Monday, Jan. 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET

NFL News Feed, Super Bowl Edition

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Mark Maske
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:30 PM

Live from Tampa, Washington Post NFL columnist and blogger Mark Maske was online Monday, Jan. 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the Super Bowl and all the latest news from around the league.

The transcript follows.

Mark writes the NFL News Feed blog for the washingtonpost.com's pro football group blog, The League. He is the author of War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East.

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Mark Maske: Hey, everyone. Not to rub it in too much, but it's like 75 degrees here in Tampa. Let's get right to it.

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The Big Game: So Mark, who ya got?

Mark Maske: I'll reserve the right to change my mind as the week progresses, but I think I'll go with the Steelers. So that's good news for anyone who wants the Cardinals to win. But, really, that Pittsburgh defense is so good, and I'm guessing that Ben Roethlisberger will play a little better than he did the last time he was in a Super Bowl.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: Mark,

Any idea on how much the Super Bowl ticket scalpers are getting this year? I would assume the demand is there from the Pittsburgh fans and probably not so much from the Arizona side. With the economy the way it is, it must be a tough sell.

Mark Maske: I have seen some reports saying that the secondary ticket market is down 35 to 40 percent. I have no first-hand knowledge of this, but those are the numbers I recall seeing reported last week.

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Ipswich, Mass. (transplanted from D.C.): How can any Redskins fan root for the Cardinals? We're still bitter about the Mel Gray "catch."

Of course, who can root for the Steelers and their obnoxious fans?

I guess I'll just watch the game for the ads and excuse to drink beer and eat food.

Mark Maske: There are a lot of D.C. connections with the Cardinals. Bill Bidwill, the owner, and his son Michael, the team president, both went to school in Washington. On the coaching staff, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm both played for the Redskins. Among the players, Tim Hightower and Darnell Dockett are from the area.

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Rockville, Md.: Need to get a Skins question in. How is Bruce Allen regarded around the league, and if he were to come to the Redskins, what would Vinny's role be. Do you think Danny would finally get rid of him?

Mark Maske: First of all, let me say that Bruce Allen to the Redskins is nothing more than a rumor. I have not seen any reporting done to legitimize it beyond that. I have talked to people about it and have not been able to legitimize it. I'm not saying there's no chance it will happen. I'm just saying I have seen no legitimate evidence yet to say it will happen. I think Bruce is well-regarded around the league. He has a wide range of experiences. He worked with a hands-on owner in Oakland in Al Davis, and he worked with relatively hands-off owners in Tampa with the Glazer family. Yes, he got fired by the Buccaneers. But people get fied in this league. It happens. To me, that was more about Jon Gruden being fired and Bruce Allen having to go with him because he'd come in with him. I don't know how it would work in the Redskins' front office if Allen were to be hired. It would be an interesting dynamic, for sure.

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Washington, D.C.: How does Tampa compare to the other host cities you've been too? And when is D.C. going to get its chance to host?

Mark Maske: For my purposes, it's a perfectly acceptable host city. The weather is good. Everything is not so spread out like last year in Phoenix, where it took forever to get from one venue to another. We'll see how it goes later in the week when the crowds get big, but I would guess most people will be happy with Tampa as the host city.

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Baltimore: As a Ravens fan, I should root for the Steelers -- same conference, same style of football and, hey, they beat us three times this year, so their victory might take some of the sting out of that.

However, Kurt Warner traveled such an improbable route to get here -- from NFL Europe, to running "the greatest show on turf," to losing his job with the Rams, mentoring Eli Manning, then being brought in to mentor Matt Leinhart -- and then he had a monster year to get back. Add the fact that the Cardinals have won nothing in my lifetime (and I'm 61) and I have to root for them.

Mark Maske: Only those who can remember the 1947 NFL championship game can say that the Cardinals have won something in their lifetime.

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Avon Park, Fla.: What do you think Tony Dungy's legacy is as a head coach? It doesn't seem to me that he gets much credit for winning that Super Bowl. People chalk that up to Peyton Manning.

Mark Maske: I think he gets plenty of credit from people who know the game. Part of his legacy, certainly, will be for breaking down barriers, for waiting so long to get his chance and then becoming the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. Certainly, part of his legacy will be the dignified manner in which he coached, winning so many games without screaming or cursing or intimidating. To me, another part of his legacy will be the way he carried himself on a personal level through great adversity. I'm not talking about losing a football game. I'm talking about losing a son. I will remember that about him more than anything else.

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Cleveland: Why do the Browns keeps hiring Ozzie Newsome's assistants, instead of just offering enough money to Ozzie to bring him home?

Mark Maske: I'm sure they'd love to have Ozzie Newsome as their general manager. But wanting that and being able to make it happen are two different things.

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Annapolis, Md.: Piggybacking the earlier question, there are also several Steeler-D.C. connections. Mike Tomlin's from the area, and his brother played at Maryland. They've got old friend Ryan Clark. I'm sure Antwaan will be pulling for them. The Redskins' next coach may be an ex-Steelers coach (haha).

And while the Steelers fans may be obnoxious (I admit, most I've met have been great), how can anyone not root for Tomlin? The man seems to be a 100 percent, stand-up, class act.

Mark Maske: Agreed about Tomlin. In my experiences, I have always found him to be a classy guy.

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Washington, D.C.: Re the poster who asked "when is D.C. going to get its chance to host" the Super Bowl: Not in this lifetime, as long as they play the game in early February and D.C. has an open air stadium in Prince George's County. Even having a dome is no guarantee the NFL will come to a cold weather site. I seem to remember no one much liking Detroit and Minnesota as mid winter getaway destinations.

Mark Maske: If there would ever be a Super Bowl awarded to a cold-weather city without a domed stadium, my guess is that it would go to New York before it would go to Washington. Without a doubt, Dan Snyder would love to have a Super Bowl in D.C. I remember at one point, the Redskins even commissioned a study about how much it would cost to put a temporary roof over FedEx Field just for a Super Bowl. My guess is that he will keep trying, but it probably will take a stadium with a roof to get it done.

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Alexandria, Va.: He may not play, but Byron Leftwich is also a local kid.

Mark Maske: Right on both counts.

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Fairfax, Va.: I have to agree with you, whoever you pick, loses...are you a kiss of death specialist or something? When I saw you pick the Eagles over the Cards in the NFC title game, I KNEW THEY WERE DONE. So now, I have emptied the 401k and will play the opposite of your pick this week. Thanks for stating it here.

Mark Maske: Let's not pile on too much. My picks were okay during the regular season. They were really good last season. In these playoffs, maybe it's my picks that were right and the games were wrong. Did you ever consider that?

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Roanoke, Va.: Any news about the re-signing of DeAngelo Hall?

Mark Maske: No, it's a little bit early to see much activity on player signings. We'll see more of that right before free agency begins.

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New Haven, Conn.: I was struck by Gregg Easterbook's recent comment that in the Super Bowl, great offenses and great defenses tend to balance out. His idea was that Arizona's high-flying offense and Pittsburgh's rugged defense will neutralize each other, so that the real game will be Pittsburgh's inconsistent offense versus Arizona's shaky defense. If it really comes down to this, who wins?

washingtonpost.com: Super Bowl will be battle of Steelers' offense, Cardinals' defense (ESPN.com)

Mark Maske: I would take the Steelers under that theory. As I said before, I'm guessing that Roethlisberger will have a better Super Bowl performance than he had the last time he was in the game, and you would think the Steelers would be able to run the ball a little bit.

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Washington, D.C.: With the number of coaching vacancies decreasing, does Russ Grimm still have a shot at becoming a head coach this season? Why hasn't Oakland hired a coach yet?

Mark Maske: It doesn't look like Russ will be in the mix in either Oakland or Kansas City. Some people think that Todd Haley, the Cardinals' offensive coordinator, could end up with the Chiefs' job. The Raiders haven't hired a coach because Al Davis operates on his own timetable, thank you very much.

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Reston, Va.: The Steelers have obnoxious fans? Are they the ones who chant "YOU SUCK" to the Rock and Roll song? I'll take Terrible Towels over that embarrassing, child-like display any day.

That said, do you think the NFL playoff system has been vindicated now that the Cardinals - a team naysayers suggested should have never been in the playoffs to begin with - are in the Super Bowl?

Mark Maske: I don't know that the playoff system has been vindicated. The Cardinals have vindicated themselves. All those "naysayers" had plenty of reasons to knock the Cardinals entering the playoffs. They'd gone 0-5 on the East Coast during the regular season. They'd lost those games by an average of 20 points. They'd given up 56 points to the Jets in Giants Stadium. They'd lost by 40 points in New England. There were legitimate reasons to knock the Cardinals entering the playoffs. They've raised their level of play.

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are you a kiss of death specialist or something?: I can't help but notice that, unlike your anonymous critics, you are 1) willing to make your picks every week, and 2) put your name next to them. Just placing that into the record..

Mark Maske: Ah, a supporter.

You are an astute observer of football and a wonderful human being.

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Anonymous: Will Matt Leinart have a good seat for watching the game?

Mark Maske: The Cardinals might make him pay for a ticket.

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Alexandria, Va.: So what's the word on Willis McGahee - is he still recovering, and has he expressed any ill will toward Ryan Clark for that hit?

Mark Maske: He was released from the hospital the day after the game and, according to the Ravens, was expected to make a complete recovery. I have not heard him express his feelings about the hit.

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Crofton, Md.: Put me out of my misery... tell me how long we have to endure the Danny and Vinny show? They have killed any enthusiasm I had for this team (I am a home-grown Washingtonian). How long until Dan Snyder learns to hire a good GM and stand back? Can we pay for Dan to take a trip to Pittsburgh for a tour of the Rooney's operation? Where do I send my contribution?

Mark Maske: Don't hold back.

What do you really think?

I guess we'll all just have to see if there is any truth in these Bruce Allen rumors. As I said earlier, I have not seen any reporting to this point to legitimize them. If that does not come to fruition, I don't see the Redskins making any changes this offseason to their decision-making structure on the football side of the operation.

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Arlington, Va.: My wife's a Yinzer and I got to see firsthand what a championship game is like last Sunday (I got tired of waiting for the 'Skins to host one...). I'm sold on the "Pittsburgh as the model franchise/sports city" thing, as I've never seen fans as dedicated as theirs (watching a team win to go to the SB will do that to you). That said--does the Stillers' offensive line keep enough pressure off of Big Ben for him not to get rattled, as he seems to do after getting bounced around enough times? Can Arizona's front 4 (or 3) put enough pressure on Roethilsberger and Parker to make this a defensive struggle (like the Stillers-Ravens game was)?

Mark Maske: That's one of the keys right there, on both sides. You can get to both of these quarterbacks and force them into mistakes. I would think the Steelers would be able to run the ball well enough to slow down the pass rush a little bit. But if the Steelers fall behind and have to get into a pass-only mode, they could be in trouble because they don't protect well enough.

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Mark Maske: I'm going to run, folks. There's a press conference with the host committee coming up in a few minutes. Thanks for the questions. Everyone enjoy the game Sunday and we'll get together again soon when the offseason things start happening.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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