Misleading Super Bowl Angles
by Trevor Whenham - 01/25/2007
As much as I love football, and the Super Bowl, we are stuck right now in the midst of my least favorite time of the year. I hate this week between the Conference Championships and the big game. Not only is there no football worth watching (with apologies to the Senior Bowl), but we are stuck listening to experts with way too much time on their hands, and nothing worth saying, telling us what is important. It's frustrating because so much of what they say isn't even remotely important, but the stories are catchy enough that people keep repeating them over and over again. That drives me insane. We're less than a week into this two-week marathon of ridiculousness, but there have already been a lot of stories that I've heard that make my head hurt. Here are six:
1) The job status of the coaches. We've been hearing for weeks now that Lovie Smith is not only the lowest paid coach in the league, but that he doesn't have a contract past next season. On the other side, reports are coming out that Tony Dungy may consider retiring if he wins the Super Bowl. Though there are questions about the future of both coaches (though Smith will obviously be taken care of), if you think for a second that that will serve as a distraction for either team, or that it will affect either team's preparations, then you have never paid attention to either coach and you aren't giving them even a portion of the respect that they deserve.
2) Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy's friendship. I've heard more about the relationship of these two men over the last week than I have heard about Brad and Angelina or TomKat. The two men are very close -- Smith regards Dungy as his mentor -- and he says that he owes Dungy for much of his NFL career because Dungy first hired him in Tampa Bay in 1996. If you think that somehow means that Smith won't be desperate to crush the life out of Dungy's team, and vice versa, then you have never had a friend and I feel sorry for you.
3) Rex Grossman is terrible. Everyone can't help but dwell on the fact that Rex Grossman is a horrible quarterback and that this is a historic mismatch. There's just one problem - it's not true. Sure, Grossman has had some terrible games, but so has everyone, even Peyton Manning. Manning is unquestionably a better overall player -- and by a wide margin -- but Grossman had seven games during the season with quarterback ratings over 100. That's not bad at all. That's also the same number that Manning had. Here's the bigger thing - Grossman is the starting quarterback of a team that is 15-3 and heading to the Super Bowl. He might not be pretty to watch, or overly consistent, but his coach and teammates believe in him and he just keeps winning. On top of that, Grossman is heading back to Florida, a state where he has played a decent game or 30 over the years. Thinking that Grossman is the biggest story in the Super Bowl is lazy and ridiculous.
4) Peyton's hand. Manning has had an x-ray on the hand he injured against New England. Despite the fact that he got a clean bill of health, many people want to make an issue of the hand, suggesting that it could be a big factor and that it could cost the Colts. Those people have apparently never seen Manning play. The guy doesn't miss playing time, and he is absolutely desperate to win here. He'd play if the hand had been ripped off last week. Besides, he'll have two weeks and every miracle of modern medicine to make it work, and there is nothing to save it for after this game, so he won't be easing up. The Colts may lose, but it won't be the fault of a bone if they do.
5) The seven-point spread. It's possible that the final spread in this game will see the Colts as seven point favorites. If that is the case then it will be the eighth time that the Super Bowl has had that same spread for the closing line. In the previous seven, the favorites are only 1-5-1, and people are using that to suggest that Indy could be suspect. Now, long-term historical trends are suspect at the best of times, but when you consider that none of those favorites were the Colts, and none of those underdogs were the Bears, then this stat is less relevant Ross Perot is these days. It just doesn't matter.
6) The Colts offense will overwhelm the Bears. Maybe, but it certainly isn't a given. The Bears have a little bit of talent and aptitude for defense. Lovie Smith is familiar with Dungy's habits on offense from their time together. The Bears certainly weren't overwhelmed by the Saints and their potent offense. On the other side, the Colts haven't exactly looked like world beaters on offense for much of the playoffs. They were pretty lame against Kansas City, painful against Baltimore and useless in the first half of the New England game. This game could be a blowout, but those experts who are saying it is guaranteed just haven't bothered to do their homework.