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Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
An Epic QB Matchup?
For me, this week has been one of epics. For one thing, I've been scrabbling my way through the epic soul–vacuum that is a UK tax return, so if I've been a little absent, there's my battle–weary excuse. Keeping me company through those long hours of paperbound exile has been an audiobook reading of War And Peace, which I've never had the inclination to read, and have again bypassed thanks to the melodious tones of Edward Petherbridge gamely trying to raise my mood.
With any luck, my reward will be sitting down to enjoy another epic this Sunday.
If there's an upside to my combined hell of taxes and Tolstoy, it is that I've missed most of the thirteen day media circus that precedes the big game. Some of it has been filtering through, of course, but there's barely an angle that wasn't abundantly obvious as soon as we knew who would be contesting Super Sunday. I even feel a little sorry for those full time journalists who have to find some sparkling new way to re–approach the Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm/Pittsburgh Steelers connection.
One of the inevitable Super Bowl themes has been the quarterbacks, and how winning a second title would practically guarantee one of them Hall of Fame consideration — the 'bid to become the 10th two–time Super Bowl winning QB', as more than one commentator has been dressing it up. Except that by my reckoning, the victor will actually be the twelfth, not tenth, the discrepancy being that they mean 'Super Bowl winning starting QB', Phil Simms being a backup to Jeff Hostetler when he collected his second ring with the Giants, and Steve Young having backed up Joe Montana twice before guiding the 49ers himself for his third ring.
That's splitting hairs of course, but it's worth putting Simms and Young in the right category when working out the stats on how many Super Bowl winning QBs with more than one ring have made it to the Hall of Fame. Of those 11 QBs, the only ones not in the Hall of Fame are Jim Plunkett and Tom Brady (and Brady's a cert for the future), while of those eight that have won only one and are eligible, only three — the first three — are in. Brett Favre will presumably become the fourth. The only others seeking their second rings are: Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, and a couple of Mannings. It's a pretty exclusive group.
Warner and Roethlisberger really need this win for their HoF resumé. Right now, Warner is on the cusp, with one SB win and one loss, but no 'long service' as an NFL QB after stints in Arena Football and Europe, and some of his NFL career as a backup. Big Ben might need this more, because I'm sure when Roethlisberger's 37, he won't be playing football for a living. Already he seems consistently dinged, a little slow–moving, even slow–reacting to pressure. He has the look of a one–decade NFL QB.
Roethlisberger also still has something to prove on Super Sunday. Warner put up big numbers in both of his Super Bowl visits, but Big Ben's lone visit was a statistical flop hidden in an outstanding defensive performance. If he seemed, according to some, to be a little more subdued than other players in celebrating victory three years ago, it makes me wonder if he could try just a little too hard this time. It would be unwise to assume that the Cardinals will be wide–eyed about the Super Bowl experience while the Steelers come ready to play. Warner has already proved that he is the wise head on Arizona's inexperienced shoulders.
The Steelers could win with patches of offense, or they could win with a smothering defense, but it is inconceivable that the Cardinals could win any way but through Warner (even if Fitzgerald is at the other end of the scores). So it comes to this: Kurt Warner will drop back and take aim at the Hall of Fame this Sunday. Roethlisberger's fate relies entirely on Blitzburgh's ability to part Warner from the ball.
This Super Bowl could be an epic struggle. Ultimately, I'm not expecting epic numbers.
Pottsville's Curse in Pittsburgh's Hands
Just in case anybody didn't catch my column on sporting curses (see the December print edition of The American), I thought I'd mention this little historical curiosity again. The Pottsville (Pa.) Maroons would had been 1925 NFL champions were it not for a couple of late fixtures by the then–Cleveland Cardinals, who subsequently overtook them on the basis of win percentage. It is said that the Cardinals are cursed never to win a championship until the Maroons are granted at least a share of that 1925 title. Of course, the Maroons no longer exist, but Pittsburgh is geographically near, and the Rooney family have long been supporters of the Maroons' cause.
So if you're looking for a counter–balance to how 'wronged' Whisenhunt and Grimm were by the Steelers not hiring one of them as head coach two years ago, you can always root for the 1925 Pottsville Maroons in this one — and support the Steelers.