Bleak week at SB45 will be saved by game

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Bleak week at SB45 will be saved by game

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - One team joined the NFL in 1921. Its name - Packers - was derived from a local meat-packing company that sponsored them. The other team joined the NFL in 1933. Its name - Steelers - came from the industry that was the lifeblood of the city of Pittsburgh for so many years. Both teams have basic, no-frills uniforms. The Packers are a community-owned franchise. The Steelers are owned by the Rooney family, a crew that so well represents the sensibilities of Western Pennsylvania that they may as well be community-owned as well. The Steelers led the league in rock-ribbed defense this season, allowing 232 points. The Packers were second, allowing 240. There will be, for the first time in the 45-year history of the Super Bowl, no cheerleaders on the sidelines Sunday when the Packers and Steelers get it on. It will be about football. It will be glorious. And it will be a beautiful departure from what Super Bowl week has been about so far. The runup to the planet's biggest one-day sporting event has been somewhat joyless. The threat of this being the final NFL game for a while has cast a pall on the proceedings, as owners and players wrangle over how to divide 9 billion or so in annual revenues between the 32 teams and 1,800 players. Beyond that, the locale's been a bit of a disaster. Temperatures most of the week have made it feel more like North Dakota than North Dallas and the whole region's response to several inches of snow and sheets of ice has been criminally negligent - "Wow, snow! AND ice! Hope it all melts soon!" On Friday, six people were injured when ice slid off the roof of Cowboys Stadium. A billion dollars spent on a building and nobody wondered what would happen if snow got stuck on the top?To be frank, the way good, old-fashioned American capitalism gets bastardized by a guy like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the schlock, schtick and look-at-me attitude that pervades every Super Bowl is a turnoff. But then the game finally gets here. And this one could not be any more football-based. The only distractions the two teams provided were ones that would never have occurred pre-Internet. Two injured Packers players whined on Twitter about not being included in the team Super Bowl photo (a decision later rescinded) and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sang and drank at a piano bar (video courtesy TMZ)Now it's about two of the best young coaches in the NFL. The Steelers' Mike Tomlin is trying at 38 to become the youngest coach to ever win two Super Bowls; the Packers' Mike McCarthy, a man who had 15 players land on injured reserve, guided his team to a 10-6 record and has won three road games in the playoffs to get the Pack in here. Neither man received a single one of the 50 votes for NFL Coach of the Year. Neither man cares right now. It's also about the quarterbacks - Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Rodgers is more technically refined and fundamentally sound. He's a discreet smartass who seems eminently likable. Roethlisberger plays quarterback like a tight end, is trying hard to bury the loutish image he cultivated in his first seven seasons in the league and could win his third Super Bowl title Sunday. Your friends who come over and watch one football game all year will remember the wonderful hair of Troy Polamalu and will be enthralled by the almost-equally wonderful mane of Clay Matthews. You can also tell them they were the best two defensive players in football this year. In the end, those two and their 'dos are a kind of weird metaphor for this game. The packaging is outrageous, over-the-top and distracting. But at their core, they are brilliant football players. The game will save us all. Bart Scott, what say you?
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

With the Bills 0-2 and sinking slowly in a morass of dysfunction last week, Rex Ryan was anything but his corny, wise-cracking, false-bravado-bringing self. He was subdued before the Bills took on the Cardinals.

Now, with the Bills having spanked Arizona and the Patriots up next, Rex is back at it with the erratic, putting forth an eyebrow-raisingly bad Bill Belichick impersonation to start the week then parachuting into a conference call with Julian Edelman posing as a Buffalo News reporter.

He’s the guy at the house party knocking over the chips and drinks at 9 p.m. and wondering where the motherscratching karaoke machine is because he wants to SING!!

Asked to account for the behavior change from last week to this, Rex’ verbatim response was a look into his addled mind.

“I was still myself, I think just part of it. This week, look guys, we know who we’re playing. When you look at the ESPN deal, I think they’re ranked number one---I don’t know. Like I said, they’re number two, but I don’t think we’re ranked number one so---look, we know the task is going to be a big one. The quarterback thing, yeah you got to be prepared and you actually have to be prepared for three different guys. They’re no dummies, they’re leaving it out there, they can know who it is, I get it. They’re certainly not going to do us any favors.”

Give that a quick re-read.

My verbal syntax and wandering trains of thought aren’t evidence of an ordered mind either, so I do empathize with Rex. But neither am I the head coach of one of 32 entries in the NFL, a pretty high-profile league in which an ordered presentation from the guy in charge is usually a positive.

I spoke at length with Tim Graham – who really does work for the Buffalo News – during our Quick Slants Podcast this week.

Rex’ constant insistence on his own authenticity feels to me like a misdirection. He chooses who he’s going to be and how he’s going to be each week. That’s the only consistent thing about him, other than the fact that he is an eminently likable guy specifically because he is so vulnerable.

 For a guy that wants to projecting an image of a guy who just doesn’t give a s***, he spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff.  

“I learned a long time ago, you got to be yourself in this league and that [acting like Bill Belichick] wouldn’t have worked,” Ryan explained. “If I tried to be like Bill Belichick that would never work for me, just like, not that he ever would, but if he’s going to try to be like somebody else, that ain’t going to work for him. And so, at least one thing we have in common is the fact that we know you better be yourself in this league and look, I think it’s hilarious when he’s on there because that’s who he is but it’s great and he does it better than anybody else. Some guys that try to copy that style, they’re phonies. Belichick does it, that’s who he is. [Gregg] Popovich is probably the closest thing in the NBA. Like those guys are classics but that’s who they are and they’re fantastic and I think the record speaks for itself but you talk about a consistent guy, Bill Belichick is the most consistent guy there is and I try to be consistent, albeit in a much different way.”

Consistent in his inconsistency. Great fun at parties. No way to go through life as an NFL head coach.

 

Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

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Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

FOXBORO -- The Patriots opted to have a walkthrough on Thursday, an in-season rarity for Bill Belichick's club. 

The low-key session makes sense, though. Because the team practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it will still have two practices under its belt, as it usually does every week. Now, instead of having just one walkthrough on a Friday, as the Patriots do typically, they'll have had two. 

All players were present for the on-the-field work, including quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Members of the media were only able to watch the team walk onto the field, and they were treated to a fashion show of sorts. Bill Belichick stood out with his hooded sweatshirt, as did Jamie Collins, who for some reason wore plastic bags around his gloves. Practice squad defensive lineman Geneo Grissom brought a bit of a business casual look to the field, sporting a collared shirt under his sweatshirt.