Saturday, January 30, 2010

11 comments Mark Bradley Feels Vindicated, Shouldn't Expect Christmas Card From the Favres and Bill Plaschke Still Writes One Sentence Paragraphs

Mark Bradley feels vindicated about his opinion of Brett Favre last year. He wrote an article last year calling Brett Favre "the most overrated athlete of our time." It was classic and now Mr. Bradley feels good about his statement. I know I keep piling on Favre, but I can't help but do it since I have had to deal with hearing him get praised for the entire NFL season.

I'll get to what Mark Bradley wrote in a minute, but first we all have to pay attention to Bill Plaschke and his opinion on overtime in the NFL. His opinion is important after all, because he appears on ESPN and yells into a camera with said opinion using a slight lisp. The rule as always on ESPN is, "thou who yells the loudest shall be heard the most and get more air time," hence guys like Bill Plaschke get to appear on "Around the Horn" as much as they want. Who really cares if Plaschke mostly writes puff pieces about elderly baseball scouts and rarely has an opinion that is interesting? He is on ESPN, so that means we should pay attention to what he thinks about overtime in the NFL.

The title of this wonderful piece of literature? "It's hard to make heads or tails of NFL's overtime rule."

Get it? The NFL's overtime starts with a coin flip to determine possession of the football. A coin has a "heads" side and a "tails" side, so the title is a play on words! Who said creative journalism is dead? I don't necessarily disagree overtime needs a few changes, but I don't like Plaschke's reasoning for it.

I know many times columnist don't write their own headlines, but I am not sure I could have my picture below a title that is a play on words like this one. At some point, there has to be self respect present. Of course Plaschke also has his picture in black and white on the LA Times site so you can't notice his white facial hair. At first glance if you haven't seen him on television you would think he has a growth on his face near the bottom, but at a closer glance it's just his facial hair.

On to the "column..."

The truth was hard to hear amid a Superdome din, difficult to see through French Quarter tears, impossible to reckon immediately after what felt like one of the most deserved victories in NFL history.

This was one paragraph. Bill Plaschke writes sports columns like they are written in the form of children's books.

(Page 1) "The Superdome was very loud."

(Page 2) "The Vikings were sad because they lost."

(Page 3) "The Vikings felt the rules weren't fair and told the Saints this."

(Page 4) "The Saints did not care because they had won the game."

(Page 5) "This made the Vikings sad."

(Page 6) "Brett Favre threatened to retire."

Two days later, though, it's still there, pounding like a hangover, reeking like a Bourbon Street back alley.

The imagery. I feel like I am reading Michael Connelly's latest best seller right now. The imagery is vivid.

Two days later, the truth is staring in the face of a league too shrouded in 36 years of silly tradition to see it.

So far there have been three sentences and three paragraphs. This is just what you expect when you read a Bill Plaschke column.

That great victory by the New Orleans Saints against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday night?

It wasn't fair.

That was two separate paragraphs. I would also like to add that life is not fair and the Vikings are big boys and will get over it. If you turn the ball over 7 times you can't expect to win a football game. Especially an NFC Championship Game. I think it says something about this in the Bible somewhere.

The Saints won during an overtime period in which the Vikings never touched the ball.

The Vikings never touched the ball because the Vikings defense couldn't prevent the Saints from scoring. Offense isn't the only part of a football game, there is also defense and special teams. Just ask the Cardinals, they lost the coin flip in the playoffs and still won the game. There offense didn't touch the ball either, so it's possible to win a game and not get the ball first.

That being said, I am not a huge fan of the current overtime system.

Only in the NFL can a game be decided by an extension of play in which both teams might not have an equal chance to score.

Actually, there is sudden death overtime in soccer and hockey as well. I realize the possessions are different in these sports, but in hockey if a player is in the penalty box at the end of regulation he is still in the box during overtime, so the game will be decided when both teams don't have an equal chance to score.

Only in the NFL can a game be contested for three hours by two full teams, then be decided in 10 minutes by only half of each team.

Really in the NFL aren't there a bunch of games that are decided by only half of each team? If a team has a terrible defense or offense, while the other team doesn't, the game will most likely be decided by only that half of the team. This is the reason a General Manager and head coach tries to build the best rounded team possible, so if the defense has to stop the opposing team's offense they can. Or if the special teams needs to give the opposing team bad field position they can. Heck, a lot of teams make the playoffs based on some good luck or a favorable schedule they had during that year. Everything in the NFL is not controllable.

My argument would be that both teams have had 60 minutes to score as many points as they could, what good is giving each side one possession guaranteed going to do? A defense should be able to stop an offense just as easily as an offense should be able to score on a defense. I would bet more often a defense stops an offense from scoring than an offense scores on a defense. I doubt an offense scores a field goal or a touchdown on more than 50% of their possessions.

The NFL calls it sudden death, but that's true only for the loser of the coin toss. For the winner of that toss, it's instant life.

I won't argue the winner of the coin toss has an advantage, these statistics from 2004 show over the period of 1974-2003 that the winner of the coin toss won the game 52% of the time. This article says that 30% of the time a team lost the coin toss and then ended up never touching the ball. I am not going to say those numbers aren't statistically significant, but it's not quite the overwhelming evidence that Plaschke tries to play it off as to where ANY TIME a team loses the coin toss they lose the game. The team who is on defense does have a shot at stopping the other team's offense.

Not to dull the justified buzz of the Saints' 31-28 victory, but, well, you saw it.

Yes, I did see the Saints turn the ball over 7 times including having the ball intercepted at the end of regulation when they could have advanced the ball a few yards and attempted a game winning kick. I saw this game.

The Vikings, you'll recall, lost the overtime coin toss, kicked to the Saints, absorbed a 40-yard kickoff return by Pierre Thomas, then watched the Saints drive all of 39 yards before Garrett Hartley won it with a 40-yard field goal.

Whose fault was the 40-yard kickoff return? The NFL's fault. Or maybe the coin flip's fault. If not the NFL or the coin flip's fault, it certainly wasn't the Vikings special teams fault, that's for sure.

I am not a fan of the current overtime system and I think it could use some tweaks (yes, I would be pissed if my favorite team lost a game where they didn't touch the ball in overtime), but the Vikings did more to hurt their chances to win the game than the NFL's policy of having a coin flip ever did. If the Vikings special teams had played better, perhaps Pierre Thomas would not have gotten such a long return. Special teams are a part of the game as well.

In a game of offense and defense, why does the overtime period not involve both teams' offense and defense?

Actually football is a game of offense, defense and special teams. All the facets of a football game made an appearance in the overtime except for the Vikings offense and Saints defense. So 66% of the facets of each team made an appearance in the overtime. If the Vikings offense and special teams had played well, the Vikings offense could have gotten the ball back. It sucks for the Vikings and I do feel bad for their fans. There is no doubt the NFL's overtime needs a little tweaking.

Certainly, while watching the Saints drive toward victory, it was easy to say, "Well, Favre ended the game by throwing the interception, he deserves to watch."

I am not saying the Saints should have been punished for having turnovers, but they did blow a ton of opportunities to win the game. Most likely, if the Vikings have half the turnovers they had they would be in the Super Bowl right now.

But he was watching only because his team called "heads" and the coin showed "tails." He was never given a final chance to win this dramatic, drawn-out game of skill because his team lost a five-second game of chance.

Favre was not watching ONLY because of the coin flip. He was a part of the road that led the Vikings to not winning the game in regulation. Really, Favre didn't need a final chance because the Vikings offense had been given multiple chances. Yes, the NFL should change the overtime rule, but I think the Vikings-Saints game is a bad game to look at and determine the coin flip is what screwed the loser out of winning the game.

"I actually think you should give the other team a possession," Dan Marino, Hall of Fame quarterback, said Tuesday on a CBS conference call. "Especially [with] Brett Favre.

If it were Kyle Orton or Chad Henne he wouldn't deserve a possession in overtime, but since it is Brett Favre he is special enough to where he especially deserves a chance to redeem himself.

Sharpe took the popular view that if an NFL defense can't stop its opponent on the first overtime possession, then that team doesn't deserve to win.

"Fairness doesn't happen in professional sports . . . These are grown men. . . . I need [Vikings end] Jared Allen, the third-highest-paid defensive player in the league, to step up for me and make a play," Sharpe said.

Like most things in this world, the harder we all try to make something more fair, the less fair it will end up being. Also, Shannon Sharpe has a point. Defensive players get paid a lot of money for a reason, to play defense well, and defense is a part of the game like offense. So I can see how those in favor of the current overtime system may have a point, though the coin flip issue still bothers me. If the NFL doesn't want to overhaul the entire overtime, the coin flip should be done at the beginning of the game so the teams can game plan accordingly.

It's one thing to have respected former NFL stars and commentators arguing about player performance or coaching decisions. But here, two weeks before the Super Bowl, and they're arguing about a rule?

It's a dead week for the NFL. There is very little else to talk about since coaches are not getting fired and there is really nothing else exciting happening.

It is often difficult to get 24 of 32 owners to agree on anything, but shouldn't changing this rule be the easiest decision since allowing shoulder pads?

Bill Plaschke is such an idiot sometimes. This is from earlier in this column:

I asked the question on the Super Bowl preview conference call, and immediately the network's three pregame experts began debating it. Marino wants the rule changed. Shannon Sharpe does not. Boomer Esiason seemed uncertain.

So Plaschke asked three football experts what they thought and none of them could agree on the solution, but he seems to think 75% of the current NFL owners could agree on a proposal to fix overtime? Obviously, just from Plaschke's own small sample size it is shows that figuring out how to do overtime isn't an easy decision to agree upon.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the rule's inception in 1974, the winner of the coin toss has won 239 times in 445 games, a 54% rate.

However, around 70% of those victories came by field goals, which means not only can overtime be played without one team's offense, but it can be played with only a fraction of the other team's offense.

What? How the hell did overtime get played with only a fraction of the other team's offense? Is Plaschke trying to tell me 70% of 239 games ended with a kickoff and then a made field goal without the winning team's offense running a play? Because that's exactly what he is saying by stating the game was won with a fraction of the other team's offense. Simply because a game ended with a field goal doesn't mean the entire offense of the team that won didn't play in overtime. At some point the offense got the field goal kicker in position to kick the game-winning field goal, so I don't see what Plaschke is saying here.

If a team that wins the coin toss scores, then that team kicks off to the other team for its one shot. If the team that wins the toss is stopped, the other team simply takes over and they play until someone scores.

This is Plaschke's idea to fix overtime. Again, what happens if both teams score? Is there another round where each team gets a shot or does it go to sudden death at this point? If it goes to sudden death, we all know my feelings on this, and if each team gets another shot, then Plascke is pretty much suggesting the college system of overtime.

Think the Saints would have played for only a field goal if they knew Favre would get the ball back? Think Drew Brees would have been the winning quarterback by throwing for just 21 yards on the final drive?

How many yards Drew Brees threw for in overtime has nothing to do with whether the current overtime system works or not. Throwing the football is not the measure of whether a team deserves to win a game or not.

"They're not going to change the rules until it happens in the Super Bowl," said Marino.

He's right. Only when the worst rule in American sports is exposed on American sports' biggest stage will it finally die. Can you imagine?

Saints: "We really want this Super Bowl championship."

Colts: "Fine, we'll flip you for it."

I like how Bill Plaschke is pretending there wasn't 60 minutes of football played prior to the coin flip in overtime where each team had a chance to outscore the other team. He just conveniently ignores this little fact. I don't necessarily fully like the current overtime system, but there has never been a time when anyone can really agree on how overtime should be set up to make it more "fair." Mostly, Bill Plaschke sucks at writing.

-Now to Mark Bradley, last year I covered a blog entry he had where he bemoaned Brett Favre's retirement last summer...and not because he missed Favre, but because he wanted him to stay gone and knew he wouldn't. This was what I wrote covering his article/blog posting then. (My favorite part is when Gene Wojciechowski is defending the team around Favre, saying he didn't have weapons to work with...these are the same weapons a rookie QB took to the AFC Championship Game. I know the Jets defense was better and Sanchez played worse than Favre, but they are still the same weapons...outside of Braylon Edwards and is he really a "weapon?")

Mark Bradley is one of my favorite sports columnists. I don't always agree with him but he backs up some of his wild and crazy ideas and statements with some sort of proof, which is all I can really ask. This is Bradley feeling vindicated.

I’d been hearing it lately: “Ready to admit you were wrong about Favre?” And I admit I was almost – almost, I said — wavering. The man I’d described as the most overrated athlete of our time had had a brilliant regular season. I didn’t see that coming.

I don't think anyone saw the season Brett Favre had coming. I did not back down and say I was wrong about Favre, because I knew he would give me more ammunition at some point.

And now he stood one game from a Super Bowl, and the thought of a two-week ESPN Favre-fest was enough to turn my stomach.

Millions of American's stomachs instantly felt better when the idea of ESPN not being able to ram Favre down our throat for an entire two weeks happened.

I keep saying to myself, “He can still mess this up.” Lo and behold, he did. Which is why Brett Favre is …

The most overrated athlete of our time.

I still don't know if I can agree with this assertion, but the blog posting from February I covered of Mark Bradley's tried to make a good case for it.

Naturally, the sycophants on ESPN declared Favre a man’s man for trying to Make A Play, but the first rule of NFL quarterbacking remains: Protect the Doggone Ball. But he couldn’t do it because he’s Brett Favre, the man’s man who never saw a dare he wouldn’t take.

Mark Bradley is talking about Tom Jackson's comment that made my jaw hit the floor when I heard it:

“That’s the thing about Brett Favre; he’s not afraid to throw an interception. That’s one of the things I most admire about him.”

I have heard every excuse in the world so far this year for Jake Delhomme's performance this year, outside of this one, but leave it to an ESPN analyst to make the best excuse for an interception-throwing quarterback. This is such a fail on so many levels by Tom Jackson I shouldn't even get into it.

I will just say it's one thing for a quarterback to not be afraid to throw an interception and it is a completely different thing for a quarterback to actually throw an interception in a crucial point of a game like Favre did. A quarterback can't play afraid, but he also has to be smart. Brett Favre has treaded and crossed over that line many times in his career.

So now I can rest easy, at least until Favre retires and unretires again. He’s done for this season. His last pass was a postseason interception, same as in January 2008. Being Brett Favre, he teared up in the postgame interview because he’s a man’s man who isn’t afraid to cry. Or wear Wrangler jeans. Or throw the ball to the other side.

I hate to say always post bad things about Brett Favre, especially now that the season is over, but after having to deal with an entire season of Favre-mania I feel like I am due one week to gloat a little bit in the fact that this season ended for Favre and his team the exact way his season with the Packers in 2008. Favre has padded his personal stats and enhanced his personal legacy, but from a team perspective, he is coming off another tough playoff loss where he threw a crucial late interception. So he is basically two years older and on a different team, but still has the bitter taste of a tough playoff defeat in his mouth...just like in 2008.

The last couple sentences Mark Bradley wrote here are pretty brutal/funny. Interestingly, Mark Bradley is also in a (many years-long) feud with John Smoltz. Maybe it's something about white, elderly gentlemen with beards who keep talking about retirement that doesn't sit well with him.

Either way, I think this is the official end of my Favre-mania...until he decides to retire/unretire and I rip into him again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

11 comments Peter King Explains Why He Hates the Colts and Jets

I have a dream. I dream that Peter King writes a weekly mailbag which is several pages long and contains tons of questions posed by his readers followed by Peter's answers to these questions. I am afraid my dream may never come true. In this week's mailbag he answers exactly 4 questions that he was posed from his MMQB. None of these questions relate to how insensitive he is to call Sean Payton and Drew Brees "orphans" and subtly compare them to those New Orleans citizens who went through Hurricane Katrina. Peter also explains why he pretty much ignored the entire AFC Championship Game in this mailbag as well.

Let me give you a hint as to why he ignored it. He's really, really busy people. So you can't expect him to pay full attention to 1 of the 3 most important games that are played each NFL year. That's just too much to ask of him. Because he's really busy. Don't ask him to cover the NFL completely, he has to pick and choose which parts he needs to cover in his MMQB.

Four topics this morning: Overtime, how impressive the Indianapolis skill-position machine is, what really happened on the 12-men-in-the-huddle play, and your Tweet-rage over my choice of material for Monday Morning Quarterback this week.

It's smart of him to just not bring up the whole "orphans" comment. No one noticed and called him out on it, so there's nothing to apologize for. If Peter King makes an insensitive statement in a forest and no one hears it then there is nothing to apologize for.

But there's one thing you should know as you suggest different ways to go about fixing overtime, if you believe, as I do, that the system is inherently unfair and needs to be overhauled: Don't invent new rules.

How are we going to overhaul overtime without inventing new rules for overtime? Do the fans get to vote on the team that tried the hardest and was the grittiest? Wait, that's a new rule...

Wouldn't any change in the current overtime system be considered inventing new rules?

Don't suggest the college rule, with alternating possessions beginning at the opposing 25, don't suggest the first team to six points win, don't suggest an eight-minute time clock.

How about an arm wrestling contest? Gator wrestling contest? Two men. One steel cage. One chicken. First person to catch the chicken wins the football game?

If I were in a room with Peter King making these suggestions, he would boldly look me in the eye and speak with his coffee flavored breath and tell me, "Don't make these suggestions. They're horseshit and the Competition Committee doesn't appreciate you trying to make suggestions to fix overtime, so shut up and quit trying to be helpful. Care for a donut or perhaps a Cinna-Bun?"

Because the one thing I've learned from talking to members of the Competition Committee about overtime recently (not in the past couple of weeks, but the past couple of years) is they chafe at inventing guidelines that would make the game in overtime different than the game in the first four quarters.

Other than the fact in overtime the first team to score wins the game, which is a rule that makes the game different from the NFL game that was played for 4 quarters over the last 3 hours.

My two thoughts about overtime:

1. Sometimes we make the solution a lot more difficult than it has to be. I actually really like Rulebook's idea to flip a coin at the beginning of the game to determine who gets possession first in overtime. It allows both teams to game plan and decide how they want to manage the last few minutes of the game. For example, the Vikings clearly would have been more aggressive towards the end of the game had they known the Saints would get the ball first. I like this idea and think it is fair.

2. I don't think making different rules for overtime would change the game too much like the Competition Committee does. Hockey does a shoot-out after an overtime period and so does soccer and nobody seems to have a problem with those forms of determining the winner of a game. In fact, people probably find shoot-outs to be more exciting than the game itself sometimes.

That is why I have advocated a simple tweak to the rules: Ensure both teams get to touch the ball once in overtime, either by an offensive possession for each team or by a turnover on the first series of overtime that results in a defensive touchdown.

This is a simple tweak but also doesn't fix the problem. Peter has suggested this idea before and I think it is pointless. What if both teams score a touchdown? Does the game then go to sudden death? If so, then why have each team get one more possession when they have played 60 minutes of football previously? What will one more possession decide that multiple possessions haven't already decided? Why give each team one more possession, then go to overtime? If that's the solution, then just going to sudden overtime would make sense since both teams have already played an entire game.

Here are the scary postseason numbers for the second and third Indianapolis receivers, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, versus the entire Saints corps of wideouts (Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem):

Two Colts2736013.33
Four Saints2125412.13

We have an official "Small Sample Size Alert" in effect for Peter King's mailbag. There are so few good conclusions that can be drawn from this 2 games worth of information it's not even worth criticizing it.

Keep in mind that Garcon is a second-year player from tiny Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, and Collie is a fourth-round rookie from BYU. Neither played at football factories.

"Football factories?" Who is writing this column? Gregg Easterbrook? It's 2010, isn't it about time we all realize there are great football players located at smaller schools in the United States? Just like a high profile college may sign a 3 star recruit that develops into a star player in the NFL, a small college could sign a 2 star recruit that develops into a great player in the NFL.

At this point with the rise of non-traditional powerhouse NFL programs, I think it makes sense sometimes to realize "football factories" aren't the only college teams that can find good players.

For Manning to show the trust in these two receivers so early in their professional careers (they've combined for 134 catches in 18 games this year) tells me Manning was ready to turn the page after the on-again, off-again late career of Marvin Harrison. The Colts didn't know from week to week many times in his last two years if Harrison was going to play or not because of an injured knee, and knowing Manning the way I do, I know he hates uncertainty.

(Peyton Manning) "Tell me I am the best quarterback you have ever played with Marvin and that you love me."

(Marvin Harrison sitting quietly but seething inside) "I don't want to."

(Peyton Manning starting to raise his voice) "Tell me I am the best. Come on, I audible a lot and use intricate hand signals to tell everyone on the field what to do! Sometimes I even cup my hands to my mouth scream words that mean absolutely nothing in an effort to confuse the defense and the average television viewer. Who else does that?"

(Peter King) "I would tell him he is the greatest Marvin. Peyton hates uncertainty. Care for a coffee or a bag of Doritos?"

(Marvin Harrison very angry but looking calm. He reaches for the gun in his right sweatpants pocket, puts his hand on the gun in his left sweatpants pocket, and knows he has one in a holster on his leg if he needs it) "I ain't telling you shit asshole! Don't push Marvin Harrison! A bitch that pushes Marvin gets put in the ground and silenced like the bitch he is!"

(sprays gun fire around the room as Peyton ducks and Peter King doesn't even realize what is going on because he is complaining about how much cream was put in his coffee)

(Marvin Harrision staring at Peyton Manning) "You don't know what I can do to you when you push me!"

(Runs out of the room to go shoot a random passerby)"

(Peter King) "Peyton, I think you are the second greatest quarterback ever. That's for certain...and I do love you."

(Peyton) "Thank you Peter. I love certainty and want to be in control of everything, much like the dictator of a small South American country would. I am glad you recognize this. Care for an Oreo cookie?"

I expect Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to play Manning the way he played Brett Favre and Kurt Warner the last two weeks. Williams preaches collapsing the pocket so the quarterback doesn't have the time or space to step up in the pocket and evade the outside rushers.

Get pressure in the quarterback's face? What a brilliant scheme! Obviously this is going to be the strategy, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out, but HOW is the Saints defense going to get to Manning when he was the hardest quarterback in the NFL to get to this year? That's my question.

Darren Sharper told me Sunday the Saints' mission against Favre was, "Cut off the head, and the body will die.'' In other words, beat the crap out of Favre and see how many plays he makes at the end of the game if you physically manhandle him. I can guarantee you that inside the Saints' facility this week, Williams will be telling his men, "See? It worked against Favre; he threw a terrible pass near the end of the fourth quarter because we beat him up all game.

I really don't think Favre threw that bad pass at the end of the game because he was tired of getting hit by the Saints. I just think it was a bad pass. I could be wrong.

Last week, the Vikings changed the personnel group that was supposed to be in the game on the ill-fated play they called with 19 seconds left -- switching from one tight end and a fullback to two tight ends. So when the play was called, Tahi stayed on the sidelines until a coach -- I don't know which one -- told him to go into the game.

I guess we'll find out which coach told him to go into the game, because that's the coach that will be getting fired in the next couple of weeks.

Here's a minor complaint. Why can't Peter find out which coach told Tahi to go into the game? It's his job to find out all kinds of cool NFL insider crap that readers will want to read about. I know he is so focused on giving us stories on Peyton Manning and his usual puff piece type crap, but I want to know which Vikings coach told Tahi to go into the game dammit. I need this.

Why have an NFL Insider on the payroll if he can't get interesting information like this? It's not like the Vikings organization is leak proof or anything. Pretty much anything related to Brad Childress and Brett Favre last summer got leaked and I want to know which coach sent Tahi in the game.

Much uproar in e-mail and Twitter-land over my column Monday. Leading with Favre, writing more about the Vikings than either of the winning teams, writing nothing about the Jets, writing way too much about Tim Tebow. Does that just about cover it?

It covers it perfectly, yet doesn't excuse it. I can't wait to hear Peter's reasoning for this.

I thought I'd explain the process I went through over the weekend and how it differed from usual weeks. Then, if you still are in a ripping frame of mind, have at it.

Oh no! Peter had to adapt to an ever changing environment! No one else has to do this. I feel sympathy for him now.

I usually write about 8,000 words, in-season, in Monday Morning Quarterback. This week, I was writing the NFC Championship Game cover story for Sports Illustrated, which is about a 2,200-word story and a different kind of writing.

I will never criticize Peter for how long his MMQB is. He writes a lot. That's a compliment to him and I just want to be nice to him for half a second (or .452 seconds...just to irritate Gregg Easterbrook).

I'm trying to write things in there that no one else will write before Wednesday afternoon, when our magazine comes out.

Examples of things Peter writes that no one else will write:

"Brett Favre may be Jesus Christ himself."
"Has anyone noticed those small dimples on Peyton Manning's chin?"
"The Colts receivers really like playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback."
"Breleigh Favre is sad."
"Deanna Favre is sad."
"Brittany Favre had a funny Twitter post."
"Drew Brees and his wife really like New Orleans and New Orleans likes them."
"The Super Bowl will come down to which team can get the most pressure on the other team's quarterback."
"Rex Ryan says funny things."
"Brett Favre tells funny jokes."
"Drew Brees and Sean Payton are similar to victims of Hurricane Katrina in that they are both orphans and have suffered."

That entails working quite a bit after the game, which obviously cuts into my MMQB writing time.

That sucks when your high paying job conflicts with your other high paying job.

So this week, I figured, my game's going to be over about 10 p.m. Eastern Time. I'll be tied up with interviews and maybe going out to see players or coaches after they leave the stadium, and I'd be really pressed for time. I got out of the Superdome about midnight Eastern,


What Peter should have written is that he visited the VIKINGS locker room and did some interviews. If he spent time in the Saints locker room, it didn't show in his MMQB.

So the question of why Peter didn't cover the Jets at all and very little of the Colts and Saints isn't answered here.

then visited Saints coach Sean Payton's postgame party at a steakhouse a mile from the 'Dome, then got back to my room to write about 1:45 a.m.

Going to a party does not count as being "pressed for time." It's interesting Peter went to this party because he sure as hell didn't have any quotes from Sean Payton after the game in his MMQB, so I will assume he went there purely for social reasons. Big fail by Peter King to try and pretend he was working. If he was working, it didn't show in what he eventually put in his MMQB.

When I knew my schedule would be crazy last week, I prepared two items for the columns that I thought would be interesting for the masses -- my first interview with Tim Tebow and a look at where the junior-eligible players fit in the NFL draft's first round. I wrote those things Friday and Saturday, and a few other regular column fixtures. Sunday, I watched the AFC game, writing some as that game took place, and then filed about 3,500 words before the start of the NFC title game.

So Peter already had nearly 50% of the column already written before the NFC Championship Game. Obviously he had to get an interview with Tim Tebow in, because at some point Brett Favre will retire and it will be time for Peter King to idolize the hell out of another NFL quarterback.

That left me about 4,000 words for the column left to write overnight Sunday, plus my game story for the magazine.

So basically Peter was going to write 4,000 words (or half his MMQB) on the Vikings-Saints game no matter what happened. So the reason he didn't mention the Jets and barely mentioned the Colts is because he wasn't going to do it anyway. He wanted to focus on the NFC Championship Game.

The reason for my lack of Colts coverage is that often I try to do a phone interview with a player or coach from a big game, but to do so this week would have been difficult while covering another game; it's a bit impractical to interview a player from another game for 15 minutes and miss the game I'm covering.

Apparently no Colts players were available to talk at halftime of the Saints-Vikings game, after the NFC game ended or even later in the evening when Peter was at Sean Payton's party. Yeah, it may have been a little hard, but it was possible, and Peter watched the entire Jets-Colts game, so it doesn't explain why he couldn't have at least written more of his observations about the game.

Now, as far as the New Orleans-based coverage goes, I thought there were three interesting angles: the Favre interception/possible end of career/big beating he took; the questionable play-calling and 12-men penalty by the Vikes on their last drive; and the story of the Saints making the Super Bowl.

So basically Peter thought there was nothing interesting about the Saints other than the fact they made the Super Bowl, while he was intrigued the Favre-ian sub-plots on the Vikings side.

For Sports Illustrated, the story has to be the team that moves on, not the team that is left in the wake, and so I chose to do the Saints marching on for the mag. The Vikings stuff I chose to lead the online column.

I can partially accept this. In reality, there should be enough interesting Saints related material to put in MMQB AND the Sports Illustrated magazine article. It's not like Peter hasn't written other stuff about the Saints this year. He clearly could find material about the Saints previously for his MMQB, I don't know why he can't seem to find enough for a magazine article and MMQB after the Saints make their 1st Super Bowl in franchise history.

I wasn't so concerned about Peter not talking about the Saints that much, but the fact the Vikings lead the column. The Saints were mentioned AFTER he had repeatedly talked about the Vikings and Brett Favre's future. If Peter has to write about the Saints, it makes sense to do it for the magazine, but it would also make sense to write some more about the Jets-Colts game and then lead the MMQB with information about the Saints going to the Super Bowl...or observations from Peter watching the Jets-Colts game. Pretty much anything but focusing on one of the losing teams and not even mentioning the AFC Championship Game loser would have been acceptable.

I knew at the time it would be odd to write more Vikings than anything else, but when you have to make difficult journalism decisions, they're not always going to be popular.

One thing that annoyed me was that he didn't mention the Jets at all really and barely mentioned the Colts. Normally, I would be all for Peter ignoring the Jets and Colts, but in this situation, I feel like he should have talked more about them and at least have given his observations on the game...which he didn't really do.

I am glad Peter found it odd, yet he still wrote more about the Vikings. It's almost like he doesn't believe he controls what he can write about each week in his MMQB.

From Jim Rhodes of Portland, Ore.: "Over that past several years, more and more defenses are being coached on how to strip the ball from offensive players and there is an emphasis on creating a fumble as opposed to making a tackle. Don't you think it's difficult for anyone to hang on to the football if a defensive player's sole purpose is to strip the ball? I think what is actually happening on the field is not a lack of ballcarriers not securing the ball but rather the increased emphasis by the defense on causing fumbles. Your thoughts?''

PK: You're onto something. When Gregg Williams took over the Saints' defense, he put into place something none of his players had done before: At the beginning of practice, he has every defensive player go through six stations, practicing how to strip or punch out the ball.

So what is Peter's answer? He says this reader is on to something, but then he says that Gregg Williams instituted the stations where the defensive players practice stripping the ball out and the players haven't done this before. So if veteran players like Darren Sharper, Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper, Jabari Greer, Randall Gay, and Scott Fujita hadn't done this drill before, is there really an increased emphasis on causing fumbles in the NFL, or just an increased emphasis on the Saints team? Remember many of the Saints players had played with other NFL teams in their career, so it's not like they would only be exposed to the "Saint way" of doing things.

But here's the thing, Jim -- if you know that's coming, as Adrian Peterson certainly did, there are ways to protect against it. As I wrote Monday, ask Tiki Barber how he fixed it.

That doesn't really answer the question, because Jim was asking if a focus on stripping the ball was more popular now among defensive coordinators. Peter responded by saying Jim was on to something, but used the same example Jim used of the Saints causing fumbles as proof of this. Then he said none of the Saints had ever done the drill before. So it leads me to believe other teams don't focus on causing fumbles as much as the Saints do. So no Jim, it's not a trend at this point. Thanks for asking Peter though.

From Clayton Wood, of Muscle Shoals, Ala.:"I hope we can finally settle the debate about whether or not Favre is the best quarterback of all time. Clearly, he is not...What separates the truly elite quarterbacks from the really good ones is their mental toughness and ability to avoid costly errors. After the costly mistake Favre made last night, I don't see how anyone can rank him among the best all time, like you always say. Am I missing the mark on this?''

No, you are not missing the mark on this. Brett Favre is not the greatest quarterback of all-time. I know it hurts Peter King emotionally to know this to be true.

PK: The terrible throws he made at the end of the 2007 and 2009 NFC championship games have to be a major mark against his legacy, to be sure.

Along with the 6 interception playoff game against the Rams and his 4 interception playoff game against the Vikings. As I said last week, I don't believe playoff game statistics should hold more weight than regular season statistics, but they have to be accounted for at some point.

The best quarterback ever is Otto Graham, I believe, because he played for 10 years in pro football, at the top of the players who played quarterback at the time, and won seven championships with the Browns. I'd have Joe Montana, Sammy Baugh and Johnny Unitas -- at least -- ahead of Favre, and in short order there's a good chance Peyton Manning will be ahead of him.

Here is Peter's list of the 12 greatest quarterbacks of all-time. To give him credit, he doesn't have Favre #1 on the list, but he also has Favre above Manning and Roger Staubach and thinks Joe Montana is the #3 quarterback of all-time. So there is room for improvement in my mind. He says Manning needs another title to pass Favre, so basically he is saying Favre, all things being equal, is a better quarterback than Peyton Manning, which I don't necessarily agree with.

We all know Peter wants to say Favre is the greatest quarterback of all-time. He just knows if he does say this his readers will tear him apart limb by limb...possibly not literally, but definitely in Tweet and email form.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

18 comments Gene Wojciechowski Just Doesn't Give A Crap Anymore

I spend nearly every day of the week mocking some sportswriter somewhere for writing a column I don't like or think is bad journalism. The most frustrating columnists are those like Gregg Easterbrook who is just absolutely sure he is right, but he just isn't...or maybe someone like Bill Plaschke who probably doesn't even realize how terrible he is, so he writes every column with a great amount of confidence that he shouldn't have. You get the feeling they are trying to be good sportswriters, it's just not happening for them.

Sometimes I get the feeling Gene Wojciechowski isn't even trying anymore. The latest column he wrote is about Pete Rose (curiously I tagged him as Peter Rose when I first tagged his name and discussed him here) and Mark McGwire and the similarities they have. He mailed this one in. It's not well-researched or well-thought out in any fashion. It's just there for people to read if they get bored. Or it can be used in case someone has run out of toilet paper. Of course it's a short article, so it may not even be that useful as toilet paper.

I feel like Gene's editor told him to write an article about Mark McGwire and his thought process went like this:

"Mark McGwire isn't going to make the Hall of Fame any time soon. Pete Rose isn't going to make the Hall of Fame either. Both did things that baseball frowns upon, so there must be similarities between them, vague as they may be. Let's see if I can put a column together about this and blame Major League Baseball."

So that's what he did.

Mark McGwire is back in. But Pete Rose is still out?

Mark McGwire did not make the Hall of Fame, so he is not "back in" necessarily. He is on the ballot which is something Pete Rose can't say. Other than the fact both players are disgraced in the eyes of many fans and Major League Baseball there really aren't that many similarities in the situation of these two players. One was banned for gambling, the other used steroids and has been sort of unofficially blacklisted, except by his PED forgiving ex-manager Tony La Russa.

Major League Baseball continues its hit streak of hypocrisy.

Here is where there the entire column Gene writes here falls apart. There is no Major League Baseball hypocrisy. Pete Rose was found to gamble on baseball games, WHICH WAS SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED BY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WHEN HE GOT CAUGHT, while there was no such rule on the books when McGwire used steroids. So there was nothing inherently hypocritical in Major League Baseball for banning Rose when he broke a rule MLB had, but not punishing McGwire for breaking a rule not currently on the books of MLB.

Sure, maybe Major League Baseball should do something about McGwire being the hitting coach for the Cardinals but it really wouldn't make sense to punish him for violating a rule that wasn't a rule when he played. So the entire comparison between Rose and McGwire falls apart because there isn't a justifiable comparison between the two players and their wrong deeds.

Knowing this point, Gene's entire column falls apart. Yet, I will continue going forward...

How is it that McGwire receives a standing O from St. Louis Cardinals fans, but Rose still has his 68-year-old face pressed against MLB's window?

These are two completely different things. On one hand you have the fans reaction to Mark McGwire and on the other hand you have MLB's reaction to Pete Rose. If I am not wrong, Pete Rose got cheered in 1999 when he was introduced in Atlanta during the World Series. So given the fact they were both cheered by fans, the fan reaction to both is fairly similar. The difference in reaction by MLB to McGwire's transgression was very little to nothing because there is nothing MLB can do to permanently punish McGwire, while MLB's reaction to Pete Rose can be explained by the fact it is against the rules to gamble on games when affiliated with MLB. Hence, while Gene tries to combine the two reactions into a contradiction, there is no contradiction present.

McGwire not only goes directly from his self-imposed isolation tank to a big league coaching job, but he has Cards manager Tony La Russa running interference against anyone who thinks this is a bogus idea.

Major League Baseball may have a hard time controlling how Tony La Russa runs his baseball team and who he chooses for his coaches. So it's not exactly MLB's fault that La Russa continues to run interference for his PED-connected players. Again, Mark McGwire hasn't been banned from baseball for life, while Pete Rose has. So there is the difference in these two players Gene is looking for and feels the need to ignore.

Meanwhile, Rose, who has forgotten more about hitting than McGwire will ever know, remains an outcast. Huh?

Pete Rose has forgotten more about hitting than Mark McGwire will ever know? Gene does realize that Mark McGwire is a Hall of Fame caliber player, based on his steroid aided statistics of course, and was a good hitter? I hope he realizes this.

They both compromised the game and they both suffered irreparable harm to their reputations. But somehow Rose's baseball sins are mortal and McGwire's are venial.

Venial? That's some fancy words Gene is trying to distract us from the substance of the article with. I can see how someone who has a hard and fast stance against steroids would disagree with this statement, but Pete Rose literally messed with the integrity of the game, while Mark McGwire didn't do it to the degree Rose did. Pete Rose was a man in a position to control the outcome of games, while Mark McGwire mostly controlled the outcome of his at-bats.

I know steroids are not exactly like other forms of cheating like scuffing the ball, throwing a spitball or using sand paper, but really the result is the same. The difference in Pete Rose and Mark McGwire is the difference in one person cheating in a college English class and the English professor grading the papers in a way to control the outcome of what students get what grades. Steroids are micro-level cheating while gambling on baseball is macro-level cheating...especially when a MLB manager is the one doing the gambling.

Just so there's no confusion, Rose was a creep. He gambled on baseball games, got caught and then lied through every one of his Charlie Hustle teeth for nearly 15 years.

So if Mark McGwire was Pete Rose, he would keep publicly denying the use of steroids and then when he is trying to sell a book come clean in 2013 in order to get publicity for his book and get back in the good graces of baseball. According to Gene, this is a suitable idea.

Just so there is no confusion, what Pete Rose did was specifically prohibited by MLB, while steroids were not specifically prohibited at the time McGwire claims he took them. Also, so there is no more confusion, gambling on the outcome of baseball games when you are in an authority position is much more serious than an individual player on a baseball team cheating. It sucks and I don't like it either, but I feel it to be true.

He violated the game's most sacred rule and was thrown out of the profession like a scuffed ball gets tossed aside by a plate umpire.

Yet, while saying all of this, Gene Wojciechowski still can't figure out why Major League Baseball is treating Pete Rose and Mark McGwire differently. One violated baseball's most sacred rule and the other violated baseball's non-existent at-the-time steroid policy.

Rose finally admitted he bet on baseball in 2004. Doesn't matter. The MLB-issued lifetime restraining order prohibits him from coming within a foul pole of the game.

What Rose should have done is this: Take illegal steroids and performance enhancers, deceive baseball fans, make millions of tainted dollars, cheat the record book and the Roger Maris family, press the truth mute button, go into hiding and then reappear five years later with tears in his eyes and a confession with more holes than a catcher's mask.

Actually yes, perhaps Pete Rose should have done that instead since there isn't a rule banning PED users for life and there is a rule banning anyone affiliated with MLB who gambles on baseball games for life. Perhaps Pete Rose should have taken illegal steroids (though there is almost no doubt in my mind he took some "greenies" or some other substance that is a borderline PED...a lot of the players took them in his time) and then apologized a few years later. He didn't do this though. He gambled on baseball and lied about it repeatedly. I would like to see him in the Hall of Fame since I think the "character clause" that often gets brought up in relation to Rose and PED users is a joke.

Also, I am sick and tired of the "McGwire went into hiding" act the media has put on McGwire. He retired from baseball, he doesn't have to face the media and their inane questions while he is retired if he doesn't want to. The media isn't a court of law where a person HAS to speak to them and clear his name to avoid punishment, though it often seems that way and the media feels like a person isn't truly coming clean until that person's entire life story has been told publicly.

So in summation, regardless of the type of cheating that had taken place, gambling on baseball had the punishment of being banned for life, while there was no such punishment for PED use. That's the bottom line.

To McGwire's credit, at least he admitted the obvious and apologized. Still, how come Rose's gambling admission in 2004 makes no difference to MLB, but McGwire's recent admission of steroid use (nearly six years after his embarrassing congressional appearance) results in a welcome-back hug from the league office?

Well dumbass, I mean Gene, it's because what Rose admitted to was exactly what got him banned for life from baseball. So Rose was essentially admitting to the crime that got him banned, while there was no such ban for admitting PED use since McGwire isn't currently an active player. This argument is like saying a convicted murderer should be able to avoid the rest of his sentence simply because he admits what everyone already knows AFTER he is sentenced, that he killed a certain amount of people. You don't get credit for admitting to your crime after you have been punished for said crime. In the case of McGwire, there is no available punishment for him that could come from MLB at this point.

Not everyone is thrilled with Big Mac's return. Since McGwire's Confession Lite, Hall of Famers such as Carlton Fisk and Ferguson Jenkins have ripped him.

There is nothing like Carlton Fisk questioning how McGwire put up great numbers at the age of 34 when Fisk was putting up lines like 37 HR, 107 RBI, 17 SB, .238/.320/.488 as a 37 year old catcher.

Or how Fisk hit 18 HR, 74 RBI, .241/.299/.413 as a 43 year old catcher. That's also a 43 year old catcher that played 106 games behind the plate. No, those numbers aren't suspicious at all and I am sure it's just because Fisk had new exercises he did and took care of his body.

Carlton Fisk probably isn't the best person to question others about fishy numbers in their mid to late 30's. To be honest, if those numbers occurred during the Steroid Era he would be a prime suspect.

Soon, McGwire will report to spring training as the team's new hitting instructor. He gets to wear a major league uniform again. He gets to do what he loves.

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T GET A LIFETIME BAN FROM BASEBALL! There was a specific rule that said, "Don't fucking bet on baseball or you will be banned for life from the game." Shoeless Joe Jackson fell under this rule and he isn't in the Hall of Fame either. There was a rule and Pete Rose broke it. There was no such rule for McGwire. End of story.

Not Rose. The all-time hits leader (his career .303 batting average is 40 points higher than McGwire's)

Well that means Pete Rose is a much better baseball player than Mark McGwire. Mark McGwire had 423 more home runs than Pete Rose and had a higher lifetime on base percentage (.394 to .375). What does this mean? Nothing. Gene is trying to distract us by trying to remind us that Pete Rose was a great baseball player.

This isn't about the Hall of Fame. The moment Rose made a bet on baseball is the moment he forever forfeited his bronze plaque. McGwire should be held to an identical standard.

Except for the fact McGwire's crime was completely different and didn't have the same penalty attached to it, this statement makes sense. You can't hold two different crimes with two different penalties to an identical standard. Life just doesn't work that way.

Rose gambled. McGwire juiced. Both cheated.

Yes, both cheated. One person cheated and violated a baseball rule that goes back 100 years and the other cheated and violated the public trust and will never make the Hall of Fame or have credibility in the minds of many baseball fans. Both have gotten punished in their own way, and regardless of whether you think Pete Rose should be reinstated (I think he should be in the Hall of Fame but in the special "cheaters" wing that will eventually have to be opened), you have to admit he got a lifetime ban and if the commissioner doesn't want to overturn it, Pete Rose hasn't given him a reason to.

If Selig is going to embrace McGwire's explanation and apology, then he has to do the same for Rose. It's time to end the double standard endorsed by the commissioner's office and MLB.

It's not a double standard if the crime each person committed doesn't have the same penalty because they are separate crimes, albeit with the same result of breaking the public trust. Bud Selig hasn't embraced McGwire's explanation and apology, he just doesn't have much recourse to do anything about McGwire's PED use. He can suspend him, but McGwire would be back eventually and that just prolongs the problem. He can't ban him for life from the game unless he wants to be sued. What permanent punishment can Selig enact on McGwire since he didn't break a baseball rule in place when he used PEDs?

I don't know if it's the right thing to do, but it's the fair thing to do. You can't give McGwire a second chance, but ignore Rose's plea for reinstatement.

You absolutely can. If we are going to be straight by the book, Bud Selig has precedent to ignore Rose's pleas for reinstatement. No commissioner before Selig reinstated Rose and the fact Rose admitted to gambling on baseball to sell books shouldn't convince Selig to do so.

You can't hug one cheater, but stiff-arm the other.

The fact both players cheated doesn't mean the punishment for the cheating was or should be the same. Both players cheated but they cheated in completely different ways that required different punishments from MLB.

Rose has groveled, begged and pleaded for forgiveness. He even sells T-shirts on his Web site that read, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball."

Yet again, Rose is trying to make money off the fact he bet on baseball. The fact Rose wants to make a profit off his lifetime ban doesn't help him seem like he is the type of person who is contrite and serious about it.

I don't know if my opinion would change if Rose gave out T-shirts that read, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball," but I know the fact he is SELLING the T-shirts doesn't help him too much.

McGwire issued a statement to The Associated Press and agreed to a handful of sit-down interviews, but has yet to do a full news conference (the recent six-minute fiasco in St. Louis doesn't count). Put it this way: McGwire hasn't gone through the full truth car wash.

You mean other than his interviews with Bob Costas, Tim Kurkjian, and ESPN's own "Outside the Lines?" I can't help but wonder what questions these guys didn't ask McGwire which Gene Wojciechowski wanted answered? Maybe if Gene had any credibility in the world of a known cheater like Mark McGwire, he could get his own sit-down with McGwire, but I have a feeling that would never happen.

Yes, Rose betrayed the game by gambling on baseball. There's no way around that elephant in the middle of the dugout. But McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte -- admitted PED users -- betrayed a similar trust.

Yes, they both betrayed a trust. It's the difference in someone stealing your car and stealing your wife. The theft remains the same but the penalty for both is different. Pete Rose stole our car while Mark McGwire stole our wife.

But who knows if Giamatti wouldn't have softened his own stance over 20-plus years? Anyway, Giamatti made a decision on his own. Selig is secure enough to do the same when it comes to Rose.

And he has. He's kept Pete Rose banned from the game. Decision made.

Rose made his major league debut in 1963, the same year McGwire was born. McGwire made his major league debut in 1986, the same year Rose played his final game.

Holy shit! They must be cosmically linked then! Bud Selig you must immediately de-ban Pete Rose from baseball because he is cosmically linked to another baseball player who was a cheater! It's written in the stars, it must be done!

So they are linked by years, by scandals and by confessions.

Yet they are not linked by baseball rules that guide the punishments for both players. Herein lies the problem with Gene's argument.

If Selig does the right thing, Rose and McGwire will be linked by 2010, too: the season they both returned from exile.

Weak. If I can criticize an entire article arguing a point with one sentence,

"Pete Rose and Mark McGwire are in different situations because there was a lifetime ban as punishment for those who gamble on baseball in place when Rose was caught gambling on baseball, and there was no penalty on the books for players who use PEDs when McGwire admitted to PED use after he retired."

Then you know it is a weak argument.

-Speaking of bad ass things to do, Bryant Gumble randomly accused Jeff Bagwell, Nomar Garciaparra, and Ivan Rodriguez of using steroids. I think that's awesome. I wasn't aware we could just randomly name people who we think used steroids without repercussion (That whole Raul Ibanez thing last summer sort of caused me to think this). Since I am feeling chipper, here's my partial list of players I think (but have no proof so I am not saying I am right) used steroids or some other PED:

Jeff Bagwell
Ivan Rodriguez
Nomar Garciaparra
Marcus Giles
Brian Giles
Javy Lopez (the catcher)
Kevin Brown (it sounds far fetched, I am aware of this)
Brady Anderson (for one year...maybe)
Gary Sheffield
Raul Mondesi
Jim Thome (though I hope not)
Albert Belle
Mike Hampton (again, it sounds far fetched)

That's just a partial list and I will hopefully think of some more in the comments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

5 comments TMQ: Gregg Easterbrook Piles On

In the past, Gregg Easterbrook and I have had similar attitudes towards Brett Favre. I know, it's a scary realization. We both think he does most of the things he does to satisfy his own ego and that no matter how much he claims it isn't true, he believes most things are about him (and his family). It's sad for me that a man I write a weekly post about concerning his lack of football knowledge is in nearly total agreement with me on a football issue. Don't think this hasn't kept me up at nights. So today, Gregg is vindicated and doesn't mind telling us all what he really thinks and he includes some bad football analysis in hit TMQ just to annoy me.

Hamartia. The "tragic flaw" described by Aristotle: A leader cannot control his own inner shortcoming, which causes him to achieve the reverse of what he desired.

Gregg Easterbrook's fatal flaw? He has two of them actually. The inability to understand basic football analysis and enough hubris to believe what he is saying in his weekly TMQ is factual without having to provide proof when necessary.

It was not enough for Favre's team to reach the Super Bowl -- he had to get the credit. Game tied with 19 seconds remaining, Favre scrambled at about the New Orleans 40-yard line, with open field ahead of him. All he needed to do was run a few yards, hook-slide, call timeout, and the Vikings' strong-legged kicker, Ryan Longwell, had a solid chance to win the NFC championship. But the credit had to go to Favre; he had to throw a spectacular pass at the end, so television announcers would swoon. So he heave-hoed a dramatic across-the-field pass.

I would like to think this isn't necessarily true, but I also think this could be a jaded, reasonably accurate explanation of why Favre didn't run a few yards instead of throw a dangerous pass. I personally believe Favre just likes to try to make a play, whereas his real reasoning I can't say for sure because I can't read minds...but Gregg may have it right.

Perhaps you are thinking, "It was just a dumb mistake, and the whole thing happened in a couple of seconds." No. Two years of Favre's life built up to that moment. For two years, Favre has insisted that entire NFL franchises, the Jets and the Vikings, become thralls to his celebrity.

I know I usually spend this space criticizing Gregg but what he is writing here is certainly fairly reasonable isn't it? Just a little bit?

He has used his stature to demand, demand, demand -- the crux of the demands are always attention and publicity for himself.

For fear of agreeing with Gregg...doesn't Favre have a fairly extensive recent history of getting publicity for himself and generally holding teams hostage with his demands and whether he will make a decision on an issue or not? Isn't it reasonable that someone, who in some ways feels teams revolve around him and when he makes a decision, would also want to be the one to make the great play and prove that it was worth it to have him on the team?

To a certain extent Favre needed to prove his two year trek over to the Vikings was worth the risk it took in regards to the Green Bay fans' response to him playing for the Vikings and for the effort it took to make it happen. It's only natural Favre wants to prove it was all worth it...and he isn't exactly known for making safe plays as it is, so as a result comes the untimely interception.

In two of the past three seasons, Favre has lost in the NFC Championship Game. Each time, his team seemed poised to win at the end; each time, Favre's final play was a disastrous interception. And each of those title losses eventually came in overtime -- to punish Favre for his hamartia, twice the football gods allowed him to come so close, so close, then denied him.

I am not a huge believer in karma, but karma is a bitch in this situation isn't it? Favre finally got what he wanted and got to play for the Vikings and then his season ended the same way his season ended when he originally wanted to retire. So if he retires now, he will retire with the same terrible feeling of having blown a close playoff game with an interception that would have led to his team making the Super Bowl. In essence, nothing has changed except for the fact 2 years have gone by and he has cemented his status as a great quarterback with this year in Minnesota.

In other football news, someone clever, handsome and irresistible to women predicted an Indianapolis-New Orleans Super Bowl. Why, that must have been me! At the season's start, yours truly said on "The Brian Kenny Show" that I liked the Colts and Saints to meet in Miami -- the clip is here, my prediction is toward the end. I repeated the prediction here on Sept. 15.

No, no, no. TMQ did not predict a New Orleans-Indianapolis Super Bowl in that TMQ. He originally did and then backed off of it...and I quote:

Last week on "The Brian Kenny Show," I said I like Colts versus Saints for the Super Bowl. (This season, TMQ will be on ESPN News on Tuesday afternoons and on Kenny's show Tuesday evenings.) That was my thinking-based prediction, and thus sure to be wrong. Traditionally, Tuesday Morning Quarterback proposes that the team goin' to Disney World will be one that does not appear on "Monday Night Football." This year's Monday night shutouts are Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa. Therefore, once again, I predict the Super Bowl winner will come from among the teams not on "Monday Night Football." I am 2-for-9 on this prediction so far -- the Rams and Patriots won in seasons they did not play on Monday night.
So Gregg did predict the Saints and Colts would meet but took it back in his TMQ by saying he thinks the Super Bowl winner will come from a team that didn't appear on Monday Night Football. So either he is super stupid and thinks New Orleans and Indianapolis did not appear on Monday Night Football this year or he predicted the Super Bowl WOULDN'T contain either New Orleans or Indianapolis. So he didn't predict it correctly in my book.

Of the 88 players who started on championship Sunday, 19 were undrafted. Countless megabucks first-round draft choices sat at home drinking blueberry wheat microbrews and munching genetically modified maize chips while watching undrafted gentlemen perform on the big stage.

Meanwhile mega-bucks 1st round draft choices like Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Dallas Clark, Mark Sanchez, Thomas Jones, Braylon Edwards, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Steve Hutchinson, Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Lito Sheppard, Robert Meachem, Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey, Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Adrian Peterson, Alan Faneca, Bryant McKinnie, Kevin Williams, and Chad Greenway played in these championship games as well. I am also sure I forgot someone who was a 1st round pick and played in the championship games this past weekend. So undrafted players aren't the only good players in the NFL. That's my point.

TMQ admires those players who excel despite being undrafted, waived, or both. Next week I will honor the best with my annual Tuesday Morning Quarterback All-Unwanted All-Pros.

This is my least favorite TMQ of the year. I have problems with nearly every single player and it took a while to research all the players he listed last year. So it combines a big headache for me in reading and some work in researching the players, but it does give me a good chance to rant, which is always a positive.

In cultural news, the other day I took a United Airlines flight from Toronto to Washington. Scheduled departure time was 10:03 a.m. -- not 10:00, 10:03.

Gregg is a complete moron. Departure times are specifically based upon when an airplane arrives and how long it will take to refuel the plane and turn it around. It would probably cost airlines millions of dollars every year to send flights out on the :00/:15/:30/:45 of every single hour only. Don't be an idiot Gregg.

Stats of the Championship Round No. 6: No head coach in the championship round had previously won a championship game.

Only one head coach had appeared in a championship game previously and two of the head coaches were in their 1st year as NFL head coaches. So this statistic isn't really that interesting or revealing.

Why do coaches only call the leap at the goal line? Because the most it can gain is 2 yards; the runner crosses the line of scrimmage, then slams to the ground. That's fine at the goal line, but in the middle of the field, coaches want to maintain the chance of a long run. But if you're going for it on fourth-and-1, all that really matters is gaining 1 yard. Tuesday Morning Quarterback long has wondered, why not call the goal-line leap for 1 yard in the middle of the field?

Well two reasons actually Gregg (I am glad the guy writing the column for ESPN can't figure this all out):

1. On the goal line, the second a player breaks the plane of the goal line it is a touchdown, regardless if the ball came loose after the player broke the plane, but I am pretty sure in the middle of the field if a player breaks the plane of the 1st down marker and then fumbles, it is a fumble...and Pierre Thomas almost fumbled that ball in overtime (it almost came out of his hand). Diving over the pile exposes a player in the air to a defender when the player may be better served by running behind his massive offensive line and not giving the defender a clean shot. So jumping for one yard in the middle of the field exposes the ball and the running back to a hard hit from the defense.

2. There are times the defense is so loaded up for the run, the running back may be able to get a touchdown if he gets past the first line of the defense that is all in the box. I am sure there are other reasons, but these are the only two I could think of right now. So by not diving, the team could have a chance to get a big running gain.

In mid-December, declared New England had an "88.78 percent" chance of winning its division, while Minnesota had a "98.38 percent" chance and Buffalo clung to a "0.04 percent" chance. Dallas, meanwhile, had a "50.3 percent" chance of reaching the playoffs. now predicts game results for the Wall Street Journal. For the NBA's opening day, it forecast -- I am not making this up -- a final score of Cleveland 92.6, Boston 90.4.

How hard is it for Gregg Easterbrook to understand percentages and averages? It's not fucking difficult to figure out uses X amount of games (possibly 1,000) that were simulated and then takes the average score in those games to come up with what they think the score of the game will be. IT'S AN AVERAGE!

According to new reports from last summer, New England fourth-round draft choice Rich Ohrnberger got a $451,000 signing bonus, while Donovan McNabb received a $5.34 million raise. Why are oddly specific numbers common in NFL contracts?

Probably because of the salary cap and that is just how it was negotiated by McNabb and Ohrnberger's agent? More importantly, why is Gregg Easterbrook retarded when it comes to numbers? Does he call up the electric company when his bill is $123.45 and wonder why they can't just round to $123 and have to be so "oddly specific?" Why would anyone waste their time wondering why a player had a signing bonus of $451,000 instead of $450,000? It probably fit under the salary cap or was a compromise the two parties made for the signing bonus. It's not like it's an unexplainable event or anything.

The Vikings played a lot better than the Saints did -- except for putting the ball on the ground.

"They played better than the Saints other than the fact they turned the ball over 7 times...other than that, great game Vikings!"

The Minnesota offense wore earplugs. Plus-nine on turnovers in their first 17 contests, the earplug-wearing Vikings were minus-four in the title game...The sense of balance originates in the inner ear. Push earplugs into your ears and your balance may be subtly altered. And the Vikings looked off-balance all night.

I am sure it was the ear plugs that were causing the Vikings to keep fumbling the ball. That makes sense. I could understand maybe if there were a ton of offsides penalties or something similar that actually had to do with hearing, but I don't think fumbling the football could be because of ear plugs.

Minnesota called 50 passing plays and 35 rushing plays, with 150 yards gained by tailbacks Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Yes, the running game caused two turnovers, but the passing game caused three. Oh, what might have been had Minnesota mainly rushed against the Saints, whose weakness is run defense.

The running game LOST two turnovers, but the running game also caused 2 more fumbles (if I am not wrong) that were recovered by the Vikings. Four fumbles could be good reasoning to not trust your team to run the ball.

But Favre's hamartia is wanting all the glory for himself, and whether the pass calls were coming in from the sideline or Favre was making them, pass calls they were.

I would love to just rail Brett Favre and the Vikings for these play calls, but the Vikings kept fumbling the ball when they ran it and Favre was playing fairly it made some sense to try and pass the ball rather than run it. Besides Gregg spends a good portion of this TMQ complaining about how the Saints were blitzing so much and it wasn't it's a little odd he thought they should have run the ball more since he admits they were having success throwing.

Childress had his charges take their sweet time on two running plays; the clock ticked down to 19 seconds before a penalty made the situation third-and-15 from the 38. Childress seemed to think the game was already over -- but field goal kickers can miss!

There is no excuse for the poor clock management here, but I don't think Childress thought the game was over, he just didn't want to turn the ball over by passing it. This is ironic since the Vikings ended up turning the ball over anyway. Childress was trying to run the ball, which Gregg just a few lines above said he thought was a great idea, in order to set up a reliable kicker (which Longwell is) for a field goal kick that was in his range...or at worst on the edge of his range that he was making prior to the game.

The tastefully named Gregg Williams, the New Orleans defensive coordinator, used a Jets-like game plan of constant big blitzing on passing downs, combined with press coverage, a mix New Orleans had not shown this season. Just as it did for the Jets, this game plan backfired by allowing the opponent big play after big play, and a 7-of-12 third-down conversion rate.

Saints players came after Favre so hard -- four times slamming him in ways that invited late-hit or roughing penalties, only two of which were called -- that TMQ had the impression Williams told his charges something along the lines of, "Pound Favre every time you can; we will take a couple of roughing flags in return for making an old guy worry about the next hit."

Favre rolled right and might have run for at least 5 yards, then performed a hook slide and called the timeout, setting up a 50-yard field goal attempt (the Vikes have a good kicker in Longwell). Was it Favre's hamartia that made him throw that crazy cross-field pass -- or fear that he would be hammered again?

Let me go over Gregg contradictions in these paragraphs:

1. Gregg questioned Brad Childress for playing it safe and thinking the game was over by running the ball, yet he thinks Brett Favre should have run the ball because the Vikings have a good kicker. So either Gregg needs to believe setting Longwell up for the kick was a good idea in this situation or he doesn't. If setting up Longwell was a good idea then Favre should have tried to make a play and run for a few yards. But Gregg can't have both ways and it feels like that is what he wants.

I don't think the Vikings should have been so conservative, but I find it interesting that Gregg on one hand thinks the Vikings should have tried to get closer, but thinks Brett Favre was an idiot for trying a risky pass to get closer. It's a minor point, but one I felt the need to try and make in two paragraphs that made borderline sense.

2. He criticizes the Saints defensive game plan for blitzing too much and hitting Favre hard, but then thinks Favre may have partially thrown the key interception because of the blitzing and constant hitting he undertook during the game. Again, the blitzing was either bad or good in the end...and if it led to Favre throwing that key interception I would say it was good...yet Gregg still criticizes blitzing despite the fact he sees it might have rushed Favre in this situation.

In both situations Gregg is playing both sides, or at least not understanding that his criticism didn't make sense in each situation. Yes, Childress should not have played it safe (in retrospect), but Gregg can't criticize the Vikings for setting up Longwell for a long field goal attempt and then criticize Favre for not setting up Longwell for a long field goal attempt by running for the 1st down. Maybe he thinks on 1st and 2nd down the Vikings should have tried to advance the ball closer but on 3rd down settling for a long field goal attempt is fine. Then Gregg completely criticizes the Saints blitz and ignores the effects the blitz could have had on Favre throughout the game, except when he acknowledges it could have affected Favre on his crucial interception.

(I don't believe Favre rushed that pass because he was hit hard during the game)

New Orleans' blocking was generally good. Jahri Evans of Division II Bloomsburg pulled and wiped out two defenders on the 38-yard touchdown screen pass to Pierre Thomas.

Wow, another unwanted guy from a small school. I am sure he will make Gregg's unwanted/undrafted team even though he was a 4th round draft pick, has played for the Saints his entire career and made the All-Pro team this year.

On Thomas' 9-yard touchdown run, Evans threw Ticonderoga class Minnesota defensive tackle Pat Williams to the ground, one of the best blocks TMQ has ever seen.

You mean he threw the undrafted/unwanted (he became a free agent and the Bills didn't resign him, which makes him unwanted in Gregg's mind) Pat Williams to the ground? I wonder why Gregg didn't mention that Pat Williams was undrafted when he wrote this sentence? The guy has made 3 Pro Bowls, so he would be a good person to cite for Gregg to prove his point that unwanted players are the best. Could it be because he wants us all to believe undrafted players never make mistakes? Or is it because Gregg never mentions players are undrafted when they don't play well and this doesn't help him prove the point that undrafted players are better than highly drafted players?

Derek Knowlton of Syracuse, Utah, writes, "Watching the World Series, I noticed an instance of outlandish specificity by the Fox network. Every once in a while, they show speed of the pitched ball at the time of release and its speed at the time it crosses the plate. The third number they give us is the reaction time the batter has to hit the ball. The example I saw showed that a 96 mph fastball crossed the plate at 88 mph, and the batter had .354 seconds to react. They gauge this to the thousandth of a second?

Yes, they do gauge it to the thousandth of a second because there is a difference in .357 and .354 in reaction time, believe it or not. When you are dealing with something like a baseball being thrown to home plate and reaction time, thousandths of a second make a difference. I would love to know at what point it is no longer absurd to be overly specific with numbers? I don't think Gregg knows this answer either, he is just criticizing.

In Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals, time appeared to expire as the ball caromed out of bounds at the end of regulation. Officials Steve Javie, Tom Washington and Monty McCutchen huddled and put 0.6 of a second back on the clock, allowing Orlando a chance to win. NBA officials can sense three-fifths of a second!

No they can't dumbass. They can go look at the replay with the EXACT AMOUNT OF TIME in the lower right hand corner of the screen and then see when the ball went out of bounds and match it up with EXACTLY HOW MUCH TIME WAS LEFT ON THE CLOCK. It's not brain surgery or anything. It's a matter of looking at the clock and the play in slow motion a few times and seeing how much time was left. Officials don't have to sense anything since it's right on the screen for them to see when they go to the replay. Why is Gregg Easterbrook such a fucktard?

It's 2010 and we use thousands and hundredths of a second because we have the technology to do so. It's not absurd or stupid to do this.

Bills scout Tom Modrak told Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News that college shotgun spread offenses make it hard to evaluate the pass-blocking ability of offensive linemen because, "The quarterback always throws the ball in 1.7 seconds." College quarterbacks can sense tenths of seconds!

No they can't. The quarterbacks are not actively trying to throw the ball that fast, it just turns out that is how fast they do throw the ball. NFL scouts can sense tenths of seconds because they have fucking stopwatches and tons of data from quarterbacks throwing the ball in college out of the spread to come up with how fast the ball is thrown in the spread offense.

Doubting the technology to do this reveals Gregg as a person who is either an imbecile or doesn't WANT to understand how this can be done. There is a big difference in 1.7 seconds and 2.1 seconds when it comes to a defender getting to the quarterback, so rounding up from 1.7 seconds to 2 seconds and rounding down from 2.1 seconds to 2 seconds would make a huge difference in the time the quarterback has in the pocket.

An all-Wesleyan bracket of the 18 colleges with the word Wesleyan in their names. Saying, "I went to college at Wesleyan" doesn't tell much.

Actually it does, because depending on what state your are currently located in, the person you are talking to will probably assume it is the Wesleyan college in that current state. There is only one state on that list that has two "Wesleyan" colleges, Ohio, so most likely a person could refer to "Wesleyan" and the listener would know the exact college being spoken about.

Also, Gregg can't read very well, there are 19 colleges with the word "Wesleyan" in the name. So not only does he not understand thousandths of a second, he also can't read, because it clearly says 19 colleges on the site he linked.

Last week the Cleveland Orchestra, which performs beautifully, went on strike for a day. That is, the orchestra staged a strike to demand more charity -- considering most major urban symphonies rely on donations to exist...Orchestras striking to demand more charity will only hasten the demise of the resident urban orchestra. The silly strike also broadcasts this message about Cleveland itself: "Stay away, we are declining." Thanks a lot, Cleveland Orchestra.

Yeah, fuck you people of the Cleveland Orchestra! How dare you attempt to keep your current jobs by raising awareness that funding to the arts has declined! You should just gradually let your job slip away without a fight! Asshole orchestra people.

Aaron Maybin "shaved over .10 seconds off his 40 time." And if, like TMQ, you are tired of hearing 40 times discussed down to hundredths of seconds -- Maybin runs the 40 "somewhere between 4.59 and 4.64," according to Tucker -- the combine shuttle and cone-drill times are in hundredths too.

Again, in sports there is a big difference in a tenth of a second. Maybe 40 times are overrated to an extent, I won't argue that, but there is a difference in a running back who runs a 4.39 and a 4.49. As shown in the Olympics, in the case of world class athletes hundredths of a second can make a big difference in performance or in a game. I know this is hard for someone like Gregg Easterbrook to understand, but football many times is a game of hundredths of a second, so teams gravitate towards players who are faster.

TMQ has been warning all season that the big-blitz would come back to haunt the Jets, and at Lucas Oil Stadium, it did.

Oh yeah, that big blitz really backfired on the Jets. Other than the fact they were one win away from the Super Bowl and were the best defense in the NFL, they didn't really accomplish anything this year by blitzing so much. There are probably a lot of teams that would love for their defensive style to work all year and then have to worry about it haunting them in the AFC/NFC Championship Game.

Colts leading 27-17 and facing third-and-9 with 4:12 remaining, Jets down to their final gasp, Jersey/B called big-blitz with press coverage on Garçon -- 23-yard gain, and TMQ wrote the words "AFC Championship Game over" in his notebook.

Gregg is such a sage. He wrote "game over" in his notebook when the Colts were up 10 points with 4:12 left in the game and the Colts had the ball. I like how Gregg thinks this is a bold prediction and how he thinks the fact the game was over here would have been missed by the average he HAS to mention exactly when the game was over in his TMQ.

The Jersey/B big-blitz was so predictable that late in the first half and early in the second, as the Jets were losing their lead, the Colts were moving nearly at will. But Jersey/B never changed tactics, just continued to do exactly what Indianapolis expected.

In the second quarter, the Jets tried a two-man defensive line that was essentially a 2-4-5. Manning noticed this and began to hand off against the light front;

I am pretty sure this counts as "changing tactics." It didn't work, but the Jets did try something new.

The Colts, who mainly play straight defense, blitzed Sanchez on every third-and-long in the second half, and it worked, leading to incompletions. Sanchez lacks the polish to realize an opponent was changing defensive tactics in-game. He'll be able to pick those sorts of things up someday, but he couldn't this time.

A "straight defense?" What the hell is a "straight defense" exactly?

Supposedly the Colts' front seven is undersized; they played big against the Jets' power backs and three Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

The Colts front seven IS undersized, but this doesn't mean they aren't fast and can't stop the run. The Colts have definitely gotten bigger than they used to be under Ron Meeks' defense, but they are still kind of small in the front seven.

The Case-Shiller index is an approximation, yet is stated with absurd precision as "148.58." This approximation is derived by multiplying a series of estimates, then treating the result as meaningful to the second decimal place.

It's doesn't mean the approximation is more meaningful when it goes to the second decimal place, it just means it is a more accurate approximation. That's all. His constant criticizing of decimals in the hundredths and thousandths is just stupid.

The Michigan state personal income tax is now 3.95 percent -- it's certainly not 4 percent! The New Jersey top state tax rate is now 8.97 percent -- certainly not 9 percent! Where I live, in Montgomery County in Maryland, the top state-and-county combined tax rate is 9.45 percent -- certainly not 9.5 percent!

Oh my God, make this stop. There may not feel like a difference in these tax rates for the average person, but the top tax rate is for high earning people and to those people there is a difference when the tax rate isn't rounded up to the nearest tenth of a percent.

If Gregg goes to get gas and the price is $2.83 per gallon, does he expect to pay $2.8/gallon or does he round up to $2.9/gallon if the price is $2.87/gallon? Probably not, he is just being incredibly annoying here by trying to prove a point 99 out of 100 people don't get because it's a stupid point.

The New Yorker now retails for $4.99 -- it's certainly not $5! Amazon sells books for the Kindle at $9.99 -- they certainly don't cost $10!

It looks cheaper. It's just a marketing thing. If Gregg would shut the hell up for half a second (or .455 seconds) and think about it, it's not that a company doesn't want to round up or is trying to be extra fancy, $4.99 appears cheaper than $5. There is a reason women always round down when you ask them how much something cost.

(Me) "How much did that cost?"

(Her) "$14!"

(Me) "So it was $14.99?"

(Her) "Yes."

Listing the many collegiate weasel coaches, I praised David Cutcliffe of Duke for not walking out on his promises for a bigger payday at Tennessee.

Because Gregg absolutely refuses to do research, he doesn't know that Cutcliffe may have already learned his lesson about leaving a school for a big payday (or "being a weasel" according to Gregg Easterbrook). Cutcliffe already left Tennessee as offensive coordinator for a big payday at Ole Miss and then got wrongly fired, in my opinion, and then ended up back at Tennessee. Granted, it was a promotion so Cutcliffe wasn't incredibly weasely, but he did get paid more for the Ole Miss head coaching job.

I guess it is just easier to start writing than do any research. He got screwed over in a way at Ole Miss, so maybe instead of him not being a weasel coach, he just wants to stay at a place that appreciates him.

I said the Jets-at-Bengals playoff game was lost by the home team when Cincinnati linemen did not come out into the cold with bare arms, as Cincinnati linemen once did in a freezing-cold playoff game against San Diego. Steve Lieber of Cleveland notes, "I heard Steve Tasker said that when he played in Buffalo, [on] cold days the linemen would come out for warmups with bare arms, intimidating the visiting team. The other team's linemen would be embarrassed, change, and come out with bare arms for the game -- while the Bills linemen would be comfortable, having changed pregame into long sleeves."

I have always noticed when a reader writes in to prove what Gregg said as wrong, Gregg never actually says he was wrong. He just adds what the reader wrote in to say...but just can't say he was wrong.

Then a reader writes in speculating how old Jack Bauer on "24" is now, but he rounds up every single time span between each season. An example:

Season 3 was three years after season 2, making Jack about 47-48. Season 4 was 18 months after season 3, making Jack about 50.

About 50, but he could also be 49. We all know how Gregg is about rounding up and how he doesn't like exact numbers, so numbers being used like this is perfect for Gregg's TMQ. This rounding goes on for an entire paragraph and eventually it turns out Jack Bauer is 60 years old.

With Indianapolis leading 27-17 with 8:11 remaining, Jersey/B faced fourth-and-5 on its 25 -- and Rex Ryan sent in the punting unit

I knew Gregg Easterbrook would second guess this decision when I watched the game.

I don't care if it's fourth-and-99, this is the AFC championship -- there is no tomorrow! There is no BCS poll to confer style points for holding down the margin of defeat!

Rex Ryan should have gone for it here, I don't doubt that, but I will play Devil's Advocate for a second.

Rex Ryan's defense does have the #1 defense in the NFL and there was a fair chance (despite the Colts offensive dominance in the 2nd half) that the Jets may have been able to stop the Colts...maybe. So rather than have a rookie quarterback on the road try to convert a fourth down, he trusted his defense. I would have gone for it on fourth down, but Ryan chose to trust his defense. You know what? Either way he was going to lose the game, he just wanted to go down with his defense getting a chance to make a play rather than trusting his offense to do so.

They went undrafted, were waived or both, yet now are among football's top performers -- TMQ's annual All-Unwanted All-Pros. Plus, the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Unwanted Player of the Year.

The mere thought of this column next week gives me a headache because last year Gregg included guys who left as free agents and weren't unwanted, just too expensive to re-sign. I don't know how many times I am going to type "He was not unwanted!" but it will probably be a lot.