It’s finally here. Super Bowl 51. I don’t know what’s more impressive. The Thread has stuck with me contributing articles and to this Annual Wayniac Nation Super Bowl Prediction Special! — my favorite piece of the year — or that their beloved Atlanta Falcons are finally back in the big game.
Look, we all know where The Thread allegiances stand by now. But that doesn’t mean it’s as easy a pick as you think.
We are entering Week 15 of the NFL season. That is both hard — and sad — to believe, isn’t it? With the New York Giants beating the Dallas Cowboys and tightening up the NFC East and overall playoff picture, we are looking at one of the tightest races for divisions we have seen in a long time.
Which is both exciting and nerve racking.
Which also leads to a big pool of MVP candidates, seemingly larger than usual.
I called upon our guy Dunton who helps with The Wayniac Nation Power Rankings to help break down the NFL MVP race. We got more than a handful of names to throw in the mix.
There sure is a lot wrong with the NFL these days isn’t there? The big news this week of course was that all of those wrongs have led to a dip in the NFL ratings on TV. Gasp… people aren’t watching the NFL? Why, I thought it was baseball that was the dying sport?
The other day, The Thread and myself were debating once again on Matt Ryan. They came to his defense with the excuses that normally are linked to Matt Ryan, which in his defense, all are justified. The Falcons have long struggled to establish a consistent running game, they have had a porous offensive line in the past (hopefully that changes this year) and annually wheel out a pretty unacceptable defense.
It made me think, people always make excuses for good quarterbacks that never seemed to achieve the greatness of Super Bowl glory. Justified or not, there is simply always an excuse. Dan Marino never had a running game, Jim Kelly was just unlucky whether it be from missed field goals or some of Thurman Thomas’s worst games of his career. The lack of a Super Bowl trophy haunts some quarterbacks, and sometimes, it was never their fault.
It’s the same the other way, too though, right? For every excuse you make for as to why a quarterback can’t win, can’t you do the same for the quarterbacks that have won. Couldn’t you make the case that Joe Montana is the most overrated quarterback ever? If Matt Ryan struggles because of the deficiencies around him, didn’t Joe Cool thrive because of the seemingly lack of any weakness in San Francisco? He had an offensive style no one had seen before devised by one of the most brilliant head coaches ever to play the game, added to a top five defense every season he won, with one of the most unheralded running backs to ever play the game and a wide receiver that years later made Rich Gannon an MVP (Go Blue Hens!).
Nomi said I was ridiculous. Does that mean that I think Montana is not a Top 10 quarterback? Of course not, but is Montana the GOAT that many thinks he is? Maybe not.
So, after Jimmy Garapollo defeated one of the NFL’s elite defenses in his first career start — a start that saw not only his top target, but arguably one of the NFL’s best targets, on the bench — it made me wonder… just how good is Tom Brady?
This was a peculiar year in the NFL. Officiating hit an all time low. Injuries to he NFL’s biggest stars were at an all time high. No one on the planet knows what a catch is. And Roger Goodell continues to digress in what was once a strong presence in the commissioner’s office.
Oh yea, and there is going to be NFL football in LA.
Oh, and oh yea, the greatest rivalry in sports is about to write out its final chapter.
Tom Brady is at it again. He is having another one of those Brady seasons that seems like he is some sort of robot that is nearly flawless in his execution. He has the best quarterback rating in the NFL at 111.1 and has amassed 3,043 yards passing to go along with 24 TDs and a mere three interceptions. The Pats are the best team in football… again. You would think Tom Brady is a runaway with the NFL MVP Award.
The Georgia Bulldogs are making a switch this weekend in one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in sports. Tom Brady is good, and the Patriots are heading for a repeat. Turns out it doesn’t matter how little air the NFL’s best QB needs in his balls.
The most amazing thing happened last night. For the first time in The Wifeyiac’s pregnancy, I felt my baby girl moving. It was crazy, you could actually feel her moving around inside that belly, most likely practicing her first touchdown dance. I had a smile on my face and my emotions were euphoric, I was ecstatic to a point that words can’t describe.
It’s a feeling that I can only compare to what Tom Brady must be feeling right now… or at least this guy is:
We are just days away from the biggest and best single game of the year. Whether you watch it for the commercials, or as an excuse to gamble, or because you want to see what Tom Brady and his balls, Super Sunday will have the attention of the entire nation. Of course, it has grabbed The Thread’sattention.
Last year, The Thread made their Wayniac Nation debut in the first ever Super Bowl prediction special. Nomi the Greek and Sperry (now Sperry Mason as he pursues his law degree) were right on in their Seahawks prediction, while the rest of us struggled. This year has seen the addition of three new members to The Thread. Nick the Greek is Nomi’s cousin. He lives in Detroit Lions country, but his allegiance is to the Dirty Birds. Mark.9 the Game is the youngest member of The Thread. He may, however, have the coolest job out of all of us. Jaybird does one of two things: works or reads/watches sports. At this point, I may as well make Olde Blind Dog part of The Thread, since their entire bartending staff writes for the site anyway!
Some of you have requested it. Most of you know I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut about it. Ray Lewis has said the dumbest thing so far in this new year.
Lewis made some noise yesterday when he made the claim that no one would know who Tom Brady was if it weren’t for the infamous Tuck Rule in that 2002 playoff blizzard against the Raiders. This was of course coming off of his Baltimore Ravens losing to the New England Patriots just four days prior. Jealous much?
There are numerous errors in Lewis’s statement that I’m not sure where to begin. So, let’s start here:
“When we — the first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said. “There’s no such thing as a tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out, that’s a freaking fumble.”
First, there was already a tuck rule. It was created in 1999, the year before Tom Brady was drafted. Did anyone really know what it was until that Blizzard Bowl? I for one did not. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. So, what happened on that day was very good officiating. It was a referee that knew the rule book up and down and was able to make a call that was in the rule books that a majority of fans, players and coaches didn’t even know existed. That doesn’t make it wrong. That shows the problem with the NFL. I mean come on, Donovan McNabb didn’t even know the rules of overtime!
I do agree with Lewis that the tuck rule is silly, much like what happened to Dez Bryant this past Sunday and Calvin Johnson a few years back. That was a catch, and Rod Woodson forced a fumble, but according to the rules, both calls were correct. Rules are very much like laws. Just because Ray Lewis figured out a way to get around them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be followed.
Now, to say that because of the tuck rule we would never know Tom Brady is outlandish. In fact, heading into that game, everyone knew Tom Brady. He was the 6th-round draft pick that stepped in for the 0-2 New England Patriots after Drew Bledsoe, one of the best passing quarterbacks in the game was power bombed by Captain Insano. Brady would go on to lead the Pats to an 11-3 record as a mere nobody and was already the feel good story of that season. We all knew who Tom Brady was, and if he had lost that game against the Raiders, we still would.
Think about this? If Jeffrey Maier didn’t not catch that not home run by Derek Jeter, would we have not known The Captain? After all, that was his first postseason, that is what started the heroics of one of the biggest heroes in modern day baseball. It’s unthinkable. Jeter would go on to amass 3,270 more hits after that home run. He would win four more World Series after that 1996 season. May the Yankees fortunes have changed if Maier didn’t catch that home run? Perhaps, but the legend of Derek Jeter would still be the same, much like that of Brady’s.
Maybe if Lewis said the Patriots of today would not be the Patriots had they lost that game, it would resinate as a better, more sound argument. Even still, it wouldn’t have been the first dynasty to start under questionable calls, on the field or off of it. I already mentioned the Maier home run. What about the Immaculate Reception? What if money hungry Harry Freeze didn’t sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees? What if the events of January 31, 2000 were interpreted a little differently and the Ravens never had their star player in their infamous defense? I’m pretty sure the Ravens won their first Super Bowl ever the very next season.
The tuck rule also did not effect the last 13 years of Brady’s illustrious career. Brady’s early career made people wonder if he was simply part of a great system. He was nothing flashy, and certainly no one saw the quarterback in Brady that he would become. He was the face of a team that had many key cogs that would make them champions.
That all changed in 2007. Brady became the reason the Patriots were so good. How a tuck rule in 2002 could affect the 16-0 season behind a 50 touchdown performance six years later is astonishing. Brady is forever going to be in the greatest of all time conversations, and whether or not he fumbled that ball wouldn’t change that.
The Patriots will always be in a whirl wind of controversy. This isn’t the first time their winning ways have been attacked. They haven’t won a championship since that little Spygate affair, and that has never ceased to haunt them. But if losing an 18-0 season to the lowly Giants didn’t tarnish Brady’s legacy, a peculiar rule certainly wouldn’t either.
There were a few things we learned about Ray Lewis over his Hall of Fame career. He was one of the most gifted athletes to step on the field. He is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play the game. But he also loves the limelight for himself and his Ravens. Lewis has never steered clear of the spotlight, whether it be his on-field antics or his outspoken comments.
The Ravens, and thus Ray Lewis, lost this past Saturday in Foxboro. That means he and the Ravens will be out of the spotlight until next season, or at least until their next classy player finds themselves in the news for non-NFL affairs. What better way to get back into the limelight than being a jackass? Some players have made a career out of just that.