FMIA: Deconstructing Super Bowl LV And The 5 Bucs Plays That Shaped It

Where to begin? Let’s do the state of football, in a boldface way:

Two great ones lost: Terez Paylor (journalism) and Marty Schottenheimer (coaching). I am heartbroken for the future of our business; Paylor, 37, was going to be a giant, and for a long time.

Tom Brady, talking to the Bucs in the locker room before the Super Bowl: “SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY! We win today and we’re champs for life!”

J.J. Watt, free man. (And spare me the angst over the Texans getting nothing in return for him.) Russell Wilson, unhappy man. Trevor Lawrence, should-be-fine-for-camp man. Urban Meyer, justifiably chagrined man. Cal McNair, line-in-the-sand man . . . for now. Patrick Mahomes, rehabbing man. Mike Pouncey and Maurkice Pouncey, leisure men.

Superb job, Jason Licht. Now you’re the GM on the spot. (Was that the Bud Light talking, by the way?) There’s a reason you should know new Bucs’ assistant receivers coach, Thaddeus Lewis. I agree with Devin White, who thinks he’s pretty great. Nice horse, too. Mike Evans, grateful. Byron Leftwich wishes the season lasted till March. Antonio Brown wants a second Buc season. I explain my Super Bowl MVP pick, and why it changed quite a bit in the second half.

Eagles want more for Carson Wentz than a mid-first-round pick, and that’s creating a stall. Marcus Mariota, Patriot or Colt or Bear? Oh my. Once, Chris Hogan was a vital part of the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever. Now he’s switching sports.

Remember Otto Graham, please. He won a Brady-like seven titles too.

I keep hearing the new NFL TV Deals are very close. ESPN, rejoice. Maybe you too, Amazon.

The Kansas City football team might not be all we thought it was.

All coming in due time. First: Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the perfect champions for this very odd time we’re living in.

The Lead: Tampa Story

The story of the Super Bowl champion this season is a story about America in COVID times.

In the past year, success in all walks of life has depended on reinventing oneself to do life differently. Those who can learn by Zoom keep up in school. Those who can somehow scotch-tape businesses together survive. Some things, of course, are borderline impossible wins—restaurants closing and opening at 25 percent and closing again, at the whim of percentage of positive tests. In the NFL, it wasn’t survival of a business or finding a family’s next meal, of course. It was just very different.

In the last 11 months, since the coronavirus began to ravage America, the Bucs did virtually everything right, and they learned not to complain about the crap. In brief:

March 20: Tom Brady, after a 90-minute phone call with coach Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht and no face time with them, signed a two-year deal.

April 21: Spurred by a desire to play with Brady in the warmth of Florida, Rob Gronkowski, one of the NFL’s top 100 players of all time, came out of retirement, and Licht worked a trade for him with the Patriots.

April 23: The NFL dictated general managers had to make draft choices from home. Licht, working from his kids’ playroom, moved up one spot in the first round to pick Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs and then chose safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in round two. Wirfs and Winfield were two of the top 10 rookies in football this season. “People wonder about the life of an NFL GM this year,” Licht told me recently. “Well, I signed Tom Brady, traded for Rob Gronkowski, moved up in the draft to take Tristan Wirfs . . . and so what did I do [late on one of the draft nights]? I come out into the kitchen and noticed the dog had an accident. Clean that up. Then I loaded the dishwasher. That’s the life of a GM now.”

NFL: FEB 07 Super Bowl LV - Chiefs v Buccaneers
Bucs general manager Jason Licht. (Getty Images)

Aug. 14: Because COVID protocols wrecked offseason programs league-wide, this scalding hot Friday, exactly 30 days before Tampa Bay opens its season at New Orleans, was the first day Brady stepped into a huddle with his offense. That is not a misprint. “Today was OTA 1, what should have been the May 15 practice,” backup QB Blaine Gabbert said. Uh oh. Brady hates on-the-fly stuff. It would mostly be that till December.

Sept. 1: Roster construction continued this week, with kicker Ryan Succop and running back Leonard Fournette signing.

Oct. 27: With a beat-up receiving corps and Brady’s pleas in their ears, Arians and Licht signed NFL problem child Antonio Brown. “Tom had a perfect vision of every player in our offense, and he knew what a perfect fit Antonio would be,” said QB coach Clyde Christensen. “Tom picked him up at the airport. Antonio lived at Tom’s house for a week, week-and-a-half, showed he cares.”

Nov. 29: Three playoff teams traveled to Tampa in November—Saints, Rams, Chiefs—and the Bucs went 0-3. After a soul-crushing 38-3 loss to New Orleans, offensive players expected a good chewing out. But that didn’t come from Arians, or Leftwich; Brady, in conversations with offensive players, was the same. “We’ve had a lot of blowout losses since I’ve been here,” said tight end Cameron Brate, a six-year vet, “but this year the difference was pretty amazing. Tom was never down. He had pretty good foresight. Even after these bad losses, he’d be encouraging us, like we weren’t that far away.” Said Christensen: “Tom would not allow that desperado attitude in the building.”

Feb. 6: Some 26 hours before Super Bowl LV, in a big banquet room at the Tampa Grand Hyatt Hotel, chairs set up socially distanced, Brady in front of the room, all Bucs running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the room, eyes on Brady. For the 20th time this season—16 regular-season games, three playoff games and now here, hours before Super Bowl LV, Brady gathered his guys for a final run-through of the game plan. No coaches. Just something Brady arranged to do the afternoon before every game. Christensen wasn’t in the room, but he knew the drill from it. “It’s the 21st week of the season and Tom’s in his 21st year,” the QB coach said. “The adjustment period was natural for a new quarterback with the offseason we had, but now he’s comfortable enough with everyone to go over everything they’re going to see in the game.”

What was different late in the season, on a year-ending eight-game winning streak, from the shaky start? “Nothing that big,” said Leftwich. “Just time. We needed time. When two people meet each other, the first thing they say is, ‘Trust me.’ You gotta build trust. I understood that. We had to be around each other even though we liked each other, the friendship, it clicked off in the beginning, but we still had to build trust in each other. I had to trust how he was gonna see certain things, what he was gonna do on certain concepts. And he had to trust that I’ll constantly keep putting him in position to have success. From day one, he’s been, ‘I’m executing whatever you say. Whatever you wanna do.’ Obviously we game-plan together throughout the week. But on game days, he’s like, ‘You call it, I’m hitting everything.’ “

On Super Sunday, Brady talked to his team in the locker room for the first time all season. “Seize the opportunity!” he said. “We win today and we’re champs for life!”

Now, in the Super Bowl, five plays showed how all the work paid off:

Brady to Brown, stop route, KC up 3-0, 3:14 left, first quarter. Classic Brady favorite. He torched the Atlanta secondary four years ago in the comeback Super Bowl win with stop routes. Receiver runs what looks like a go route, puts his foot in the ground, turns back and catches the ball two or three yards shy of where he stopped. Brown sprinted 19 yard down the ride sideline, Charvarius Ward in tight coverage, Brown stopped, ball already in the air . . . Brown caught it 16 yards past the line of scrimmage. Looked so easy. And it is—if you’ve practiced it a hundred times. Which very likely they had done.

Super Bowl LV
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Brady to Gronkowski, flat-screen route, KC up 3-0, 0:41 left, first quarter. “Byron couldn’t wait to call this play,” Christensen said. “We were so sure it’d work.” This is something I’d never seen—Gronk the tight end in fast motion, right to left, in front of the quarterback, in motion as a receiver and not as a seal-blocker cutting off the edge-rush. You can see on replay defensive end Frank Clark anticipating Gronkowski cutting off his motion just after the snap to seal him off from rushing Brady; Clark girds for contact from Gronkowski, and the contact never comes. Gronkowski, swift from a soft practice year coming out of retirement, turns to Brady for the soft toss, and he turns upfield for the easy 8-yard touchdown. How many touchdowns in his tremendous career has Gronk done this—sprint motion, catch in the flat, score, without being touched? Well, never. When Gronkowski got to the bench after the play, he was excited, like a kid. “That’s so cool!” he said. “I always wanted to run that route! No one’s ever called that play for me before!”

Brady to Gronkowski, improvised route, Tampa up 7-3, 6:11 left, second quarter. At the KC 17-yard line, Gronkowski was supposed to run a corner route—to the back right corner of the end zone. But he was closely guarded by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who had outside leverage. (Meaning it’d be fruitless to run to the right corner, because Sneed would be all over Gronkowski.) “Now it’s just playing ball,” Christensen said. “Tom and Gronk have had to do this a lot in their career. The defense had the perfect design. They get paid too.” Gronkowski knew to turn left, across the back of the end zone, and Brady knew that’s what Gronkowski would do. As soon as Gronk began trolling the back of the end zone, Brady released a line-drive spiral exactly 32 yards in the air. It was on Gronk before KC could help Sneed. Touchdown.

Brady to Brown, improvised route, Tampa up 14-3, 0:10 left, second quarter. The idea was for Brady, under center at the 1-yard line, to play-action to Fournette, and turn around and fire to Brown, single-covered by Tyrann Mathieu, alone two-yards deep in the end zone. Brown was supposed to run a different route to get to the spot, but you can see on replay why he did what he did. Mathieu had no help behind him and Brown figured with a hard jab step to the right coming off the line, Mathieu would have to respect an outside throw. For a split-second, Mathieu jabbed with Brown—just long enough for Brown to be able to box out Mathieu. Brady fired it low, and Mathieu didn’t have time to deflect it away. “There’s something to getting an A in recess,” Christensen said. “Tom and Antonio are on the playground there, and the play doesn’t happen the way you’ve designed it. But they’ll figure it out, because they’re parks-and-rec players.”

Fournette run, Tampa up 21-9, 7:45 left, third quarter. When I asked Leftwich for his favorite play of the game, he picked this one. “That Leonard Fournette run in the third quarter was something that was really set up throughout the game,” he told me. “What they were doing defensively . . . the great thing for us, we had a lot of things that we talked about throughout the week that showed up in the game. It was just amazing, all the conversations we had for two weeks, and how the game turned out on Sunday evening.” Leftwich wouldn’t say what exactly he saw, but it’s likely that on Fournette runs to the right of center earlier in the game against certain Kansas City defensive looks, the Bucs would have a totally open second level. So if they blocked it right and opened a gap, Fournette would have an open field ahead. That’s exactly what happened, and that was the game.

I would not call these five plays the most important of the game. The defensive vise-grip on Patrick Mahomes was gigantic; holding KC to three field goals is a career achievement for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his troops. But for a new quarterback to learn a new team after 20 years in one place, and for four brand-new players to score every point in a Super Bowl upset when nothing was normal . . . that, to me, is truly extraordinary about the 2020 season and the Bucs winning Super Bowl LV. In a rout.

The defense was picture perfect all day too. Devin White said after the game he felt he was the best linebacker in football, and who’s disagreeing with him now? After missing the wild-card game in Washington, White led the Tampa defense in tackles against the Saints, Packers and Chiefs and had a ridiculous three-game stat line: 38 tackles, 3 for losses, two interceptions, two passes defensed, two fumbles recovered. At 22, the second-year player from LSU is turning out to be one of the great defensive players in football. Altogether, the Bucs’ youth all over the field will make them big factors so long as they have a quarterback to keep the offense humming. After seeing Brady in this Super Bowl, you’ve got to figure he’s got two years left in Tampa. Maybe more.

And finally . . .

Feb. 7: Bucs 31, KC 9. Brady, Gronkowski, Succop, Fournette and Antonio Brown have been imported—respectively—from New England, retirement, six months of unemployment, Jacksonville, and a turbulent 22 months mostly out of football. These five men, all added in the previous 11 months, combined to score every point for the Bucs in Super Bowl LV.

I told the story last week in this column of Bruce Arians telling me post-game that this has been such a crazy season that his wife had yet to meet Brady, nearly 11 months after he signed to quarterback her husband’s team. On Sunday, I reached out to Bruce and Christine Arians to find out what she said to Brady on the podium after this crazy COVID season.

“I finally get to meet you!” Christine Arians said to Brady.

“It’s so crazy—crazy year,” Brady said. “I’m happy for you, and I’m happy for your hubby.”

Updates On 11


1. J.J. WATT. Watt asked Houston ownership for his release, and received it. I doubt it was that simple, honestly. New GM Nick Caserio, who has no relationship to speak of with Watt, very likely wanted to put him on the market to see if he could get a third, fourth or fifth-round pick for him. In the Belichick world, emotion doesn’t win football games, but a mid-round draft pick might. Anyway, the Texans, even if it took some coaxing from Watt (who didn’t sound very lovey-dovey toward the franchise in his goodbye video on Twitter), did the right thing on Friday, letting him go five weeks before free-agency begins, so Watt can choose his next team.

Watt is the most celebrated player in the history of the franchise, with three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and he also spearheaded the raising of $41.6 million in 2017 and ’18 to help Houston-area causes after Hurricane Harvey. That money helped rebuild 1,183 homes in the Houston area, funded 971 after-school programs, distributed 240 million meals to the needy, provided mental health care for 8,900 locals, and procured 337,000 prescriptions for low-income patients. This is not the guy you dangle for the 133rd pick in the draft. This is the guy you stick out your right hand, shake his hand, and say, “Thank you, J.J., for everything. This franchise and this city can never repay you for the player and humanitarian you’ve been.”

2. WHY IS Deshaun Watson DIFFERENT? The Texans absolutely should not treat the franchise quarterback this way, granting him his wish to be traded. (Houston may eventually do that, but it should not now; no way you’d get equal value for a 25-year-old franchise quarterback.) Watt will play this season at 32; his best years, after missing 32 games due to injury over the last five seasons, are behind him. Watson is 3.5 years into what should be a 15-year run (at least) of greatness, very likely. Just as the franchise would have told Watt there’s no way they’d trade or cut him at age 25, they won’t do that with Watson. Owner Cal McNair told me Friday that Watson is a Texan and he fully intends to keep him in Houston. Which is exactly what he should say, because I wouldn’t think of trading Watson until I got a very good to great quarterback plus either three high first-round picks or a Sam Darnold-type plus four ones in return. To be clear, I would play very hard ball with Watson till September, then see where the situations stands.

3. THE WATT MARKET. I asked eight people, off the record, in NFL front offices what Watt would be worth, if the Texans had tried to trade him. I started the foraging mission thinking Watt would fetch a third-rounder in return, because of his age, his 2021 salary ($17.5 million), and his injury history. Turns out my thought was too rich. The salary is a factor, in these cap-strapped times, though most people think the signing would come with a contract extension lowering the 2021 cap number to a pittance. But no one’s sure how much they’ll get in a football sense from a player who, since turning 30, has missed eight games in two years and has nine sacks in the other 24 games. The best intel I can project, now that a signing team would have to give no draft-choice compensation: Watt’s likely to try to sign with a strong contender that could pay him his going rate over, say, the next two years. But that could change if a team he really likes needs to be financially flexible. Watch this video from my chat with him in Green Bay 18 months ago, and tell me he wouldn’t want to play for the Packers.

If I had to guess the teams that would be most interested, I’d say Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, Tennessee, Indianapolis and Green Bay. This move would not really be in Packer tradition, though they did sign Charles Woodson at 30 and he had seven good years there. We’ll see.

4. URBAN MEYER. Credit to Meyer for recognizing that the hiring of disgraced Iowa assistant Chris Doyle was a mistake, and “accepting his resignation” two days later. I put that in quotes because I’m not sure I trust it. Meyer was fricasseed from the moment last week he announced the hiring of his staff, which included Doyle, who was accused of harassing players and using words tinged with racism with the players at Iowa.

From the moment I heard about the Doyle hire, I thought two things: Meyer doesn’t have anyone on his staff or currently employed by the Jaguars who feels free to say to him, Are you nuts? This hire is insane. How can you convince NFL players to come play for you when the controlling world of college football expelled this guy? And this is not college football. Imagine thinking you can hire Chris Doyle in the NFL when he couldn’t even work in Iowa City. As much as money rules decisions in the NFL, it’s not a cool thing when 27-year-old men talk to each other and ask what it’s like to play in Jacksonville. It’s crazy to think Meyer didn’t think something like this would be a factor when free agents are picking future employment. Meyer needs someone to be his conscience. It’s clear he doesn’t have one on the staff now.

5. ROD GRAVES. The head of the equality-seeking Fritz Pollard Alliance blasted Jacksonville’s hiring of tarnished Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle, and believe me, his voice was heard inside the Jaguars building after Graves’ statement Friday. Doyle was gone by that night. Graves: “Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years’ reflects the good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches.” It needed to be said, and Graves impacted a bad decision with his words.

6. SUPER BOWL MVP. So I voted for Tom Brady for Super Bowl MVP, and on Twitter and in emails, I got the general reaction of: The defense won the game. Why Brady? A valid point, and if someone picked Devin White or Shaq Barrett or one of the other defensive linemen, I wouldn’t have thought it was a bad pick. A minute into the fourth quarter, I thought I’d vote for Barrett, who by that time had a sack and four knockdowns/pressures—and two of those would have been sacks if not for Patrick Mahomes’ acrobatics. I could have split my vote among two defenders, and I thought of a White/Barrett vote. With Leonard Fournette having a 135-yard game and the insurance TD, I considered him; but it was 21-6 at halftime, and Fournette hadn’t been a huge factor.

I thought Brady was efficient, put his throws exactly where he wanted, completed 72 percent with no turnovers and three TDs. Then I looked at trusty Pro Football Reference at Brady’s Super Bowl game-by-game passer ratings: 86.2, 100.5, 110.2, 82.5, 91.1, 101.1, 115.4, 95.2, 71.4. Late in the fourth quarter, when I had to submit my ballot, I saw that Brady was going to win his seventh Super Bowl at age 43, with the highest passer-rating (125.8) of his 10-Super Bowl career. I texted “Tom Brady” as my vote.

7. THE NEW NFL TV DEALS. You may have noticed that the glam Super Bowl matchup of Brady vs. Mahomes didn’t deliver the TV rating the NFL would have liked. The ratings were down 9 percent from last year. That may be because ratings are the average number of people watching throughout the game, and surely people switched off the 31-9 contest when it was a snoozer midway through the second half. But the NFL isn’t too concerned. Ratings for the NBA Finals were down more than 50 percent in 2020 from 2019, even with LeBron James playing; prime-time programming across all networks is down more than 18 percent from last season. And the NFL’s streaming numbers—5.7 million Americans streamed the game eight days ago—were up more than 60 percent from last year.

Why am I telling you all this? Because the NFL is close—“within a month,” one source told me at the Super Bowl—to inking new 10-year contracts with its network partners that could result in an aggregate increase of 70 to 100 percent in rights fees from the last contract. The new contract may not be a revolution; I’m hearing most major packages will likely remain with their current broadcast partners, with the exception of a possible streaming package on Thursday nights. Amazon is the favorite there. Whether the Thursday night package, if streamed, would include a cable element like NFL Network, or simply be telecast on local channels of the two participating teams, is something I don’t know.

I’m also hearing ESPN could be an ESPN/ABC simulcast, and also could be the beneficiary of additional flexing for part of the Monday night package, if ESPN indeed wins Mondays. It’s no secret in the TV business that ESPN, which pays more for the games and for significant other highlights and programming elements than the other networks, wants a stronger Monday night schedule. That could be controlled if, say, the final few weeks of the season could allow flexing from a weak Monday matchup scheduled in May to a better matchup moved from Sunday a week or so prior to the game.

The ESPN package expires after the 2021 season, while the other deals are done after the 2022 season. Getting the deals done now could provide the league with the influx of cash it needs to not have the salary cap crush teams in March.

8. RUSSELL WILSON. Seems to me that in going on “The Dan Patrick Show” and noting he’d been sacked 400 times in his nine Seattle seasons, and noting that he doesn’t have any real say in any franchise-affecting decisions—and in looking absolutely miserable in Tampa at the Super Bowl—Wilson was saying three things:

a. He’s probably not happy with coach Pete Carroll, who has ultimate authority with the franchise’s football decisions, or with GM John Schneider, both for not building a better offensive line and not listening more to him about the direction of the franchise. (Now thinking the GM will bring Wilson into his personnel world is unlikely, considering Schneider overall has done an excellent job building the team, including picking a smallish quarterback named Russell Wilson with the 75th pick of the 2012 draft, and considering Schneider grew up in the business under Ron Wolf, who took care of personnel and handed the player to the coach, and Brett Favre wasn’t sitting in Wolf’s office advising him who to pick in free agency.)

b. Wilson is probably not happy with distant owner Jodi Allen either. Shouldn’t owners with unhappy superstars convene either virtual or in-person peace talks?

c. If you get a good offer for me, take it. Which I do not think will happen.

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. (Getty Images)

That’s all best-guessing by me. But I know Russell Wilson, who normally wouldn’t say crap if he had a mouthful, and to hear these sideways jabs at how the team is run means to me he’s unhappy. And why was he so unhappy at the Super Bowl? Again, just a guess. But he had to look out on the field and see Tom Brady playing. Brady, in the Super Bowl every other year, called his shot and landed with Tampa Bay, with all that weaponry and the solid offensive line, and darn it, Tom Brady is winning again and I can’t get a sniff of this game! That’s what I think anyway.

9. ANTONIO BROWN. Brown wants to return to Tampa Bay. Tom Brady wants Brown to return to Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians wants Brown to return to Tampa Bay, and he did something last week to help move that along. In 2020, a coaching staff assistant, Thaddeus Lewis, impressed the Bucs so much that when the Lions hired Antwaan Randle-El from the Bucs as receivers coach, Arians told Greg Auman of The Athletic that Lewis would take Randel-El’s spot as assistant receivers coach. There’s a hidden benefit to that: Lewis was a childhood friend of Brown’s in Miami. So to have Lewis be one of his coaches in Tampa can’t hurt the Bucs’ cause to bring back Brown at the right price—assuming Brown doesn’t have legal entanglements from his past assault-charge behavior.

10. MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER. One of the top coaches of the last 40 years died of Alzheimer’s Disease last week. In 21 years, Schottenheimer won 200 games. He’s nestled between Paul Brown (213 regular-season wins) and Chuck Noll (193) in eighth place all-time. And if he hadn’t been so damn unfortunate in the playoffs, losing virtually every odd way possible, Schottenheimer could well have a bust in Canton right now. I asked Rich Gannon, who played for Schottenheimer for four seasons in Kansas City before ending his career with MVP and Super Bowl seasons as a Raider, what it was like to play for Schottenheimer.

Gannon: “I loved playing for him. He could coach every position. He could tell the left tackle about hand placement in pass-pro, and he could tell the corners about their footwork and technique. He wanted every player to know the entire game plan. Like, he would ask me at a meeting, ‘Rich Gannon! What are the three most important keys for our defense to beat Elway on Sunday?’ He just thought we should know all aspects of the game. He was really a stickler about the clock. If a meeting started at 8 a.m., you better be in your seats at 7:56. I remember once, we had a quarterback meeting Wednesday morning starting at 7, and the team meeting was at 8. Mike McCarthy was our quarterback coach, and we got involved in the meeting and we look up and it’s 7:58, and we all jump up and head to the meeting. Mike opens the door and Marty says, ‘Get outta my meeting! Never come to my meeting late!’

“He despised turnovers. I remember once, in a minicamp practice, I completed seven of eight passes in a drill. The eighth pass was just slightly behind the guy, and it went off his pads or hands into the air and it was intercepted. I thought I had a really good period, accurate and putting it right on guys. He comes up to me and says, ‘Let me tell you something. If you turn the ball over, you will not play here.’ Whoa! Nobody ever talked to me like that.

“But the worst thing was lying. You did not lie to Marty. Once, we played Pittsburgh on a Monday night at Arrowhead [in 1998], and we had a punt blocked for a touchdown. Huge play in the game. The guy who was blocking the A gap for us, I forget who it was, let a guy on Pittsburgh through and the punt got blocked. So the guy comes to the sidelines and Marty says, ‘Did you step down?’ [That’s a technique where the guard blocks down toward the center, sealing that hole.] The guy says, yeah, I stepped down. Well, Marty goes back and watches the film, and he sees the guy didn’t step down—he stepped out, allowing the Pittsburgh guy to run through the A gap. Next day, we go in, and our guy’s not there. Every day, Marty would tell us at the start of the meeting the roster moves, who’s coming, who’s going. He says, I cut so-and-so. We got a punt blocked, and I asked him about it, and he lied to me about it. Men, don’t EVER lie to me.

Maybe that’s why Schottenheimer, in 21 years, won 10 or more games 11 times.

11. JACK BRENNAN. Kudos to the man I shared the Bengals beat with in 1984, and later who was the media relations director for the Bengals, for sharing his personal truth with Joe Posnanski of The Athletic. Brennan came out in the story as a cross-dresser, or as Brennan writes in a book he’s working on: “a guy with a visceral and sexual urge to wear skirts and high heels and play-act as a woman.”

Brennan told Posnanski that the way of the NFL is to never admit you’re anything but straight. “All through my years of being in the league—and this goes for the NFL sportswriting community, too—it’s almost like it was magically, wordlessly scrubbed free of the idea that anybody is anything but textbook straight,” Brennan told Posnanski. “You just never hear a word of anybody being otherwise. It’s assumed, it’s in football’s DNA, that nobody is queer—it’s just anathema to the goals of toughness and winning. And this goes beyond the locker room, it’s there even in marketing, ticketing, the equipment room, the training room. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s just silently and unmovably there: Nobody could possibly be anything but straight.”

Which we know is nonsense. Good for Brennan, standing up and saying, “I’m different.” Retired from the Bengals now, Brennan was, by the way, great at his job.

RIP Terez Paylor

I texted Terez Paylor the Monday before the Super Bowl to ask him if he was going to the Super Bowl. “No sir,” he texted back. “Doing things virtually out of an abundance of caution.” Bummer, I said; wanted you to join a few of us for a small dinner Friday night in Tampa.

“Aw man, that would have been great!” he texted back. “Hope you guys enjoy. Next time count me in for sure.”

Next time. Of the many things I’ll miss about Terez, next time is a very big one. There will be no next time. Terez Paylor, pro football writer and podcaster for Yahoo Sports, died suddenly last Tuesday morning in his adopted hometown of Kansas City, which he loved. I can tell you what dinner that night at the Super Bowl would have been like, based on past experiences: 20 questions from Terez, on everything—the craft, the game, past Super Bowl stories, Tom Brady, sources, getting better. Because he loved football, he loved talking about football, he loved talking about journalism. He was so serious about it all, so passionate about it all. Our corner of the world is going to miss him terribly, as much for what was to come as for what is.

I really didn’t know Terez well. We’d had a couple of meals, prompted by my admiration for his work in the Kansas City Star covering the Chiefs, and then as a voter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame room. I called him to ask him to join a few of us the night before the AFC title game last year for pizza in Kansas City. A great night. His earnestness shone through. Then we had a couple of beers in a crowd after the Hall vote last February. I liked his writing and podcasting, and I admired his unvarnished, totally honest opinions on everything. When the Terrell Owens Hall candidacy hung in the balance, Terez spoke as a Black man from Detroit, and what an incredible player and beacon Owens had been for young Black men. On the virtual Hall vote this year, we texted back and forth about the candidacy of Clay Matthews, and how we’d both been swayed by the Matthews case. He and I didn’t expect going into the vote to have Matthews in our top five of 15 modern-era finalists, but we both did at the end. His open-mindedness was admirable.

Terez Paylor. (Yahoo Sports)

The saddest thing about Terez’s death is the work over the next 25 or 30 years we won’t get to see, the young journalists who won’t get to be influenced by him, the knowledge we won’t glean because his voice won’t be there. The loss is magnified because we need Black voices in our white-dominated football world, and I know for sure he would have been one for the ages. Regardless of color, Terez Paylor was on his way to greatness, period. Actually, his talent has been evident for a while, as in this 2011 story about a young high school football coach in Kansas dealing with the death of his young wife:

What’s going on inside the house on Vandiver Road? There’s a man here, mourning and playing a black guitar with equal parts regret and sorrow. There’s a fridge stocked full of beer, and, toward the back, a small room with a burned-out light and more than a dozen unused wedding presents.

What’s going on inside the house on Vandiver Road? An assistant coach at Richmond High School lives here. He is 28 years old, with a four-inch scar on his forehead and a gimpy leg he tries hard to disguise. Despite these physical imperfections, he has a reputation as a free-spirited, happy-go-lucky guy.

Only, Reis Wright isn’t very happy these days.

That’s from 10 years ago, when Terez was a pup. The talent, even then, undeniable.

The social consciousness, too, flowed from him. After the death of George Floyd last year, the native of Detroit said on his podcast: “Thank God for cameraphones, because now we’re starting to see the visual proof of things that we’ve been talking about internally, amongst ourselves, for decades. So this is the mentality, which it is, within in an entire community. [If] you’re tired of hearing about this, I urge you to consider how tired the black players you watch are of complaining about it. That’s why they kneel. That’s been the only reason they kneel. And that’s why Colin Kaepernick’s message continues to resonate among black players.”

There’s more to life, of course. Terez was engaged to Ebony Reed, and 13 months ago they bought a home outside Kansas City. It was 4,200 square feet of joy. Sometimes, on a Sunday morning, Terez would call out, “Ebony, come here! Out to the foyer!” She would walk over to him, and invariably, he would say something like this: “We are so blessed! Do you realize how blessed we are? We are the descendants of slaves, and this is our HOME!”

Terez and Ebony spread that good fortune. When the pandemic hit, Terez told Ebony to put her grandmother’s Instacart grocery deliveries in their family budget, to be helpful. Recently, he paid for 1,500 meals for a food bank in Kansas City. His pals at Yahoo talked regularly of his kindnesses, when nothing was expected in return.

I wish Terez Paylor had 37 more years to influence our world. But it can’t be. So let his beacon shine for what he’s done. It’s so much already.

Quotes of the Week



“People have been laughing at the avocado ice cream for 10 years. They want to mock him that all this stuff is nonsense. OK, well, they can laugh all they want, and he’s laughing his way all through Super Bowls.”

—Tom Brady Sr., to Ben Volin in the Boston Globe, in Volin’s informative piece about the present and future of Tom Brady.


“When you look at the players, I think Dan said it, that the players looked confused, I think with no confidence. What we have to do is change that narrative of their thinking so they can go out and play with confidence and play fast. What we’re going to do as a staff, that’s our No. 1 job, get the players playing fast.”

—New Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, shade-throwing at the departed Matt Patricia.


“Hot diggety dog!”

—Patrick Mahomes, all hyped up, after the pre-game flyover at Super Bowl LV, as captured by NFL Films.


“I’ve been traded, I’ve been cut, I’ve been benched, I’ve been booed, I’ve been told, ‘You’re just not what we want,’ I’ve been kicked to the curb. I’ve gone through just about anything an NFL quarterback can go through. So sure, I can identify with Jared Goff, or whoever is our starter, but I can also identify with the kid who’s just new to the building, who’s young and nobody really expects to even make a team. I’ve been that guy, too.”

—New Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell, accepting his first job in NFL coach, on the value he can provide young players, to Tim Twentyman of the Lions web site.

It’s not just because of this quote, which is terrific. I know Brunell, and that was a great hire by Dan Campbell.

Numbers Game

So, I mentioned in the column last week that two quarterbacks in pro football history stand alone at the top of the championship heap: Tom Brady and Otto Graham (Cleveland, 1946-55) have won seven championships, while Bart Starr (Green Bay, 1956-71) is next with five. There are asterisks, though, most notably that Graham’s first four titles came in the All-America Football Conference, a second pro football league founded in 1946 and in existence for four years. The AAFC was the American Football League a decade before the birth of the AFL.

Brady won his seven titles, obviously, in the Super Bowl era. Starr’s Packers won three before the Super Bowl era, and then they won SB I and II. Graham won four AAFC and three NFL titles in his 10-year career.

I have felt for years that Graham has been terribly underrated in football history. If you’re discussing the best quarterbacks of all time, he has to be in the discussion. What you need to know about the man Brady tied last week:

• Graham led his team to seven championships and in the other three years, lost NFL title games by 1, 7 and 10 points.

• Graham said he was retiring after his ninth pro season, after the Browns beat Detroit 56-10 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game. Coach Paul Brown persuaded him to play one more season. Graham led the Browns to that title, winning the championship game 38-14 over the Rams.

Otto Graham. (USA Today Sports Images)

• He led his league in passer rating five times (retroactively computed), in passing yards five times, in accuracy four times, in TD passes three times, in yards-per-attempt four times.

• His 9.0 career yards-per-attempt remains an NFL record. No passer in history is within half-a-yard.

• The yards-per-attempt career averages of Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Dan Fouts, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Johnny Unitas are all at least 1.2 yards per attempt less than Graham’s.

• Some people think Graham’s AAFC years significant devalue his career, and he built up big numbers in the lesser league. I’ve always felt this is like discounting AFL stats for American Football League stars entering the NFL in 1970. In the Browns’ first game as an NFL team, in September 1950, the NFL sent the Browns to defending champ Philadelphia to get their comeuppance against the best the NFL had to offer. The game was played on a Saturday night in Philadelphia before 71,000 fans. Graham threw for TDs in the first, second and third quarters, and ran for one in the fourth, and Cleveland routed the Eagles 35-10. Overall, Graham was great in both leagues—a .559 passer in the AAFC, and .557 in the NFL.

• He wore number 60.

• Graham, from Northwestern, was Brown’s first signee for the new pro football franchise in Cleveland after World War II. He was a well-rounded young man. He thought he was a better basketball player than football, and he played the violin and French horn. But probably not as well as he played quarterback.




Joe Montana won all four Super Bowls by age 33. Terry Bradshaw won his four Super Bowls by age 31.

Tom Brady has won four Super Bowls since his 37th birthday.


In the impeachment trial Friday, a lawyer for former President Trump said either “Georgia Secretary of State Ben Roethlisberger” or “Georgia Secretary of State Ben Robbinsberger.” I think it was the latter, but it was a little jumbled. Somewhere, Brad Raffensperger was saying, Hey, what about me?

Tweets of the Week


Tom Harrington of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a very big NFL fan.


Sam Farmer is a football (and golf) writer for the Los Angeles Times.


Ian Rapoport, who covers the league for NFL Media, with some interesting news on a team that might be in the J.J. Watt market.


Ian Hartitz works for Pro Football Focus.



Send me your thoughts via email at, or on Twitter.

Disgraceful I didn’t write about Britt Reid. From Terry, in Detroit: “In a column of more than 10,000 words, how is it possible that you didn’t write more than a couple of sentences on [Chiefs coach] Britt Reid hitting that little girl with his car and leaving her with life-threatening injuries?”

Good question, and very fair criticism. I take the blame for that. When I was talking to my editor shortly before the column was posted, I said I have to write something about it. But I really didn’t know what to say. Reports were that Reid had been drinking, and drove impaired, and his alleged carelessness resulted in a 5-year-old girl being in a coma. What I probably should have done is at least a paragraph saying that if the story is true, Britt Reid, in part because of his criminal history in Pennsylvania, should be judged harshly. I deserve to be called on it.

Now, with the news that Reid’s contract has expired, it seems likely Andy Reid’s son will be moving away from the team. Britt Reid is likely to face league discipline in the case, if true, and the franchise will have to move forward likely without him—which certainly will be the correct move if Britt Reid is found culpable.

The NFL doesn’t do things like this. From Nick Kohn: “At what point does the NFL step in and take control of what is happening to the Houston Texans? In the fourth-largest media market, the Texans have quickly become the most dysfunctional organization in all of pro sports. Almost every poor decision can be traced to Cal McNair’s ascent to power and bringing in his Rasputin (Jack Easterby).”

Nick, I will answer your question with this question: If the NFL didn’t step in and take control of the football team in Washington—after the owner (or organization) was found to be doing offensive and harassing and soft-pornish things with its cheerleaders, after executives were found to have serially harassed female employees and female media members, after two minority owners were actively engaged in trying to force the majority owner to sell the team and are now in litigation over it, after the owner repeatedly refused to change the racially tinged team name until forced to do so, and after the team was at rock bottom competitively and spurned by so many in one of the most loyal fan bases in the country—what makes you think the NFL would “take control” of a team that has won the AFC South in four of the last six years?

We all see what’s going on there. It’s a mismanaged disaster. But if the NFL had to consider taking over every team that was in the midst of a totally awful year on and off the field, it would have to have a staff in place, like FEMA, to dispatch to any team in a horrible run. Not to mention the fact that the 32 owners in the league are Roger Goodell’s boss, and the owners themselves would have to vote in a three-quarters majority to give Goodell the strongarm power to “take control” of an organization when things were bad.

Preaching to the choir, Nick. From Nick Colletti: “It seems to me that the media has lost all perspective on the history of the NFL. It is as if the media—print, broadcast and digital—all believe that the NFL actually began with the first Super Bowl in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. NEWSFLASH: NFL Championships were won before 1967 by such storied franchises as the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Baltimore Colts. Were these teams just holograms? Did players such as Bobby Layne, Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, Norm Van Brocklin, Don Hutson, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, Jim Brown, Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas. and Lenny Moore matter? I am absolutely sick and tired of all of the graphics that only consider Super Bowl victories as legitimate winners of true NFL Championships.  My take: List every team’s total NFL titles.”

Thanks Nick. That is a great idea. Every time I mention Don Hutson in the same sentence with Jerry Rice, or Otto Graham (above, in Numbers Game) with Tom Brady or Joe Montana, I get the reaction of, Okay Gramps. Time for your nap. But it’s like the first 40 years of the game are prehistoric and don’t count, as you say. Thanks for pointing it out.

Thinks I’m underrating Coughlin. From Michael Green: “I have to take issue with how you tossed Tom Coughlin in with the other two-win NFL championship coaches. I see him as a Hall of Fame coach on the basis of what he did in Jacksonville—five playoff seasons in the Jaguars’ first five years in existence, including playing in the AFC championship in year two, and as coach of the Giants.”

There are four coaches with two NFL championships who are qualified for the Hall but are not yet in, and Mike Holmgren (174 wins, won one Super Bowl, took the Seahawks and Packers to two more) is in their league. Maybe you’d rate Coughlin the best, and he may well be. My point was that five men, based on the Hall votes of the last year, now have excellent shots at the Hall based on new standards for coaches. And make no mistake: The recent votes have opened the door for so many more coaches who may never have gotten in the Hall before the recent voting results.

10 Things I Think I Think

1. I think I’d trade for Marcus Mariota if I were the Patriots.

2. I think I’ve been thinking about the Super Bowl losers quite a bit this week, and this occurred to me: What if the 49ers stopped 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp last year? With 7:13 left in the Super Bowl against San Francisco, KC trailed 20-10 and had third-and-15 at its 35-yard line. This was four-down territory for Kansas City, but just imagine for a minute the Niners actually covering Tyreek Hill on that 44-yard pass play from Patrick Mahomes, and then stopped them on fourth down. I doubt Kansas City’s winning that game. And certainly the mystique of that offense doesn’t carry into this year.

3. I think the numbers are stark: In 16 drives over two Super Bowls—six last year through 51 minutes, 10 this year through 60 minutes—the Chiefs scored one touchdown. Lots of ifs and buts in life and in football, but with some of the trouble KC had scoring down the stretch this year, and with those 111 shaky Super Bowl offensive minutes, I’ll hold off on the Chiefs-as-next-dynasty talk.

4. I think you may remember my stories from four years ago about Tom Brady, on the most important drives of the comeback victory over Atlanta in the Super Bowl four years ago, went to two very unlikely receiving heroes: Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell, neither of whom had much NFL glory after Super Bowl LI. On Saturday, Hogan announced this on Twitter:

Good for him. Great for him. I don’t know Hogan well, but those who do said his heart was always in another game. He’s competed and won on the highest level of football, and now I hope he’ll be able to do the same in lacrosse.

5. I think you want to go to Vegas, and right now, with Jason Licht. He’s been rolling personnel sevens for 11 months. He’s on an amazing run of drafting— his six leading DBs all are 24 or younger, all selected in the last three years, including Antonie Winfield in last year’s second round. The Tampa Bay GM has a smart staff and trusts his scouts and executives implicitly.

6. I think I’ve got a few words about Bucs tackle Tristan Wirfs’ rookie season. Tackles were drafted 4-10-11-13 in the first round last April. Wirfs went 13th, to Tampa Bay, which had him as its top-rated tackle on the board. He was very good from day one. He played 1,347 snaps in regular-season and postseason, more than any offensive lineman in football this year, per PFF. “I was shocked by him,” offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “He’s come and acted like he was 35 years old. He’s played high-level football from day one.” And, per PFF, Wirfs was the league’s fourth-rated tackle among players who played at least 1,000 snaps. With Justin Herbert and Justin Jefferson, Wirfs was a top-three offensive rookie this year in a crop filled with good ones.

7. I think some of my favorite writing every year is local columnists saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame vote is wrong (and it certainly could be), and voters should have elected X. Funny how X is the player from the home market who didn’t make it.

8. I think this is the Football Story of the Week: Tyler Tynes of The Ringer on yet another hiring cycle with minimal progress in  Black head-coach hiring, leaving the NFL with three Black head coaches, the same number from 2003, when the Rooney Rule was founded. Writes Tynes, including the thoughts of executive director Rod Graves of the Fritz Pollard Alliance:

For the past few seasons, I have noticed a growing rumble, a righteous discord among Black coaches and advocates. Almost every coach I speak to, at every level of the game, seethes with similar anger. Yet another season has passed, and the hopelessness they feel in their profession has not subsided. There remains a blatant, collective refusal by the NFL to adequately consider Black folks to run their billion-dollar franchises or be the head coach at the highest level of America’s most sacred sport.

“I think many of us who worked on this issue a while, we were stunned by it, if not downright pissed off,” Rod Graves told me recently, referring to the most recent hiring cycle.

9. I think I have no idea what will work, but I would propose this: The Fritz Pollard Alliance and NFL officials (Troy Vincent most notably) closely involved in the cause need to focus squarely on the ones ultimately doing the hiring—the 32 owners. At this year’s league meetings, either in March or May, either in person or virtually, there needs to be a command performance, all 32 owners in the room or present on Zoom, with Roger Goodell, Vincent and Rod Graves at the head of the room, or the Zoom. Four of the leading Black candidates need to be there. And each owner should speak, either with an idea or a theory why the logjam for Black coaches has become so unwieldy. I asked Roger Goodell about it at the Super Bowl press conference and got, essentially, a we-are-already-doing-things-like-this answer. Fine. Do more.

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Video of the Week: From a court proceeding in west Texas: “Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings.“ Which led to . . .

b. Sentence of the Week: Krista Torralva of the Dallas Morning News with the first sentence of her story about the lawyer-cat: “Lawyer Rod Ponton swore under oath Tuesday that he is not a cat.” Which led to …

c. Newspaper Caption of the Week: From Torralva’s story in the Morning News: “Lawyer Rod Ponton showed up to a Zoom court proceeding in West Texas as a fluffy white cat.”

d. Which led to Mr. Ponton making the news in Australia.

e. “I now know what going viral on the internet means,” Ponton told Australians.

f. Obit of the Week: Clay Risen of the New York Times on the co-founder of Make-a-Wish and the story I never knew of how the movement was founded 41 years ago when Arizona Highway Patrolman Frank Shankwitz befriended a terminally ill boy.

g. Hard to tear up reading an obituary, but you might reading that one. Writes Risen:

Mr. Shankwitz was on patrol in April 1980 when one of his supervisors radioed him to return to headquarters in Phoenix. The department had learned about a boy named Chris Greicius who wanted to be a motorcycle officer when he grew up, just like Ponch and Jon, the main characters on his favorite television show, “CHiPs.” Chris had end-stage leukemia.

The department had decided to make Chris’s wish come true, if just for a few days. A police helicopter ferried him to police headquarters from the hospital where he was being treated. Mr. Shankwitz was to greet him out front, next to his motorcycle.

h. Don’t want to give it all away.

i. Journalism of the Week: Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan of Pro Publica with a haunting play-by-play of what our police officers at the Capitol dealt with on Jan. 6, and why they don’t trust their superiors to keep them safe. Nineteen officers got debriefed by Sapien and Kaplan. From the vivid Pro Publica report:

One officer in the middle of the scrum, a combat veteran, thought the rioters were so vicious, so relentless, that they seemed fueled by methamphetamine. To his left, he watched a chunk of steel strike a fellow officer above the eye, setting off a geyser of blood. A pepper ball tore through the air over his shoulder and exploded against the jaw of a man in front of him. The round, filled with chemical irritant, ripped the rioter’s face open. His teeth were now visible through a hole in his cheek. Blood poured out, puddling on the pavement surrounding the building. But the man kept coming.

The combat veteran was hit with bear spray eight times. His experience overseas “was nothing like this,” he said. “Nothing at all.”

More from later in the standoff:

The officers, drained from their standoff, found a narrow staircase leading to an entrance of the building. But it could fit only one officer at a time. So they took turns climbing it as the crowd closed in, screaming obscenities and threatening murder.

“You f—ing fag–ts!” one shouted. “You’re not even American!”

Waiting to climb the stairs, the combat veteran feared the worst. “This is where they’ll find my body,” he thought.

j. Remembrance of the Week: Charles Robinson, Terez Paylor’s NFL reporting partner at Yahoo Sports, on what it was like to work with such a loyal friend and excellent reporter. Writes Robinson:

He was kind. He was caring. He had a code about what was right and wrong. He could make you belly laugh, and he was actually much more likely to give you a belly laugh, even if what you said wasn’t nearly that funny.

And, yes, his loyalty was unmatched. Once, at an event Terez and I attended, a 350-pound former NFL defensive tackle saw me and declared his intention to kick my ass over a story I’d written.

“I’ve got your back,” Terez said, looking up at me.

I was standing with Terez in a green room, trying to figure out what I was going to do. Suddenly, Terez was stripping off his suit jacket like we were in a scene from “Fight Club.” From that moment, my love and admiration for him was sealed for life. Through peaks or valleys, we would be bonded. And we were.

k. I have been a big booster of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who I believed handled the pandemic in our state very well while being up-front about the challenges and the sacrifices we’d have to make. But this news about how Cuomo and his staff under-counted deaths in state nursing homes is deeply disturbing. If true, and one of his top aides strongly implied it was last week, it’s a disgrace. Nothing good ever comes of hiding the truth. Nothing. And with such a bright light on all things pandemic, it’s crazy to think that under-stating the death toll in nursing homes was going to stay quiet.

l. In a time of intense crisis, elected officials owe us the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So many of us believed Cuomo was giving us that, day after day with public briefings when the outbreak was fierce. But now, if this story is true, and the evidence is significant, how can I trust what he says about COVID, or anything for that matter?

m. Interesting Comparison of the Week (and I say that with a hearty chuckle), by Rob Parker of Deadspin:

Brady is a great player and, arguably, the most accomplished quarterback in the NFL. Most would concede that as fact.

But the greatest? No way, no how.

Some could argue Brady has turned into the NFL’s Robert Horry who won seven rings in his NBA career. And honestly, a case could be made that Horry was more clutch. His nickname was “Big Shot Bob.”

Brady always seems to get all the credit, while others put in the work.

n. “Some could argue.”

o. I mean, name one thinking human being on planet earth who thinks Brady’s career is comparable to Horry’s, except in ring total.

p. Brady gets the credit “while others put in the work.” That statement, if possible, is even more preposterous.

q. Even Robert Horry (7.0 ppg in his career, 7.9 ppg in playoff games) got a good laugh out of that one.

r. Finally, about the sad weekend we have just witnessed in our country: Donald Trump was right. He said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. For months his incendiary and absolutely unfounded words about a stolen election riled up a violent part of his base. Then he called them to Washington and made an incendiary speech directing his followers to the Capitol, and they fought their way into the building, fought with cops and desecrated the Capitol of our country. Eight people died. (One police officer died at the scene, two later killed themselves because of the trauma they experienced and witnessed.) And Trump got away with it.

s. For just 10 seconds, forget your politics. If we don’t hold people responsible for heinous actions, we’re naïve to think those heinous actions won’t happen again. That’s the saddest part of this. Forty-three politicians who voted against impeachment will live with their votes to do nothing about a riot caused by a sitting president. They will blame someone else when it happens again. But we will know the truth. It’s their fault too.

The Adieu Haiku


A longshot, I know.
But one wish for next season:
J.J. Watt. Lambeau.

11 responses to “FMIA: Deconstructing Super Bowl LV And The 5 Bucs Plays That Shaped It

  1. While it’s true that all the points scored by the Bucs in the Super Bowl were by the new guys, that slights the essential contributions in the game and all season long by veterans like Evans, Godwin, Jones, Miller, Brate, JPP, White, Jensen, Suh, Barrett, David, Marpet, Murphy-Bunting, Nunez-Roches and more.

  2. This makes for good writing, but the reality is the plays that shaped the game happened before kickoff. Three starters on the line out, Mahomes on a gimpy ankle, and the distraction of Andy Reid’s son nearly killing a child. Brady ended up being the MVP, but the Bucs could have won with Blaine Gabbert.

  3. Aye, Brady was MVP. Anyone saying “the D” are overlooking you have to pick one guy. Was any one guy on the D more valuable to the win than #12? No. Maybe if the result was 13-9 you can say some big moments by one D guy made all the difference, but not 31-9. But I hate all MVP awards in footy because it’s the ultimate team sport and they’re all critical components.

  4. Bucs D was excellent.
    Aside from bonehead penalties so was KC.
    If not for the gift of two TD’s, one from the penalties, the other from calling time outs for Brady at end of the half, score is 17-9

  5. Awesome write-up on Otto Graham. That’s why Brady, or Graham, should not be called “the Greatest of All Time.” Brady is the greatest of this generation, Graham in his. People like to think Pro Football History didn’t exist earlier than 1970.

  6. Meh, Russ Wilson is going nowhere. I clocked Russ in the playoff game v Rams and he averages OVER 3 seconds from snap to release. He looks slower and clumsier from the bulk he has on compared to early on in his career when he was trim and sleek. Russ gas to take some responsibility for the team’s shortcomings and stop trying to be a media darling all the time.

  7. would have been an absolute travesty to vote for anyone other than brady as mvp just as it was when deone branch and the great julian edelman were voted over brady. outstanding play but would have won without either of them or without any one guy on tampa defense. without brady? no damn way! not just his physical play, but his will, guts and leadership are everything to the team. lose him and they wilt.

  8. Four KC offensive line starters out if you include Tardif who opted out to do his work as a Dr. Chiefs offense will be fine with the necessary draft/free agent additions.

  9. So Brady was the GM, the coach & the winning QB. Not bad for $25 million per year.

    “Feb. 6: Some 26 hours before Super Bowl LV, in a big banquet room at the Tampa Grand Hyatt Hotel, chairs set up socially distanced, Brady in front of the room, all Bucs running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the room, eyes on Brady. For the 20th time this season—16 regular-season games, three playoff games and now here, hours before Super Bowl LV, Brady gathered his guys for a final run-through of the game plan. No coaches. Just something Brady arranged to do the afternoon before every game. Christensen wasn’t in the room, but he knew the drill from it. “It’s the 21st week of the season and Tom’s in his 21st year,” the QB coach said. “The adjustment period was natural for a new quarterback with the offseason we had, but now he’s comfortable enough with everyone to go over everything they’re going to see in the game.”

  10. Chiefs entire O line from last year was MIA for this SB. The Bucs took advantage as they should have, no shame in that. Congrats to the Bucs on being the Champs!

    RIP Perez Taylor!

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