In the lead up to the Big Game (as referred to in all commercials, but by nobody else ever) I thought it was appropriate to mine the views of NFL experts to get a more rounded view of the Championship Round and who is likely to win the Super Bowl. So I reached out to some of the more tenured writers and asked them to share a version of their weekly columns for my own site – somewhat surprisingly*, they all agreed!
*Okay it is not actually surprising, or true, as this is all made up, but still…
Peter King – formerly writer for Sports Illustrated, now with his own, totally separate, please-give-me-something-like-Grantland site of MMQB (found at mmqb.si.com)
As I was walking across the turf at Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High after watching Peyton’s first workout session of the pre-season last July, I remember running into Clive Warren, one of the men behind the success of the Denver Broncos. Warren is not as well-known as Manning, or any of the other players or coaches, but he still contributes a useful role in the organization. He’s the man who cleans Bucky, the Bronco statue that sits atop the south scoreboard and has been a fixture of Denver’s home stadium since 1975. Clive has been in charge of cleaning the 1600 pound, 27 feet tall, fibre glass and steel statue from the beginning and it tells him it reminds him of a horse he used to look after on the farm he grew up on in Nebraska six decades ago. “I told Peyton all about that farm and the horse” Clive told me, “he said that the next time he is in Omaha, he will go visit”. Seems like that story has been on Manning’s mind ever since.
Offensive Player of the Week: Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks)
Because I have given Richard Sherman a column on my
Grantland-wannabe website – I feel completely justified in saying that I did not like his post-game rant when he had the audacity to be pumped up and excited, minutes after making the play that took his team to the Super Bowl at the expense of their biggest rival. I thought Sherman should not have been calling out an opponent and that his post-game interview was offensive (hence why a defensive player is given the OPOW award).
Defensive Player of the Week: Navarro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers)
Even if he hadn’t made 14 tackles, including a sack, I’d definitely have given this award to Bowman because he suffered a heart-breaking injury and it gives me the opportunity to talk about how brave he is.
Five Things I Think You Think I Will Think About Thinking About The Super Bowl
- Lot of focus on the fact that the Super Bowl is coming to New York, but in fact the game will actually be played in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
- Not a great time for NJ Governor Chris Christie to be embroiled in scandal with all of the nation’s sports media coming to town.
- Peyton Manning vs Russell Wilson – now there’s a quarterback matchup I’m looking forward to watching.
- Hard luck for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots – he’s been a helluva quarterback, but no rings in 9 years now.
- Jim Harbaugh misses out again, but has taken the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship games. When I talked to him in the locker room after the loss to Seattle he was downbeat but assured me “We’ll be back Peter my old buddy, you can quote me on that”.
Beer Nerdiness of the Week:
I had a pumpkin-infused, hop-filled, one-of-a-kind, made especially for me IPA from a small craft brewery outside of Denver during Championship weekend – not as good as the offerings available in Boston, but not a bad beer to go with the unseasonably warm weather.
Coffee Nerdiness of the Week:
Heading into one of the Starbucks by the NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center, the barista looked at me blankly and asked for my order and name to go on the cup, even though I have been in there several times over the last year and was even recognized by someone in the line. “Will this go in your coffee section, Peter?” they asked, sadly it will and the vanilla latte (with pumpkin-infusion) was far from the best I’ve had from Starbucks stores.
Factoid of the Week That May Only Interest Me
John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States – as of 2012 – still had two living grandsons, even though he was born in 1790. I know this has nothing to do with football, but have I mentioned i have a Hall of Fame vote recently?
Super Bowl Haiku
Seattle want one
But Peyton is after two
Who will prevail?
Gregg Easterbrook – AKA Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN’s Page 2
In the NFC Championship game, undrafted Doug Baldwin made a 69 yard kick return for the Blue Men Group and had 6 receptions for 106 yards (both team highs). For the Broncos, Wes Welker – who was also undrafted out of college – had a quiet day in the AFC Championship game, but was one of Peyton Manning’s go-to-guys during the season. When will teams learn, never draft anybody – especially not in the first round. And always go for it on fourth down, no punting, it will anger the football gods. And ride a bike to pre-season training.
Sweet and Sour Play of the Week
Facing 4th and 7, the Seahawks pleased the football gods by lining up to go for it from the 49ers 35 yard line, Russell Wilson gets some time in the pocket and throws the go-ahead touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. That was the sweet part. Wilson was given the free shot at the end zone because of an offside by San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith – on the biggest play of the game with the Super Bowl on the line, Smith gave his opponent the chance to take the lead and the 49ers never got it back. Talk about sour.
Stat of the Week 1: Denver have gone from a 45-53 streak in the six seasons prior to Peyton Manning’s arrival, to a 28-7 streak with the veteran quarterback.
Stat of the Week 2: Seattle at home with Russell Wilson as QB: 17-1.
Stat of the Week 3: Seattle on the road with Russell Wilson as QB: 10-8.
Stat of the Week 4: For the first time since 2009, both teams have already played in the Super Bowl host stadium during the regular season. Back then, both the Saints and Colts have prevailed in Miami against the Marine Mammals; this year, the Seahawks and Broncos each went to Snoopy Stadium and beat Jersey/A.
Unified Theory of Creep
Once the Super Bowl ads were just part of the entertainment on offer during the big game, now two weeks before the season finale and I’m seeing previews for commercials all over the place and teasers to look out for them. More on the unified theory of creep from reader Sean M. in New Jersey, “I went by the Christmas Shop in midtown during the second week of January and they were already selling 2014 Christmas ornaments!”.
*Editor’s note, Gregg then went on for 14 more paragraphs about various space and political stuff, but I completely lost the thread of what he was talking about and wondered why he kept on putting random pictures of cheerleaders next to text that had nothing to do with it, so I’ll leave that part out.
Bill Simmons, Grantland.com
In honor of Super Bowl week, I’m breaking out an all-new, all-NFL mailbag. Remember, these are actual e-mails from my readers.
Bill, with Seattle playing Denver in the Super Bowl, how would you rank the teams in the NBA Western Conference Right Now? – Bill S., LA
Okay you got me, I wrote that one and even it is going to be all about basketball, I at least framed the question to mention the Super Bowl. I’d say this year’s Western Conference is like Friday Night Lights, where the Thunder are Season 1; the Spurs are Season 5; and the Lakers are Landry’s victims…
Bill, any chance you can talk about football during Super Bowl week and not the NBA? – Everyone, USA
Fine, okay no more about the NBA. This Super Bowl matchup is like Rocky II combined with Teen Wolf. Peyton Manning is Teen Wolf because he always wants the glory and insists on throwing touchdown passes as soon as his team are inside the 5 yard line, TOM BRADY WOULD NEVER DO THAT!! The city of Seattle are Rocky in Rocky II, you think they’ve been completely beaten by Apollo Creed when the Sonics move to Oklahoma City, but then they come back with a knockout punch to claim the title. Talking of the Thunder, Kevin Durant’s recent scoring run combined with Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points at MSG have been the most entertainment in the NBA since the Heat’s winning streak last season. Durant is one of the most natural…
Please stop talking about the NBA – Everyone, USA
Yep, these are my readers.
(Well it’s only fair I spoof myself as well)
For this Super Bowl preview, I was hoping to find a way to make a mention of my main sporting love, Tottenham Hotspur, but instead I realized that this matchup of Russell Wilson vs Peyton Manning is just like season 5 of The Wire. Think about it: Wilson is Marlo – the young pretender who is making everyone know his name is his name, but wants to run his own business without any problems from the corner(back)s. On the other side, Manning is Cool Lester Smooth, the veteran who knows how work an angle and uses his brain to work through things. Who will prevail? Like in The Wire, it might come down to who uses the clock best, so my money would be on Manning cracking Seattle’s code – and overcoming the cold weather – to give the Broncos their third Super Bowl in franchise history.
Unfortunately I’ve run out of space (on my own website, with unlimited room, go figure…), so Rick Reilly’s special post, where he goes around looking for new shirts to take to the Super Bowl “New jerseys for New Jersey”, will have to wait for him to run on ESPN. All of this was meant in good humor, I’ve enjoyed reading the columns of the people I spoofed, especially the last guy, he might be my favorite writer…