When last we left human brownout, Peter King, he was complaining there is just so much media at the Super Bowl, which is kind of like complaining that there’s football at the Super Bowl. PK sang the praises of the NFL’s Most Valuable Mensch, Alex “Embattled” Smith, who most likely earned that title by buying PK a beer. Peter was also dismayed that a crowd of people would appear at a Terry Francona book signing in Manhattan. How dare they interfere with the private chat he had planned!
But what about this week? Are hotels still attending the Acela School of Coffeenerdness? How important is the pool talk of greatness at the Pro Bowl? Are there enough f*cks in the world for me to care that Joe Flacco has made less money than some baseball player? READ ON.
NEW ORLEANS — Quick thoughts on a great, fun, twilight-lit, dramatic Super Bowl:
I’ve watched the fourth-down pass into the corner of the end zone, the Colin Kaepernick-to-Michael Crabtree misfire, with cornerback Jimmy Smith in contact with Crabtree and Crabtee with Smith. It lasts two yards beyond the five-yard bump zone. It’s close, but I don’t think it was interference. Crabtree was an aggressor there too.
That wraps up that controversy. Peter King has watched the play, you guys. Apparently Crabtree was trying too hard to get Jimmy Smith off him. You can’t get held if you fight back. Everybody knows that.
“MVP! MVP! MVP!” Joe Flacco’s extended family and friends chanted when he walked into his family’s private party at Huck Finn’s in the French Quarter this morning, just before 1 a.m.. Is there any doubt? Elite, schmelite. I don’t care what you call it, Flacco’s in the top echelon of quarterbacks right now.
“Elite is a imprecise designation that can mean anything to just about anyone. So here’s a different imprecise designation.”
The HarBowl. John Harbaugh was so drained when I found him 70 minutes after the game. Forget what he said all week about not having any sympathy for his brother if Baltimore won. “I am totally devastated for my brother,” John Harbaugh said. “It’s strange — I don’t really feel emotion right now. No tears. I never thought you could feel 100 percent elation and 100 percent devastation at the same time. But I learned tonight you can.”
John Harbaugh feels twice what a normal person does. He leads the league in feelings. That’s very Peter King of your emotions, John Harbaugh. Could use a few more feelings being tied for 100 percent, though. LEGIT ELITE 100 PERCENT
There is something perfect about the Baltimore season coming down to making three defensive stops from the 5-yard line, with Ray Lewis on the field for the last time and Ed Reed likely on the field for the last time as a Raven, and Baltimore coming up with three straight stops.
Yes, it’s very fitting and narrative friendly that Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were on the field when important things were done by other people.
Jim Harbaugh’s going to hurt himself on the sidelines. He’s as volcanic as Earl Weaver used to be.
IMPORTANT: Earl Weaver never actually hurt himself throwing tantrums and lived to be 700.
The first game of the NFL’s 94th season, on Sept. 5, 2013 … think of the possibilities. Ben Roethlisberger at Baltimore. Tom Brady at Baltimore. Aaron Rodgers at Baltimore. Adrian Peterson at Baltimore. J.J. Watt at Baltimore. An embarrassment of possibilities, NBC and the NFL.
You hear that, CBS? You may have gotten the HarBowl, but your day in the spotlight is over! Now it’s NBC’s turn to possibly broadcast Steelers at Ravens, a game they have every single year.
As for the brownout, I don’t know what to say
HOT SPROTS TAKE
other than a 34-minute delay in the middle of the biggest event of the year on the sports (and television) calendar is going to be a factor when New Orleans comes up for a Super Bowl the next time. Not good when you have a problem keeping the lights on.
Except the Rog already said the league expects to be return to New Orleans for a Super Bowl in the future. But just wait until Wichita gets its 70,000 seat dome built. That’ll make you get your shit together!
The non-call of the night.
In the NFC Championship Game, linebacker NaVorro Bowman had his hands on wideout Roddy White on Atlanta’s last-chance play of the game. Bowman impeded White, maybe enough that it should have drawn a flag. No flag.
Seriously, a bad no-call at a critical moment in another recent game doesn’t justify a later one.
I thought Jimmy Smith’s contact with Michael Crabtree in the Super Bowl, on fourth down in the end zone, wasn’t as physical.
Which would matter if the same officiating crew were at the NFC Championship Game.
I talked to Smith at length after the game. He said he was expecting Kaepernick to try to make a back-shoulder throw to Crabtree “because Kaepernick tapped the back of his helmet. That’s usually what that means. So I knew — stay square with the receiver, don’t let him get the ball on the back shoulder. And I knew he was going to Crabtree. We had some stat during the week like every time in the red zone there was a 52 percent chance on a pass they were going to Crabtree.”
Now for the contact. “It was pretty obvious by then the receiver was being physical, and I was being physical, and the refs were letting that stuff go,” he said.
Can’t believe the corner who got away with holding doesn’t believe he got away with holding.
Also curious that no mention is made of the helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Crabtree on the previous play. You could easily argue that’s the more clear violation and just as significant. But, yeah, we all care about player safety and shit.
The larger story here is how smart the Baltimore coaches were on the play.
“We told him to get away with stuff!”
One of our SI reporters at the game, Matt Gagne, talked to coaches and found out the Ravens’ plan on those last four plays, all from inside the 7-yard line, was simple: If Kaepernick was going to beat them, he was going to have to do it with his arm and not his legs.
On first and goal from Baltimore’s 7-yard line, LaMichael James took a handoff but ran straight into a zero blitz, picking up just two yards before the two-minute warning. The zero blitz, or an all-out blitz, is the most effective way to disrupt the read-option. The offensive scheme operates like the pick-and-roll in basketball. Depending on how an isolated defender reacts, Kaepernick can either keep the ball like a point guard driving the lane or hand it off to a running back who has more room to operate.
Zero blitz takes away that wiggle room, with several defenders converging on the mesh point — the few feet of space where it’s not clear if the quarterback will keep the ball or hand it off. The downside, of course, is that an all-out blitz leaves the secondary in man coverage and wideouts will typically get open.
Unless you hold them.
This, however, wasn’t a typical situation.
It’s CRUNCH TIME, when penalties don’t exist for some reason.
A short field hems in the receivers, making the coverage effective even if the blitz is slow. On three of their last four plays, the Ravens pinned their ears back and went after Kaepernick. But, as Gagne discovered, not on 2nd-and-goal from the 5. That’s when a chess match was just as effective as a street fight.
/envisions Ray Lewis chess match that leaves two dead
During the two-minute warning, John Harbaugh asked for zero blitz, telling defensive coordinator Dan Pees through the headset, “I do not want them to run the ball right here.” Pees had already called for a base defense, zone coverage, but Harbaugh had him rethinking the plan.
“At the last minute he was going to change his call to zero blitz,” Matt Weiss, the Ravens defensive quality control coach who was listening in on the conversation, told Gagne. “But he didn’t, and that turned out to be a great call. Dean almost got talked out of his instinct, which would have been bad for us. If we’re in zero blitz there, there’s a good chance they score a touchdown.”
So it was basically a guess? That’s more or less how chess works.
Ray Lewis: The end.
Thoughts after the last game of Lewis’ career from Maryland alum, Ray Lewis fan and Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson:
“I still don’t know if I believe he’s really retired just yet. I guess when I see the Ravens out there and Ray not there, I’ll believe it. But I don’t want to.
I know. The Ravens will be somewhat harder to hate with that asshole gone.
“When a linebacker comes into the NFL, it’s like a receiver who wants to wear 80 because of Jerry Rice, or a running back who wants to wear 22 because of Emmitt Smith. I always wanted to wear 52 because of Ray Lewis. Ask Patrick Willis why he wears 52. It’s a tribute to the best we’ve ever seen. Just seeing his passion for the game, every game, was enough for me. Anytime I see a player wear number 52, I know that guy has something to him. You can’t wear that number and not be a passionate football player.
So true. It’s like how quarterbacks get numbers 1-19. Running backs and DBs usually get 20-39. Passionate players get 52. That’s just how that works.
“When I was at Maryland, Ray used to come around to practices and games because his brother, Keon Lattimore, played there. I idolized Ray, but I was scared of him. I could hardly speak to him. Just, ‘How you doing, Mr. Ray?’ I was afraid of him.
“But then I grew accustomed to the site of exposed organs and massive amount of blood and we were cool.”
The Hall of Fame got it as right as any year I recall.
I am prejudiced, of course, as one of the 46 voters of the pro football shrine.
Of all the biases Peter King could admit to, it’s his prejudice toward fluffing himself for the HOF selection committee not completely fucking up for once.
But in my 21st session inside the voting room, I thought the seven-member class was just as I’d have drawn it up — with only this proviso: Michael Strahan or Charles Haley or Aeneas Williams would have absolutely been fine with me as the fifth and final member (on my ballot) instead of Warren Sapp.
“I thought the results were perfect, except where they weren’t.”
Five thoughts on the seven-man class of 2013:
Cris Carter breaks the logjam, but not for long. He was the most deserving of the three receivers (over Andre Reed and Tim Brown), I thought, because he did two things superbly: score touchdowns — 130 of them — and catch the ball within millimeters of the sideline and end line. He’s the best boundary receiver I’ve ever seen. The way I figure it, we could have 12 receivers with 1,000 catches who are not in the Hall by 2016, and I am just glad we, as a voting group, put one of the deserving pass catchers in this year. But it won’t get easier in 2014. Marvin Harrison enters the fray next year, and that can’t be good for Reed or Brown. Harrison caught 151 more balls than Reed — in three fewer seasons.
And killed one more person than Reed and Brown combined. That is production you can’t ignore.
Art Modell wasn’t close, and I’m not sure he’s going to get back into the Final 15 anytime soon. We are forbidden from describing with any specifics the debate in the room, but I can say it’s going to be very hard to get Modell elected to the Hall anytime soon.
Thank goodness. Fuck that asshole.
which, I guess, means none of the 46 people on the committee will be having dinner with Jack Harbaugh any time soon.
When Modell died last fall, the Ravens issued a statement with quotes honoring Modell, including praise from Jack Harbaugh that included this: “Scribes and pundits who believe in fairness and honesty dropped the ball today in allowing Art Modell to pass from this Earth without being inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is a narrow-minded corps of individuals who came up small today. Very small.”
Whatevs, Jack. Joke’s on you. Peter got in all the dinners with you he needed and still didn’t get Modell into the Hall. And now that the HarBowl is over, no one gives a shit about you anymore. WHO’S SMALL NOW?
As for the Class of 2014 … Here come Marvin Harrison, Derrick Brooks and Tony Dungy, added to strong candidates Aeneas Williams, Charles Haley, Michael Strahan, Will Shields, Jerome Bettis and Andre Reed. It will be tough to argue against Harrison, and Dungy and Brooks have good arguments too. Another Saturday in paradise coming up next February in New York.
How grand it will be to applaud yourself for voting on the accomplishments of others. A joy everyone should know. Like the privilege of being friends with Tony Dungy and being able to decide whether he makes the Hall of Fame. But it’s cool. PK is totally upfront with his prejudices.
Peyton Manning wants the Pro Bowl to continue. Badly, quite honestly. Had the chance Friday night to host some SI clients at dinner in the French Quarter, with Peyton Manning the featured guest.
Clients? For what? That doesn’t sound fishy at all. Are you guys paying for the right to slurp Manning? Man, that guy is a financial genius.
Of all the things we discussed, I found his take on the Pro Bowl most interesting — I suppose because it made me think about my belief the game is totally useless.
“I saw the passion in his eyes and it made me rethink my desire not to work one more day of the year.”
Said Manning: “I just think it’s one of those events where the veteran players pay it forward with the young guys. I look back and remember learning things about how to be a pro from Mark Brunell and Rich Gannon. This year, there were Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck soaking everything in. I’ve seen Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis at the pool, talking about something. Greatness, maybe. LaDainian Tomlinson talking to Adrian Peterson. Don’t tell me there’s no value in that.
THINK OF THE IMPORTANT POOL TALK WE’D BE LOSING! J.J. Watt and DeMarcus Ware could sit around having generic discussions of greatness and how much they respect the sun. Without that, the NFL might wither and die. Oh wait, I’m thinking of CTE.
The problem is the effort. Maybe it was better this year, as Manning says; I don’t know. I didn’t watch.
Careful. With comments like that, Peyton is going to up the slurping asking price.
1. Baltimore (14-6). It’s official: The coaches tied for the most wins in football over the last five seasons — regular season and postseason numbers combined — are John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick. You can look it up — 63 apiece. Not bad for a guy’s first five years as a head coach at any level.
And going through something 100 percent emotional.
3. Atlanta (14-4). Mike Smith has an assignment for his defensive staff later this month, and if you read the Sports Illustrated coming in your mailbox this week with the Super Bowl on the cover, you’ll find out what it is.
Unless it’s “get Kate Upton to give Christmas Ape a beej” no way I’m subjecting myself to more of your writing this week.
6. Houston (13-5). Fair or unfair, 2013 will be a referendum season for Matt Schaub.
Ah, so Matt Schaub gets to be next season’s “middling quarterback who proclaims himself elite, get laughed at, then wins the Super Bowl.” Nice to know in advance. Congrats, Texans.
10. Indianapolis (11-6). Bruce Arians, you’ll be missed.
11. Minnesota (10-7). Adrian Peterson, you’ll be revered.
Peter King, you’ll be indulged.
14. New York Giants (9-7). Can’t fathom the Giants not signing both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz long term. Very long term.
UBER LONG-ISH TERM
The Award Section
Offensive Players of the Week
Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore. Sort of a lifetime achievement award for his four-game playoff run too
For your excellence in the lifetime that was the past month, Joe Flacco, we present you the Peter King Award for Outstand-ish Loftiness in the Field of 100 Percent Top Echelonitude.
Defensive Player of the Week
Ed Reed, free safety, Baltimore. Baltimore 31, San Francisco 29, 10 minutes left in the game, Niners lining up for a tying two-point conversion. Reed blitzes Colin Kaepernick from the quarterback’s left; maybe he got one foot over the line before the snap, maybe he didn’t. But no flag.
Sounds about right for a game with 65 points scored. “Some player made a pass breakup even though he was offsides. PLAYER OF THE GAME!”
Special Teams Player of the Week
Jacoby Jones, KR/WR, Baltimore. Followed his 56-yard catch, fall, rise and run TD reception late in the first half with an NFL playoff record 108-yard kickoff return to start the second half. Not bad for a guy who made $2.5 million this year as a bargain basement speed receiver and return specialist.
How nice. I’m being asked to feel good for someone who only made $2.5 million this year as a role player. Sounds rough, Jacoby.
Goats of the Week
Entergy, the power company, and SMG, the management company, of the Superdome. This is one of those things where it doesn’t matter whose fault it is.
Pretty sure people care about that sort of thing.
But it’s inexcusable that the power grid serving the Dome — whether faulty because of the energy demands of the Beyonce halftime show, or the energy demands of such a big event as the Super Bowl — would fail and hold the game hostage for 34 minutes.
Too true. Just think if the game weren’t being held in a temperature-controlled dome. Peter might have been uncomfortable for a second. Just imagine the pages of bitching that would ensue.
Quote of the Week II
“Walter Payton is one. Myself is two.”
— Randy Moss, on football players he admires.
“AND THE LAND BARON MAKES THREE! SAY IT! SAYYYY ITTTTTT!”
Quote of the Week IV
“And what was your name, son?”
— Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil, to Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Victor Cruz, upon meeting Cruz in the NFL media center at the Super Bowl.
Oh man, that is superb racially condescending old white guy talk. I can only hope he handed Cruz a quarter and asked him to hang up his coat.
Stat of the Week
I’ve seen some debate among my peers (not on the Pro Football Hall of Fame 46-person voting committee) about the significance of time spent debating each candidate. I don’t think, having been in the room, that’s very significant, and these figures seem to bear that out.
Peers? Hardly. I mean, if you’re not on THE COMMITTEE, you’re not really on equal footing with Peter, now are you? The great unwashed sportswriting community is so darling with its desire to know what occurs in our rarefied ranks. Ooh, it intrigues them so. Here’s a treat, lowly scribblers.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The Super Bowl will be held in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2, 2014, outdoors in MetLife Stadium. Kickoff, unless the NFL amends recent history, will be at 6:30 p.m.
Exactly one year before that, on Saturday night at 6:30 in East Rutherford, here were the weather conditions:
Temperature: 27 degrees.
Winds: 10 mph from the west.
Wind chill temperature: 17 degrees.
Light snow began to fall at about 8 p.m., which a year from now would likely be around the two-minute warning of the first half.
LIGHT SNOW! Heavens! There’s still a chance to avert the impending doom that is minor weather elements that football is played in all the time. Football in the snow is great, by the way. Get fucked, PK.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Jet Propulsion Nerds
Caltech, which bills itself as the academic home of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, had a great day Saturday on the baseball field. The baseball Beavers beat Pacifica College 9-7, marking the first win for the program in 10 years.
The school’s website posted this note: “Caltech baseball team snaps 228-game losing skid.”
With a picture of a basketball above it.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Not mine. Chris Christie’s. The New Jersey governor was at the Super Bowl, and he spent part of Saturday afternoon at the Ravens’ hotel, talking with coach John Harbaugh.
“We talked policy,” said Harbaugh, who is into current events more than many coaches I know.
John Harbaugh is feeling 100 percent newsy.
It’s also Week 2 of Peter being shamed by The Onion into shutting up about his travel bitching. I give him two more weeks until he’s back to regular form.
Tweet of the Week III
“Heck of a job, Brownie.”
— @ClydeHaberman, New York Times’ columnist on the Metro Desk, when the lights went down in Louisiana.
New Orleanians knew exactly what he meant. If you don’t, google it.
Since John Harbaugh is the only person who pays attention to current events, you better break out the ol’ Google. Seriously this is how fucking dumb Peter King thinks his readers are – that they don’t know about a famous quote that was bandied about frequently during an entire national election cycle and joked about daily on late-night talk shows.
Tweet of the Week V
“Game day. pic.twitter.com/cHiJ9DZB”
— @BarackObama, at 10:15 a.m. Sunday.
Did you just cut and paste the URL to a Twitpic? That makes Dick Vermeil look up-to-date on things.
Tweet of the Week VII
“Travis Hafner earned $57.05M from #Indians over past five seasons. During that time, he averaged 86 games and did not exceed 118.”
— @Ken_Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, after Hafner agreed to terms on a contract for 2013 with the Yankees.
In related news, Joe Flacco made $23.81 million from the Ravens over the past five seasons … and started every one of the team’s 93 games in that time.
That seems fair.
Because everyone knows player contracts should be proportionate to the standing of athletes in different sports. Joe Flacco’s agent needs to make sure he’s making on par with some overpaid injured baseball player.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Super Bowl XLVII:
a. Robert Griffin III narrating an ESPN story on Doug Williams’ historic Super Bowl-winning performance 25 years ago, and the significance for minority quarterbacks. Great piece, with my old friend from the Giants’ beat, Greg Garber, having a big hand in it.
“Could’ve used a little more Mike Zimmer, though.”
b. The pregame note from ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss that this was the fourth straight year that Ravens special teamer/safety James Ihedigbo played in the AFC Championship Game (Jets, Jets, Patriots, Ravens).
Awesome two weeks too late nugget.
f. Alicia Keys, not bad either. Longest anthem (2:35) in Super Bowl history, but who, other than Dr. Z, is counting?
Thousands of gamblers, perhaps.
h. Gotta love Twitter. @TheSBLights had 13,440 followers. “How about I give you 15% off your next electric bill and we call it even?” it tweeted 11 minutes into its existence.
Good one, stupid topical parody Twitter account that everyone will forget in a week.
i. Joe Flacco’s guts, particularly on that 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter, after the 49ers had trimmed the Ravens’ lead to 31-29, when he audibled out of a running play and threw a perfect back-shoulder fade to Anquan Boldin, who used his size advantage on Carlos Rogers to come down with a crucial 15-yard grab. Gorgeous throw, huge play.
j. And Flacco’s athleticism. The 49ers got into the backfield repeatedly, but Flacco, as CBS implied, looked like Ben Roethlisberger, evading the rush and throwing fastballs. Never more so than on that 30-yard completion to Boldin on 3rd-and7 from the Ravens’ 36 near the end of the first half, in which he rolled to his right and lofted the throw. “Joe is more athletic than people give him credit for,” Boldin would say later. Apparently.
Nice that you got that quote from Boldin praising his quarterback rather than bothering to give the receiver any credit for two fairly difficult catches. Joe Flacco is a top echelon quarterback. We don’t even know what echelon Boldin is on.
k. Vernon Davis, a forgotten man for most of the beginning of the Kaepernick era (he had seven catches, total, in a seven-game stretch that ended with the Niners’ divisional round win over Green Bay), had five receptions for 106 yards against the Falcons, and six for 104 in the Super Bowl, against Ravens linebackers who simply could not stay with him.
Nope, not Ravens linebackers. Just one. That would be Ray Lewis who was getting torched repeatedly by Vernon. But still super cool that Ray Lewis was on the field when other people did stuff for him.
m. Colin Kaepernick’s future. Aside from his ugly second-quarter interception, Kaepernick played beautifully: 16 for 28 for 302 yards, and also seven carries for 62. The hole the Niners dug themselves was not at all his fault, and he very nearly brought them all the way back. He looked nothing like a player making his 10th career start, and there can be no second-guessing Jim Harbaugh’s decision to replace Alex Smith with Kaepernick.
I’m glad this season is over, if for no other reason that Peter King won’t have to remind people not to second-guess this thing everyone stopped second-guessing weeks ago.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Super Bowl XLVII:
a. Brett Favre not being allowed to answer a question about when he’ll return to Green Bay on the NFL Network set, because there was too much shouting and merriment on the set. Lord, that stuff is tiring.
“YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?! THERE’S SO MUCH BIGMOUTH MEDIA AT THE SUPER BOWL THAT MY BRETTY BOY CAN’T GET A WORD IN EDGEWISE. THIS ISN’T LIKE THE OLD DAYS WHERE ME AND BRETT COULD TALK IN FRONT OF A FIREPLACE UNBOTHERED FOR HOURS! WHERE’S THE ROMANCE?”
c. You cannot be serious, Jerome Boger’s crew. One of your men, head linesman Steve Stelljes, a Super Bowl official who theoretically was the best head linesman in the league this year, gets two-handed shoved by Baltimore cornerback Cary Williams and Williams not only doesn’t get thrown out BUT ALSO DOESN’T GET PENALIZED? Awful. Just awful. I don’t care how big a game this is, and you don’t want to leave a team one man short. Williams has to get thrown out for that. Stelljes blew that one big time.
I don’t disagree with that point. Though far be it from PK to fault Goodell and other NFL higher-ups for fudging referee grades to get Jerome Boger that assignment.
f. The power outage. How does such a thing happen, with a 34-minute delay, in the biggest sports event of the American year?
But you said no one cares why it happened. Would the HOF committee spend time talking about it? How much? TELL ME THE MINUTES.
h. Baltimore’s post-power outage conservatism. After the delay, which came with the Ravens leading 28-6, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell seemed to power down the downfield passing game that had worked so well in the first half. Flacco was 13 of 20 for 192 yards with three touchdowns in the first half, but threw the ball just 13 more times thereafter, against 19 rushing attempts, most of which went nowhere (the Ravens averaged just 2.7 yards per carry for the game).
You should be happy to get one half of competent playcalling out of Jim Caldwell.
k. Worst, most claustrophobic winner’s locker room I’ve ever worked. Good people in it. Just microscopic.
Poor planning, New Orleans. If you have a room intended to hold that many fat-ass sportswriters, it had better be expansive.
4. I think Anquan Boldin is one of the very, very few pricy free agent receivers worth the money — and then some. Don’t tell me any wideout is stronger or tougher with the ball in the air.
But he worth as much as Travis Hafner?
5. I think these are my takes on the league’s awards, after balloting from the Associated Press’ 50-person awards panel (including me) was revealed Saturday night:
a. MVP: Adrian Peterson deserved it, and I believe he won it on the strength of his 199-yard final regular-season game against Green Bay. He got my vote, and 29.5 others, while Peyton Manning got the other 19.5 votes. I saw Manning Friday night and explained how I had him winning until that last day, and he understood. Might not have liked it, but he understood.
Oh no, did Peyton not give you his fucking blessing to vote against him. What defiance!
c. Offensive and Defensive rookies: Robert Griffin III and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly won. I picked two Seahawks: quarterback Russell Wilson — who had the best quarterback rating in the league over the last half of the season — and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Griffin and Kuechly, the league’s leading tackler according to NFL stats (164), were good choices.
Of course you picked the goddamn Charmslinger.
d. Comeback player: Peyton Manning. First guy to come back from the type of neck surgery he had to play at an MVP level. And he had three other neck procedures to recover from. Smart pick.
Yes, very wise to sneak in a consolation prize to Peyton to spare his feelings.
6. I think this came from one veteran Raven after midnight this morning, and it speaks to what we love about this game so much: “You know, Baltimore’s not the biggest city. It’s sort of a secondary city, compared to a place like New York. But these people in Baltimore love us so much. One of the things that’s great about winning is winning for them. And winning the right way. We’re a team.” Those are the kinds of corny things I heard last night and this morning, and no one was apologizing for them.
You might think that a tad critical of Baltimore, but calling it a second-tier is about the nicest thing you could say about that shithole.
7. I think one of the things I’ll always remember about this game — other than everything, of course — is a player I don’t know all that well, Ed Reed, being so emotional after the game.
He sounds like a gleeful kid promising not to forget the friends he made at sleepaway camp.
9. I think it’s easy for Roger Goodell to say he would let his son play football, and for Barack Obama to say he wouldn’t. They don’t have sons. They don’t have to decide.
“And that’s why the world needs a Goodell son. Breed, Ginger Hammer. Give us the son that The Shield needs. In your loins swims the future of the game!”
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Casinos are sad places.
This is going to be a grand journey by Peter King into the underbelly of New Orleans.
The nearest Starbucks to my hotel in New Orleans was in a casino across the street. Friday morning around 7, I walked into the place with my laptop, ready to do some writing.
Oh my God, PK went into the casino to work. That’s fantastic.
Seventies and ’80s rock filling the air, along with a cigarette cloud. Walked by a guy slumped on a stool with his right hand on a slot machine, either passed out or sleeping.
That guy? Todd Haley.
b. Smoking in bars in New Orleans. Really?
Went to a great bar on St. Charles Street the other night, The Avenue Bar, with a very serious beer menu, and noticed a cigarette vending machine, a huge one, next to the men’s room. And by about 10:30, the downstairs was full of smokers. Felt like I was back in college.
Did these people not get the squishy northeastern liberal memo that smoking is bad and junk? GET ON THE GOOGLES, YOU GUYS.
c. Incredible restaurant of the week: Root, a few long spirals from the Convention Center. On Saturday night, I had one of the best meals I’ve had in a while, and one of the strangest-sounding: Cohiba Smoked Scallops, served in a cigar box. True. Cohiba’s a famous cigar, and the scallops are grilled, then infused with cigar smoke.
Smoke in a bar? Super gross. Smoke in my food. YUMMERS.
Sounded totally absurd, but they came highly recommended, and I tried them, and I was not disappointed.
Not only were the scallops tender, but also the smoke provided added value. For dessert, there were cocoa puffs, in minted milk, with mint chip ice cream. I am given to hyperbole (just ask Don Banks), but that’s as good a meal as I remember eating at a Super Bowl.
e. I don’t care about the blackout, and I care only mildly about the choking traffic. This is a great place for a Super Bowl.
And there you go. Peter King is fine with an extended delay in the game itself, but he’s gotta get good food before and after. Can that happen in New York? MAYBE. Just don’t let PK have to sit in a luxury box as light snow falls on the field.
g. My Super Bowl city rankings: 1. San Diego, 2. New Orleans, 3. Indianapolis, 4. Phoenix, 5. Dallas, 6. Tampa, 7. South Florida. I’d very much like L.A. and San Francisco to get back in the mix. (Why Miami so low? Too spread out. Everything’s a hassle. Convenience rules.)
Walkability rocks! Also, didn’t it snow during the last Super Bowl week in Dallas?
h. Coffeenerdness: Thanks for the in-room coffee, Mr. Hilton. (He said sarcastically.)
SI didn’t spring for the sarcasm font? Is that what Peyton Manning is selling you?
Had some hope when I saw the Lavazza packets there. But I see the Hilton has gone to the Acela School of Coffeenerdness. The Italians would blanch at that coffee-flavored water.
Mamma mia! The contingent of eyeties attending the Super Bowl won’t stand for this swill. That’s why Florence should host the next Super Bowl.
i. Beernerdness: Impressed with the Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen at the restaurant near our hotel, but the best beer I had here — though it’s not from here — was the Full Sail Amber, from Hood River, Ore. Dark brown and flavorful, and lighter than it looks. Just a terrific taste.
Wait, so you hate on Hilton’s generic coffee but you love some Gordon Biersch shit. Jesus, you suck at being a snob.
l. MMQB will not end with the Super Bowl. It continues all year, so be looking for it on SI.com next Monday. Earlier. I promise.
That’s right. I’ll never be free. Though I will take this opportunity to announce that during the off-season, I’m going to start doing a more pared down MMQB takedown. I’m sorry. It’s bad enough doing this shit during the season when Peter King actually talks about football. During the off-season, he feels little to no obligation to stay on subject. I can do without analyzing 5,000 words on which books he thinks should give out on Father’s Day. So beginning next week, I’ll just be doing short posts listing the handful of dumbest things that PK has in each week’s column. If that’s not sufficient for your needs, well, I’m sorry. I’ll go with the more expanded Fun With PK format around draft time and when next season approaches. Until then, I have some sanity that needs saving.
The Adieu Haiku
Last night, very late …
Invaded a Flacco bash.
Huge Flacc of Flaccos.
Fuck that Super Bowl
And everybody in it
Doubly fuck PK
I want more like this!
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