Airwaves: Let the Super Bowl hype machine begin 

After a short while, we will all tire of watching and hearing about the Super Bowl. When you have two weeks between the championship games and the Super Bowl, the media frenzy around the game is surreal. Seemingly, every one who is anyone in the sports media is there. To walk around Miami this week will be like watching a who’s who in the sports reporting world. I am glad there are two weeks prior to the Super Bowl. One week is not enough.

Great advice from Mark Schlereth of ESPN this week to players in the game.

Said Schlereth, who has played in five Super Bowls: “Prepare like it is a regular-season game. Go about your business, nothing more, nothing less. After the opening kickoff, it is just another game. If you prepare like it is a normal game, all the distractions will not affect you.” Interesting take from a very good analyst.

- Maybe I am a cynic or maybe I am a real observant guy from the great state of New Jersey. Maybe I look at things too deeply. Following last week’s championship games, the great one, Peyton Manning, and the savior of New Orleans, Drew Brees, both accepted the championship trophies for their respective teams. Manning was almost dismissive and bored as he was handed the trophy from Jim Nantz of CBS. Brees on the other hand was elated.

Now we all know the story lines of this game. Machinelike Manning and his young receivers along with an undersized defense versus a team that gave emotional hope to a once devastated city.  In this dude’s view, the machinelike, computer-minded Manning and company will prevail.

- Over the airwaves, Internet and print media this week, there has been a huge debate as to where Manning fits in NFL history along with all the other top-flight quarterbacks. This is a nice topic to discuss over a beer or to have all the sports radio yo-yos call in and give their expert opinions, even though they have never worn a jock strap. But in reality, it is a moot subject.

We all know Joe Montana was a great, great signal caller. But look who was around him. In the end, how many players that played in the 49ers’ heyday will be in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, quite a few.

Plus Joe, who I love, had the greatest offensive football mind in the modern era in Coach Bill Walsh. It is impossible to compare Manning to Y.A. Tittle or Otto Graham. The era and the landscape of pro football has changed dramatically.
Manning has put this franchise on his back. Of course, Jim Irsay is a great owner. Bill Polian is the best NFL executive, maybe ever. Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell and offensive guru Tom Moore have done an awesome job in the past and presently. The question is how many of these Colts players will ever be given a bust in Canton? Not many.

 

Despite changes, Pro Bowl still nothing special

 

The NFL’s all-star game: What a mess. For the first time in who knows how long, the faltering Pro Bowl will be played on the mainland USA and a week prior to the Super Bowl. This is a last-ditch effort by the NFL to give this game some much-needed credibility.

It will not work. Obviously, those players playing in the Super Bowl will not play. Even numerous players on the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings, including Sir Brett Favre, will not play because they are so banged up from last weekend’s games.

I applaud the commish, Roger Goodell, for his attempt to give the game much-needed sizzle. However, if there was ever a sport that does not need an all-star game, it is the NFL.

- Just a thought heavily discussed this week on the very popular ESPN morning radio show “Mike and Mike”: Why not play the Super Bowl on a Saturday night? No. 1, Saturday night is the least watched evening of the week on TV. No. 2, the Monday after the Super Bowl no kid wants to go to school and no adult wants to go to work. No. 3, the ratings will be even greater because more young people can stay up on Saturday night and watch the game. Food and booze for thought!

- The Michael Vick rumors are heating up again. Many teams “might” need a quarterback and Vick is appearing high on most teams’ list. Does he deserve a chance to return to a prominent NFL starting QB role? Yes! Has he paid the price for his horrific crimes against animals? Yes! Is he good enough to be a starting QB in the NFL? Maybe. Can he lead a team to the playoffs and contend for a championship? No!

- The NFC championship game last weekend attracted 57.9 million viewers, the most since the 49ers-Dallas Cowboys game in 1982. The Vikings-Saints overtime thriller was the most watched non-Super Bowl program since the series finale of “Seinfeld” 12 years ago.

By the way, I have seen every episode of “Seinfeld.” I am a huge fan. However, for the greatness of that show, Jerry Seinfeld and creator Larry David were really off base with that dumb ending. I have 20 other scripts written on a napkin somewhere that could have ended that saga on a higher note. Of course we got to see ex-49ers cheerleader Teri Hatcher in bed with Jerry’s lawyer, so all was not lost.

 

Off target

 

Last week’s overtime game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings woke up the never-ending argument of what to do from a possession standpoint in overtime in the NFL. One more time, there is a simple solution! Let each team have one possession and there you have it. I can’t believe the great minds who establish rules in the NFL can’t see this. I turn off the radio or TV every time this debate begins. Ugh!

 

Who said it

 

Barack Obama
“I do want to point out that six of them were won in Chicago. You remember that, Magic,” the president joked while introducing Lakers Zen master Phil Jackson and noting that this past year was his 10th NBA title as a coach. Obviously, the barb was directed at Magic Johnson who accompanied the team to the White House this past week. Great stuff and a bit of trash talking buy the prez. I like it!

Archie Manning
“I will root for my son. You obviously do not have children,” the father of Peyton Manning said when ignorantly asked by some slappy sports scribe who he will cheer for in the Super Bowl, the Indianapolis Colts or his ex-team the New Orleans Saints. Duh! What a stupid question. Problem is, it will be asked 100 times this week during the media frenzy prior to the game.


One to watch

 

I will not watch it, but you might want to. The annual NFL Pro Bowl will kick off at 4:20 p.m. today on ESPN. The “Monday Night Football” crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski will call the action. Although I do not like this game, this trio and ESPN will make it fun and colorful. The game is expecting 70,000 fans. I didn’t know that many people cared. Are the bars in Miami Beach closed on Saturday night?

 

By the numbers

 

5 Consecutive Super Bowl winners who have worn white jerseys


56½ The current over-under line for the Super Bowl, the highest in history


8 Consecutive Super Bowls the AFC has been favored

Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at agigantino@sfexaminer.com.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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