Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Rivers was the anti-LT on Sunday

By Tim Keown
Page 2

It figures to be one serious Super Bowl, with Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick at the wheel. Order me up a double scowl with a grimace chaser; it's gonna be a wild two weeks.

The coaches always control the show at the Super Bowl, even when the coaches involved aren't control freaks. But these two guys present an almost blissful convergence, the perfect overly serious ending to another overly serious NFL season.

Most years, you hear stories about players being fined for missing curfew. This year, fines will be doled out for smiling. Show teeth, and it'll be doubled.

You ever notice how Coughlin always looks like he can't believe what he just saw? I can't tell if that look is aggrieved or befuddled. Most of the time, he looks like he hasn't yet figured out he forgot to turn on his hearing aid.

In all, Sunday was a pretty good day of NFL football. The Patriots showed just enough flaws to fool enough people to bet the Giants and take the points. They also got away with enough stuff -- the Mike Vrabel leg-whip on Philip Rivers on the Asante Samuel interception, a blatant clip by Randy Moss on Luis Castillo on another big play -- to keep everyone who hates them suitably unhappy.

But imagine this: Imagine that Brett Favre had played as well as Philip Rivers did, and after the game, it had leaked out that Brett Favre had played the entire game less than a week after having secret surgery on his knee. Imagine the point of this surgery was essentially to detach the ACL on Brett Favre's knee so he could attempt to lead his team to the Super Bowl, all the while knowing a much more extensive surgery awaited him at season's end.

If that had happened, we would have had to invent a new language to describe the courage and toughness and bravery exhibited by Brett Favre. Plus, it was cold. People would write songs about Brett Favre's will to win, and children would be forced to sing them right before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day.

Since this has devolved into a series of random observations: Unlike Deion Sanders, I'm in no position to decide how much LaDainian Tomlinson's knee hurt or how much heart he did or didn't show by carrying the ball twice, catching one pass and then shutting down. But I do know, because I watched the game, that Tomlinson did his image no favors by sitting on the bench covered in a jacket the entire game.

It was the equivalent of the injured baseball star sitting in the clubhouse during a World Series game. Wasn't there some advice he could dispense to Michael Turner or Darren Sproles or even Rivers? I'm sure he would have rather played, and that was a big reason he chose to cocoon himself instead of exhorting his teammates to greater heights. He's the best running back in the game and his team's main guy, and they needed something from him. As it stands, it came across as pouty.

This Week's List

By the way, given the perils of the obsidian-tinted visor: How do we really know that was LT sitting there the whole time?

With one game remaining, there's only one question left: Tiki … you there, Tiki?

Of course, there's the alternate explanation: Tiki Barber's caustic remarks about Eli Manning and Coughlin worked as intended, spurring his former mates to greater heights.

This week's essay question: What would it take for Tiger Woods to actually take a stand against something somebody says?

Seriously, this is going to go down as one of the absolute worst -- and downright weirdest -- editorial decisions in the history of publishing: A noose, on the cover of Golfweek Magazine.

I'm guessing he plays a little middle linebacker, but that's just because he's Brett Favre: Do you think Brett Favre is the all-time QB in those games he plays in his Wranglers, or does he also have to play D?

Not that I'm on the list of people entrusted to dispense advice, but here's what I'd tell Favre: Play as long as you can and as long as it's still fun, because it's nobody's business but yours.

And finally, when a walking cast is just the beginning: If I were Tom Brady, and I knew a bunch of people were taking my picture every time I stepped foot on the sidewalk, I'd go with a wheelchair, an oxygen tank and a sling on my right arm.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.