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Tuesday, February 3, 2004
A thinking man's Super Bowl

By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

First off, I want royalties. Every time somebody says Tom Brady is the Second Coming of Joe Montana, I want a dollar. When did we first mention and discuss this. October? November, at the latest? Actually, it was Dec. 11. Now Brady has a second Super Bowl in two tries. He's only 26.

Brady might be better than Montana. Why? Because, well, put it this way: As Joe just read that line, he scowled and turned as red as a beet. Super Joe could be a real pisser. Had the disposition of a Barry Bonds and Ted Williams combined, a real Frontier-style misanthrope. It had to be all about Joe.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady doesn't even mind sharing the spotlight with Mickey.
Ask Steve Young about it sometime, in private. Steve might not say anything because he's diplomatic, relatively; but watch the inadvertent rolling of his eyes. Joe resented Young, resented Jerry Rice, even resented Bill Walsh at times. Each threatened to steal the spotlight that was Montana's.

Hey, sue me, don't shoot me ... but pay me my royalties first.

Brady is better in that he really doesn't care who it's all about, except the collective New England Bradyos. He has the sunniest disposition I've seen in nearly any professional athlete -- certainly any athlete who had to play in the wintertime in New England. Not to get sappy here, but you can tell Brady came from love -- a loving family and a stable and loving environment. He's a killer, but only athletically speaking. He's a nice killer. Good man. And I want to hang out with him just to troll for his rejects. Verdad?

But it's not going to be easy to win more Bowls. Right now, the buzz is like a huge, Bunyanesque chainsaw felling logs all over from Connecticut to Maine. Two first-round picks in the draft, two seconds. But there is more than a little good fortune on the rocky road to the Super Bowl title; that chainsaw cuts both ways.

The Cult, the McTites, the Iggles, the Panthrax and all the rest of them aren't going anywhere; the difference between them is razor-fine. As it turns out, this makes it all the more fun for us.

As Jim Murray once said about young Dan Marino, Brady doesn't know how hard it is yet -- although we can now see that this sack-avoidance thing is not the creation of Belly, the coach, the O-line. No, it's Brady's height, vision ("radar," "instinct," "feel," "eyes in back of his head" -- all those being euphemisms for vision), snake-dancing in the pocket and deceiving strength that allow him not to take many sacks. Montana had the great eyes, too.

Having said that, I have not seen more creative play-calls inside the red zone from anybody. And that includes the Grand Maestro, Walsh, and the Gravedigger, Joe Gibbs. Bill Belly just proved to me he is a great coach in this game -- not by a defensive scheme, but an offensive one. I don't care if Weis schemed it. Belly delegated it to Weis. And frankly, I'm not so sure Belly didn't scheme it.

The One Football God has blessed Belly and Brady mightily, and deservedly, so far. Good things happen to good people.

This isn't the last big game they'll coach, and play.

***** ***** *****

Speaking of stars ... before we get inside the heads of the NFL and entertainment stars, give it up for the Super Bowl. Did they put on a show or what? Jaw-dropping plays made on nearly every snap. Such sights to behold. Rome never had it so good. Muhsin Muhammad, that lunatic Steve Smith, Deion Branch, Givens, Proehl, Wiggins, Graham, Foster, Morgan, Seymour, Witherspoon, the Ted, Stephen Davis, Vrabel -- they all made plays, except for He Hate Me, who bombed. Jake Delhomme got up off the deck and proved himself.

Beyonce
Still young in her solo career, Beyoncé Knowles may have a lot of days to count before she leaves the top.
But, the game is called football, after all; and it was John Kasay's out-of-bounds kickoff placing the ball on the Patriotic 40-yard line with 1:08 left that was finally the most telling play. Adam Vinatieri made the FG; but please, oh please ... that was hardly the winning play of the game. If anything, getting the chance to make that kick, let alone making it, should humble Vinatieri after the way both teams played. Magnifico.

Troy Brown had his nose driven back into his brain, but he came back to make big catch after big catch. Branch was a dervish. Rodney Harrison broke his arm late and left the Patriotic pass defense a sieve. Brady, Brady, Brady (to the tune of Tora! Tora! Tora!). What about Beyonce? What about the halftime show? Spectacle to make the ads boring for a change.

Best halftime show I've ever seen. Best game, too. If this is parity, bring it on. After a game like that, the NFL withdrawal pains won't begin to kick in until after the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 15.

And speaking of kicking in ... In honor of the Super Bowl and the launch of Page 3, here are the Super Bowl Sunday, Everybody-Into-The-Office-Pool, Season-Ending, Uncensored Thought Balloons. Enjoy in good health; and after that, have a nice February, everybody.

We'll return to the NFL in April at the draft.

***** ***** *****

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: "Oops. Whoops. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee; they can't hit as long as I can see. I see you over there, Wil. I see you. I feel you, Julie Peppers. Blitzing off the slot, are we, Cousin? Are we having fun yet, people? Hail to the Victors Valiant, hail to the da-dah da-dah. ... My sister hits harder than you do, guy. No, really, I mean, she does. ... It's over? What do you mean, it's over? Aw, man. I was just warming up."

Julius Peppers, DL, Carolina Panthers: "Sheesh, this boy's good."

Beyonce Knowles, Anthem Singer, Hollywood, Calif.: "Oh, he is, is he? Hmm. Tell Brady he can ask Mike Myers for Foxy's number. Ow!"

Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers: "Yeah, we lost. It don't feel good. But it does feel good getting that piano off my back."

Bill "Belly" Belichick, coach, New England Patriots: "I figured the game would be close. The teams were evenly matched. I figured the game would be close. The teams were evenly matched ... somebody slap me, please, my internal CD-ROM is stuck ..."

John Fox
Looks like John Fox had to be held back from going after Kasay.
John Fox, coach, Carolina Panthers: "Somebody please remind me to tape a 'Kick Me' to John Kasay's back ... that strutz."

Russell Crowe, "Capt. Jack Aubrey," HMS "Surprise": "G'day. I'm captain of this ship. This ship ... is England. New England? Oh. This ship ... is New England. Satisfied? God, what idiot wrote this? Hang down your head, Tom Brady. I got dibs on Beyonce. Yes, now that you mention it, I am married. And? So?"

Tom Cruise, "Nathan Algren," rookie, "The Last Samauri": (smiling) "I feel the need ... the need for ... what about me?"

Ken Watanabe, "Katsumodo," All-Pro, "The Last Samauri": "Yeah? What about you? Konichiwa, b----. Hai."

Rodney Harrison, safety, New England Patriots: "What is that sticking out of my arm? Is that like ... a bone, or something? Gee, that meat looks awfully white. Can I get that thing amputated and get back in there? What do you mean, no? This is the Super Bowl! What do you mean, bite down on this spoon? Agh! Say, that hurt."

Charlize Theron, "Aileen Wournos," "Monster": "Yep. I'm pretty sure that's a bone. And when it punches through like that, the white meat shows. Sorry. I'm finding it difficult to get out of character."

Peter Jackson, director, "Lord of the Rings": "What are these feelings of jealousy? We are Lord of the Rings. Soon, we will be "King Kong." I must have Naomi Watts. To star in the "Kong" remake, I mean. That's all I meant. Don't tell Fran or Philippa."

Charles Haley, retired DE, Cowboys, 49ers, "Lord of the Rings": "Little gnome man. I'm King Kong. And Lord of What Rings? That cute little girl only had the one ring that I saw, and I got five rings all by myself. Oh, so that wasn't a little girl? That was which? Elijah Wood? Hey, no harm meant. But you coulda fooled me."

Renee Zellweger, "Ruby Thewes," "Cold Mountain," Carolina: "I hope the Panthers losing is not a bad omen for me on Oscar night. I mean, totally. I really totally think I deserve Best Supporting Ditz."

Anthony Minghella, director, "Cold Mountain," Carolina: "The British Oscars loves us. The soccer-playing public loves us. What is this insanity, this American football? It's not sexy, the scale is all off, the location is inauthentic, the script banal, that actor, this Nantz person, please ... someone call my therapist. Please. (cries)."

Mike Vrabel, LB, New England Patriots: "Let's see ... sack, cha-ching. Fumble caused, cha-ching. TD reception, cha-cha-ching ... "

Nicole Kidman, "Ada Monroe," "Cold Mountain," Carolina: "Why does Beyonce think she's having Tom Brady first? She's much better suited for Lenny Kravitz. He can write some indecipherable lyrics for her. He might even bathe for her, too."

Jude Law, "Inman Balis," "Cold Mountain," Carolina: "Nicole Kidman? Beyonce? Janet Jackson? Jessica Simpson? And I just got hooked up again? Somebody hold me. I'm hyperventilating."

Ty Law, DB, New England Patriots: "Why'm I crying?"

Ricky Proehl, WR, Carolina Panthers: "Maybe because I fought the Law, and the Law won. But not before we toasted his buns a few times. Eat your heart out, Marvin Harrison. You too, Peyt."

Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots: "I'm gonna put on, my-my-my-my Boogie Shoes ... and boogie by you ... "

Janet Jackson
OK, so it's not's Justin Timberlake. So who's the special guest?
Janet Jackson, The Jacksons, Neverland Ranch: "Elective surgery is my life ... shake a tail feather. Uh-oh. Made a boo-boo."

Justin "Prime Time" Timberlake, Chappelle Racial Draft 2nd-Round Pick, Orlando: "Would I do what, Janet? Yeah. Sistah-girl, I think I can hook that up for you. No prob. But, word, we need lots of rehearsals. Yeah. Sorry, 'scuse, my fingers went numb. You kinda silky there, girl. Yeah ... Hey, why you slap me, Janet? It's just rehearsal ... Prime Time, Prime Time, Prime Time! CBS apologized? For what? Trust me on this, CBS. Nobody still alive had a problem with that. The business end of Janet's bodacious tata was covered with a silver pasty. How do I know? Just trust me, I know."

Kid Rock, rocker, free agent: "Timberlake gets to snatch off Janet's patch; I get to wear two hats and sing two songs. Advantage, Justin. Again. M$&#*@$#%@!"

Rod Smart, "He Hate Me," Carolina: "Maybe I could've run harder, but I've got to stay healthy to take care of the five kids I have by five different women. How come SI don't write about that fertililty doctor in Fairfax County, Va., who had 105 children with 105 different women? And he was using a turkey baster. At least I had fun. But really, I kind of sucked at running back kicks."

Clint Eastwood, director, "Mystic River": "No comment. Except this: Keep Steve Kroft off me on Oscar night. Somebody already went ahead and made my day. Several good-looking somebodies of the female persuasion, in fact. Frances Farmer is not chopped liver even today, friend. He Hate Me's day got made, too. He might hate you, Rod, but apparently the shes don't hate you all that bad. That might change after that last play, that abandon-ship, bail-out runback. Should've busted it up in there like a kamikaze. Can't use you now. It's a What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately business."

Johnny Depp, "Capt. Jack Sparrow," "Pirates of the Caribbean": "I'm official pirate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or the Oakland Raiders, whichever is winning. Russ Crowe can eat my pantaloons on this one. Yoo-hoo, Mother's coming to get you Oscar night!"

Ted Washington, DL, New England Patriots: "(whale sounds)"

Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Pai Apirana," "Whale Rider": "I am just a child. So they'll have to double my fee and bring in extra stunt players for me to consider riding Ted Washington, Human Orca."

Kris Jenkins, DT, Carolina Panthers: "Ready setGO!! Oops. Heh-heh. I'm so offsides. Frankly, it's embarrassing."

Nelly
Nelly wants to know: Who's looney now?
Djimon Hounsou, "Mateo," "In America": "I asked Jim Sheridan what's my motivation? He said, 'What do you mean, misbegotten spawn of Satan or Steven Spielberg?' I didn't mind. Directors talk that way to me sometimes. I asked Sheridan, 'For example, what is my full name? I can't just be named Mateo.' He sneered at me and said, 'Well then, clown, your first name is San.' So I said, 'San? My name is San Mateo?' And so then I had the character. I told Sheridan, 'That's it! That's where Tom Brady is from!' "

Nelly, rapper, St. Louis: "Ur Force Ones ... Where my Lunatics at? (silence, sound of crickets chirping)"

Ben Kingsley, "Colonel Behrani," "House Of Sand and Fog": "I feel a great deal of empathy for Romeo Crennel. I am not equating Mr. Fox with the Shah, of course; but I used Crennel's frustrations and displacement as a model for me in my quest to find the center of the Behrani character and take home hardware from the suck ... pardon me, from the great, powerful, august American academy. I am not just Gandhi after ROTC class. I'm glad somebody made me forget 'Species.' I could've gone for Henstridge in a big way if she hadn't had a thing for taller younger men with muscles and hair."

Romeo Crennel, D-Coordinator, New England Patriots: "Hey, look, maybe I don't even want a head coaching job. A 100-percent raise will do me just fine. Maybe I don't exist. Maybe I'm made of wood. A puppet. Maybe I should be sitting on Belly's lap ... "

Stephen Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers: "Remind me to send Steve Spurrier a thank-you note ... "

Bill Murray, "Bob Harris," "Lost In Translation": "Sure, this is my best role -- considering I didn't think I'd ever get another good role. The 'Caddyshack,' 'Stripes,' 'Ghostbusters' days are over. But did I have a ball. This was better than 'Razor's Edge,' though."

Richard Seymour, DL, New England Patriots: "Suppose I want the girl to ride me in 'Whale Rider II'? Suppose I want that? What's Ted, or Darius Miles, or Shamu got that I haven't got?"

Three Stunt Horses portraying Seabiscuit, "Seabiscuit": "I am Mister Ed. I am Mister Ed. I am Mister Ed ... "

Troy Brown
Thanks to a hard hit, Troy Brown got a serious case of deja vu.
Troy Brown, WR, New England Patriots: "Rucker must have thought I was a throw rug or something. I mean, he really tried to clean out my sinuses. Wow, look at my beak. Guess I'll be breaking out the Breathe-Right strips for sure now."

Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Carolina Panthers: "The Moose ... is loose."

Benicio Del Toro, "Jack," "21 Grams": "The Bull ... is back."

Sean Penn, "Jimmy," "Mystic River": "They're comparing me to Jimmy Cagney. I can live with that. Let's see, I bury Kingsley. No way they're giving that little mufti another Best Actor nod. This is my lifetime award. I am a little concerned about that twit Depp, though. I mean, his movie was a cartoon, but that fey twist and mascara was inspired. That's gonna appeal to, uh, certain members of the academy. Why couldn't he just play it straight? Bastard."

Tim Robbins, "Dave," "Mystic River": "I'll always have Nuke Laloosh."

P. Diddy, entrepreneur, New York: "As a businessman, I'm a genius. As a producer, I show instincts. For example, who else but Ben Affleck could star as Al Davis? As a performer, I'm an idiot."

Charlie Weis, O-coordinator, New England Patriots: "People tell me I've got a Rodney Dangerfield look going here. What good's it doing me? I tell ya I don't get no respect, or no playoff-season job interviews. But I'm going to ride this Brady horse until he drops."

Jerry Richardson, owner, Carolina Panthers: "If I keep real still and act like I've been here before ... maybe ... oh s---, Auntie Em."

Robert Kraft, owner, New England Patriots: "They say you get back what you put out. I've been putting out plenty. But hey, you can't take it with you, regardless of what the other owners think. Offering the milk of human kindness has gotten me many happy returns. And brother, right now, am I happy. Not to mention King of Boston. Or would you prefer being vexed, very vexed, over the Red Sox? You would? Yeah, well, you and Emperor Commodus."

Robert S. McNamara, O-Coordinator, USA, "The Fog of War": "It wasn't really war; it was more like ... a game of dominoes."

Ralph Wiley has written articles for Sports Illustrated, Premiere, GQ, and National Geographic, and many national newspapers. He was one of the original NFL Insiders on NBC. His many books include "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir," "Why Black People Tend To Shout," "By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of Malcolm X" with Spike Lee, "Dark Witness," "Best Seat in the House" with Spike Lee, "Born to Play" with Eric Davis, and "Growing Up King" with Dexter Scott King and the children of Martin Luther King Jr. He contributes to many ESPN productions, and bats cleanup on a weekly basis for Page 2.