Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Super Bowl Grab Bag

The Super Bowl Blog
If you haven't already, get thee over to espn.com asap to read Chuck Klosterman's Super Bowl Blog. If you are already reading it, keep checking for updates, naturally. Klosterman, who writes regularly for Spin, Esquire, and now for Page 2, is a favorite of the Sports Matters team. And by the Sports Matters team, I mean Andy, myself and former Special Guest Referee Nathan Muhly. I have no idea if Avi, Kevin, and Sheamus have read his work; if not, they should, and so should all of you. The man is a genius. I can only hope that at some point during the week he'll address the idea that Brett Favre is Mike Holmgren's nemesis. Andy Reid might also be a candidate, having for the past five years replaced Holmgren as the most successful portly, mustached, disciple of the West Coast offense, but Favre fits so much better. After trying to escape the "he only won because of Brett Favre" talk for the duration of his tenure in Seattle, it's only fitting that Holmgren's return to the Super Bowl is being overshadowed by Favre's talk of retiring. This is the same sort of relationship that Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff had before "Mr. Wonderful" snapped and turned heel. Think about it.

The Last Stop for The Bus
Sure I lifted this header from the hundreds of hack columnists that have used, or will be using something of this nature, but you try being original, okay?

Anyhow, the most popular storyline seems to be that of Jerome Bettis potentially playing his last game in his hometown. That this game happens to be his one shot at a Super Bowl is just the icing on the cake. Or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, it's interesting to see all the focus on The Bus when he's not even the most valuable player on the Steelers offense. Willie Parker gets more touches, and his performance will set the tone of the game. How Big Ben and Hines Ward perform will also end up being more important to the game than Bettis' role, barring a surprise.

It's strange to think about Bettis' Hall of Fame career coming to an end, mostly because I'm still surprised that he became a Hall of Famer, much less a feature back, in the first place. Notre Dame fans will remember that the immortal Reggie Brooks was the best Running Back on the Irish teams of the early '90s, while Bettis was the Fullback. Sure he ripped off the occasional big run, but never in a million years would I have imagined that he'd turn out this good in the NFL. How he ended up as one of the most productive backs in NFL history (and the most successful Irish alumnus since Joe Montana) and fellow Fullback Marc Edwards is merely a journeyman in the pros is something I'll never understand. For those of you who are curious what happened to the aforementioned Brooks, here's a recent update.

Other Storylines
I'm sure they're out there, but they don't seem to be getting much airtime. Bettis has a monopoly on sympathy support, and neither team is really a compelling story otherwise. I've tried to come up with a few more, here's what we have:

• The longest serving coach in the NFL, Bill Cowher, chasing his first Super Bowl.

• The longest serving coach in the NFC (and third overall, I believe, behind Cowher and Shanahan), chasing his second Super Bowl - his first in Seattle.

• Ben Roethlisberger being the second youngest Quarterback to start in a Super Bowl, and having a chance to be the youngest to win it.

• The Seahawks shamelessly plagiarizing Texas A&M's 12th Man tradition. Of note, the Steelers have no Aggie alum on their roster, while Seattle has one -Defensive Tackle Rocky Bernard.

• NFL MVP and leading rusher Shaun Alexander is a free-agent in waiting, and could be playing his last game as a Seahawk. If Jim Gray is involved in ABC's broadcast at all, expect him to ask the man in question about this before, during, and after the game. Of course, Terry Bradshaw beat him to it after the NFC Title Game, so I'm sure Shaun knows what to expect.

• I feel like I'm stretching for stories already, so I'll stop here. The last thing I'll note is how little press the Steelers are getting for being the first 6th seed to make it to the Super Bowl.

Michaels on the Move?
Rumor has it that Al Michaels will ask to be released from his ABC/ESPN contract, freeing him up to join NBC for their football broadcast. Michaels is currently slated to do the Monday Night games on ESPN starting next fall; additionally, he handles NBA games for ABC and other events as they arise.

Many think that ABC/ESPN will let Michaels go if he asks, as they've already developed a contingency plan that has Mike Tirico doing play by play and Pardon The Interruption co-host Tony Kornheiser joining the broadcast booth. This wouldn't affect PTI, as they'd do the show on location from Monday Night Football every Monday, but it would be interesting to see Kornheiser in this role. He would help ease the pain of hearing Joe Theismann for three hours.

Personally, I'm wary of how effective Kornheiser would be in the booth. I'd rather see him and Michael Wilbon do the pre-game and half-time shows. Their back and forth would be a big improvement over Tim McGraw-narrated highlights and all too brief Jimmy Kimmel cameos. You could also put them on Monday Night Countdown with Stu Scott, Michael Irving, and (sigh), Chris Mortensen. I like the idea of bringing in a journalist, or unconventional color guy, since the Dennis Miller experiment was cut short. Let's hear some suggestions from the readers.


At 4:25 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Isn't this Bettis' second shot at the Superbowl? Or was he not on the roster the last time they got their butts kicked?

All Hail Chuck!

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

I guess not. I thought Bettis was on that roster with good ol' Bam Morris, but it appears he wasn't.

Neil O'Donnell. Whew. Hilarious. I am going to call Roethlisberger that ALL DAY on Sunday.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Nathan Muhly said...

D-Jack? Nice one Darrell. He should meet Bouman with talk like that.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...


At 4:49 PM, Blogger Nathan Muhly said...

What, with all of his talk of x-y-z.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I'm still confused.



What is going on here?

P.S. The O'Donnell comment killed me; I still remember the two picks he threw to Larry Brown that sunk the Steelers in that Super Bowl. At least he had the decency to skip town and sign with the J-E-T-S Jets after that.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Nathan Muhly said...

Come on Abboud, you write about Klosterman's blog and you don't even read his last post? Real dumb Abboud, real dumb,

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Gotcha, I just got around to reading Klosterman's updates; the last one I had read was about the Steelers media day. So deal.


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