January 30, 2006
Tiger Woods:
In first tourney of year, Tiger nails a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, then smoothly defeats vet Olazabal and rookie Green. Sign of a huge year to come?
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

The first touchdown of the Super Bowl came Sunday: The Seahawks arrived in Detroit. And the dance has already begun, with a mix of "happy to be here" and the ol' reliable "disrespect!"

Super Bowl Week is an unsubtle tango:
The players balance preparing for the game with commitments to the media frenzy.

The media balance hyping the game using the same few story lines with commitments to hitting the good parties.

The fans balance dropping tons of cash to make a pilgrimage and buying pricey "XL" swag once they get there.

Want a preview of the week?
Play the "SBXL cliche" game, delivering the annual blueprint of Super Bowl media coverage that has been perfected over four decades:

Monday: Steelers arrive

SBXL cliche: "Jerome Bettis is coming home!" (Think any reporters will ask him about David Schoenfield's Page 2 column last week which questioned his rep?) Meanwhile, as the 60/40 fan favorite and obvious preference of the biased East Coast media, the Steelers' arrival will completely eclipse coverage of the Seahawks today. (Defiant Seattle media throws around "Dis" card.)

Tuesday: Media day

SBXL cliche: "Big Ben! Big Ben! How long have you been a MAC quarterback?" This will be one of the many inane, repetitive questions that will saturate sports media. Meanwhile, nonsports TV outlets will broadcast the most outrageous lineups and draw gripes from "respectable" sports journalists.

Wednesday: Media recycle day

SBXL cliche: Reporters begin to slowly dribble out stories using quotes they collected during media day. You'll see the same quotes used over and over, with an emphasis on the glib. If outspoken Matt Hasselbeck says anything remotely quirky, expect to see it, hear it or read it at least 100 times.

Thursday: Tick-off locals day

SBXL cliche: It happens every year. Some columnist or national TV personality rips the host city. Usually it involves the transportation infrastructure, but that's just a code word for "the lines at the nightclubs have been too long." Defensive locals freak out, even though the criticism is probably well-founded.

Friday: Contrarian day

SBXL cliche: Having overreported everything that has been said or done, the media completes the Super Bowl story line picture with the obligatory, "Why you're totally overlooking the underdog" story, trying to fuel the idea that it will be the best Super Bowl ever, thus justifying their expense reports.

The participants may change annually, but the legacy of Super Bowl week remains. Coming tomorrow: media day preview!

Favre: Retiring?
"If I had to pick right now and make a decision, I would say I'm not coming back."
-- Brett Favre

Favre's hedging about a return next season should be enough to cut him loose; it's just time to move on.

LeBron: Leggings don't keep him from 44 in win vs. Suns
Mike Piazza: New life in San Diego? Or setup for failure?
No. 93: Artest's Kings jersey number is as crazy as he is
Louisville: Loses to Rutgers (4th L in 5 G); 2-5 in B'East
Chris Andersen: So what substance did earn him a 2 yr ban?
New Orleans: Hornets will stay in Okla. City for '06-'07 season
The alternative is that the Packers stall their long-term future for one more season by letting Favre return as the starting QB (he doesn't seem to be interested in being a backup and mentoring his successor).

You can argue that last season's dud came from injuries, not Favre's bad decision-making (career-high 29 INTs) and that the probability is that the team will be healthier -- and better -- next season.

But what does "better" mean? Improvement to 8 or 9 wins? They're still left at the end of the season with Favre retiring and the rebuilding process beginning.

To his credit, he seems to accept that the team has a right to go another direction. I know Favre cares deeply about his legacy, but he should consider moving to a team where the only missing piece is a veteran QB.

(On the other side, the Packers seems freaked out by the idea of telling Cheesehead fans they are letting their icon go. Favre, an All-Pro media manipulator right up there with Curt Schilling, hasn't made it easy.)

But the upshot of Favre's interview is that the Packers' future should start now -- and that Favre shouldn't be a part of it.

Kobe's Big Weekend
If you score 81 points one Sunday night, what do you do for an encore the next? What can you do?

In the most anticipated NBA game of the weekend, Kobe scored 39 points in a loss to the Pistons. And it was a disappointment.

This is Kobe's "Curse of 81": 81 catapulted him into must-see territory; on any given night, he could go for 50, 60, 70... or more.

But on the flip side, it is very possible that 81 was the very apex of Kobe's career as a scorer. The chance of him ever scoring 81 again? Nil.

So, like many movie sequels, it's likely Kobe's future performances will never top the original 81.

Pistons: 72 Wins?
With 37 wins in 42 games, the Pistons have officially reached the plateau where they are "on pace" to win 72. But will they?

They don't rely on any single scorer (5 players were in double-digits in the W over the Lakers on Sunday). Their defense will keep them in games (although they've lost their 5 games by an average of nearly 15 ppg). And they're a mentally tough bunch of vets who have been to two straight Finals.

Injuries can quickly change the equation -- as can a single freakish loss. The pace for 72 wins is unyielding. That's why "72" would be a bonus, but it doesn't compare to fulfilling their potential and winning the title.

Senior Bowl
Perhaps cracking under the pressure of being tabbed the No. 1 QB prospect of the 2006 Draft by Chris Mortenson, Vandy's Jay Cutler had an iffy Senior Bowl: 6-of-19 for 69 yards with a TD after an opening-drive INT.

(Of course, Matt Leinart didn't even bother to show -- why would he? -- so it's hard to knock Cutler too much after his week of solid practices. Still, expect Cutler's hype to settle to a low boil until mid-April.)

Meanwhile, Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst might have played himself into contention as -- if not the "next Big Ben" -- perhaps "the next Charlie Frye," a later-round pick who could step in early and play well.

And QB Michael Robinson of Penn St. proved that he's draft-worthy -- just not at QB. But with 63 yards worth of rushing to go with 2 TD drives, someone will make him the next Matt Jones or Antwaan Randle-El.

XL: Quickie Pool
You say "Big Game Showdown," I say "Super Bowl Pick 'Em." Either way, here's your chance to make your Super Bowl picks and test your skills against the rest of Quickie readers (and me).

Click here to sign up. As usual, search for the Group Name "Daily Quickie Readers." Let's pack it with as many of you as possible. Sign up ends Friday. Sign up now (and pass it on)!

"12th Man":
I understand Texas A&M's pride in its "12th Man" tradition. But it's ludicrous to begrudge Seahawks fans; they've done it since the '80s.
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Quickie: Live!
Big Game Showdown
Page 2 Index
Overplayed SB XL Story Lines
Bettis' homecoming
We get it: He's from DET
Hasselbeck's mouth
He'll be Media Day star
Cowher's first ring
Must shed "choker" label
Holmgren's redemption
Must shed "Favre's boy" label
Dumping on host city
Who's first with "Detrashy?"

You can dislike Mike Martz and still believe he can look at the Lions' WR talents and figure out how to make Detroit's offense much better.

Is the lack of fallout over Bode Miller's comments about Lance in Rolling Stone a statement about Bode, about Lance or about Rolling Stone?

Boston's completion of the Crisp deal makes you wonder whether the stumble-success was geared to make Theo's official return look as golden as possible.

NFL Network gets Thu./Sat. game package: Owners leave short-term money on the table in exchange for building equity of their cable network. Smart.

Arena League: Ron Jaworski might yet bring a football title to Philly! The Soul open the league's XXth season with a win over Tampa.

Roger Federer wins Aussie Open: Is he ready for a Grand Slam season? The toughest test is next: He's never won the French Open.

Here's to a full recovery for ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt, injured in an IED attack in Iraq on Sunday.

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