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Super Bowl Week 10-pack

Super Bowl Football

It’s Monday in Dallas, and the Super Bowl teams will be arriving later today.  To properly turn the page from a thrilling, hard-fought, heroic Pro Bowl to the ho-hum, mail-it-in, don’t-hurt-me Super Bowl, we decided that a 10-pack of story lines and/or takes and/or whatever came to mind about Super Bowl XLV would be in order.

So here are 10 things that we didn’t deem sufficiently compelling to merit their own posts.  Together, though, the sheer volume makes them somewhat interesting.

Or at least more interesting than the thrilling, hard-fought, heroic Pro Bowl.

1.  Steelers will keep things quiet.  Real quiet.

The Steelers have participated in eight of 45 Super Bowls.  And yet the litany of misadventures and embarrassments that have unfolded in the days preceding the some of the prior 44 Super Bowls includes no incident involving a member of the organization.

No solicitation of prostitution.  No impromptu trips to Tijuana.  No Scarface-style piles of cocaine.  Nothing.

Count on that happening (or, more accurately, not happening) again in Dallas.  Two years ago, the only drama of Super Bowl week featuring the Steelers involved whether the team was concealing a rib injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who secretly had x-rays on the Wednesday before the game.

It’s enough to put those of us who cover the sport to sleep, but it’ll help Steelers fans (and coaches and other employees) sleep much more easily as the team pursues a seventh Lombardi Trophy.

2.  Packers P.R. stumble has unexpected legs.

The Bears’ bungling of the Jay Cutler injury ultimately landed, in our view, in the lap of the team’s P.R. staff.  On game day, the folks charged with protecting the image of the team and its players failed to be proactive when Cutler was unable to play.  Much of the criticism that unfolded would have been avoided if Cutler simply had been sent to the locker room once it was clear he wouldn’t be sent back onto the field.

In the days after the game, the P.R. staff did little if anything to get the situation properly under control and/or to shape the discourse regarding Cutler in the franchise’s favor.

The affliction apparently was contagious.  In the past several days, the Packers P.R. staff has failed to anticipate and/or prevent the fallout from the decision to exclude played on injured reserve from the team Super Bowl photo.  Ideally, someone from the P.R. staff should have realized that players like Jermichael Finley and Nick Barnett would not have taken the exclusion quietly, and in turn should have recommended — strongly — to the coaching staff that all players be included in all Super Bowl activities.

Then, once the coaching staff decided to do what many regard to be the right thing, the P.R. department should have moved to ensure that the fire was indeed out.  It wasn’t.  Saturday quotes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers stirred up the embers, prompting Barnett and Finley to respond, again.

It was all avoidable, if the team had decided from the outset to include the players in the  photo and all other Super Bowl activities.  And that decision could have been made, if someone from P.R. had pulled aside coach Mike McCarthy and explained to him the manner in which this situation could play out, once guys like Finley and Barnett made their displeasure known.

3.  Labor dispute will take center stage.

The Super Bowl, obviously, will provide the biggest story of the week.  Running a close second will be the ongoing labor dispute between the NFL and the players’ union.

There will be ample opportunities for posturing and rhetoric, as the NFLPA conducts its annual press conference on Thursday, followed by the Commissioner’s annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Friday.  Throughout the week, look for the various players who’ll be selling products and providing sound bites on Radio Row to chime in as to key issues like the 18-game season and the absence of any apparent progress at the bargaining table.

After the Super Bowl, the labor situation will move from No. 2 to No. 1 on the stack of NFL stories, continuing to hold that position until the mess is resolved.

4.  Hangover may be less intense for winner, loser.

The possibility of a diminished offseason, a delayed free-agency period, and ultimately rushed preparations for the regular season due to the labor situation will play to the advantage of the Super Bowl teams.

As the Packers and the Steelers are getting ready to square off for the NFL title, the other 30 teams are preparing for a short-term future that may unfold in various different ways.  The worst-case scenario for the league — an offseason lost to a lockout and a resolution of the mess in September — could be the best-case scenario from a competitive standpoint for the Super Bowl teams.

The hangover from playing into February, fueled by the complacency that comes from winning and the void that comes from losing, won’t be as bad if none of the teams will be moving forward with free agency and offseason workouts and training camp and the preseason.  Apart from the draft, nothing else will be happening, which will make easier for the Super Bowl teams to avoid falling behind.

So if there’s a lengthy lockout and when football resumes in 2011, the Packers and the Steelers may be in great position to get back to where they are right now.

5.  Mendenhall needs to hit the hole.

Two weeks ago, Peter King of Sports Illustrated opined in his MMQB column that Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers will never be a big-time tailback.  In an appearance on PFT Live, King explained that Mendenhall is too tentative when the time comes to take the ball and hit the hole.

Though Mendenhall had a big day in the AFC title game against the Jets, he continues to stutter step before shooting forward.  The Packers surely will be factoring this side-to-side move into their defense of Mendenhall, anticipating the disruption to the timing of the play that gives him a chance to squirt through the delayed opening that he seems to always find.

That’s why Mendenhall needs to simply make his move when given the ball in the Super Bowl, slamming into the line and surprising Packers defenders who are hoping to slow him down by assuming that he’ll hop around before pouncing.

Though there’s an argument to be made for sticking with what works, the Packers likely have the coaching and the talent to come up with a way to slow down Mendenhall based on his current running style.

6.  Steelers wisely held back a spot for Smith.

The Packers’ I.R. Super Bowl photo debacle has been exacerbated by the possibility that running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley may have been ready to go, if their roster spots had been set aside while they recovered from their injuries.  Instead, they were promptly relegated to injured reserve.

What’s that, you say?  The Packers needed the roster spots?

Tell that to the Steelers, who carried a roster spot for weeks after defensive end Aaron Smith suffered a torn triceps muscle — and who may get Smith back for the Super Bowl.

In 1995, the Steelers did the same thing when cornerback Rod Woodson suffered a Week One ACL injury.  Woodson ultimately returned for the Super Bowl, and he played well in the game.

With 53 men on the roster and 45 dressing for games, each team can carry eight extra spots — and up to eight on top of that may be signed to the practice squad.  Thus, if the Packers had wanted to hold a place for Grant or Finley, they could have done so.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Steelers could benefit greatly from the fact that they held a spot for Smith.

7.  Playing surface plays into Packers’ hands.

Once upon a time, the Green Bay offense sputtered when placed under a roof.  Now, the Packers thrive there.

Since Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre at quarterback in 2008, the Packers have averaged 31.8 points per game, including more than 40 in their two domed postseason games.

During that same stretch, the Steelers have played only two games in domes, struggling to beat a bad Lions team in 2009 and losing to the Saints in 2010.

With the Super Bowl played under a retractable roof that won’t be retracted next Sunday, the Packers gain a clear edge — especially since they’ll be facing a Steelers team that is better suited to open air and whatever that sort-of green stuff is on which their home games are played.

8.  History serves the Steelers.

Whatever the surface, the Steelers show up for big games.  With nine wins in 10 postseason games played since losing the 2004 AFC title to the Patriots, Pittsburgh knows how to find a way to outscore the opponent when the stakes are at their highest.

In their 2005 Super Bowl run, the Steelers beat the Colts in a dome during the division round and the Seahawks in a dome during the Super Bowl.

The Steelers also know a thing or two about winning Super Bowls, with six victories in seven berths in the biggest game on the planet.

So while the Packers’ offense will likely find a way to move the ball and score points next Sunday,  it’s hard to believe that the Steelers won’t score nearly as many — if not more.

9.  Big markets be damned.

The Packers facing the Steelers in the Super Bowl is the equivalent of the Brewers facing the Pirates in the World Series.

Though that’s now impossible, given that the Brewers moved from the American League to the National League at some point during the 18 years since I quit paying attention to baseball, the bottom line is that it would be virtually impossible for two small-market teams to square off in baseball’s championship round.

In football, it’s always possible.  And not just because of the salary cap.  Money can’t buy championships in football, where a team consists not of a pitcher versus a batter with eight spectators who are presumed to be able to field balls hit in their direction.  In football, 11 moving parts on offense face 11 moving parts on defense, and having highly-paid players at each of those positions provide no guarantee of success.

Football teams succeed based on their ability at all times to behave like teams, and the presence of highly-paid players can, at times, undermine that vibe.

So take heart, NFL fans.  Even if the owners can’t figure out how to share their currently unshared revenues, the Cowboys and the Redskins likely will never become the Yankees and the Red Sox, no matter how much money they spend.

10.  Kapinos knows the Packers better than any Steeler.

With all the talk of Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ past connection to Pittsburgh, no one is saying much about the one employee of a Super Bowl team who has the most immediate experience working for the opponent.

Jeremy Kapinos punted for the Packers throughout the 2009 season.  The Packers then let him go.  After landing with the Colts during punter Pat McAfee’s one-game suspension for public intoxication, Kapinos’ next opportunity came when Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda suffered his latest ACL tear.

Though Super Bowl XLV is expected by many to feature plenty of points from both teams, Kapinos could be relied upon not only to deliver a key kick, but also to share whatever information he picked up during his one-year stay in Green Bay.

While the punter isn’t privy to much of the playbook, he possibly knows enough about the third phase of the game to help the Steelers better understand what Green Bay will be doing when the punting team and/or the kickoff team is on the field.  If you don’t think that’s potentially important, you apparently were still in the bathroom when the second half of Super Bowl XLIV started.

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35 Responses to “Super Bowl Week 10-pack”
  1. yourwhathurts says: Jan 31, 2011 8:40 AM

    Hey Mike, What about the rumor going around that A. Rodgers right shoulder ie hurting a lot worse then anyone is being let on too?

  2. donterrelli says: Jan 31, 2011 8:41 AM

    PunterGate!

  3. packersurle says: Jan 31, 2011 8:42 AM

    Wow – I could feel your hate of the Packers. Enjoy the next week – Packer 24/7.

  4. jwil444 says: Jan 31, 2011 8:55 AM

    really? the punter for the steelers?? must have been hurting to find that 10th entry……….and enough of the team picture garbage. Honestly, this is the only site still talking about it. Finally, yes the steelers are model citizens……….just ask ben, santonio,the former idiot kicker, and the most fined player in the game.

    It’s okay to be pro steelers, just admit it already.

  5. listenupcupcake says: Jan 31, 2011 9:04 AM

    “Even if the owners can’t figure out how to share their currently unshared revenues, the Cowboys and the Redskins likely will never become the Yankees and the Red Sox, no matter how much money they spend.”

    As has been evidenced by the last 15+ years of competition. Thank God.

  6. jc1958coo says: Jan 31, 2011 9:09 AM

    kampinos will lose the game for pittsburgh! he’ll miss hit one or two and the pack will get a big run back!

  7. clintonportisheadd says: Jan 31, 2011 9:11 AM

    Ask a Republican about the NFL and he will call it “socialism” since all the revenues are split amongst the members of the league.

    Not only that, the practice of awarding the last pick in the draft to the Super Bowl champ would be decried as “punishing success” by those same folks.

    My pick–PACKERS 23 STEELERS 17

  8. henrypuppyhead says: Jan 31, 2011 9:16 AM

    Kapinos. The new Henry Burris.

    Just a absolutely horrible punter. Pretty sure he’ll be an advantage for the Packers.

  9. bluestree says: Jan 31, 2011 9:27 AM

    Being familiar with Jeremy Kapinos work, I’d say any way you slice it, he’s a plus for the Packers.
    As far as inside info, I think the Steelers know that the Packers know that he played for them last season. How could the Steelers act on anything he tells them, knowing Green Bay likely self-scouted and changed up some things, as all teams do?

  10. masteel says: Jan 31, 2011 9:38 AM

    Um ….it’s been written and written all over Pittsburgh press that Aaron Smith and Pouncey will not be available.

    I’ve stated that the best option for Steelers with Smith not being able to play – is put him IR the day before the SB, and have him make a heartfelt speech to all his teammates about the fact that he would (tried) to do anything he could to get back on the active roster as a healhty player AND ultimately couldn’t …..so Aaron can ask him teammates to do what he is SO anxious to do himself. Play and Win. Do it for the Smith (Gipper).

    I’m being sincere, the team and players completely trust, respect, and love Smith for his selfless playing style and his team first attitude.

    GO Steelers !!!

  11. pftisahalftruth says: Jan 31, 2011 10:15 AM

    your bit about GB saving roster spots is ridiculous!!! obviously you were stretching to get 10 items into this (see; punter discussion), but get real! GB had 15 guys go to IR. now you want to save 2 desperately needed bodies for a late push when at the time it wasn’t clear if they would or wouldn’t be ready for a deep playoff run. and to compare the GB situation to PIT is dumb; how many guys do the Steelers have on IR??! HACK.

  12. ohenry78 says: Jan 31, 2011 10:25 AM

    Ryan Grant may have been able to be back by now. But Jermichael Finley got a staph infection after his knee surgery, and he’s absolutely not ready to play yet. And let’s be honest, while Finley coming back would be big, Grant wouldn’t do any better behind the Packers’ O-line than Starks has.

  13. calloustongue says: Jan 31, 2011 10:35 AM

    Photogate won’t die, because you won’t let it. Anyone I’ve talked to that doesn’t visit this site, hasn’t even heard a word about it. It’s nbd, but if it gets you hits and makes the Steeler fans think they have a chance, I guess more power to ya.

    Being critical of how the Packers handled their 15 guys on IR, and still making the Super Bowl is asinine. Instead of bashing them, maybe you should give TT some credit for building a team with unbelievable depth, and the coaching staff credit for making UDFA look like 1st round picks.

    I know you don’t want to focus on the story that will have the biggest impact on the game.

    Raji vs. Legursky. Raji is playing like the best NT in the game atm. He brings constant pressure from the middle. Couple that with Matthews from the right and Jenkins from the left.

    Keep ignoring it though, Steeler fans and you can bury their heads in the sand and think something like a team photo will help you win.

  14. peopletrains says: Jan 31, 2011 10:38 AM

    Really? We’re still reading articles about the Super Bowl photo snub that has been resolved?

  15. theo547 says: Jan 31, 2011 10:50 AM

    Im guessing you didnt watch Kapinos put atall last year – or for that matter any of GB’s special teams…. THEY ARE HORRIBLE!

    Kapinos: They are really bad

    Steelers: We know

    Kapinos: What am I doing here then?

    Steelers: Hopefully something productive

    Go Pack.

  16. rabidbillsfan says: Jan 31, 2011 11:00 AM

    I cant belive no one has mentioned this already but… When was the last time the packers won in dallas? 12/24/89. Just sayin though…

  17. theo547 says: Jan 31, 2011 11:09 AM

    @ rabidbillsfan

    – Yes… and everygame weve played there has had Brett “Let me show you my wang” Favre as the starter… and lets face it… Dallas had there way with him for most of his time in GB.

  18. firethorn1001 says: Jan 31, 2011 11:22 AM

    @rabidbillsfan

    And the last time the Packers won at Philadelphia prior to this season was 1962.

    I too can come up with meaningless facts.

  19. crimhollingsworth says: Jan 31, 2011 11:22 AM

    You should have thought of a better item for #10. how about talented DT for GB vs a bum C for Pitt.

  20. bordner says: Jan 31, 2011 11:28 AM

    rabidbillsfan says:
    Jan 31, 2011 11:00 AM

    I cant belive no one has mentioned this already but… When was the last time the packers won in dallas? 12/24/89. Just sayin though…
    ————————————————-
    You’re right!!! What a genius!!!! How could everyone else have missed this??!!!!!

    This is an absolute, positive sign that the Packers will lose the Super Bowl!!!!! Their team hasn’t beaten the Cowboys in Dallas since the day before Christmas 21 years ago!!! They have no chance!!! They shouldn’t even bother to show up – the game has already been pre-determined based on their history with mostly different players playing a team that isn’t even in the game at a totally different stadium!!!

  21. rabidbillsfan says: Jan 31, 2011 11:28 AM

    @ theo547
    Brett was actually knocked out of the game in 2007, and Rodgers came. I mean he played well, but they still lost. This could actually be a good thing, maybe the players can use it as a little outside motivation. Either way I still hope the pack crushes Pitt.

  22. SpartaChris says: Jan 31, 2011 11:28 AM

    Ideally, someone from the P.R. staff should have realized that players like Jermichael Finley and Nick Barnett would not have taken the exclusion quietly, and in turn should have recommended — strongly — to the coaching staff that all players be included in all Super Bowl activities.

    OR they should have realized these guys are self promoting whiners and told them there will be a fine and possible suspension for any team business that makes it way to social media outlets.

  23. steelersmichele says: Jan 31, 2011 11:30 AM

    #7: During that same stretch, the Steelers have played only two games in domes, struggling to beat a bad Lions team in 2009 and losing to the Saints in 2010…[the Steelers are] better suited to open air.

    #8: In their 2005 Super Bowl run, the Steelers beat the Colts in a dome during the division round and the Seahawks in a dome during the Super Bowl.

    Seriously, do you ever read what you’ve written?

  24. youboettcha says: Jan 31, 2011 11:32 AM

    @rabidbillsfan

    All those games were against the Cowboys in Irving, Texas. This game is for the Super Bowl in Arlington, against the Steelers. I don’t think anything you said is applicable to the situation whatsoever.

  25. limey41 says: Jan 31, 2011 12:14 PM

    @steelermichele
    your are talking about two different time oeriod

    #7 pre 2008

    #8 postb 2008

  26. theo547 says: Jan 31, 2011 12:20 PM

    @rabidbillsfan

    I said “Started” – Rodgers actually almost won that game for us… but, he didnt start it. i think it was 21-7 when he came in.

  27. spyboots says: Jan 31, 2011 1:18 PM

    The IR number above is misleading, though. Of those 15 IR’d for GB, it appears there are only 3 starters. The Steelers have more than 3 starters injured.

  28. jrmbadger says: Jan 31, 2011 2:15 PM

    “spyboots says:
    Jan 31, 2011 1:18 PM
    The IR number above is misleading, though. Of those 15 IR’d for GB, it appears there are only 3 starters. The Steelers have more than 3 starters injured.”

    Umm…. no (just off the top of my head):

    Jermichael Finley (starter)
    Morgan Burnett (starter)
    Nick Barnett (starter)
    Ryan Grant (starter)
    Mark Tauscher (starter)
    Brad Jones (starter)

  29. electstat says: Jan 31, 2011 2:19 PM

    Perhaps you should have paid attention to baseball before trying to compare.

  30. bluestree says: Jan 31, 2011 2:51 PM

    rabidbillsfan says:
    Jan 31, 2011 11:00 AM
    I cant belive no one has mentioned this already but… When was the last time the packers won in dallas? 12/24/89. Just sayin though…
    ——————————————

    Just sayin’ they’re due.

  31. toolkien says: Jan 31, 2011 5:53 PM

    Ask a Republican about the NFL and he will call it “socialism” since all the revenues are split amongst the members of the league.

    Not only that, the practice of awarding the last pick in the draft to the Super Bowl champ would be decried as “punishing success” by those same folks.

    My pick–PACKERS 23 STEELERS 17

    Of course a Republican would see the NFL as one business entity and is entitled to shift funds as it sees fit. Of course Dems/Progressives would call this anti-trust and bust it up if it suited them to, but treat as one entity when it suits it for some other interventionist purpose. Consistency isn’t their strong suit.

    Obviously being a Packer fan I have to favor revenue sharing because without it my team wouldn’t exist.

    I do have a problem with taxpayer subsidized stadiums anywhere. It’s a scandal that a multi-Billion dollar business with 32 multimillion dollar branch units who pay it’s top employees several million dollars a year have to shake down the taxpayers for places to play. But I guess when you turn on the socialist tap it’s going to keep running until the “water” runs out, which at this pace should be sometime in 2012. Fitting since the owners and players are going to call it quits for a year trying to figure how to split their subsidy-enhanced pie.

    Oh, the game will be
    Pack 34
    Steelers 20

  32. dad3004560 says: Jan 31, 2011 6:14 PM

    All the chatter is here is ridiculous. This worse than watching the game with my wife and kids. Only this year I have an ace up my sleeve. I am going to download super bowl commercial bingo on all there phones and watch the game in peace. They’re entertained and so am I. Besides we all know the Pack is going to win anyway; more salt in Favre’s wounds. It’s to perfect.

  33. newreality1 says: Feb 1, 2011 3:20 PM

    Two work,in town mentalities and smaller city venues in the BIG GAME. Thats why I love football,because no matter how much money you have, you cant buy a championship. I thank jerry jones for building a nice stadium for us to play in. Im sure the cheese heads and stealer nation will enjoy the amenities. We dont even have cheerleaders to send to the game. Hot damn , those sure are some fancy seats in that godarn stadium. I hope they got plenty of beer because this aint the sushie crowd comin. Bring the cheese hats and yellow towels and lets GET IT ON!

  34. thereisnoiinteam says: Feb 3, 2011 12:16 AM

    jrmbadger says:
    Jan 31, 2011 2:15 PM
    “spyboots says:
    Jan 31, 2011 1:18 PM
    The IR number above is misleading, though. Of those 15 IR’d for GB, it appears there are only 3 starters. The Steelers have more than 3 starters injured.”

    Umm…. no (just off the top of my head):

    Jermichael Finley (starter)
    Morgan Burnett (starter)
    Nick Barnett (starter)
    Ryan Grant (starter)
    Mark Tauscher (starter)
    Brad Jones (starter)

    _________________________
    180 games missed by all players not including Al Harris (CB) & Johnny Jolly (DT) who did not count in the IR numbers. Their replacement starters also got hurt and missed games like

    Atari Bigby missed much of the season.
    Aaron Rodgers missed 1.5 games.
    Cullen Jenkins missed a few games.
    Brandon Chillar (LB) missed much of the season and was a starter.
    Donald Driver missed a couple of games.
    Mike Neal (DE) was to be a significant lineman hardly played.
    Brady Poppinga (LB) was an occasional starter and went on IR early.
    Ryan Pickett (DL) missed several games.
    Frank Zombo became a started and has missed several games.

  35. polishkingski says: Feb 4, 2011 2:51 PM

    every once in a great while i get a feeling come superbowl sunday that you can throw out all the stats, team history, injuries and the other stuff used to compare the two opponents. what matters most come sunday is which team is blasting on all cylinders. the past few weeks it looks like GB is a machine grinding up teams into pulp. i gotta feeling their gonna be unstoppable on offence and will have more than enough defence to not allow the steelers to keep pace. i hope not coz i`d rather have a good game and enjoy keeping an eye on my 15 SB squares (for recreational purposes only). final score? GB31 PITTS9.

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