mobile quarterback, so the guys in front of him need to be rock-solid. Mankins is the epitomy of that.
Steve Hutchinson, Vikings. I love watching this guy play. He’s imposing and you can’t pin any of the Vikes’ front-line issues on him from the past year. He’s part of the reason Favre had his best statistical year ever in 2009 and a HUGE piece of a line that keeps my Frank Lloyd Wright RB clean until about 2 or 3 yards past the line of scrimmage on a regular basis.
Jeff Saturday, Colts. For my money, the most respected Center in the NFL. I’m a giant Peyton Manning fan, but he wouldn’t be the quarterback he is today if he didn’t have a great partnership with the guy whose butt he puts his hands under. He also deserves credit for having to know all those ridiculous code words and signals that Manning utilizes throughout the course of a game.
The “Frank Lloyd Wright” Awards for defensive players will be out next week!