Super Bowl winners and losers

Super Bowl winners and losers
by Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
February 3, 2004

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports
HOUSTON – The obvious winner from Sunday's Super Bowl was the New England Patriots, who captured their second world championship in three years and answered any question about just how good of a team they are.

But the Pats weren't the only winners. And the game, gritty Panthers weren't the only losers. Here's a breakdown of some of each from a fun Super Bowl deep in the heart of Texas.

WINNER: Tom Brady
He is 26.

Roll that around for a couple of seconds and then consider his two Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVP trophies and his growing list of dramatic last-second triumphs. He doesn't have a gun of an arm, and he doesn't scramble like a running back. But with a big, big game on the line and less than 2 minutes left, is there anyone else in the league you want with the ball?

"He is just cool," Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown said. "I think he has the ability to make everybody else cool around him. He comes in the huddle and no one is really panicking out there or frantic."

So good. Still so young.

LOSER: Justin Timberlake
He clearly defined the difference between pop star and rock star. A pop star rips Janet Jackson's shirt off on international television and issues the following wimpy statement: "I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable."

A rock star would say: "Hey, tough break, it happened, and everyone who has been ogling Janet Jackson since she played Penny on 'Good Times' ought to thank me for it."

WINNER: Jake Delhomme
For a while there, he looked like the second coming of Tony Eason. Delhomme was in the Super Bowl and playing like a guy who spent most of his career carrying a clipboard and trying to make it in Europe. He connected on just one of his first nine passes. With less than 3 minutes left in the first half, his offense had gained a grand total of minus-2 yards.

Then on a third-and-five play from his own 10, Delhomme hit Ricky Proehl for 13 yards and found his confidence. From that point on, especially in the fourth quarter when he became a loud, brash leader, Delhomme was a stud. He finished with 323 yards passing and three touchdowns and darn near pulled this thing off.

"He never ceases to amaze me as far as being on a big stage and coming through with some big plays," Carolina coach John Fox said. "He has a lot of heart. He is just going to get better and better."

Any doubt that Delhomme is becoming a major force in the NFL has been answered. He isn't just a quarterback on a hot streak. The Panthers have a QB to build with.

The network has long been in bed with the Jackson family – from high-priced specials to softball "60 Minutes" interviews with Michael – but at what point does it realize the entire family is a disaster waiting to happen?

Before the show, Jackson choreographer Gil Duldulao said, "I don't think the Super Bowl has ever seen a performance like this.... There are some shocking moments in there, too."

And CBS trusted these people live on worldwide television?

WINNER: The Streak
No, not just New England's 15-game winning streak. We're talking about the performance by Mark Francis Roberts of Liverpool, England, who disguised himself as a ref and sneaked onto the Reliant Stadium field before the second-half kickoff. Then he stripped down and, with an advertisement for, did a little jig before running from security. Eventually the Patriots' Matt Chatham knocked him down.

This is the kind of behavior that drives television announcers nuts. Almost nothing can get them worked up in a hurry more than a streaker or any fan who runs on the field. But generally, fans love it. Reliant Stadium went nuts when he was out there.

You have to like Roberts' gumption. He bills himself as the world's most prolific streaker on his website and even predicted that he would streak the Super Bowl before the start of the third quarter. He called his shot and delivered. And probably made some good coin doing it.

LOSER: John Kasay
If Kasay kicked in New England, where the fans and media are less forgiving, we might suggest he get out of town. He would have Grady Little/Bill Buckner written all over him. With 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining and the game tied at 29, it looked like Kasay was trying to boot the ball away from dangerous return man Bethel Johnson. But he sent it right out of bounds, setting the Patriots up on the 40 in a bone-headed move.

"A shorter field like that [helped]," said Tom Brady, who promptly moved the Pats down the field for the game-winning field goal. "I'm sure he'd like to have that one back. It's a pressurized situation."

Said Fox, "John just didn't hit it."

Whether he lives down the goat label remains to be seen. It is not always fair, but that's the reality of making a big mistake in a big game.

WINNER: Adam Vinatieri
With a second Super Bowl-winning kick in three years, he should cement the claim that he is the greatest kicker in NFL history. His list of unreal kicking performances is unmatched.

"They never get old. They never, ever get old," Vinatieri smiled. "I tell you, I still think the most difficult kick I've had was the game tying field goal in the snow against Oakland (in the 2002 playoffs) but with this type of venue, the pressure on, it's never easy."

He just makes it look that way.

LOSER: Jacksonville, Fla.
The smallish, conservative Southern city hosts the Super Bowl next year, and it might as well get ready for the negative press from the national media. On the media shuttle to Reliant Stadium on Sunday three guys from a glossy national magazine already were lamenting how much it was going to stink and that "there isn't one good restaurant in Jacksonville."

Perhaps the only good thing that can come out of this is the pretentious set of the media will die from starvation because there are no sushi bars and dirty martinis to be found.

Here's the deal, Jacksonville. Just take the money (about $300 million) and ignore all the complaints about traffic, lack of nightlife and boring cuisine. You can't win.

WINNER: Football
Just in case anyone needed reminding why we truly love this game, Sunday did it. Only 5½ months until the start of training camp.

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2004 3:50 am, EST

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