Now that we know that the Steelers and Seahawks will make the journey to Detroit for the Super Bowl, I want to offer a perspective on how they got
there. The Steelers victory over the Bengals was not all that surprising given that they had already beaten the Bengals at Cincy earlier in the year
and the injury to Carson Palmer didn't hinder them much either.
The win over Indy came because Pittsburgh seemed to be much better prepared to play the game. They had a game plan on offense and on defense that
clearly incorporated things the Colts were not expecting. And in Denver, the Steelers played dominating football and were the beneficiary of Jake
Plummer doing what Jake Plummer does most of the time - melt down. He had avoided the choking dog imitation all year long until the AFC Championship
game where he rolled out four turnovers. If this were pro rasslin', it would be like one tag team member turning on his partner and helping the other
guys beat him up...
The Panthers road to Seattle was in reality all downhill. The Giants' defense was banged up and Eli Manning was in his first playoff game. The
Bears' offense was inept all year long and they too started a very green QB in his first playoff game. The Panthers rolled over those foes like they
were three legged dachshunds. Then came the Seahawks and all of a sudden there was a very competent foe on the other side of the ball on offense and
on defense. And don't be fooled by the thinking that Mike Holmgren is an offensive-minded coach and that the Seahawks' defense is patchwork; those
guys can play very well too.
One more aside about Jake Delhomme's performance last weekend. He was intercepted so often that when he dropped back to pass in the 4th quarter, the
defensive linemen started reaching for the helmets out of force of habit.
One more aside about the Chicago Bears in the playoffs. Their record against playoff teams this year was 2-3 going into their game with the
Panthers. Their 9-2 record against the rest of the league really did include a generous helping of bottom feeders including SF, Detroit (twice),
Green Bay (twice) and New Orleans. Against that level of competition, the one-dimensional Bears could prevail because their 'one-dimension' was so
good; but at the top level of the game, that offense in Chicago was just too much of a burden to carry.
One more aside about the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. Is it just me, or are the Indianapolis Colts morphing into the Atlanta Braves of the
The NFL really is a copycat league. A couple of years ago, the fad was to hire minority coaches - and it turned out to work just fine with Lovie
Smith, Marvin Lewis and Tony Dungy all advancing to the playoffs this year and with Romeo Crennel coaxing six wins out of a fetid squad. This year,
the trend obviously is to elevate anonymous assistant coaches/coordinators to the head coaching roles. There were 10 openings this year and 7 of the
10 slots went to these anonymous assistants; it's almost as if there were openings at the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average companies and 21 of those
openings were filled by guys from accounting who specialized in inventory flow management. If before January 1st, you could have identified Rod
Marinelli, Scott Linehan, Mike McCarthy, Eric Mangini, Brad Childress, Gary Kubiak and Sean Payton on sight, then you really need to find another
hobby besides memorizing the assistant coaching staffs of NFL teams.
Now we'll see if the copycat trend continues. The Patriots lost their defensive coordinator when he took the Jets' head coaching job. So when the
Pats looked to replace him they elevated linebackers' coach, Dean Pees. I'll go out on a limb here and say that this guy is the only coordinator in
the league whose name is a complete sentence. Now if he is really successful, will the league turn itself inside out looking for other coaches with
There are some interesting developments coming out of Minnesota. The hiring of Brad Childress there could be a great move or it may be horrendous;
anyone making a pronouncement on that subject at the moment is either thinking with his glands or just filling up column space/radio airtime. Time
will tell. However, the Vikings have not hired - and say they do not plan to hire - a General Manager. That means that first time head coach
Childress will have some kind of influence over player acquisition/retention in working with new owner Zygi Wilf. That's like looking at a recipe for
possum boiled in mule-snot. It just doesn't look very good...
Meanwhile, the agent for Duante Culpepper said that he was about to begin negotiations with Zygi Wilf to reopen Culpepper's contract. The agent is
looking for more money so that - in his words - '...Duante can assume the position on the NFL pay scale that he so deserves.' Time out here.
Culpepper got a huge contract a couple of years ago; two seasons ago, he and Randy Moss could not co-exist and so they shipped Moss out to Purgatory
and that 'explained' the Vikings' failure to march through the playoffs. Last season, the Vikes were stinking out the joint until Culpepper blew out
all three of the ligaments in his knee and that is when they started to win some football games. And now, Culpepper deserves a raise from his
humongous contract? Frankly, I would be more surprised to see him get a raise in Minnesota than I would to see him traded to Arizona, Baltimore or
St. Louis where three of his former coaches/coordinators are now in charge of the teams there.
Enough football for now. I read where one of the NHL players who might have been part of the Olympic ice hockey competition tested positive for
steroids and will not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. That's fine. But he will not be banned/suspended/pilloried/whatever by the NHL.
There's a situation that those Congressional crusaders might want to ask about. Or aren't there enough hockey fans to constitute a bloc of voters big
enough for those noble crusaders to care about? Just askin'...
Finally, Bradley University recently named Marc Lowe as an assistant women's basketball coach. Maybe it's just me, but if I were looking for a
basketball coach, I think I'd be looking for someone named Marc Tall.
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...