Morning. Do you know that the next football game is Aug. 3? We are wearing black today because of that. We can make it through this together. Believe.
From the "Talks too much" studios, Herman, leave no doubt.
It was complete and thorough and overwhelming. From the start — that brutally foretelling safety on Denver's first play when the snap sailed over Peyton Manning's head — it was clear Seattle was the better team. The final score was 43-8 and it seemed worse than that as it was clear which team was better from front to back and, in terms of a dynamic defense built from the secondary forward, from back to front.
It was all Seattle, and the only question was whether this Super Bowl super beatdown would be historic or not. It wasn't — Denver lost 55-10 to San Francisco many moons ago — but the layers and pieces of this drubbing were confusing only because they were so clear.
Is Manning the best ever? Forty-eight hours ago we would abide that, but now it's hard to see because that argument seems dimmed. This game will be part of his legacy for sure. No it's not the first chapter, but in his season for the ages the final verse was a disaster. Image reading a classic — a page-turner that is both extraordinarily well-written and amazingly entertaining — and you get to the final chapter, and the last page says...
That's what we are faced with gauging Manning's run this year in particular and his career in general. Sure, every Broncos player was part of this debacle but with the praise of a place in history comes the pause of historic placement.
In truth, the unbelievability of this game is a mirrored image of Manning's unbelievable career. His numbers, his grace, his presence and his precision have been a joy to watch, but as eye-popping as his numbers have been, he only has one title and he is 11-12 in the postseason. Confounding, no?
Now try this: What are the championship memories of the great quarterbacks?
Collectively, we as football fans are sad that Marino never got one. We are thankful Favre got his one and Elway finally got help to get his two. We are optimistic that Brady may join the four-timer club, and we grow more appreciative of Montana and Bradshaw each going 4-0 in the big game, regardless how talented their teammates were.
But Peyton only has one, and now has two Super Bowl losses. That's surprising and disappointing — much like Sunday's game.
We use the term legacy too much. Manning could be back and rewrite that final chapter next year, and that could change the final chapter. And this moment is surely not all on No. 18 — in fact, we'd be remiss to ask why the Broncos had so much success all year moving pieces and changing flow and ideas at the line, only to try to line up and go through arguably the best defense in NFL history.
There was very little motion and even less emotion. Did Peyton even yell Ohama once for crying out loud?
So it goes and so it went, and it likely would not have changed the final outcome if Manning had been the Manning we saw for the last six months or the Manning we all expected to see last night. Seattle was better. Percy Harvin looked like the fastest man on the field. The Seattle defense was a blur and a bully. Heck, the Broncos even managed to shutdown Marshawn Lynch and Seattle adapted and overcame. Seattle deserved to win.
But if Manning had been good would that have changed the conversation this morning? If he had been great would it change the tone? Maybe.
But he was neither of those, and while this is one game, it's the one game that will be remembered in his magnificent, record-breaking season. Rightly or wrongly, that's how it always goes — in the best season of all time and in the careers of the best to ever play.
Ask Manning's nemeses, the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, who a few years ago were on the cusp of football immortality before David Tyree pinned the ball to his helmet and pinched the dreaming New Englanders. Do you remember the glory of that 18-game Patriots streak or do you remember coming up short in the big one at the end?
Of course you know the answer. It's the same for the Broncos and Manning this morning.
And it seems — not unlike that fateful first snap of last night's beatdown — that lasting moment remains just out of Manning's reach.
Super Bowl this and that
— The commercials were rather stinky too. Did you have a favorite? You can't go wrong with soldiers coming home, and the Budweiser dog/horse combo was good. We liked the Chevy "A guy and his truck and his bull..." but for the most part we were underwhelmed.
— Bruno Mars was entertaining, and when did the old white guys replace the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
— The weather held up better than expected with kickoff temperatures at 49 degrees, about 10-15 degrees above normal. That said, the public transportation debacle was the pregame story. And the lines to catch a train after the game were monstrous.
— Gambling tidbits: The underdog has covered six of the last seven Super Bowls. Tails ended heads' five-game winning streak in the pregame coin toss, and if you are looking for the most 50/50 bet ever, well, the coin flip is it. In 48 Super Bowls, tails and heads each have landed 24 times. The first score being a safety paid 50-to-1 in most places, which was about the only wager that Vegas took a beating on. Almost 70 percent of the betting money was on Denver, meaning this is the 21st time in the last 23 Super Bowls that Vegas has won. Hey, they don't build those fancy buildings with five-star restaurants by losing.
— The unofficial Eugene Robinson Super Bowl propositional bets contest results (unofficial): Gang, we finished with more than 40 players, so thanks for participating. We had three entries get six out of seven of our props:
• Peyton Manning over/under passing yards at 289 yards. (Under at 280)
• Renee Fleming, the opera lady singing the national anthem, has an over/under of 2 minutes and 25 seconds to sing the pregame song. (Under at 2:02)
• The over/under on the longest touchdown in the game is 44 yards. (Over with Harvin's kick return and Malcolm Smith's interception return)
• LeBron James' total points (Saturday vs. the Knicks) is minus-5.5 over Seahawks total points (Seahawks big)
• Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during the performance? (Yes, two in fact)
• Player who scores the first touchdown will have a jersey number above or below 79.5? (Under)
• Denver minus-3 over Seattle (Seattle)
We had three get six of the seven — ClineVol98, Mrs. 5-at-10 and Jefe — and ClineVol's tiebreaker of 46 proved to be the closest. We are waiting to verify the final results, so if you have a beef please let us know as soon as possible.
— Early Vegas odds for next year's NFL Super Bowl champ: Seattle 7-to-1; San Francisco 8-to-1; Denver 8-to-1; New England 12-to-1; Green Bay 20-to-1; New Orleans 20-to-1; Atlanta 25-to-1; Cincy 25-to-1; Carolina 25-to-1.
Big time weekend for the guys who follow the ball bouncing true.
The Wade Wagon was back on track as a few more than 5,000 wiggled inside McKenzie to watch the Mocs pop Furman. Nice bounce-back for the home team. (And if you did not see Mark Kennedy's excellent column on the biggest and smallest Mocs basketball fan, well, here you go — and you're welcome.)
The Vols went to Tuscaloosa and handled their BID-ness Saturday night in a game they had to have. Alabama is bad, but that's OK because Alabama football is good.
Duke and Syracuse played one of the five best regular-season basketball games we can ever remember watching. Wow. The Orange got pushed into overtime but their ability to get in the lane and to the line was awesome. It's official, we're picking them to win the whole thing.
Kentucky handled its BID-ness at Missouri, which presents two questions: is Missouri or UT is the third-best SEC team and is UK now ready for prime time? We say Mizzou and yes despite UK's ups and downs. Mizzou has better perimeter pieces than UT and that has value and allows you to better avoid extended slumps. As for UK, the biggest downfall from the one-and-done carousel that Coach Cal runs may very well be that the young players are not ready to be everyone's Super Bowl like Kentucky is on a nightly basis, especially on the road. But, talent can toughen far easier and in a much shorter time frame than tough players can become talented, and it appears UK's talent is starting to toughen.
Around the sports world
There simply was too much to get to this morning so we're emptying several notebooks.
• We will get knee deep in recruiting starting tomorrow, but here's the skinny. Alabama has five five-stars. The SEC is only getting stronger — according to Rivals, the SEC has three of the top four classes, seven of the top 10 and nine of the top 15. Wow. UTC's haul looks strong — even getting a congrats shoutout from former Mocs player Buster Skrine. We'll have a Signing Day preview segment in each of the next couple of days.
• Congrats to the NFL Hall of Fame inductees, especially Derrick Brooks (class guy and great player that made the Tampa 2 so great) and Ray Guy, who finally was elected. Yes, Guy's a punter, but punters should be in too. It's part of the game after all and Guy was the Babe Ruth of punters.
• David Stern bid farewell to the NBA this weekend.
Feel free to riff on any Super Bowl thoughts. If you need a Super topic, try this: Is Seattle the best defense ever? (It may be closer than you think.)
We want your view on whether this affects Manning's legacy and feel certain the topic will come up on Press Row this afternoon from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM and here on timesfreepress.com.
If you need a complete off the wall Rushmore, here's an angle:
1) Sunday was Groundhog's Day, which begs two questions: 1) Is this like the biggest holiday ever in the rodent world and 2) what's your Rushmore of Bill Murray movies.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...