Disappointing. A joke. Fixed.
Those aren't the words the NFL wants attached to its most-watched championship game ever, but that seems to be how most readers feel about Super Bowl XL.
I got a week's worth of email in the 24 hours after Sunday's game, 90 percent of it from Seattle Seahawks fans ready to go all Russell Crowe on the officials. While I can see how the Seahawks faithful have their gripes with the Pittsburgh Steelers' 21-10 victory, I don't necessarily agree with all of them. But we'll get into that in a minute.
Beyond the Super Bowl, fans of the other 30 teams not involved in last weekend's festivities have started scouring for morsels on the NFL draft. Along with free agency, the April 29-30 draft will undoubtedly dominate this NFL writer's time for the next three months. So we might as well start talking about it now.
And finally, we have one last installment (I promise) on the laptop fiasco, which apparently didn't end for Chicago Bears fans when I owned up with a webcast leading up to the Super Bowl. Apparently, Bears fans will only be satisfied with my death. Which pretty much sticks to the status quo this season. At least they are consistent.
All in all, it was a great season for the mailbag. We probably doubled the number of emails printed in 2004, and hopefully, we'll continue to expand the forum for the readers. Whether you are sharing applause or anger, you deserve to have your voice heard. So keep the chatter coming, and remember to include your first and last name as well as your city and state.
As usual, my comments appear in italics.
To the mail …
SUPER BOWL XL ("Pittsburgh's perfect ending," Feb. 6, 2006)
I've always respected your opinion – not always AGREED with it – but always respected it. To that end, I'd like to ask you some very pointed questions about Super Bowl XL:
1. Did Darrell Jackson actually push off?
2. Did Ben Roethlisberger score?
3. On the Seattle play that got down to the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter, was it holding on Seattle or offsides on Pittsburgh?
4. On the subsequent return after the interception, should Matt Hasselbeck have been called for a cut block when he was actually going after the ball carrier?
Oak Harbor, Wash.
1. Jackson pushed off. It was minor, but it was there. But I also agree with the assessment that there was mutual contact. Jackson was definitely touched by the defender beyond the five-yard limit. Here's the deciding factor: Once in the end zone, the only push that caused any type of advantage (even if it was microscopic) was Jackson's.
2. I think the football in Roethlisberger's arm grazed the goal line, and thus, was a touchdown. It was a judgment call that couldn't be verified or struck down by video, so I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who was actually at the game, on the field and within 20 feet of the ball. As for the review, clearly there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it.
3. This was a bad call. I don't think there was holding on the play that would have moved the ball to Pittsburgh's 2-yard line.
4. Another bad call. Hasselbeck should not have been flagged for his tackle.
5. To be fair, here's one play Seattle fans seem to be conveniently forgetting: On Kelly Herndon's 76-yard interception return, there was clearly a block in Roethlisberger's back. The ball should have been placed somewhere around midfield rather than Pittsburgh's 20. Which, of course, could have affected whether or not Seattle scores a touchdown on that drive.
All in all, I don't think this game was the atrocity people (and some buzz-mongering media members) are making it out to be. People are making far too many assumptions about this game. We can't assume the Steelers wouldn't have scored on fourth and inches had Roethlisberger's touchdown been nullified. We can't assume Seattle would have scored from the Pittsburgh 2-yard line. We also can't assume the Seahawks would have scored had Herndon's pick been placed at the 50. Seattle fans can complain all they want, but they are making a lot of assumptions by saying a win was taken away from them. Lest we forget, the Seahawks still had their chances to win. The missed field goals, poor punting, dropped passes and fourth-quarter interception didn't help.
It had to be evident to the rest of the world that the NFL wanted the Steelers to win. Many of the calls that were made were ticky-tack at best and were one-sided. In a FAIR game, Seattle would have run the Steelers ragged.
Why don't they have the officials on the ballot for MVP of the Super Bowl? Obviously, they played the biggest role in this game.
The officiating in the Super Bowl was terrible. The game would have been a whole different story if the referees actually called the right penalties. The offensive pass interference call was ridiculous.
The Super Bowl outcome was profoundly disappointing to me as a Seattle native. If you play that game 10 times, Seattle wins the series 6-4. It seems like it was decided by the officials and two plays forged more by luck than skill (Roethlisberger and Randle El's long passes).
Come on. Roethlisberger scrambling in the pocket and connecting on the 37-yard pass to Hines Ward wasn't luck. It was football. As for Randle El's pass, you can call it a gimmick, but that's part of the game. It's not like the Seahawks didn't practice for it. They knew that play was in Pittsburgh's arsenal, and simply didn't execute to stop it.
I hope the Steelers take the refs to Disneyland with em'. They certainly did their part!
I don't believe in football conspiracies, but that game was fixed and the worst officiated big event I have ever seen! It left a very bad taste in my mouth about the integrity of the game.
Pittsburgh paid the referees off for throwing the game. That's the worst officiating game I've ever seen in some 20 odd years watching basketball, baseball and football. I don't think Pittsburgh could be on the same field as Seattle.
Nobody paid for anything. That's ridiculous. There was no "fix." Saying that disgraces every football player who steps on the field in an NFL game. This isn't the WWF.
In a boring ho-hum game, the Steelers won. They were the better of two mediocre teams. Seattle choked in the big game – what a surprise! That was probably one of the worst Super Bowls I've ever witnessed. Oh well, at least it's good to see Bill Cowher finally get a much-deserved Super Bowl win. Not much else was memorable about this game (except the Seattle choke job). Yawn.
I am a Baltimore Ravens fan, and I follow the Steelers because the Ravens play Pittsburgh twice a year. This may not make me popular in Baltimore, but congratulations to the Steelers. Jerome Bettis is a class act and Hines Ward is my favorite player outside of the Ravens. Those two guys epitomize what a TEAM player is and should be.
Now it's our time to shine. No one – I mean no one – thought the Steelers would do it but the fans. So who's talking now? I see another dynasty starting.
You wrote that Pittsburgh stifled "quarterback Matt Hasselbeck into a 53-percent completion rate." THAT IS STIFLING? He had a season percentage of over 60 percent, so is 53 percent that bad?
Hasselbeck completed 65.5 percent of his passes in the regular season. Had he matched that Sunday, he would have had six more completions. Seems to me that six more completions could have made a difference Sunday.
Norm Chow is at Tennessee. Steve McNair is on the down side of his career. Since Matt Leinart was his QB at Southern Cal, will the Tennessee Titans try to make a move and bring in Matt to tie up again with Norm?
Billy Volek isn't in the long-term plans for Tennessee under Chow, so I think there's a strong possibility of drafting McNair's replacement with their first pick. Whether or not that's Leinart – well, let's see what happens at the scouting combine and personal workouts.
I'm still not entirely sold on Reggie Bush's durability. At first, your point about Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown seemed perfect – at Auburn, they averaged only about 20 and 10 carries per game, respectively – but that hasn't stopped both from succeeding in hard-nosed, heavy-workload running offenses. But then again, both suffered injuries this season, with Cadillac getting way more carries but also missing more time, if I'm not mistaken.
Silver Spring, Md.
Indeed, both were banged up this season. But durability really fluctuates from player to player – despite size. Clinton Portis came into the league small (5-foot-11, 205 pounds), but he's only missed four games in four years.
Every year, at least one quarterback with good arm strength and mediocre accuracy gets hyped to the point where they're considered a first-round pick. They generally end up as draft busts (Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, etc.) or backups. None of them suddenly "turn it on" and develop accuracy and poise they've never shown before. Why would a team be so stupid as to draft Jay Cutler in the first round?
I wouldn't say Cutler has "mediocre" accuracy. He has completed 59 and 61 percent of his passes the last two seasons, the latter of which is a school record for Vanderbilt. That should tell you something about his surrounding talent. And not all big-time quarterbacks have great accuracy in college. Remember, Brett Favre was a 53-percent passer for Southern Mississippi.
Arrington has really fallen out of favor with the Cardinals, but it's not a certainty that he's done as the featured back. The offensive line had a lot to do with Arrington's problems.
The Houston Texans should draft Jay Cutler. I agree with your assessment of him as one of the players with the most NFL potential. I'm not a fan of Vince Young from an NFL standpoint. I feel that, like Michael Vick, he will end up being an exciting but simply good quarterback, not a great one. Matt Leinart has good skills but his arm strength isn't as good as Cutler's. I don't think Reggie Bush should be seriously considered as a pick for the Texans because I think a solid NFL team is built with a good quarterback.
I'm surprised Texans fans are so ready to give up on Carr, who had all the great reviews that guys like Leinart, Young and Cutler are getting now.
What is the buzz around Elvis Dumervil from Louisville? I am surprised he didn't make your defensive top 10.
Dumervil's size is going to hurt him, and he got shut down on occasions at the Senior Bowl. His stock is going to hinge a great deal on what he does in the combine and personal workouts.
DeMeco Ryans equals INTANGIBLES. And that's something that doesn't translate in 40 times and worthless combine stats. Heck, DeMeco was a star defensive player that made two to three special teams tackles each game for 'Bama. How many "stars" do that? I've watched the SEC for fours years now and he's special.
Baton Rouge, La.
I'll say this: Lofa Tatupu didn't have the best size and speed going into the daft, but nobody is talking about that now.
I'm not surprised at all that Mathias Kiwanuka's stock fell, and that D'Brickashaw Ferguson had his way with him. Go look at the bowl game against Boise State. They had to resort to switching him over to left defensive end because Daryn Colledge was stonewalling him every pass play that he lined up on the right. He's got bust written all over him if you ask me.
Fergus Falls, Minn.
What about Penn State's Michael Robinson? Could he be the steal of this year's draft? I see him as a late first-round selection. If he goes to a good team with experienced personnel around him, he could really make an impact in my opinion.
Robinson's future is at wide receiver, but he's got a long way to go. He had trouble at the Senior Bowl when he finally took some reps at wideout. Scouts don't think he has the best hands in the world. But if he can show some progress at the combine, he could be a first-day pick, no problem. The first round looks like a definite long shot at this point.
I'm not a Bears fan, so maybe I am not the proper judge of such things, but as far as I am concerned, unless you use that cake to compose your columns for Yahoo! Sports, you pretty much weaseled out of the deal. I realize that actually eating a laptop computer would be very bad for your health, and I'm not suggesting that you should do it anyway. But perhaps it would be a good show of character to admit that you made a pretty stupid promise, and that you are, for very good health reasons, welching on the deal.
Some people are never satisfied. All I can say is this: I hoped Bears fans would take the video presentation for what it was – someone admitting they made a stupid prediction. I wore Chicago Bears gear. I took a cake in the face from a season-ticket holder. I admitted I was wrong. When was the last time an analyst owned up (on a webcast, no less) to a preseason prediction that didn't pan out?
To hell with your physician! Eating cake? You should have eaten a real crow or something disgusting. And go shave. Jake Plummer might sue you for taking his look.
Vancouver, British Columbia
You have GOT to be kidding me! Do you really think that will satisfy Bear fans? I DON'T THINK SO! Oh boy, what a price to pay, chocolate cake. Well, I guess the war is on, because you couldn't possibly think chocolate cake will do it!
Your laptop cake deal was bogus. You should have let the fans vote. You should have taken a pie in the face, not a dry devils food cake. You're dead to me now.
That video of you eating your laptop wasn't worth it. I want to see more. How about you stand in the middle of Belmont Harbor and Bears fans pelt you with snowballs? Or better yet, how about you take a dive in to Lake Michigan?
Tell you what – round up all the Bears fans who said they were Super Bowl-bound this year, and we'll all jump in together.