Curran: Jets won't ruin this Super Bowl party


Curran: Jets won't ruin this Super Bowl party

By Tom E. Curran

Bullet? Dodged. It's safe to uncover your eyes and ears. The Jets are dead. Theliving, breathing refutation of everything the New England Patriots have stood for during the Bill Belichick Era faceplanted in the first two quarters of the AFC Championship at Pittsburgh.They are silenced.

They sleepwalked through a first half in which their deepest penetration came when Mark Sanchez picked his nose and wiped it on backup Mark Brunell. And they even though theyscratched and they clawed and they battledback from a 24-0 deficit to lose 24-19, all their proclamations and predictions wound up like hot air on a very cold day -- steam rising then fading away. The AFC representative in the Super Bowl will be the Steelers, the Patriots' closest AFC kin. And anyone that was feeling ABTJ -- Anybody But The Jets -- can look forward to the runup to what might be the last football game before a work stoppage. How would you have liked watching Fireman Ed with the Lombardi Trophy aloft? (Glurp.) Think they were insufferable since, oh, February of 2009 whenlarge and in charge Rex Ryan took over?Imagine how the next 15 days were going to be. "If people want to criticize us, go ahead, but you got no right," Rex Ryan said after the game, rescinding the right to free speech he thought was so vital when Antonio Cromartie was calling Tom Brady an ass. Don't like the Steelers? Don't like Hines Ward and his perma-grin? Can't hold your nose and get past the fact Ben Roethlisberger is -- at best -- a friggin' creep? Hate their fans, their hypocrisy in bringing up Spygate when their '70s dynasty was built on the pimplybacks of 'roided up players? Skip on down and find the good in Pittsburgh.Great city. Great ownership. Tough football on both sides of the ball. Underrated coach. Underrated GM (name him . . . it'sKevin Colbert). And Steelers-Packers? Can't wait. With this matchup, you have two of the best quarterbacks in the league not named Manning or Brady running the offenses. Both these teams are resilient and built under the same general model the Patriots have been. And the Packers made the ballsiest non-Patriots personnel move of the past few years when they said "enough is enough" to Brett Favre. Oh, there are irritations with the Packers. You got the regional insult that was Super Bowl XXXI,with Desmond Howard duck-walking into the end zone,Brett Favre hicking around the field with his helmet off, and John Maddenwith his lips and furry eyebrows attached to the posterior of the Packers. And Chris Berman will be tough to take with his odes to Lombardi and Nitschke and blah, blah, blah.

But could you have taken another Bears' Super Bowl? After what they slapped out there in 2006 against the Colts? After what Jay Cutler slapped out there? Cutler played with intense disinterest in the first half against Green Bay. Then he came out for the second half, threw a pass while fading away, trudged off with a tiny limp and never came back on the field. (Can't wait to ask Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich what he thinks of Cutler's grit in the face of a sore knee.) Said Deion Sanders on the NFL Network Sunday night: "There's reality and perception. The perception is he tapped out. Carry me off. You have to carry me off to get me off the field. I got everything shot up to go out there and play this game." Cutler made Tony Eason look like Joe Kapp (click here to see the wonderfully politically incorrect Sports Illustrated cover featuring Kapp). He'll be digging out from under this day for, oh, about the rest of his career. If you're a football fan, you got the best possible result for No. 45. If you're a Patriots fan, same thing. Otherwise, you'll have drive-by columnists saying the Patriots need to be more like the Jets. Need to spend like the Jets -- mentioning the Patriots have the third-lowest NFL payroll while ignoring the fact they burped up 90 million in guaranteed money to four guys in the past few months (Brady, Wilfork, Bodden, Banta-Cain). Need to talk likethe Jets despite the factRyan is now sucking on his third straight AFC Championship game loss like a gout-ridden foot. Need to be like the Jets who haven't been to a Super Bowl since 8-track tapes were new technology. Super Bowl Sunday won't be the best dayever. But it won't be a green-hued nightmare either. Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Freeney, who expressed interest in joining Pats, taking physical for Bengals


Freeney, who expressed interest in joining Pats, taking physical for Bengals

Dwight Freeney, who expressed a modicum of interest last week in joining the Patriots, is being checked out on Wednesday by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 36-year-old pass rusher, who had an eight-sack season with the Cardinals last year, is in Cincy for a physical, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

The Patriots kicked the tires on Freeney back in 2013 before Freeney spent two seasons with the Chargers. He was with Arizona for just one season and has expressed that his first choice is to return to the Cardinals. 

Kraft OK with the idea of a Raiders move to Las Vegas


Kraft OK with the idea of a Raiders move to Las Vegas

Robert Kraft doesn't seem all that concerned about the potential pitfalls of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas.

The temptations found in that city, he says, can now be found around any dark corner of the Internet. That's part of the reason why he would be supportive of the Raiders if owner Mark Davis chose to move the team to Vegas from Oakland. 

He explained his reasoning to NFL Media's Judy Battista at the league's annual spring meetings on Tuesday. 

"I think we can put the discipline and controls in [for] whatever anyone might be worried about," Kraft said. "With the Internet and the age of the Internet and what's going on in today's world, it's so much different than when I came in 20 odd years ago. If you'd like to move there and they're supportive and Oakland doesn't do what they should do, I'm behind them."

The comments echoed what Kraft told USA Today earlier this week.

"I came into the league in ’94," Kraft said. "Back then, any exploration of that market was dismissed out of hand. I’m looking where we are today and thinking of the last 10 to 15 years, and the emergence of new media, with Google and Facebook and the like. We’re just living in a different world, technology-wise. The [sports gambling] risks in Vegas are no longer exclusive to Vegas. Whatever the risks, they are no greater [in Las Vegas] than playing a game in New Jersey."

Davis' hope to move the Raiders stems from an inability to get a deal done for a new stadium in Oakland.

"I have given my commitment to Las Vegas," Davis said this week, "and if they can get done what they're talking about doing, then we will go to Las Vegas."

Curran: Roger The Dodger continues his evasive maneuvers


Curran: Roger The Dodger continues his evasive maneuvers

Roger Goodell is doing that damn thing again down in North Carolina this afternoon.

The NFL commissioner -- who once could carry off a press conference with a breezy, in-command air -- came off like a carrot-topped armadillo talking to reporters at the end of the May owner’s meetings in Charlotte.

Defensive, clipped and disingenuous, a monotone-speaking Goodell was asked about Deflategate and Monday’s Congressional report that alleged the NFL had lobbyists trying to pressure concussion researchers into using NFL-approved doctors.

Asked about the appeal for a rehearing of Tom Brady’s case on Monday, Goodell said, “I respect the NFLPA’s ability to appeal if they choose to do that . . . I’m not really focused on that at all.”

Goodell did not answer the second part of the question, whether or not he’d keep Tom Brady off the field if the court case was unresolved.

The answer, one can only presume would be, “Abso-friggin-lutely.”

As for the Congressional report, Goodell had the gall to answer that he “didn’t see the report.”

He then went on to disagree with what was in the report -- meaning his initial response was less than candid.

A few more minutes of short answers and the show was over with nobody much the wiser than when he began.