Monday, February 11, 2008

I should have published this last night, but I just didn't feel like it. But I enjoyed watching this year's Pro Bowl more than I have in the past for some reason. I don't think it is a lingering positive feeling following the Patriots' epic collapse against the Giants. I think because there were more first time guys than usual, the game was played with more intensity than it has been lately.

Or maybe it was because Tom Brady and Randy Moss weren't there. My position on the two of them has been apparent from the earliest days of this blog's existence, so you are free to take it with a grain of salt. But I just can't help believing that even if he had to undergo some Lee Majors Six Million Dollar Man surgery on his high ankle sprain, Tom Brady would have been there to bask in the glow of 19-0. Or perhaps the shock of losing to the Giants overtaxed his fragile intellect so much he had to take a rest. Or maybe the thought of Matt Light facing off against Osi Umenyora one more time was more than he could bear.

As for Randy Moss, I remember mentioning once or twice that he had a history of coming up small in huge moments. For once, I have to include a reference to a Bill Simmons column that doesn't rip the author here. In last week's mailbag column, Simmons said this about Moss:
I don't know how it played on television, but in person, it was a breathtaking moment -- Brady buying himself time with a planned rollout, Moss sprinting down the sidelines flanked by two d-backs, and then Brady launching the ball 70 yards down field as every Giants fan in the building stopped breathing. The pass was right on target and Moss would have caught the football had he jumped for it ... which he didn't. I will always believe that. And by the way, it's taking all the will power in my sick body to refrain from a "If it were Week 6 and we were winning by 28, Moss would have caught the football" joke.

Yeah, Moss caught five balls for sixty two yards and a touchdown, which is nice. But at the end of the day he had a chance to make the play that saved the perfect season and for all his talent, all his athletic ability and all his demons that had come oh so close to being forgotten, Randy couldn't be bothered to go all out for that one moment. Damn shame that. So what if Assante Samuel could have iced the game by not dropping a sure INT. Aren't teammates supposed to bail one another out? We wouldn't have had Havlicheck steals it if we didn't have Russell making one of the worst inbounds passes of all time a second before.

The Patriots and the fans can point to the ankle injuries, but they can't answer that nagging doubt in my mind. Those two would have been in Hawaii had the Patriots won. Flagging the Pro Bowl is just one more of many instances in which these Patriots prove themselves to be classless and consummate sunshine soldiers.

As for my man, TO. I thought it was awesome when he came out and called himself the front runner for Pro Bowl MVP. In another instance of things I can't help but believe, I think that if any other receiver had caught two TD passes and I can't remember how many first downs to bring the NFC back from the brink of defeat, they might have managed to edge out Adrian Peterson. But that's just me. So I have no problem with any of TO's actions yesterday.

It was nice that Adrian Peterson rushed for the second most yards in the history of the Pro Bowl. Maybe if he'd been that intense down the stretch, Minnesota might have beaten out the Redskins for the final playoff spot in the NFC. Perhaps the Vikings should have been offering new Cadillacs for playoff incentive.

As for other peripheral matters... I'm just not sure Andre Tippett ought to be in the Hall of Fame. Yeah, he had 100 career sacks. So did Mark Gastineau. Yeah, those Patriot teams blew, but Gastineau's Jets weren't much better. What it comes down to, I think, is that the Patriots had (prior to this dynasty) next to nothing in the way of history and tradition, so Tippett got in to the Hall.

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