Super Bowls don’t determine greatness

9 02 2010

For all you Peyton Manning critics who claim he can’t reach NFL immortality now that he’s lost a Super Bowl, take a deep breath, relax and chew on the following few paragraphs. As much as credentials for quarterback greatness might have once swung too far toward statistics, the argument for who’s the best has pivoted too much to the other side of the pendulum, the one that looks at Super Bowl rings as the absolute precursor to a legendary resume.

I get why all quarterbacks are measured by the number of Vince Lombardi trophies they raise during their career. Football is the consummate battle and quarterbacks are the ringleaders, thus making a championship the ultimate test of their leadership, toughness and talent. Yet those critics who claim that quarterbacks should be measured by their Super Bowl rings will also endorse football as the ultimate team sport.

Football advocates cite each position’s reliance on the other as the reason for why football promotes teamwork better than any other sport. The quarterback is dependent on the offensive line to protect him and the wide receiver catch his pass. The running back is reliant on the quarterback to properly hand off the ball and for everybody else to block. The defense works essentially the same way, with linemen and defensive backs realizing that their job is based at least somewhat on whether the other performs his role.

So if football is the ultimate team sport, why put so much of the onus on quarterbacks to win the Big Game? Sure, they receive most of the glory for winning, but that doesn’t mean critics should double up on a misguided placement of responsibilities by labeling them as “not great enough” if they don’t win one Super Bowl, or multiple in the case of Manning. He’s won “only” one Super Bowl. He’s “just” 9-9 in the playoffs, although the 9-9 critics fail to point out that he’s 9-6 since 2003 and 6-3 since ’06.

Manning will — and should — go down as one of the sport’s greatest quarterbacks. Whether or not he’s number one is simply a matter of preference for an era. Old-timers consider Johnny Unitas the greatest because of his toughness, leadership and ability to pique interest in football at a time when baseball was still America’s game. Some prefer Joe Montana because of his cool under pressure and the great defenses he faced in the ’80s. Others hold Manning in the highest regard because of more athletic defenses running far more complex schemes during his era. You really can’t go wrong as long as you take time to tailor your pitch. Just don’t hold a quarterback responsible for the entire actions of a team at every moment of his career.


Super Bowl questions

7 02 2010

Here are my questions in preparation for Super Sunday:

Which company will disappoint with the worst commercial(s) — Budweiser, Go Daddy or

How anti-climatic will Tim Tebow’s commercial be?

Why the hell don’t I watch the NHL more? I’m checking Caps/Pens on NBC and in the first half of the first period Sid has scored two goals and there have been three mini-fights/altercations.

How many new camera angles will CBS introduce for today’s game?

At what point of “The Who”‘s performance will I turn my attention to something else? For the record, I like the band. It’s just that their best work is from the ’60s.

Will Reggie Bush repeat Devin Hester’s opening kickoff against the Colts?

More Kim Kardashian and less of anything else would make a good Super Bowl today.

How many shots do we get of Kim Kardashian, Bush’s girlfriend, in the stands?

Why hasn’t KK’s enterprising self allowed fans to auction for her to discard various pieces of clothing as she sits in her seat/luxury box?

How many times will I curse CBS for showing us Archie/Olivia/Eli/Cooper Manning instead of KK?

At what point does Jim Nantz break down, cry and thank all the viewers for joining him on an emotionally gratifying sports telecast?

Will Freeney line up on the left side if he does play, thus using his good ankle for his push-off from the line?

How long does Freeney last? How many times does CBS show trainers working on Freeney on the sidelines?

When does Peyton split the seam with a perfect pass?

Which receiver — Dallas, Garcos, Pierre, Wayne, Bush, Colston, Devery — will get 100 yards first?

If Tony Dungy is interviewed during the game, will he act as if the Colts already won?

Will we see a rushing touchdown in this game?

Which linebacker — Gary Brackett or Jonathan Vilma — will have a bigger game?

Does Vilma crush his former The U teammate Reggie Wayne if Wayne runs an under route across the middle?

How many beers can I drink before halftime so that I’m sober enough to enjoy the second half?

In a related question, how many beers will I go through before I start yelling without regard to anyone else at the party?

Who will be the game’s MVP?

Can we finally get a streaker that the Super Bowl deserves?

How to play football (I don’t mean soccer)

5 02 2010

Ready, Set … Football

I’ve written in this space that football has overtaken baseball as America’s sport of choice. Surely not an original thought, I know. But I do speak the truth, or so I like to think. That makes this article I wrote for especially relevant to all Americans. (If the Cowboys can still call themselves “America’s Team” then I certainly would like to be “America’s Sportswriter.”)

In an admittedly simple piece meant for the novice football player in all of us, I introduce how to play, dress and train to play a pickup football game. Experts in the article include a former NFL player, a former NFL trainer and a current NFL dietitian. When I do it, I do it big. Thanks to the help from these experts, you can quickly form even the biggest soccer fan in your family into a full-time American football player.