Five thoughts in the wake of the 46th Super Bowl:
1. The Giants are a (road) team for the ages. Check out their two Super Bowl runs, four years apart. Seven games away from New Jersey. In 2007, wins over four higher-seeded teams (Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay and, of course, 18-0 New England). In 2011, wins over a lower-seeded team at home (Atlanta) and three higher seeds away from home (Green Bay, San Francisco and New England). Seven times in eight games they beat a team that had earned a higher seed in the playoff ladder. Hard to think of a team being as good as these Giants, particularly in the clutch, at the end of such very big games, so consistently.
2. Eli Manning is one cool cat. "Cool as the other side of the pillow,'' Mario Manningham said Sunday night. Though I'm sick of the cliché, Manningham's right. He went further, asked if he was surprised Manning was able to drop a 38-yard pass into him so perfectly that, if it were 15 inches off in any direction, it probably would have been an incompletion. "Nope,'' he said. "I get used to the ball being thrown where only I can catch it.'' Look at Manning's numbers, combined, in the 2007 and 2011 regular season, and his postseason combined numbers from his 8-0 run in those years:
3. Stop killing Brady. He set the bar incredibly high during the 10-0 start to his playoff career, and so the 6-6 won-lost record since is surprising. He badly underthrew Rob Gronkowski on the second play of the fourth quarter Sunday, leading to a killer Chase Blackburn interception. For him, even with the 16 straight completions, this was a C-plus game, no better. You've got to put more than 17 points on the scoreboard to win a game against a good quarterback like Eli Manning. He didn't. But let's consider everything. He had three drops in the last four minutes (Welker, Branch, Hernandez). The Welker play has been dissected for 36 hours now, and there is fault on both sides, but it should have been caught. He's 83-27 since he last won a Super Bowl, which means he's won three of every four games he's dressed for. His touchdown-to-inception ratio since his last Super Bowl win: 230-80. He didn't lead Welker. He underthrew the Gronk. He's not Montana. Answer this question: If you asked every GM in the league today, with a dose of truth serum in all of them, how many of them would take Brady over their quarterback right now, how many would choose their own guy? Ted Thompson with Aaron Rodgers. Jerry Reese with Eli Manning, Mickey Loomis with Drew Brees. Anyone else? I'm dubious.
4. Indianapolis deserves another Super Bowl. Weather was mostly perfect, which helped. But the physical plan for a Super Bowl is perfect, whether you're inside or outside. Other than cabbing to pool-reporter duties outside of town or being on buses around town to NFL events, I never got in a car all week. Got a kick out of NBC's Randy Moss saying on his pregame show hit Sunday that Google Maps showed the Giants hotel was a one-minute drive to the stadium. Should be; it's four blocks away. On Friday, I was in a rush at my hotel, the J.W. Marriott, in Indy. I had to get changed for an event that night, and I was late. I hustled through a packed lobby as quickly as I could, and was right behind two people helping an inebriated woman through the place, and all of a sudden the woman vomited. Bad scene. As they tended to her, I went up the elevator, got changed, and came back down in no more than six or seven minutes. It was like the sickness never happened. All clear. That happened all week in Indy. Got a problem? Ask someone. It'll be fixed. Friends decided to come into town late, and as I wrote yesterday, a couple I know but not well volunteered to take them in and now they're great pals. When I lived in Cincinnati in the early '80s, Indianapolis was a Triple-A city, if that, a stepchild. Now it's big-time. It should be again.
5. And it's a progressive city, and sports community. This was not only an accommodating host city. It was a progressive one. Last Wednesday, I was taken on a tour of the Super Bowl Host Committee's Social Media Center. Five Ball State students sat at big computer monitors, monitoring all sorts of social media sites. "I'm looking for questions, concerns, or to direct people to websites to help them find their way around here better,'' said 22-year-old Sarah Kowalski, a grad student in information and communication science. "So visitors here, and people planning to come, get a personal touch. This is just Indy's way of leaving their mark on history.'' Kowalski said one previous visitor to the Super Bowl Committee's home page asked, with all the traffic and crowds downtown, whether he should come to see what it's all about. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You have to come!'' Kowalski wrote. A minute later, the inquiring visitor-to-be wrote back: "You had me at hello." When I left the place, a member of the New Orleans 2013 Host Committee was touring, looking up at the nine-monitor wall with Super Bowl TV coverage and maps where visitors were coming from, and keywords of different sizes that the students were following. One of the brains behind the idea, ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey, said, "It's all in the name of Hoosier Hospitality.'' Corny, I know, but I felt that all week.
Now for your email:
HE DOESN'T LIKE MY GOAT CHOICE. "Wes Welker, Goat Of The Week? Please go look at the tape again. Welker was totally wide open! It was BRADY who made a horrible throw which was behind Welker, too high, and over the wrong shoulder! Why does Brady always get a pass? He played poorly throughout these playoffs, and missing that throw may have cost them the game. Peter, you are normally more objective. Pretty Boy Brady deserves some flack but no one ever seems to give it to him. So unfair. What would you have said if Joe Flacco had thrown that ball?''-- J.C., Birmingham
I call it the way I see it. Brady certainly should have made a better throw. But Welker had two hands on the ball right in the palm area without being hit, and before he fell to the ground, the ball bounced away. Yes, Brady deserves blame. Welker deserves more. Re the Flacco comment, you're the reader, and if you perceive I would treat Flacco different from Brady, that's your perception; if I say it's silly, that's not going to change what you think. So you should think what you'd like.
NOT REALLY. "I really enjoy reading your articles and your straight forward approach to writing and story telling. With respect to the Bill Parcells HOF snub, could you elaborate on whether or not his coaching tree is considered in his candidacy? The list of winning coaches that honed their skills under him is a fairly extensive who's who of the coaching ranks including the most recent Super Bowl coaches. Any thoughts?''-- Wayne Mandel, Woodbury, NY
You are supposed to consider what a coach did on the field during his tenure. In my 20 years on the committee, I have not heard much about coaching trees when a coach's time in football is discussed. But clearly, the Giants were a good place for young coaches to develop, and Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick are good examples.
NBC DROPPED THE BALL IN THE POSTGAME. "I think this is what I didn't like about the Super Bowl: NBC's postgame coverage. Pregame coverage ad nauseam and then a quick cut away without talking to both sides just so their "Voice" show won't run late. If you can't devote the time to the entire spectacle, don't host the spectacle. Can you say 'Heidi?' ''-- Paul, Houston
Consider your complaint heard. Thanks.
I HAVE A DIFFERENT THOUGHT, BUT THIS IS INTERESTING. "I've written before about this. Instead of the Pro Bowl, the NFL should have a Future Stars Bowl, where the top college players would play in an all-star game, coached by NFL coaches and mentored by Pro Bowl players. The players would be honored during the game. Plus, bring in Hall of Famers to talk with the Pro Bowl players about life after football. And play the game at the Super Bowl sight the week before. The Future Stars Bowl. Get behind a terrific idea. Could be a lot of fun.''-- Wayne Lively, Las Vegas
It is interesting -- but the only problem is, agents of the young players are going to tell the players not to play. Too much injury risk in a game that doesn't count. My idea: Keep the NFL Honors show the night before the Super Bowl. Bring all the starting players voted to the Pro Bowl to the show, and introduce them to America. Have Dick Clark Productions -- owned by Washington owner Dan Snyder -- work up some way to glorify the 44 players introduced that night as the best in the AFC and best in the NFC. Dick Clark Productions, I thought, did a fabulous job of making the show move quickly and humorously. The only thing the show has to do next year, though, is go live, rather than have zero suspense because all of the awards leaked when the show was taped early that evening.
A GREAT IDEA. "As it stands now, I agree with you on your list of potential opponents for the Giants to open up their title defense on Thursday night, but I think you are forgetting the huge elephant in the room. Should Peyton go to Washington, that automatically becomes the odds-on favorite to be the first game.''-- Tim Lyden, Bowie, Md.
You weren't the only one to think of that. I wish I'd thought of it first. Very smart. What's brilliant about it: FOX would still be left with one New York-Washington game to highlight later in the season.
A VOTE FOR THE (REMAINING) BEATLES REUNION IN 2014. "Is it too early to start a campaign for the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show? It would be perfect to have Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr play together in New York 50 years to the week that The Beatles came to New York and first performed here on TV also on a Sunday shortly after 8 p.m."-- Tom Mariam, Rye Brook, N.Y.
You just did.
GET IN LINE. "WHAT??? No mention of the HOF snub of Jerome Bettis? I respect Curtis Martin a great deal and at the time of his retirement, they were neck and neck in stats, but take Bettis away from the Steelers and I don't believe they reach the Super Bowl against Seattle. Take Martin from the Jets and Patriots and big deal. He got yards but won nothing. Bettis was truly the better back and the more important back to his team both in terms of leadership and performance. The logjam at receiver is a shame because so many deserving will go without. It makes me wonder what chance Hines Ward has when his time is due. Of course it's obvious that I'm a Steelers fan but a case for Ward will have to be made when the time comes.''-- Chris Kohler, Warren, Pa.
I have been hit over the head since Saturday that we snubbed Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Eddie DeBartolo and Will Shields. I will add Jerome to that list. Just a reminder: Five spots a year for modern-era candidates. Five. Did I mention that we have five places every year in which to put the greatest players who ever played pro football? Five. F-I-V-E.