“We need to defuse the weather as the big story this week,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told the players. “Until we perfect our Weather Control Device, which is undergoing its final tests, we need to give the fans something else to talk about. Listen closely as I explain what I want you all to do.” And that is how Super Bowl XLVIII has been portrayed as a holy quest of Sir Peyton the Benevolent to slay the Evil Green Dragon from the West. Think of it as "Game of Thrones on Groundhog Day."
Scripted or not, that is the clear message in our minds after the media sessions of Tuesday and Wednesday and subsequent comments from the participants. As expected, Denver QB Peyton Manning performed his media obligation with grace, humor and endurance. He took every question offered, did not attempt to make the questioners look stupid, which would not have been difficult, and he emerged energized and with a smile. Wow, what a guy!
Amid the smoky gloom on the darker side of the field, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch made a spectacle of himself by saying nothing short of “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” Lynch appeared every inch the thug pulling his hoodie further down past his sunglasses for seven minutes then departed, saying he’s a man of action and words don’t mean nothin’. The NFL brought him back on Wednesday, but he refused to say anything as FB Michael Robinson took questions intended for Lynch. Makes you want to pull hard for a guy like that, huh?
Lynch had plenty of help from All-Pro corner Richard Sherman, who someday will have his own television show. Sherman regaled the media lemmings with a stand-up routine that bolstered Seattle’s image as a gambling, rambling bunch who features the best defense in the world. He admitted they hold receivers on virtually every play, but Seattle has it on good information that the NFL grades officials more harshly for bad call than for non-calls. They won’t get flagged for every infraction.
Lest we believe the Broncos are living off Manning's squeaky-clean image, it was revealed the Broncos “pick” play that has freed up receivers for Manning’s darts all season is just as illegal as defensive holding. You can ask New England Coach Bill Belichick, who called an illegal pick that send DB Aqib Talib to the locker room “the worst play I ever saw.”Seattle Coach Pete Carroll tried to deflect some of the attention from his players, casting his team as dope-smoking fiends when he said the NFL should approve medical marijuana.
At the end of the week, NFL fans are now convinced of what they have long suspected. Peyton is too good to be true, while the Seahawks are doing everything they can to burnish their reputation as defensive grabbers and holders, whether the officials are watching or not. Surprisingly little attention has been given to the game itself. Can Lynch run on the Broncos’ defense? Will Russell Wilson continue his unspectacular but steady play? Can the Seattle defense hold Manning to under three touchdowns? It doesn’t matter.
Goodell’s secret plan worked to perfection. It is only a bonus that the final tests on the NFL’s Weather Control Device were positive, and temperatures are expected to be in the 40’s. Manning has stamped the Broncos as the new America’s Team favored by 87% of the non-wagering public. Meanwhile, the hermit-ically sealed Lynch won’t talk, Sherman won’t shut up and Pete Carroll has just put in a request for a hookah to be installed behind the Seahawks’ bench.
What a game! Be there or be square! Broncos 31, Seattle 24. My book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is available at Amazon.com and at my website: www.JWMillerSports.com