Monday, February 4, 2008

. . . . . And 1

Sure never having to listen to Mercury Morris & Don Shula (except for on his nutri system commercials) brag about their 72' undefeated season again, would have been great. Tom Brady joining Terry Bradshaw & Joe Montana as the only 4-time Super Bowl winning quarterbacks would have been a remarkable accomplishment, and crowning the New England Patriots the Super Bowl Champions for the 4th time in 7 years would have cemented them as the dynasty to end all dynasties, but that won't happen this year. Sorry.I could spit out 2,500 words that would rub the legions of bandwagon Pats fans noses in this historical loss, I could rip off another 1,000 words calling their dynasty fraudulent (giving the route of the U.S. Senator) and I could even tell you how upset I am that people continue to say "the Patriots just didn't play well" showing their complete inability to give the Giants any credit at all. But, I'm not going to do any of that . . . . . Yet. I would rather school you on what actually happened last night, in case you are one of the ten people who missed the greatest Super Bowl since Rams/Titans in 1999.

In order to understand what exactly went down last night you have to understand what didn't go down over the last five months. The Patriots weren't unbeatable, they just hadn't been beaten. Unbeatable teams don't exist because athletes have nights were they just get beat because they are human despite how "in-human" they might seem to their fans. For the first time all year Tom Brady spent significant time on his back, for the first time all year the opposing quarterback didn't make "THAT" mistake which allowed New England to escape defeat, and for the first time in recent the Patriots looked old. I have theories upon theories of how this loss can be broken down, but the bottom line is the Giants came to Arizona to beat the Patriots, and they beat them physically and emotionally. 17-14, BALLGAME.

The real MVP of Super Bowl 42, no offense to Eli, I get it Quarterbacks are usually MVPs and for obvious reasons, but in Super Bowl 42 Osi Umenyiora made a larger impact than anyone else on the field. The Giant defense put Brady on his back all day long and along with Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan, Umenyiora in large part was the cause. Destroying all-pro tackle Matt Light on his way to a victory, Osi was doubled by Kyle Brady and Light yet still the Patriot offensive line couldn't stop him. Umenyiora may not be the leader in the stat book but I'm sure you all know who #72 on the field was Sunday night.

The first thought that rushed to my head last night after seeing Peyton celebrate his brothers’ victory was WOW. Imagine being an average NFL Quarterback who had to spend his career playing for the lowly New Orleans Saints and then giving birth to three sons, two of whom would become stand out collegiate quarterbacks and evolve into Super Bowl MVP winning quarterbacks in back-to-back years. Your children reached the absolute pinnacle of their professions, heights you could only dream of for yourself. What are the odds of that happening? I understand that when you’re a professional athlete your children start their career off a leg up, but at some point talent must overcome your last name and both Manning boys far exceed what their father ever accomplished, for that I'm in awe. As a guy who sat on the sidelines for many of his older brothers athletic accomplishments I can say that I feel at least a little bit of what Peyton felt when he cornered himself into the luxury box with no one around him and cheered for his little brother to pull of the unexpected. You walk a little lighter, you pump your chest out a little further, and you are by far his biggest fan. In your mind he is the best and on his bad days he is still better than everyone else, he just had a bad day. When Eli tossed that last touchdown pass there was no one happier for him than Peyton, which was a "Super Bowl" moment that we may never see again.

Special congratulations should be given to veterans like Amani Tumour, a 10+ year veteran wide reciever who was one of two members of the New York Giants team that played in the Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens back in 2000. Unlike wide recievers Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, and Randy Moss . . . . . Tumour is a quiet constant in the Giant locker room and even more important a constant on the football field. Wide recievers who don't make themselves "THE SHOW," what a novel idea. To Jeff Feagles, a 20 year NFL veteran punter out of the "U" finally played in a Super Bowl and won one, the oldest player to play on the big stage. Finally, Michael Strahan . . . it pains me to give congrats to Strahan because he is probably one of the biggest self promoters in the history of the NFL but I have to. Strahan had to sit and watch as people pined for Brett Favre to participate in another Super Bowl, and he'd already won one. If you thought that Mike talked alot before, you haven't seen anything yet.

Plaxico Burress is a very good reciever and I respect him for that. I couldn't believe it when he said New England would score 17 points in the Super Bowl and it turns out that wasn't that far fetched, his defense is good and he was the first to say after the game, "CAN THIS DEFENSE GET A LITTLE RESPECT" that isn't self promotion, that is team promotion. He also ripped NE Defensive Back Ellis Hobbs by stating the obvious, he's 5'10" and I'm taller, turns out his touchdown that won the Super Bowl was caught over the shorter Hobbs. Plax has 2 Super Bowl rings now and should be treated as a top 5 wide reciever in the NFL if he isn't already.

The last thing I have to say about Super Bowl XLIVIVLVILLVI is that as much as I love hearing Patriot fans weap from Bangor, ME to Boxborough, MA I think they all get "it." The New York Giants and Tom Coughlin physically beat the New England Patriots and from September to February on any given Sunday, ANY team in the NFL can beat any other team they play and that is a wonderful thing. Football is America's game and only America's game.

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