Random Thoughts On The NFL

By Carla Peay
Updated: January 24, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Super Bowl really should be played this Sunday. One week of endless commentary, hype and analysis is more than enough to prepare for the Big Game, which will feature the perfect Patriots and the road-warrior Giants in Glendale Arizona on February 3. Two weeks is and always has been excessive.

I’d love to pick the Giants for the upset. When the Cowboys and Colts — my Super Bowl picks — flamed out in the first round, rooting against the Patriots and their insufferably arrogant coach became my only interest. But I expect the Patriots to win, the Giants to cover, and the 1972 Dolphins to put away the champagne once and for all.

I’ve never met Brett Favre, but from what I know of the Green Bay Packers future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, he appears to be a likeable fellow. But to hear some media types talk about Favre, you’d think he could walk on water.

I had no problem seeing the Giants go into the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and take the Packers out. Listening to two weeks of my sports media brethren wax poetic about Favre would have been almost too much to bear.

As for the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, having to play a game of this magnitude in below zero temperatures is patently absurd. I was cold just watching. One look at Tom Coughlin’s face, and I was afraid they might have to take him to the ER.

Speaking of the Giants, raise your hands if you expected the Manning playing in the Super Bowl this year would be Eli and not Peyton. The younger Manning has turned in stellar performances this post-season in three road victories to help lead the Giants to the Super Bowl.

Between his draft day dodging of San Diego, playing in New York, and the constant comparisons to his big brother, it’s safe to say that Eli Manning may be the most maligned quarterback in the NFL.

Some of the criticism has been well deserved, as Manning has been wildly inconsistent, but making it to the Super Bowl ought to keep the New York media off of his back for at least a little while. It might even shut Tiki Barber up, if that’s possible.

Yes, Barber is paid well to offer his opinion, and he’s an excellent analyst. But there was a mean-spirited arrogance about his criticism of Manning that was sounded far more like a personal attack than a professional evaluation, which is why I find Barber a real turnoff, despite his talent as a broadcaster.

The best news to come out of the post season for me was learning that one of my favorite people in sports, Colts coach Tony Dungy will return next season. According to Dungy’s news conference announcing his return, he takes the first week after every season to evaluate his future.

When Dungy does retire, it’s been announced that he will be replaced by another Black coach, Colts associate head coach Jim Caldwell, who has been Dungy’s assistant for the past seven years.

Not too long ago, Black men couldn’t get a head coaching job in the NFL because the old boys network led to a line-of-succession process that kept Black coaches out, while white assistants were the only ones interviewed and ultimately hired.

The Rooney Rulestipulating that a minority candidate must be interviewed — has helped to bring about significant changes. But this may be the first time in NFL head coaching history where the line-of-succession is from one Black man to another, and that successor is someone without previous NFL head coaching experience.

And finally, we all remember that last season, the fact that two Black head coaches were facing one another in the Super Bowl — Dungy and good friend Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears — made headlines.

But another first will occur is this year’s Super Bowl, when Mike Carey will become the first black referee in Super Bowl history. Carey has been an NFL official for 18 seasons, and has been one of the NFL’s top crew chief’s for more than 10 years.

Carey’s selection as head referee (the official announcement was delayed) came sometime between the actual birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., January 15, and the day it was celebrated, January 21.

The struggle continues, but thankfully, so does the progress.