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The NFL’s endless autumn
The 2011 NFL season may be over, but it’s hard to tell with all the football coverage out there. From Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, to Eli’s “elite” status, and free agency, if it weren’t for Linsanity, ESPN could be mistaken for the NFL Network. But why this glut of coverage more than a week after the Super Bowl’s final whistle? It’s easy to say that the NFL and media nurture hype for profit and ratings, but the answer also is in football’s DNA.
Professional football in America is indeed “a rare sport.” The autumnal pastime of our grandparents has evolved, over the last 50 years, into a perpetual entertainment Leviathan. Guts and grit spill across the gridiron from September through January; human drama and analysis drive the action from February through August. “Offseason,” Doug Farrar joked in 2008 when we launched the League. “What’s that?”Continue reading this post »
Five NFL theories on Tom Brady, Tim Tebow and Eli and Peyton Manning
Now that the Super Bowl is over, do you remember the NFL lockout? Me neither. Instead, I’ve been Tebowing about these five things:
1) When did NFL fame become more about off-field drama than winning?
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow walk into a bar. That’s a either a joke or a headline, and then there would be a half-hour documentary on three different networks — “The Ballad of Tom Brady and Yoko Bundchen.”
Meanwhile, it turns out that Eli Manning actually owns the bar. Only Aaron Rodgers and people who know the words to the song, “New York, New York” noticed that Eli Manning now owns the Lombardi Trophy Bar & Grill.
Unfazed by the Eli revelation, all national observers still stubbornly say, “Look who just walked into the bar.”
2) Does NFL history repeat itself backwards?
Is Tom Brady’s career going to be John Elway’s in reverse?
At the end of his career, John Elway had modest statistics and won two Super Bowls. At the beginning of his career, Tom Brady had modest statistics and won three Super Bowls.
In the first half of his career, Elway had great statistics and lost three Super Bowls, including one to the New York Giants. In the second half of his career, Brady has had great statistics and lost two Super Bowls, both to the New York Giants.
It’s spooky, almost to the level of the John F. Kennedy/Abraham Lincoln parallels.Continue reading this post »
Both the Giants and Patriots will be back next year
Ten thoughts on the New York Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI triumph.
1) Was it just me, or did Sunday’s game feel a little off until the Giants’ fourth quarter touchdown drive? It just didn’t have the feel of a Super Bowl, or at least not the feel of a memorable one. That isn’t to say that the Giants’ game-winning drive wasn’t remarkable, or that anyone should be disappointed by a game that literally came down to the last play, but it just didn’t have the feel of the biggest game of the year.
2) This morning, the papers and talk radio all seem to be wondering if the game somehow marks the end of the Belichick and Brady era in New England. Really? They won 10 games in a row before yesterday’s loss, and had Wes Welker or Deion Branch hung onto balls each normally catches, or had the last-second Hail Mary fallen into Rob Gronkowski’s hands — look at that play again at regular speed to see just how close it was — we wouldn’t be having that conversation. Let’s not let a play or two lead us to some silly conclusions. New England will be a contender once again next year. Add a deep threat on offense and tighten up the defense, and an already great team becomes even better.Continue reading this post »
Manningham catch, Welker drop altered fate of Giants, Patriots
Two throws with two totally different outcomes in the waning seconds of Super Bowl XLVI helped the New York Giants topple the New England Patriots once again.
On second and 11 with 4:06 remaining in the game, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard pass to Wes Welker, which Welker uncharacteristically dropped. How uncharacteristic? The All-Pro only dropped five passes all year, including the playoffs, none on a throw more than 10 yards downfield.
If Welker catches that pass, Brady and company would have a first down on the Giants 20-yard line with the clock running down from minutes. The worst case scenario if Welker catches that pass for the Patriots would be settling for a field goal four plays later, but not before running down the clock to at least 2:30 (if the Giants used their last timeout) or two minutes (if the Giants didn’t use their last timeout) if New England simply ran the ball three times in a row. As a result, the Patriots would have a 20-15 lead, leaving Eli Manning with about two minutes to score a touchdown (not a field goal). However, had Welker come up with the catch, Brady would be one first down or touchdown away from putting the game away and claiming his fourth Super Bowl ring (more likely).Continue reading this post »