Category Archives: Super Bowl

Eli Manning is all grown up–or is he?

09000d5d8067ca5d_gallery_600.jpg

In the wake of Eli Manning’s performance in the playoffs and Super Bowl (now being declared Teh Best Evaaar!), many sports writers are officially declaring him to be “grown up”, with many Super Bowls still to come.

I’ve always been an Eli Manning fan, and I think he deserves [almost] all the praise he’s been given for his performance, but let’s back up for a moment. Manning was swell against the Bucs. Against the Cowboys he played another fantastic game. In the championship game against Green Bay he was off and on, but still managed to outplay Favre when it really counted.

And now we get to the game against New England. On the opening drive Manning led the Giants down the field for the first score of the game, albeit a field goal. Later, he led the Giants all the way down into the red zone again, but this time Steve Smith couldn’t hang on to a well-thrown pass and Manning was picked off.For much of the rest of the game, Manning was largely ineffective, neither making big plays nor throwing backbreaking interceptions. Meanwhile, the defense kept up a relentless pass rush, forcing Brady to miss several wide open throws that could have changed the game entirely.

Then the fourth quarter came around. Early on, Manning led the Giants down the field again, capping it with a perfectly thrown ball to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. Brady came back and answered, putting the Pats up 14-10. Here’s where I have to disagree with everything else that’s been written. I don’t deny that Manning stayed cool and collected on that final drive. He made several great throws, and he didn’t make any crucial mistakes. Or did he? Manning threw two passes that should have been intercepted. How the Patriot defenders managed to drop those two throws will never be known, but the fact remains that the Giants should have lost. If you ran back the scenario ten times, nine of those times one of those two passes would have been picked, and we (everyone but Patriot fans) would be subjected to intolerable levels of Tom Brady worship.

Luckily for us, the potential interceptions were dropped, and a blown coverage on Plaxico gave the Giants a lead they would cling to for the duration of the game. Manning deserves major credit for staying calm and making one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, but let’s be honest–the Giants’ defense was the real hero. They virtually shut down Randy Moss and made Tom Brady look very, very human. The offensive line that had looked invincible for most of the year suddenly started giving up sacks right and left (literally).

I couldn’t be happier for Eli Manning, but let’s not make this game something it isn’t. It was a great performance, but not a masterful one. It will cement Eli Manning as the starter in New York, and keep his job safe for several years. But let’s hold off on saying Manning has “grown up” or “come into his own”. He might very well have. But we’re dealing with a very small sample. Give him a chance next year, see how he plays, and then make a judgment.

Advertisements

2008 Super Bowl Ads

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments, and tell me how you’d rank them.

The absence of Emerald Nuts commercials made me very, very sad.

FIRST QUARTER

Bud Light Fire (7/10)- Mildly amusing, but not on par with some of the ads they’ve run in previous years. Still, I chuckled. One of the better ones of the night.

Audi (8/10)- The Godfather spoof was sheer brilliance.


Diet Pepsi Max
(7/10)- It started poorly, but ended well. They just couldn’t resist throwing in some gratuitious violence.

Sales Genie (0/10)- Not funny. Not convincing. In fact, it made me dislike Sales Genie. Subpar even for late night television. Horrific for the Super Bowl.

Bud Light Cheese (5/10)- Again, mildly amusing. But more what I’d expect during the second round of the Buick Open, not the Super Bowl.

Under Armour (5/10)- They tried a little too hard to get the goosebumps. Didn’t really work. Decent, but overstated.

Bridgeston (6/10)- Kinda funny, but nothing special.

SECOND QUARTER


Gatorade G2
(3/10)- Lame effort for the Super Bowl, fellas.

GoDaddy (0/10)- In poor taste, as usual.

Dell XPS (3/10)- The idea is to get me to want to own an XPS. I don’t.

FedEx (6/10)- Fairly good. Nothing special, but above average for this year.

Cars.com (7/10)- For some reason this one had me laughing. Stupid, but funny.

Tide (4/10)- Um. Weird.


Budweiser
(5/10)- Eh. Apparently it’s a spoof on something. Not really that good.

Toyota (6/10)- Again, decent, but not Super Bowl quality. This is a commercial you’d expect to see during the regular season.

Garmin (4/10)- Not as funny as it was trying to be.

CareerBuilder.com (8/10)- Creative. Funny. Well done.

LifeWater (1/10)- Unnnnnnnngh.

GMC (4/10)- Watching the little black guy pushing a rock up a hill got a bit tedious after, oh, maybe two seconds.

Bud Light (8/10)- Funny mainly because it built off last year’s.

Planter’s Nuts (5/10)- Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

T-Mobile (7/10)- A bit odd, but amusing. Built off a running joke they’ve been using for quite a while nowl.

Pepsi (10/10)- Seeing Justin Timberlake getting beat up was one of the highlights of the evening.

Doritos (3/10)- Did I miss something?

THIRD QUARTER

Claritin (2/10)- Um. You spent millions of dollars for…this?

Cars.com (9/10)- Probably one of the best of the night. Like the first one, except funnier.

Sales Genie (0/10)- Like the first one, except even worst.

Vitamin Water (6/10)- I like Vitamin Water. Their commercials…not so much.

Budweiser Cavemen (5/10)- Drop the cavemen motif already. Please.

IceCubes (4/10)- If you share our gum with Carmen Electra, she’ll say “Whoa”. Yeah, fantastic.

Bridgestone (4/10)- Same theme as the first, not half as funny.

CareerBuilder.com (6/10)- Kinda funny. Not memorable.

Hyundai (5/10)- Sorry folks. Simpler is not always better.

E*Trade (9/10)- Talking baby + Creepy clown = Superb.

Bud Light (7/10)- Similar to the first one. Again, gratuitous violence. But still amusing.

Sunsilk (5/10)- Eh.

Coca Cola (7/10)- Rather odd, but still mildly effective.

FOURTH QUARTER

Classic Coke (9/10)- Great commercial with Carville and Frist. You have to follow politics a bit to get it, but it was brilliant.

Toyota (6/10)- Fairly unexceptional, all in all.

E*Trade (9/10)- Same formula as the first, every bit as funny.

Taco Bell (6/10)- My biased hatred of Taco Bell food is probably skewing this one, but I thought it was a pretty lame ad.

Gatorade G2 (7/10)- Still not a great ad, but I liked this one a lot more than their first one.

Bud Light (10/10)- Will Ferrell at his finest. Really, really funny. Best commercial of the Super Bowl. “A magical blend of barley, hopps, and delicious alcohol.”

Hyundai (7/10)- I liked this one a lot more. Simple, but this time effective.

Victoria’s Secret (7/10)- I’m not sure this is the best commercial for the target audience, but I’m guessing most guys were watching intently.

Amp Energy (6/10)- Some people liked it. Me, not so much. Not the worst ad of the year.

Super Bowl Wrap

Well, well. So there you have it. 18-1*

That great gust of air you felt was the football world letting out a sigh of relief. There still is karma. And it’s a beautiful thing. For the third year in a row, Tom Brady cracked when it really counted. I’ve been saying it all year; they don’t give out Lombardis during the regular season. I’m pretty sure everyone on the Patriots team would gladly trade a couple of their regular season wins for one last night. Suddenly, beating the Redskins by fifty points doesn’t feel all that special, does it?

I’m officially ready to say that Eli Manning has grown up. He’s been legit since week 17, and that go-ahead touchdown drive at the end was the stuff of legends, as was the spectacular David Tyree catch. That play will cement itself as one of the greatest in Super Bowl history when it’s all said and done. Manning made a Houdini-like escape from the clutches of Jarvis Green, backed up, and heaved it thirty yards downfield where Tyree leaped above Rodney Harrison and barely managed to trap it against his helmet before getting a better grip on it as he fell to the ground.

The officiating for the game was excellent. There were a few questionable calls (and non-calls), but I don’t think anyone can say that they really impacted the game.

If there’s one thing this Super Bowl accomplished, maybe it will be that teams will stop kissing up to their opponents and finally have the guts to say what they actually think. Of course everyone thinks their going to win every game. So why not say so? Why pretend like you have all sorts of respect for your opponent when you don’t? Call it like you see it. Really, if you need the other team to predict a win to get motivated, then you need to hang up the cleats.

*- Lost to Eli Manning

Super Bowl Pick

Patriots 24, Giants 14

The Patriots will get off to a quick start. Possibly 14-0. The Giants will wake up late in the second half to make it 14-17, then it will be a long boring stretch with the Patriots putting the final nail in the coffin with a few minutes left in the game.

A Winning Strategy

For the past two weeks people have been talking nonstop about the various ways the Giants could, in theory, upset the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Perhaps the easiest–and most effective–thing they could do is this: give Randy Moss’s ex girlfriend sideline tickets to the Super Bowl. I’m sure she’d accept. Randy Moss, however, would be displeased. He wouldn’t even be allowed anywhere near the field.

Without the top reciever in the league playing on offense, the Patriots would be a significantly lesser team, and the Giants’ chances of an upset would skyrocket. New York, do yourself a favor, give the girl a ticket.

YouTube: The Super Bowl Commercials

Ameriquest: Don’t judge to quickly
Sprint: Crime deterrent
Budweiser: Fetch
Levi’s: Crazy legs
Budweiser: Amber
Apple: 1984
Budweiser: Banned commercial
Budweiser: Soldiers
Budweiser: Secret fridge
Snickers: Quick, Do Something Manly
Pepsi: Bob’s house (this one is set to air this year)

Also, the White House is going to do an ad this year. We’ll see how that goes.

And, of course, the banned ads:

Budweiser: The Bottle Opener
Budweiser: Skinny Dipping
GoDaddy: I Own You
Vitamin Water: Brian Urlacher
GoDaddy: Basic Instinct
Nike: Alpha Project

There are many more to be found on YouTube if one takes the time.

Roger Goodell State of the NFL

(On what can be done to curtail misbehavior by players off the field) “We have to do something about it. I think it’s an incredibly important issue. One incident is too many in my book. I think we need to reevaluate all of our programs. We have a tremendous number of programs to help our players that have been quite successful. But I think we’ve got to do more. We are going to start that process, one, by evaluating our policy. Two, (NFL Players Association executive director) Gene (Upshaw) and I are going to put together a group of players that we’re going to meet with in the next several weeks to give us their perspective on what’s really happening and what are the issues so that we can try to learn something first. I think our focus has to be on reevaluating our policies, making sure we educate our players to the issues that are out there. We continually tell our players and our coaches that we are raised to a higher standard in the NFL, and we have to exceed that standard. We have to make sure that our players are more accountable and also our clubs have to be more accountable, and we will be reevaluating our position to see if there are ways in which we should make our clubs more accountable in the offseason. … I don’t see (the incidents) happening in droves. I think it’s just a few, but that’s a few too many. We recognize some players don’t do what we want them to do and when that happens, we have the means to deal with it.”

I was impressed that Goodell didn’t try to brush it under the rug, or act like it isn’t a big deal. It is, and he said as much. I’m glad the NFL [at least says it] is trying to get the player behavior under control.

(On nine different players being arrested in 13 months in Cincinnati) “I think it’s something we have to address. From our standpoint, we have talked with (Bengals owner) Mike (Brown) on several occasions. We have offered services and he has taken our services to try and address these issues. It’s part of what Gene and I are going to be talking about to the players in the next several weeks to understand what happens in these particular markets. Why is it happening in one market versus another market? What is it that the players need in support or education? And we’ll do that very aggressively over the next several months.”

Again, good job by Goodell emphasizing that the NFL is working on it. The only thing that would make me happier is Chris Henry getting kicked off the team along with all the other multiple arrest players in the NFL, but the NFLPA would never allow it.

(On whether the fact Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the two first African-American coaches to reach the Super Bowl will prompt an increase in the number of African-American coaches in the NFL, as well as the number of African-American club executives) “Yes. Most importantly, we’re proud of Tony and Lovie as great football coaches. They’ve meant a great deal to the NFL. They’re people of incredibly high character. To see the success they’ve had on the field is very rewarding for all of us. It is obviously of particular note that they are African-Americans, and the success that they are having on the field is something that we’re very proud of. But I know that they want to be remembered and thought of as great football coaches and they are in the NFL’s eyes.”

What people don’t seem to realize is that six out of thirty two (the number of black head coaches) is a great percentage of blacks than in the general public. That is, in the general American public, fewer than six out of thirty two people are black. If anything, blacks are far over-represented in the league. The last thing we need is a bunch of affirmative action crap.

(On the state of officiating) “We’re very proud of our officiating. It has been something that we’ve had a tremendous amount of focus on to make sure we have the best officiating in sports. We think we do. We have an instant replay system that is able to look at the errors that might be made. They are, fortunately, very limited. And we have a system that does that without trying to make a tremendous impact on the pace of the game but (instead) allowing the game to flow and allowing the teams to be able to challenge when something happens. You can’t cover all ills, you can’t cover every penalty, but we think that the system, while we continue to evaluate it, has been quite effective.”

I know he has to say that, but the officiating in the NFL the last two years has been largely crap. Even as a Steelers’ fan I know last year’s Super Bowl was poorly officiated (no, it did not in any way affect the outcome, though). The NFL needs to work really hard on the officiating, and suspend some of the poorer referees, because we’re starting to have absurd things like Kiwanuka letting go of Vince Young on that 4th and 10 play in the Titans-Giants game because he was afraid he’d get a RTP call. That’s not right.

(On the status of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the possibility of owners exercising their legal right to opt out of the deal in 2008, two years before it is due to expire, because they believe it is too costly) “The first thing we have to do is a great deal of analysis. We’ve had a great system with the Players Association for a long period of time. We have a new agreement that we’re operating under. It obviously has new mechanisms and has new aspects of the deal that we’re going to have to evaluate to make sure that they’re working not only for the NFL but also for the players. From our standpoint, I know that there is some concern about the cost of the deal, but we have to do that evaluation. I would urge all of us to be patient, to understand it, to get the evaluation. It is our responsibility, with the players, to strike a reasonable agreement that works for all parties and be assured at least that we will have labor peace through 2010. We will have a lot of work to do. We will be in contact with Gene and his team, but I feel confident that we’ll be able to address the issues as we go forward because we have a responsibility to do that.”

I have to admit I’m not one of the lawyer types, so I don’t follow this kind of stuff too closely, because it mainly makes my head hurt. I think lawyers are lawyers because they are smart enough to write in enough technical jargon that everyone in the general public is totally and completely bewildered. But I digress. The NFL did an amazing job salvaging things with this latest CBA, and if the NFLPA doesn’t get too anal, I think things will work themselves out.

(On blood-testing players for human growth hormone and steroids) “We announced changes last week to our (steroids testing) program. We think this reinforces the fact that we’re leaders in this area. We believe that our program is high quality. We think that we have a program that we can be very proud of and our players can be very proud of. And I’m very proud of players for the fact that they also want to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs. As it relates to HGH, there is no reliable test for HGH right now. We are investing money to develop that test. I don’t know whether that would be a blood test or urine test. We are going to pursue both. Until that technology is developed, I think it’s premature for us to make any decisions on it.”

The only thing that could make it better is harsher punishment for offenses. First time is a one-year suspension (sixteen regular season games and all playoff games), second time you’re out of the league.

(On allegations by former New England linebacker Ted Johnson that the Patriots rushed him back into practice after he sustained a concussion) “It does concern me. From our standpoint, we want to make sure that our players have the safest possible environment in which to play. We have spent a great deal of time and energy on the concussion issue. We’ve had a concussion committee that has been studying this issue from a medical standpoint, including 12 doctors — five from the outside and seven from the NFL — that have been looking at this issue and trying to see what it is we can learn about concussions that would be helpful as we would go forward. That’s led to new helmet designs, that’s led to rule changes, and I think a safer environment for our players, which is what we’re after. I didn’t know about the Ted Johnson issue until yesterday afternoon, which also disappoints me. I would like to know about this, our staff would like to know about this, in advance so that we can identify these issues further in advance.”

As people have started to comment, concussions are a lot more serious than they are made out to be by NFL players and coaches, but Johnson’s claims have no credibility. He’s on record saying that he was willing and wanted to play right after the concussion, and that Belichick didn’t force him. His claims are serious, but he’s not the one to be making them.

(On the NFL Network’s coverage of eight regular-season games in 2006 being unavailable in markets where it does not have carriage deals with cable TV operators) “We’re very proud of the NFL Network. It has been extremely high-quality programming. We think it’s been terrific at giving fans another perspective of football that they wouldn’t normally see because it’s 365 days, 24 hours a day. That’s what we’re trying to build — something to give fans an opportunity to experience football in ways that they haven’t been able to do in the past. We think it’s going to be extremely successful. I think I’d point out to our fans it’s part of our building process, but we showed every one of our football games on live, free television. And that’s important and we will continue to make sure that that’s an emphasis going forward.”

*Sigh*

What I wouldn’t give for the NFL Network.

(On putting an NFL team back in Los Angeles) “We need to find a solution in Los Angeles that works for both the community and the NFL. It’s important for us to be in Los Angeles long term, but we have survived quite well without Los Angeles and Los Angeles as survived quite well without the NFL. But I think we can do better together. We’d like to find a way to do that in a way that works for all parties.”

I could care less. The people of Los Angeles could care less. The only people that have a dog in this fight are the folks that run Los Angeles and the NFL. In other words, the people with money at stake. No one else cares. For some reason, though, the NFL seems determined to get this done, so I’d expect a team in LA by 2012.

*****

Transcription by Vic Carucci at NFL.com.