Every Wednesday, Shutdown Corner brings you a list of things that may have happened previously in the NFL, but will not be happening again.
Don't Count On ...
... interest in the Pro Bowl heading upwards from here. What I realized about the Pro Bowl this week is that this week is the Pro Bowl.
Any excitement that will be generated by the Pro Bowl will have come and gone this week. All the anger about the snubs, all of the joy for the selections and all the analysis of the players will be out of the news cycle by Thursday.
And that'll be it. From there, all that's left of the Pro Bowl is making fun of the Pro Bowl.
I got all worked up about the exclusion of Philip Rivers, but to be honest with you ... I'm not going to watch the Pro Bowl. I feel bad that he was left off the roster, but when February 8 rolls around, I'm not watching that three-hour suckfest, Philip Rivers or no Philip Rivers. If you told me that Rivers got to play quarterback while riding on a unicorn, I still probably wouldn't watch.
I'm at a loss to explain why I care who goes when I'm not going to watch the actual event, but that's how it is. A discussion about how to make the Pro Bowl itself watchable is a discussion for another day, but in the meantime, since the announcement of the rosters is the only thing even moderately exciting about it, how about we spice that up a little bit?
How you do that, I don't know exactly. Maybe you bring in the last two guys who are up for a particular spot on the roster, and we host a series of debates on the NFL Network. Say you name Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner as NFC running backs, but then Brandon Jacobs and Clinton Portis debate for the last spot. Maybe there's a Terrell Suggs vs. LaMarr Woodley debate, too. That would be heated. The judges can be Roger Goodell, Marv Levy and Randy Jackson.
Or maybe when you're going to announce the three AFC quarterbacks, you bring three cheerleaders up to the stage, all with big black ponchos on, and, one by one, they shed the poncho, they're wearing a cheerleader outfit and they've got the name of the player temporarily tattooed on their stomach.
I don't know. That's just one idea. You may be able to come up with others that don't involve stripping.
... me ever saying this again, but I kind of miss Tom Brady.
I was checking out the new Game Rewind doohickey on NFL.com, and the footage they have in there is from the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII; specifically, the drive that put the Patriots up 14-10. I watched it and I thought, "Man, that Tom Brady was one beautiful son of a bee-sting."
I miss him. I do. I miss his scent. I miss his musk.
Good quarterback play is the key to the watchability of an NFL football game. If you accept that as truth, then you've got to accept that the NFL is a poorer league when Tom Brady isn't playing. Much poorer, in fact, because Brady is so absurdly good.
I wouldn't say I forgot this fact over the course of an eventful season, but it definitely got pushed to the back of my mind. There just aren't a lot of guys in the NFL who stand that cocksure in the pocket, and then make good decision after good decision. I was struck by it as I watched it. In this way, I can say to you that yes, Tom Brady is a striking man.
I want him back. I don't like the Patriots, and I certainly don't miss the Patriots being dominant, but I want as much good quarterbacking in the league as I can get. It's one of the things I'm already looking forward to in 2009 ... seeing that 6'4" stack of wonderful back in the pocket.
... a lot of teams being able to slow down the Titans running game. The Texans and Jets have both shown that if you can hold LenDale White and Chris Johnson to under 100 combined yards, you probably won't need much more than 14 points to beat the Titans.
Kerry Collins is not the Kerry Collins of 2000, and if you stack the box and give Collins one-on-one downfield all day long, he's not going to hurt you that badly. If you can put the Titans in that situation, you've got a fighting chance. The Steelers are quite capable of that.
I don't know that they've got the offensive juice, though. Because even if you do slow down Tennessee's running game and do everything you have to do defensively, you still might need something magical on offense to get those 14-plus points. The Texans got a 100-yard day out of Steve Slaton and a 200-yard day out of Andre Johnson, and still just barely made it happen.
Without Big Al Haynesworth missing from the middle, things will be different, of course, but I'm not necessarily talking about this week as much as I'm talking about down the road. It might seem like the Titans are reeling a little bit right now (and it might seem like that even more when Pittsburgh beats them this weekend), but they're still 12-2 and they still got there for a reason.
There's an understandable rush to crown Pittsburgh as the beast of the AFC right now, but come playoff time, when the Titans have to remind people that they're still the Titans, they'll be quite capable of it.
... the economic downturn hitting Albert Haynesworth too hard. When Albert Haynesworth was named to the Pro Bowl this week, it guaranteed that he could become a free agent this offseason, and I'm going to go ahead and make the prediction: Sooner or later, Albert Haynesworth becomes the highest-paid defensive player of all-time.
At least, I promise you that would be the case if I was somebody's GM and had some owner's millions to spend. I don't think there's a single defender in the NFL that makes the kind of impact that Haynesworth does.
There might be a few guys in the same neighborhood. James Harrison comes to mind, and maybe a couple of the top corners in the league. The Chargers' record points to Shawne Merriman having a pretty big impact. But to me, no one tops Haynesworth.
If he's in the middle of your line, the opposing offense can just forget about using the space Haynesworth occupies, about a six-foot radius all around him, and at least a couple of linemen. What kind of price tag do you put on that?
The Titans still have every opportunity to paper him up and never let him hit the open market, and they should absolutely take advantage of that. If he ever sees free agency, someone's going to offer him a mind-blowingly massive deal, and the Titans will regret it for years.
- Tom Brady