Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday sports page 

All football today...

[] Can the New Orleans Saints beat Peyton Manning & Six of His Friends (five if Freeney is injured) plus a bunch of bodies, in today's Super Bowl?

I mentioned before that the Colts' salary cap is divvied up thusly: Peyton Manning and six other players, $81.3 million (average $11.6 million each); the other 54 or so players on the roster, practice squad and reserve, $40.7 million (about $0.75 million each).

And this leads into another point. Peyton has been nearly as lucky as he has been good. Which is the formula for "all time great": very good and very fortunate.

How has he been so fortunate?

No other NFL team ever has been built around the personal abilities of one quarterback the way the Indianapolis Colts have been built around him.

Even the Colts defense is built around Peyton. Their General Manager Bill Polian has said they play the Tampa 2 defensive system because it has the lowest salary cap cost. The backfield players can be plugged in right out of the draft, then when they reach their free agent year and qualify for a good raise it is "good bye, good luck", draft someone else and plug him in. The only player they really have to pay serious money to in that scheme is the pass rusher, Dwight Freeney. So it's that much more money for Peyton and the handful of offensive players they pay very well to compliment him.

Peyton is a great QB, and it makes perfect sense to maximize what the team gets from him this way. But having a whole franchise built around you personally for your entire career to maximize what you can do ... that doesn't hurt your career stats!

Moreover, Peyton's never been injured (say: "Greg Cook") and he landed on a team with one of the league's best GM's, who knew how to build a top team around him. What if he'd landed on the Lions?

That's the combination that makes "great" -- very good and very fortunate both.

[] If you are in Miami and will be watching the Super Bowl on TV, or enjoy watching your team's home games on TV anywhere else, thank Richard Nixon!

The tale of the demise of the "home game blackout" is told at Pro Football
...By 1972, the Washington Redskins had become a pretty good team under George Allen, having made the playoffs the previous season for the first time in 26 years. They had also become the hot ticket in town, and games were regularly sold out.

It was one thing when the common man had to drive more than 75 miles outside of town to see a game that he couldn't get a ticket for. It was something else entirely in Washington, when congressmen and executives and even President Nixon, a devout football man, could not see a game on TV.

On Wednesday, December 20, 1972, just prior to the Redskins first home playoff game since the 1942 NFL Championship, Walter Cronkite reported that attorney general Kleindeinst had asked commissioner Rozelle to lift the blackout, and Rozelle had said no. As a result, Kleindeist was going to ask Congress to revisit the NFL's anti-trust exemption.

At Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles, Rozelle finally blinked and the NFL decided to lift the blackout of the Super Bowl on an "experimental basis" for the matchup between the Redskins and the undefeated Miami Dolphins. It was too little, too late for the NFL.... Before the 1973 season had kicked off, Congress passed Public Law 93-107, which eliminated the blackout of games in the home market so long as the game was sold out by 72 hours before game time.

Fast forward thirty-nine years later, and the NFL's thought process seems almost incomprehensible to the fans from a generation that have grown up with 239 cable channels and easy internet access. Who would have guessed that actually making your product widely available would have led to a dramatic increase in popularity over time?...

[] As mentioned here before, lifting that blackout gives you 11 minutes of action to enjoy -- along with an hour or so of very special commercials (probably more of them than that today).

[] Today's rival quarterbacks, Manning and Drew Brees, have their career performance levels looked at by Brian Burke.

[] Your team didn't make the Super Bowl? Well, if the team you root for in any sport hasn't won a title in at least 35 years, you may qualify as a sorry fan of one of the top 15 "officially tortured" teams in pro sports.

[] In the world of college football, now we know why USC was so eager to hire Lane Kiffin to run its football program. The man really gets the jump on the competition in recruiting!
13 year-old quarterback commits to USC.
The kid's name is David Sills. If he leads the Cleveland Browns to a Super Bowl victory in 2020, you heard of him here first.