Is it just me or has the lead-up to this year’s Super Bowl been just one endless loop of discussions surrounding DeflateGate? It’s weird because the media seems to have just zeroed in on this one issue and left every other narrative out in the cold. You would think that somebody would’ve gone against the grain and talked about something else, right?
Well, that’s what I’m going to do, or at least try to because the stink of DeflateGate is still prevalent so I still have the dedicate some space talking about it.
But other than that, Super Bowl XLIX is actually teeming with juicy plots and subplots, some of which I’m going to highlight only because, more than anything else, I just want to move past talking about deflated balls.
For better or for worse, the saga surrounding those deflated balls from the AFC Championship game has dominated the headlines leading up to the Super Bowl. It’s a good thing because even without talking about the actual game itself, Super Bowl XLIX has remained relevant. That’s an easier feat to do these days, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that everybody seems to be so fixated on DeflateGate that little attention is being paid on what actually matters more. You know, like the game itself.
The New England Head Coach Connection
If you peel off the ad naseum talk surrounding DeflateGate, you’ll realize that there are a number of narratives surrounding the game that can be dissected even more. This one is one of my favorites because not a lot of people are giving it the attention it deserves. Did you know that since Robert Kraft became the owner of the New England Patriots in the mid 90’s, he’s only hired two head coaches. We all know who one of them is, but not a lot of people remember that the other one was actually Pete Carroll, the same guy coaching the Seattle Seahawks and is one win away from winning his second straight Super Bowl.
There are a lot of “what-if” scenarios in play here. What if Kraft exercised more patience with Carroll and didn’t fire him when he did? Does the Brady-Belichick era even happen? Does USC’s college football dominance in the last decade happen? Kraft’s decision to replace Carroll with Belichick pretty much set into motion every relevant thing that has happened in the NFL and college football from now until today.
What if, right?
Brady’s place in the QB pantheon
Put the “what ifs” aside for a moment and let’s focus on what’s at stake for Tom Brady. If he wins this Super Bowl, he’s got four to his name, equaling the haul of Joe Montana, who many consider as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Should Brady tie him for that number – I’m setting aside Terry Bradshaw’s four rings because he had the Steel Curtain with him – there’s a legitimate argument now on who the best QB of all time is.
If the Pats win and Brady wins Super Bowl MVP, I don’t see any reason why he leapfrogs Montana for that top spot. That’s my opinion, even if I recognize that some people will still feel differently about it.
Oh, apologies to Peyton Manning, but he’s not in this discussion anymore.
The growing legend of Russell Wilson
To be clear: Russell Wilson is nowhere near in the discussion of greatest QB of all time. But if he wins his second straight Super Bowl, he’s on the express lane to get there in the future.
His credentials might suffer from playing alongside this all-time great Seahawks defense, but you can’t deny the fact that he’d already be in the shortlist of QBs with two Super Bowl rings to their names. Last I checked, that list includes only 11 quarterbacks. He’d be number 12, and he’s only 26 years old with at a whole lot of years left to add to his total.
Shut down who?
I’ve always found the term “shut-down corner” to be a misleading description of cornerbacks. In my mind, a shut-down corner doesn’t exist because shutting somebody down means that a receiver doesn’t even get a sniff of the ball. Ever. That’s never happened in the NFL. Even Deion Sanders, widely considered as the best corner in NFL history, gave up his fair share of catches.
But for the purpose of this narrative, I’ll play this game. Right now, the two cornerbacks who “best” fits this title are playing in this game. Extra bonus points because those two, Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, have an acrimonious history because of their disagreement on who the best, you guessed it, “shut down corner” is in the league.
If I were to pick one, I’d take Sherman over Revis because of the recent body of work. That’s not to discount Revis’ year with the Patriots because he’s been elite throughout the season. But I also have to take into account his injury year with the New York Jets and his struggles in Tampa Bay.
On the other hand, Sherman has been a thorn on the side of quarterbacks for the better part of two seasons now. He was instrumental in beating the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s NFC title game and for every brag that’s come out of his mouth, he’s been able to back it up.
So give me Sherman over Revis, for now.