Are there two great quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl?
There is universal agreement on the Broncos’ Peyton Manning’s greatness, with lots of caveats thrown in because of his postseason record, but what about Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson? According to my favorite NFL stat geeks at Coldhardfootballfacts.com, Wilson is a lot more than another novelty act, more than a little guy who runs around a lot.
Do you know how many quarterbacks in NFL history won more games in their first two seasons in the league? None.
Wilson has won 24. Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck are tied for second at 22.
Do you know how many quarterbacks put up a higher passer rating than Wilson in their first two years? One. Dan Marino, 104.5 to 100.6. (Roethlisberger is third at 98.3).
Wilson also has the fourth-most rushing yards by a quarterback in his first two seasons behind Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick.
Keep in mind that Wilson has been playing in what is widely considered the league’s best division — the NFC West.
Despite all that and despite the fact that I have always rooted for unconventional NFL quarterbacks to succeed, I’ll be rooting for Manning for three reasons.
1. I became a huge fan of Manning after watching an ESPN documentary on his family a few months ago.
2. I would like to see him shut up his critics who diminish him because of his postseason record.
3. By all accounts he set a new standard for class, maturity, patience and intelligence this week with the way he handled the media attention.
OK, I lied. There’s a fourth reason.
4. Richard Sherman. Need I say more?
• Speaking of little quarterbacks who run around a lot, Fran Tarkenton is still among the NFL leaders in several important categories. He was the losing quarterback in three Super Bowls, including the loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl IX, so he’s not often mentioned with Montana, Unitas, Elway, Marino, etc.
Despite playing a good portion of his career when the season was 14 games instead of 16 and never playing from the shotgun formation or with four and five wide receiver sets, and despite playing against secondaries that were allowed to knock his receivers to the ground at any time before the ball was thrown, he is still in the top 10 in completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns. Tarkenton, whose last season was in 1976, also finished with 3,674 rushing yards.
Not bad for a 6-foot quarterback.
Tarkenton has a little more Richard Sherman in him than Peyton Manning.
“In my mind, I played better than anybody that has ever played the position,” he said.
• You’ll see a lot of really good commercials during the Super Bowl. You probably won’t see one that had more of an impact than Joe Greene’s Coke commercial in 1979. It was turned into a movie.
• New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he’d like to see more cold weather, outdoor Super Bowls. I have one question: Will he be sitting outside for this year’s game?
• New York Congressman Peter King is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Here’s what he said on ABC last Sunday about the Winter Olympics in Sochi: “The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics. Probably more than any we’ve had in our past, more than Greece, certainly more than London or China. But the fact is that this is a dangerous region in Russia by the north Caucasus. There are active terrorist organizations there.”
Wish you were going?
With all the beautiful places on the planet to stage a Winter Olympics, how does a committee of supposedly intelligent people, whose only job is to decide on the location, end up with Sochi? Aren’t there a few places on the globe that have a lot of snow but not a lot of terrorists? You know, Austria? France? Switzerland? Let’s hope these idiots don’t end up with blood on their hands.
One thing we do know is that lots of people are going to end up with lots of ill-gotten money, and lots of the Russian people’s money will be wasted. It happens every two years with the Summer and Winter Olympics.
• Where are the 2016 Summer Olympics, Kabul?
• The NFL’s TV deals with Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN will earn $4.99 billion per year or $159 million per team per year until 2021. And the Steelers are suing Sports Exhibition Authority over the $30 million cost of installing 3,000 more seats and a new video system at Heinz Field.
A judge recently pushed the trial back to May 19. The two sides are trying to work out a settlement. Here’s hoping the Steelers don’t get a dime.
• Is A.J. Burnett gone yet?
• I still think the Lombardi Trophy could be called the Noll Trophy. Chuck Noll did a better job of coaching with the Steelers than Vince Lombardi did with the Packers. Lombardi had a lot more to work with when he arrived in Green Bay. And Noll won his last two Super Bowls with only players he drafted or signed.
Has there been another coach of a major pro team who has done that in the past 35 years?