Across various media in New Zealand the reporting of sports, a nation that apparently loves sport, is atrocious. The facts are never quite correct. A report one day will say “Team A is going for their third title” the next day it will be “Team A is going for title number two” (this happened during the recent Wellington Sevens, no one could agree for days). And when it comes to sport outside of New Zealand, watch out.
Here is a recap of what some have said about yesterday’s Superbowl (about which I will report below).
Sky TV: “A win [for the Patriots] over the New York Jets this weekend would mean the Patriots were just one game away from another Superbowl. The Jets haven't been to "the show" since their win back in 1969 and it would be a surprise if Tony Dungy's outfit got there.”
The Pats didn’t play the Jets in the play-offs. I can only assume that the reporter meant the Colts, who are coached by Tony Dungy (although Jets coach Herman Edwards was on Dungy’s staff at Tampa Bay). This reporter did half of their homework.
NZ Herald: The Pats won “cementing a place among the NRL's great teams.”
Um… no comment there, except that R is just above F on a keyboard.
The Sunday Star Times had an info-graphic from Reuters and a brilliant full page article sourced from someplace else about why the NFL is so successful (compared to other major sports leagues around the world). Obviously they couldn’t have anything on the game itself.
The Dom Post’s Friday sport section had an article on how Tom Brady is the most underrated player in the NFL. By who? Idiots, that’s who. He may not be a technically great QB, like Peyton Manning. But he handles stress better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s no Joe Cool, but we could call him Cucumber Tom.
And I am told by a colleague that talk radio this morning was full of people saying what a boring game it was!!! I imagine these same people could watch an entire day of cricket and call it “thrilling”.
TV3 ran their article at the end of their sports news and didn’t really give it much respect. Fair enough, it is only the second-largest single-day sports event in the world (behind the soccer world cup final). Most of the item was on Paul McCartney and the ads. And that’s cool, the ads et al are now part of what the Superbowl is about. However, I feel that the “off-field” entertainment should be in a separate article from the actual sport. It also feels slightly demeaning to the players when some smug b*strd (who isn’t much of a reporter at all) says “you probably don’t even remember who won last year”. I missed TV One’s coverage if you saw it please tell me.
I watched the game in a crowded Sports Café on Courtenay Place. The place was packed with about a 1:4 mix of Americans and Kiwis. Football jerseys and hats were everywhere, and not just Philly and Pats ones. I saw Seahawks, Browns, 49ers, NZ Ironblacks, Wellington Wolves and I was wearing my Jets jersey. It was as loud and raucous as any All Blacks match I have seen at a pub. Any camera crew that had come down just before half time would have had a real nice moneyshot for their broadcast (no, I didn’t take my camera so no photos for the blog).
Before getting into the game some Kiwi news. Minnesota Vikings Left Guard Dave Dixon (formerly of Pukekohe) will be a free agent at the end of this season. He (nor I) has any doubts that he will be picked up by a team and that his phone will be busy with offers at the end of the month. Dixon has the record for the most games started for the Vikings and played for the NZ All Black Colts. I think he would fit in nicely at the Bengals or any other blue-collar power-rushing team.
Now here is my take on the game (with the aid of NFL.com’s brilliant play-by-play and information depository to keep my facts correct).
Dallas won in 1993, 94 and 96 to become the first team to win three Superbowls in four years (they also won in 72 and 78). Pittsburgh won four in six years (1975, 76, 79, 80). San Francisco won five (1982, 85, 89, 90, 95). As Dallas were doing their thing the salary cap was brought in to make sure teams couldn’t just buy all the big players. It was supposed to be the “end of the football dynasties”. Well, New England is a new dynasty.
Pats Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis said: "When you're in the middle of it, you're not thinking about what you're doing, dynasties are talked about 10 years later."
He’s right. But what I think everyone is excited about is the fact that this has happened under the looming salary cap. By taking no-names and off-cuts from other teams the Pats have created a force to be reckoned with. How much will they lose next year though? Is this the last year of the Pats run? I think so. Both Weis and Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel are off to head coaching positions, Weis at Notre Dame and Crennel at the Browns (Hadyn Tip: watch the Browns next year). Without Crennel and Weis to anchor the team can Coach Bill Belichick contain players like Ty Law, Troy Brown (who was reported unhappy with his contract at the start of the season) and Corey Dillon? And how long will Kevin Faulk want to stay the #2 running back? If the Pats make the play-offs next year they have a good chance of returning to the ‘Bowl with Belichick, that’s IF.
This year Cucumber Tom did his thing. He played cool and didn’t get flustered. Well just once. Brady, starting the play from almost on his own goal line and spooked by a good Philadelphia rush, skyed the ball in a slow arcing lob. Two (2) Eagles defensive players watched the ball come down and neither made any attempt to catch it. “What are you doing!?” I yelled (It wasn’t the first time I had yelled that during the game and it wouldn’t be the last). Apart from a fumble that was also more Brady’s fault than anyone else’s that was it for mistakes. Well, from the Pats.
Donovan McNabb was all over the place. The Pats had put the hoo-doo on him. His passes were wobbly, erratic and off-target. Me and the pub crowd were yelling at him to “just run it” on so many occasions. After his second interception McNabb dejectedly patted his chest and looked at his team-mates saying: “It’s my fault. That was me.”
"We were too sloppy to win," Eagles receiver Terrell Owens said. "It was great to get back, but we made too many mistakes. We could have won, and that hurts." T.O. made good on his promise to return at the Superbowl getting nine catches for 122yds. His ankle looked pretty good but you got the feeling that he wasn’t at full stretch on a couple of those runs down the field.
But what about that Todd Pinkston? Played the game of his life and then got busted up. Stink.
And LJ Smith (the man has L and J tattooed on the backs of his arms) made some great plays and some very bad plays.
Deion Branch deserved MVP and I’m glad to say that I called it. He also equalled the Superbowl record for receptions (11).
The most decisive factor in the game seemed to be the ground. Players were slipping and sliding all over the place. (A quick check round the table revealed that none of us could remember a Superbowl played in the rain (or snow), again if you know of one please tell me). The play seemed to go to which ever team had the most players upright for the most time. If the Colts had made it they wouldn’t have won on that surface.
Well the season is over, except for the Pro-Bowl. Next year I predict that Superbowl XL will be between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can hold me to that.