A few things to clean up about Super Bowl 44, with Sean Payton justly in the leadoff spot: An upset in a big game always puts a bounce in your step into the next day, and I say that even as the Colts loss took a few Pocarobas from my bank (well, in theory). I can't stress enough how impressed I was with Sean Payton's game management; he didn't manage the game scared to make a mistake, he played to win (onside kick of course, and the fourth-down decision in the second period). If Sean Payton were a baseball manager, he wouldn't save his closer for the ninth. If Sean Payton were a hockey boss, he'd pull his goalie with 1:49 left if the situation dictated it. We need more forward-thinking people like this in all sports. Forget playing for the "Friendliest Loss" - give yourself the best chance to win.
Contrast this to all the risk-averse announcers who basically sound like the talking dog on Davey and Goliath. "I don't know Davey, we could get in trouble." Has Phil Simms ever favored taking a chance in a football game? Heaven help us with this long-running joke at halftime, basically the Old Timer's Game (for the last seven years in a row we've had to listen to someone at least two decades removed from their best work; okay, it's 18 years for Janet Jackson but the point is unchanged). It's not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, guys. It's perfectly okay to hire an act that might be on the up escalator. We've spent a lot of time this year moaning over how Payton uses Pierre Thomas, but one sneaky story with the NO offense is that Reggie Bush is used perfectly, just enough to be a threat but not so much that he's over-exposed or over-worked. The NFL Films guys insists that defenses still react significantly to whatever Bush does within the formation, and that tells you all you need to know. I've heard some people get into hissy fits about Peyton Manning's legacy and how it shouldn't be affected by Sunday's loss. To me that's hogwash; while this defeat doesn't wreck or even significantly damage the Manning story, it has to at least be a tiny chip on the winshield, the slight hint of a pimple on a pretty girl's face. One play doesn't decide a football game but there's no escaping that Super Bowl 44 had two pivotal plays that trump everything else - the onside kick and Manning's pick-6. The interception won't define Manning and my gereral opinion of him hasn't gone down any, but mistakes in Super Bowls come with a tax attached. Anyone playing the backfitting game, remember to blame the Colts loss on taking the foot off the accelerator, and remember to credit the Saints win to resting everyone in Week 17. Saying "New Orleans has a chance" before the game is not the same as predicting a New Orleans victory. For my money, Dallas Clark is the second-most important guy on the Colts offense. He's a matchup dictator, someone you can use as a chess piece. As much as I respect Reggie Wayne, he doesn't give you the same latitude. When there's no clear MVP for these things, the quarterback generally wins it. Drew Brees wasn't really a bad choice; it's more that he was the only choice. It's kind of hard to award the trophy to the cajones of the head coach. Does it seem like a lot of Super Bowls give us a great second half after a tame first half? I can think of several games that fit that mold. I don't know who they're going for with those lame-ass commercials; I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience. Every Super Bowl should be outside. And one of these years, the Saints should rip up their turf and play on Mardi Gras.