January 24, 2005
Terrell Owens:
He had NOTHING to do with the Eagles finally winning the NFC title,yet his status for the Super Bowl will be THE hottest topic of discussion until then. QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Will he or won't he play?

TO's status is the biggest question -- and biggest X-factor -- of the Super Bowl.

His ankle sure looked healthy as he danced on the Eagles sidelines, cheer-leading the fans.

Bring iT On?

Willis Reed comparisons don't give TO enough credit; Owens playing would be a way bigger emotional lift than Reed's famous limp (that was the NBA, 30 years ago; this is the Super Bowl, today).

And it's just TO's style to milk the drama all the way up to the game's player intros.

(Remember how the Pats entering Super Bowl XXXVI as a team set the tone for their upset of the Rams? These symbolic gestures have power.)

Speculation runs rampant:

"I have a feeling he will," Andy Reid blurted on national TV. He later softened that to "We'll see." (If only his DBs can back-pedal that hard in two weeks.)

"You ask him, he's going to be back," McNabb said. "That's the only thing we can go on right now."

Ironically, TO has nothing to say.


Philly: Satisfied?
Yes, getting there is enough.

That's the short answer to another big question: Should Philly fans feel satisfied?

Yes, just getting to the Super Bowl should feel like accomplishment enough for McNabb, Reid, T.O., Philly the city and Eagles Nation everywhere.

They didn't fold. They defied their history. They accepted the pressure and shook it off, along with the notion that they're world-class chokers.

It's a lot like the Red Sox, when they finally made the World Series; most of (honest) Red Sox Nation would tell you that winning the thing wasn't nearly as important as getting there.

Don't be greedy, Eagles fans. Enjoy the next two weeks for the rare and special thing you've learned so bitterly that they are.

Win or lose in two weeks, just getting to the Super Bowl is a step in the right direction. It's progress.

It's enough to quiet critics -- and maybe even Philly's perpetually bitter fans. At least for now.

Pats Roll On
Bandwagoneers can say 3 rings in 4 seasons would be a dynasty, but I've argued since last January that 2-in-3 already is a dynasty.

3-in-4 would be nothing less than the NFL's most impressive run of all time. That's an irony of the Pats' winning this AFC title in Pittsburgh, whose team from the 1970s is being dislodged.

Eagles WR/ Greg, TE Chad Lewis: The REAL People's Champs
Jaworski/Paolantonio: ESPN's resident Phila-philes rule
Game Faces: Nike "Warriors" ad is jaw-dropping, must-see
Bill Cowher: Should have gone for the TD, not kicked a FG
Falcons DVD offense: 103 yards total rushing (3.8/carry)
Pittsburgh fans: Has to be said -- the "new Philadelphia?"
And Tom Brady isn't just the best postseason QB of our generation; he's the best postseason QB of any generation; Joe Montana? Please: Joe had more around him, with more continuity, against inferior comp.

14-21, 207 yds, 2 TDs/0 INTs: I'll take Brady's continued unblemished playoff record over a single spectacular game every time.

Super Storylines
Storylines guaranteed to beat us all down over the next 13 days:

Pressure: Pats have nothing left to prove; Eagles cleared biggest hurdle simply by getting here.

The QBs: Two-time MVP Brady vs. first-time Bowler McNabb.

Legacy: How many of these Pats players (particularly the LBs) will end up in the Hall of Fame?

Swan Songs: For Pats O guru Charlie Weis and D honcho Romeo Crennel, likely headed to Cleveland.

Clutch Kickers: Pats' Adam Vinatieri is the biggest Hall of Fame lock on the roster; Philly's David Akers has "would-have-been-Super-Bowl-clutch-if-his-team-ever-got-there" skills.

WR X-Factors: Who's TO? PHI WR Greg Lewis and NE WR Deion Branch are two of the most under-the-radar players headed to Jacksonville. On the opposite side of the radar...

24/7 Yap TV: Will there be enough microphones to handle BOTH T.O. and the People's Champ?

Early poll results: 68 percent of ESPN.com users are picking the Pats to win, evenly split whether it'll be by more or less than 10 points.

See Big 5, right, for more.

(And Clayton has a must-read early SB preview in Q It Up.)

Falcons: What's Next?
Vick: ZERO 2nd-half rush yds: What was THAT all about? Playing from behind? The Eagles D? Or conservative play-calling that finally caught up with Jim Mora? Maybe next year, they'll let Vick be Vick.

Steelers: What's Next?
Call it the "Barkley Theory" (Or "Mailman." Or "Glove."): All coulda-woulda-shoulda been NBA champs, if not for having the unfortunate timing of playing during the Bulls dynasty.

The 2004 Steelers had the misfortune of being a contender during the Pats dynasty. Like the Raiders a few years ago. Or Peyton Manning today.

Home-field? Rumbling Bus? Dominating D? Mojo QB? Pittsburgh will never have a better shot; used Towels make nice hankies as fans wipe tears and ponder their "league-best" D giving up 41 points.

Early SB Pick
Maybe I'm caught up in the euphoria emanating from Philly (hey, it beats the usual smells), so I say: Hey, why NOT the Eagles?

Picture TO's emotional return and a perfect game from the physical Eagles D, inspired Donovan McNabb and versatile Brian Westbrook...

Oh, wait: Here's why NOT: Too much Pats experience, too much Belichick genius, too much Tom Brady:

Pats 36, Eagles 19.

Ben Roethlisberger:
Gloves, no gloves: Not nearly as relevant as "Hey, he better watch out for those 3 INTs." Being a rookie finally caught up with suddenly Not-So-Big Ben.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
Pasquarelli: Steelers encore denied
Clayton: Early look at the Super Bowl
Super Bowl Storylines:
T.O.'s return?
Pulling a Willis Reed?
Pats Dynasty?
3-in-4 ends debate
Bill B: Best ever?
Yes, if he wins
Brady vs. PHI D
How to stop Mr. SB-MVP?
Halftime show
Paul McControversy? Nah.

And in non-NFL playoff news:

Phil Jackson to Knicks? Speculation runs wild after he tells ESPN that he'd "have to listen to them if they came and talked"...

Moss Watch: Predictions running "60/40" that Randy Moss will be traded. Funny split. I think he's as good as gone (to Baltimore?)...

Oh my trouncing: Who else watched with at leas a little glee as Villanova trounced WAY overrated Kansas (Midseason Final Four? Ha!)...

Tiger's back: Classic "Sunday win" in Buick is his first in PGA stroke-play since 2003 Western, foreshadowing a huge year...

A-Rod vs. Schill is the new embodiment of the Yanks-Sox rivalry; Alex yapped the trash-talk, and Curt retorted with a version of "Scoreboard!"...

Delgado Watch: Rangers, Mets have reportedly pulled out, leaving O's and Marlins to battle it out for his price (but watch New York)...

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