If New England wins, the Patriots will not be the greatest team ever -- at least conditionally, until such time as the NFL reveals what was in the Patriots' cheating videos and documents that the league destroyed in September. Maybe once we know the full truth, then a 19-0 Patriots team could be considered the greatest, depending on what the full truth turns out to be.
Most of the sports media have rolled over and played dead on the New England destroyed-tapes story; TMQ reminds you of the specifics here. The NFL promised to get to the bottom of the Patriots' cheating and reveal the truth to the public; instead, the NFL destroyed the New England documents and refuses to say what they contained. If the documents vindicated New England or the NFL, it would have been strongly in the league's interest to say so. Instead, the NFL has stonewalled us, so what does that make you think? Until we know what was on the videotapes and in the documents the NFL destroyed, there will always be a cloud of suspicion over the Patriots. How much of an advantage did they gain by cheating? Did they really hand over everything to the league? Are they still cheating now? Most important by far, have they cheated in the Super Bowl?
|TMQ Cheat Sheet|
Gregg Easterbrook on ...
• Cheerleader of the week
• The economic stimulus package
• TMQ's Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP
• The Miss America pageant
• Zebras decriminalizing holding
• The Boeing 787
• Super Bowl scouts' notes
• Super Bowl ads
• The Pro Bowl
• The NFL coaching carousel
No matter how well New England plays Sunday, every victory the team earned this season -- and perhaps victories in previous seasons, too -- is tainted until such time when we learn what was in the material the league destroyed. New England is aware that its season is an asterisk season; owner Robert Kraft has complained the Patriots are now viewed as "tainted," his word. For all we know, the Belichick Files vindicate the Patriots. But until such time when we learn what was in those files, even at 19-0, the New England Patriots should not be considered a great team because we cannot be sure whether these wins were earned or stolen. Nor can we be sure whether New England's three Super Bowl rings were earned or stolen.
And all you sportscasters and sportswriters who will spend this week gushing over the Super Bowl, it would be nice if a few of you mentioned that, a mere four months ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found the Patriots guilty of "a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition." Two billion people will watch the Super Bowl; almost all of America's children and teens will watch the Super Bowl. If the bottom line of the event is "It's fine to cheat, you'll get away with it," what message does that send?
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The battleship Hood was considered invincible, just like the Patriots. Yet it had a hidden flaw.
The most recent memorable Super Bowl upset was the Giants over the Bills in 1991, the game that ended on the infamous Scott Norwood missed field goal with four seconds remaining. The parallels between that game and Sunday's contest are many. Buffalo came into that Super Bowl as the highest-scoring team in the league, widely viewed as unstoppable on offense; the Bills also had beaten the Giants at Giants Stadium in December, just as the Patriots beat this year's Giants at Giants Stadium in December; Buffalo won that first meeting by four points, New England won its first meeting with the Giants by three points; and, of course, Belichick was a major presence then as now, only then on the Jersey/A sideline. The Giants beat the Bills by playing an extra-rough, almost violent game on defense; by getting away with numerous uncalled pass-interference penalties; and by a conservative ball-control game plan on offense that kept the Buffalo offense off the field. When the Buffalo offense was on the field, it seemed overeager to score really fast and dropped many passes, never settling down. Also, Buffalo punted twice on fourth-and-short in Giants territory, which was puzzling, as throughout the season, the Bills had been aggressive on fourth down. Will any of these markers repeat? I make the Patriots a three-point favorite, based on a final score of New England 38, Jersey/A 35, one month ago. For my scouts' notes on the Super Bowl, see below.
Kean Collection/Getty Images
"Fie! The Roman system has no zero, how can I list the Patriots' record in my Historica ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum? Verily, I shall never hear the end of this from my fantasy league."
Finally, just V days 'til Super Bowl XLII kicks off at VI:XX Eastern on the IIIrd of the IInd month, MMVIII. Will the Giants win their XIth straight on the road? Or will the Patriots finish an unprecedented XIX and -- wait, there is no Roman numeral for zero. In fact the concept of zero is absent from the Roman system of numbers, with the first known use of nulla in Roman numeration coming from the Venerable Bede, a Benedictine monk of the early eighth century. Thus "19-0" cannot be expressed in Roman numerals. An omen from the football gods? Anyway, X bucks says this will be a great game!
Who's the positive modern sex symbol, NFL cheerleaders or Victoria's Secret models? Jessie Greenberg and her comrades get TMQ's vote; see more in an item below.
Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
At the bookstore, Tolstoy bought a few of the classics, picked out the latest Chekhov -- then tried to hide the bikini calendar where other customers wouldn't see.
The stimulus bill will cost about $150 billion and consists entirely of deficit spending. The secondary euphemism being employed in Washington is to call the checks "tax rebates." But they are not rebates, meaning partial returns of monies paid -- they are pure borrowing. Which is to say, Congress will award most current American adults $300 to $1,200 each, then send the bill to future American adults. Suppose that instead, each American adult today set aside $300 at 5 percent interest. In 20 years, that money would grow to $800, and likely much more if invested in stocks. Such savings would be good for the U.S. economy, which, since 2001, has seen a negative national savings rate. China's national savings rate is currently almost 50 percent. Savings is one reason the Chinese economy is growing far faster than the U.S. economy; the U.S. savings rate is close to negative-4 percent, and our economic growth is sputtering.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
The framers said, "We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." Today's Congress: "We mutually pledge to pretend to believe what we just promised until the first second it is politically convenient to do the opposite."
Bear in mind, the stimulus package announced last week is only an agreement between the two parties in the House. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Senate currently are scrambling to add their own pet projects to the legislation -- whenever a big spending bill moves, there's always a bidding war in which Republicans and Democrats vie to see who can stage the biggest giveaway. The damage to the national debt might get worse because what's happening now is the environment Congress likes best -- an environment of zero fiscal discipline. Lobbyists for retirees, who already are subsidized by the young, are complaining that their special interest isn't being showered with free money by the stimulus bill; lobbyists for pork-barrel projects that could never withstand logical scrutiny are maneuvering to wrap them in the flag and add them to the stimulus bill. By the time the stimulus bill leaves Capitol Hill, the young might be saddled with yet more debt so that members of Congress can congratulate themselves as they hand checks to politically connected fat-cat donors or to retirees already drawing out of Social Security far more than they put in, plus interest.
Next, recall that on Jan. 4, 2007, both houses of Congress agreed with considerable fanfare on the Paygo measure, which stated that under no circumstances -- under no circumstances, never, regardless of conditions! -- would Congress enact any bill that increases the federal debt. According to the Paygo legislation, the House and Senate are forbidden even to debate legislation that would increase the debt. ("It shall not be in order to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment or conference report if the provisions of such measure affecting direct spending and revenues have the net effect of increasing the deficit ") Paygo rules specify that all bills causing appropriations increases or tax favors must be offset be spending reductions or tax increases. When Paygo was enacted, many members of Congress from both parties, prominently Speaker Pelosi, patted themselves on the back in public.
Thanks to the United States Congress, the National Debt Clock has been spinning overtime.
It's impossible to be sure, but a rough guess might be that every dollar added to the deficit today represents two dollars subtracted from future economic growth -- which in turn means two dollars taken from the pockets of tomorrow's American adults. This is a cynical exercise, robbing future Americans in order to please voters today, and to inspire interest groups to make political donations to incumbents. When are citizens under 30 going to wake up to the disagreeable fact that the country's current leadership, of both parties, is giving them the shaft in order to heap special favors on current voters who refuse to live within their means? Then handing the young the bill.
Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP: Not only does the NFL MVP almost always go to a quarterback or running back, but no offensive lineman has ever won. Obsession with glamour boys -- even though 90 percent of football action happens away from the ball -- extends from the Hall of Fame selectors to the stacked Pro Bowl ballot (see below) to the brewpubs, tailgates and fantasy leagues of our great nation. Swimming against this tide, TMQ annually confers the coveted "longest award in sports," the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP. Or to make it even longer, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network's Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-Quarterback Non-Running-Back National Football League Most Valuable Player Award. (See below for my 2007 pick.)
For the second consecutive year, the award comes with an actual trophy. Said trophy, quite fancy, already is situated in Phoenix in hopes it will be presented to the winner in person. In previous years, there had been a Non-QB Non-RB Curse -- something bad immediately happened to the winner. But with last season's advent of an actual trophy, the curse was broken! Jeff Saturday won, accepting the trophy from ESPN.com's Kevin Jackson a few days before the Super Bowl. Saturday went out and played a fabulous game, getting TMQ's vote for Super Bowl MVP.
Only players whose teams made the postseason are eligible for this award. My reasoning is that if you're going to wear the ribbon of Most Valuable, you'd better have created some value. And when it's a hard call between a well-known player and someone outside the limelight, I choose the latter. For example, the New England finalist is Matt Light -- over Randy Moss, Mike Vrabel, Wes Welker and Vince Wilfork, all better-known. The finalists:Gary Brackett, Indianapolis
Antonio Cromartie, San Diego
London Fletcher, Washington
James Harrison, Pittsburgh
John Henderson, Jacksonville
Davin Joseph, Tampa
Matt Light, New England
Osi Umenyiora, Jersey/A
Lofa Tatupu, Seattle
Mark Tauscher, Green Bay
David Thornton, Tennessee
Jason Witten, Dallas
Second runner-up: London Fletcher, Washington. An undrafted Division III player who has been let go twice, Fletcher arrived in Washington this season and was the primary reason the Redskins rocketed from 31st in total defense in 2006 to eighth in 2007. Fletcher is a tackling machine -- most total tackles in the league since 2000. Only a handful of NFL middle linebackers stay on the field for obvious-passing downs: Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, London Fletcher. It is a cryin' shame Fletcher has never received a free plane ticket to Honolulu.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Osi Umenyiora has a way of making quarterbacks feel 38 years old.
Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
He's the best player for the best offensive line ever, and he's the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP.
On the day that watching the NFL draft became more popular than watching the Miss America swimsuit competition, America changed forever.
Nunavut -- the Palm Beach of Tomorrow: TMQ fears that if Eli Manning wins the Super Bowl the year after Peyton Manning, the Manning family will be in television commercials until Judgment Day. Here is a possible television commercial from 2038:
Scene: Dozens of Manning family members at idyllic retirement center way north of Quebec.
Joanna B. Pinneo/Aurora/Getty Images
Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut -- Arctic Circle icebox now, vacation home of the stars after global warming.
Zebras Decriminalize Holding: Passing stats are up. The 2007 regular season saw the most-ever leaguewide passing yards, although only by 1 percent over the previous high year, and the "most" period covers only six seasons, since the league expanded to its current franchise number and all yards-gained figures rose. Football pundits have attributed the rise in passing yards to the clarification of the illegal-contact rule in 2005, and surely that's a factor. But TMQ thinks an equal factor is the decline of offensive holding calls, which means fewer sacks and less pressure on the quarterback. In 2007, NFL quarterbacks were sacked once for every 17 pass attempts, lowest sack frequency since the league began keeping this stat. Is lack of holding calls the reason? Dave Boling of the Tacoma, Wash., News Tribune checked the trend line and found the decade-long average is 769 offensive holding calls per regular season, or 24 per team per season. But this season, 602 offensive holding flags flew, or 19 per team per season. (Both numbers are for accepted penalties.)
TMQ has seen an awful lot of uncalled offensive holding this season. This has been a fabulous year for offensive line play -- the New England offensive line has recorded one of the best O-line seasons ever, and the Dallas, Green Bay, Jersey/A, San Diego, Jacksonville and Indianapolis offensive lines all looked sweet. Of course, if the refs are not calling offensive holding, lots of lines are bound to look good and lots of passing yards are bound to ring up. Allowing holding aids the run game, too: Giants' guard Chris Snee practically tackled the Green Bay defender at the point of attack on the Brandon Jacobs run that put Jersey/A on the Packers' 1 and in position for a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game.
So far in the postseason, the Giants have been called for offensive holding three times and the Patriots have not been called for offensive holding. The Pats possess the NFL's best offensive line, but you cannot say with a straight face that the New England offensive line never holds -- Flying Elvii O-linemen got away with several blatant holds against San Diego in the AFC Championship Game. Are the officials too intimidated to make offensive holding calls again Belichick? In New England's last Super Bowl run, the Patriots went through the postseason to the Vince Lombardi Trophy without being flagged for offensive holding. Will offensive holding be treated as legal in Sunday's Super Bowl?
Coach class would be mighty comfortable if the entire row ahead of you mysteriously vanished.
AP Photo/Misha Japaridze
Somewhere inside, Lenin is screaming to his broker on a cell phone, "The Wilshire 5000 is down -- buy, buy, buy!"
Leftover Stimulus Bill Point: Buried in the stimulus bill is an obscure provision that raises the "conforming" mortgage ceiling from a current $417,000 to as much as $730,000, depending on the city. "Conforming" mortgages can be backed by federal agencies, so they are, in effect, federally guaranteed; they sell for less than "jumbo" mortgages that exceed the ceiling. Typically, the interest on a conforming mortgage is 1 to 3 percent lower than on a jumbo. Between falling interest rates and a higher ceiling for guaranteed loans, if you have a mortgage problem, refinance now or don't complain later! But the new $730,000 ceiling for conforming loans seems incredibly high, considering the median home value in the United States is about $245,000. Sure, houses cost more in Seattle or Boston than in Nebraska. But by raising the federally backed mortgage ceiling to three times the median home price, isn't Congress merely encouraging another wave of real estate speculation based on funny money? Won't there be another demand for bailouts after the next bubble bursts?
A chorus angelorum sings the blessings of the football gods on Super Bowl XLII, promising a close game.
Laurence Maroney has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of the past five New England outings. As the weather has turned wintry, Belichick has done the smart thing and shifted his offense toward the ground. The weather should be perfect in Glendale, but bear in mind, New England's fantastic offensive line spent the past six weeks or so practicing aggressive drive blocking, which requires a different mind-set from pass blocking. One reason the New England running game has been sharp lately is that defensive coordinators, obsessed with stopping Flying Elvii passes, have put nickel or dime defenses on the field on first down. An offense that power-rushes against a nickel or dime has the weight advantage on its side, with pulling guards slamming into skinny gentlemen. If Belichick sees Jersey/A open in a nickel -- or in any of the funky 2-4-5 or 3-2-6 fronts he himself used against the top passing teams when he was the team's defensive coordinator -- he will not hesitate to switch the Pats to a running game and play for a low-scoring victory. If I were Jersey/A, my biggest worry would be the New England run. The Giants know they can disrupt the Patriots' pass. Can they handle a surprise rush-based game plan?
Defensively, in consecutive weeks Jersey/A has handed the league's second- (Dallas) and fourth-(Green Bay) highest-scoring teams their hats on their own fields. That regular-season finale contest against New England turned on the entire Jersey/A team and coaching staff -- fortune favors the bold, and rarely has fortune ever rewarded a team as much as it has rewarded the Giants for playing all out in a meaningless game. More, the regular-season finale contest let the Giants' defenders understand they can play with anybody. All NFL clubs have a speed rusher; some have two. The Giants have four speed rushers, and this seems to cause problems other teams are not equipped to solve. In defeating the Cowboys and Packers, the Giants ran circles around the league's second- and third-best offensive lines. Normally, the offense wants to be on the field for 75 plays and the defense gets tired. But by the fourth quarter of the past two Jersey/A playoff games, the Dallas and Green Bay offensive linemen were exhausted from chasing all those G-Persons speed rushers, and the Giants' defenders looked fresh. Nor are Giants' defenders one-dimensional sack types; they handled the Dallas and Green Bay rushing attacks, too. Green Bay's inability to run was the essential element of its defeat. Now the Giants' front seven takes on the best offensive line in the league, that of New England. Unless the officials unilaterally decide that offensive holding is now legal, even the Patriots' offensive line will have trouble with the Jersey/A front seven.
Flashy as the New England offense-Jersey/A defense matchup seems, TMQ expects the Super Bowl to be determined by how the Giants' offense performs versus the Pats' defense. The Jersey/A offense has looked shaky for most of the season, so a good performance is far from assured, and the New England defense has been terrific. Although the Patriots haven't blitzed much in the first three quarters this season, it would not be surprising to see New England mega-blitz on the first two Jersey/A series, trying to shake Eli Manning up, cause a bad mistake and get him hanging his head the way he did so often until, well, last month.
Omen? As TMQ pointed out on New Year's Day, no NFL regular-season passing yardage leader has gone on to win the Super Bowl that season. The record of frustration is here. Forty-one regular-season passing yardage leaders so far are 0-for-41 in terms of the Super Bowl that season. Brady was this year's regular season passing-yards leader.
One more thing: In recent months, I've gotten a lot mail that boils down to, "How can you criticize Belichick and the Patriots so harshly and simultaneously praise them so much?" It is not inconsistent to think some person, place or thing is really great (the 2007 Patriots, the United States) yet has significant problems (cheating, lack of universal health care insurance) and is not telling the truth to the public on some matter of consequence (was there Super Bowl cheating, the Iraq war).
If TMQ doesn't find this alluring, the emaciated-runway-model industry needs to reassess.
Be that as it may, it's far from clear the Victoria's Secret visual ideal is even sexy, and I don't mean those ridiculous angel wings. The majority of models in the company's television specials and catalogs appear emaciated: not just a tad thin, but unhealthy. Most of them look as though they really need a milkshake but would be too weak to lift the glass. Why does extolling gauntness work as a sales strategy? Forget Victoria's Secret lingerie models, give me pro sports cheerleaders as a sex symbol any day. NFL and NBA cheerleaders are fit, strong, confident and athletic -- check the dance moves of the Philadelphia Eagles or Miami Heat cheerleaders, among others. All pro cheerleaders, plus most in college and many in high school, can drop and give you 25 straight-legged pushups. Obviously, pro cheerleaders are an impossible ideal in their own way: In the real world, no woman can always look great and always be smiling and outgoing. But cheerleaders are a positive archetype of fitness, confidence and upbeat life. Contrast that to the women in the Victoria's Secret runway shows, who seem miserable.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Most Victoria's Secret models could use one of these, plus some healthy outdoor activities.
Ad note: Of the Super-Bowl-night ads already making the rounds via Internet, the one that caught my eye was for the upcoming "Iron Man" movie. Iron Man numbers among the best of the non-famous comic book characters; you have to like a superhero who grew up on Long Island and gets harassing phone calls from his ex-girlfriend. Most Hollywood treatments of comic books are disappointments, but the glimpse of the Iron Man movie seems promising.
How About a Pro Bowl in Which the Offensive Tackles Play Quarterback and All Those Extra Quarterbacks Have to Block? Never has there been better proof that too many players make this game based on rep, not actual performance, than Green Bay's Al Harris getting named to the Pro Bowl. Harris got destroyed by Terrell Owens in Green Bay's biggest regular-season matchup, then got destroyed by Plaxico Burress in the NFC Championship Game. At the end of that game, Harris looked like the battleship Suvorov lying on its side in flames at the battle of Tsushima Strait. Explain to me what business Harris has heading to Honolulu?
When your ship finally comes in, better hope it's not the battleship Suvorov. (Note: Props to Mark Zimmerman of NFL.com, who wrote this line about five years ago.)
TMQ Hopes to Trademark the Phrase, "The Big Column": Last summer, the NFL abandoned its ridiculous quest to trademark the phrase "the Big Game." The name Super Bowl is trademarked, meaning it can be used by anyone in public discourse but cannot be employed for commercial purposes without permission. That's why, every year about this time, the league sends cease-and-desist orders to sports bars or arenas advertising a Super Bowl party with paid admission. But go ahead and advertise a Big Game Party, because the NFL dropped its trademark quest after an initial ruling that indicated little chance of success. Late January television ads that ask "Are you getting ready for the Big Game?" or some such are now kosher, even without a royalty to the NFL.
The NCAA successfully trademarked March Madness for its men's basketball tournament, thus high school tournaments cannot bill themselves as March Madness. But the ability to register a trademark depends on what is known as "secondary meaning" -- that is, when someone says the word or phrase, do consumers (in this case, sports fans) usually think of a particular product? March Madness invokes in people's minds NCAA basketball. Likewise, words such as Colts can be trademarked as the name of a professional football team because of common association between professional football and the word Colts. After the NFL's Colts moved to Indy, the team was able to block formation of a Baltimore Colts USFL franchise. But the Indianapolis Colts couldn't stop a high school football team from calling itself the Colts; the trademark-worthy secondary meaning applies specifically to professional football, not to all football. The term Big Game does not summon up the NFL in the imagination; it just summons up any generic big game. Thus enjoy your Big Game Party, and I'd open the doors at III p.m. and charge X bucks a head.
A "Friday Night Lights" character takes a snooze, and dreams of that day, oh so distant, on which the Dillon Panthers actually play a game.
FNL note: In the most recent episode, Dillon star "Smash" Williams was suspended for three games. Immediately TMQ thought: So what, the Panthers never actually play any games! Turns out great minds think alike. Below is a reader haiku:
Smash out for three games.
Panthers don't seem to play games:
Smash isn't punished.
-- Andrew Drake, Mountain View, Calif.
You There, Head Coach -- Fetch Me a Pepsi Max: After giving Wade Phillips only a lukewarm endorsement in the week before the Cowboys' home playoff game, Jerry Jones came down and stood next to him on the sideline during Dallas' failed final drive, distracting and embarrassing Phillips. Then Jones made Jason Garrett the league's highest-paid coordinator, to get Garrett to remain in Dallas and perhaps under the assumption he might replace Phillips at the end of next season. Why would an owner emasculate his own head coach -- isn't an NFL franchise better served by a coach in a strong political position? Jones has a long history of wanting weak, timorous coaches; this makes Jones feel more important. Jones and Jimmy Johnson split after Johnson won consecutive Super Bowls; Johnson has a strong personality and wanted to retain it, which Jerry apparently could not abide. Then Jones hired Barry Switzer, who at that point had been out of football for six years. Switzer won another Super Bowl (the Cowboys had fabulous personnel in the mid-1990s) but was a goofy, ineffectual presence and soon departed the team, and football, for good. Next, Jones brought in Chan Gailey, followed by Dave Campo, both mild-mannered personalities who seemed insecure around their owner -- the way the Cowboys' owner likes it. Suddenly, the formula changed with Jones hiring strong-personality Bill Parcells. When Parcells departed, Jones tabbed Phillips, who's well-liked in football circles, but not dynamic by any stretch of the imagination. Phillips is 61-42 in the regular season but 0-4 in the playoffs; he seems to lack that extra gear. Having tabbed a soft personality, Jones weakened Phillips even further by publicly embarrassing him: Most likely, the only words the Cowboys' coach will say to the Cowboys' owner now are "Yes, your majesty." And if Garrett takes over after next season, the Princeton grad will start in a fragile position. As a young coach who has never been a head coach at any level, Garrett would be easy for Jones to push around.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Don't blame yourself, Wade -- you're playing against 11 guys plus your owner.
Why do NFL head-coaching jobs -- the very pinnacle of the coaching profession -- so often go to those without head-coaching experience? One reason is that high school and small-college coaches simply are not given the time of day by the NFL, though TMQ thinks many high school and small-college head coaches are actually more skilled than football-factory head coaches. In the high school environment, a coach cannot succeed unless he can do it all. In the small-college environment, a coach cannot behave like a little god, isolated from all save his courtiers , but must be able to work constructively with others, including the faculty. Broad understanding of all aspects of football and a well-adjusted personality that provides the ability to get along with others are both qualities important to successful coaching. Yet the NFL will not give high school or small-college coaches the time of day.
Next, football-factory head coaches have done poorly in the NFL in recent decades: Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, the list goes on. In the college environment, recruiting skills are essential; in the NFL environment, recruiting skills are irrelevant, so many college head coaches' primary facility does not translate to the pros. On the flip side, at football-factory colleges, the recruiting is hard and the rest is easy: Players are deferential; you strut around your college town like a little god; half your games are walkovers against cupcake opponents. In the NFL, nothing is easy: Every yard of every game is contested. With football-factory college coaches usually flopping in the NFL, and despite high schools and small colleges offering a huge coaching talent pool the NFL almost never taps, general managers end up trotting out the Usual Gang of Suspects for NFL coaching hires.
Another reason NFL assistant coaches who have never been head coaches constitute most NFL head-coaching hires is that NFL assistant coaches know the seriousness of the NFL game and are mentally prepared for its being much, much tougher than college. There are more games, one to two more months' worth, depending on the NFL team, giving the season a marathon feeling. The players talk back, and the media knives are always out. If you want to win in the NFL, you simply don't get a day off between the first of July and the double whistle on your final game. You can't take days off to play golf, as Spurrier did when Redskins coach. An NFL season is grueling. NFL assistant coaches get that, which is why they dominate the list of promotions to NFL head coaches.
The Miss America Finals No Longer Bring the Entire Nation to a Halt, But Now the NFL Draft Does -- Which Must Mean Something, We Just Don't Know What: As draft obsession begins anew, it's time to remember how little impact a draft usually has on the next season. Of last year's first-round choices, only Aaron Ross of Jersey/A started in either championship game or will start in the Super Bowl. Good drafting is essential to the long-term health of an NFL franchise, but few of the picks whom sports nuts obsessively will follow this April are likely to matter much to how their teams perform in 2008.
Reader Animadversion: This feature folds its tent and steals off into the desert until next autumn.
Next Week: That Super Bowl thing you might have heard about.
In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He is also a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly.
PAGE 2 ON THE SUPER BOWL
Bill Simmons• Postgame: Free fallin' out into nothing
• Super Bowl XLII preview and pick
• Awards from the conference championships
Tuesday Morning Quarterback• TMQ: Super ending to a tumultuous season
• Easterbrook: Spygate returns to headlines
• TMQ: Conditional immortality
• TMQ: All-Unwanted All-Pros
Notes, jokes and potpourri• Super Bowl commercials bingo cards
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Friday, Feb. 1: News you can't live without
• Thursday, Jan. 31: News you can't live without
• Wednesday, Jan. 30: News you can't live without
• Tuesday, Jan. 29: News you can't live without
• Monday, Jan. 28: News you can't live without
• Celebrities make their picks
• Poll: Tom Brady celebrity photo ops
Insight and wisdom• Hill: Super Bowl party report
• Page 2: Pop culture roundtable
• Gallo: Boston's five stages of grief
• Neel: Bittersweet game for Hoover's people
• Hruby: Page 2 Week in review quiz
• Uni Watch: Where's all the blue in Big Blue?
• Milz: What does Gisele's dad think of Tom?
• Hruby: Super Bowl is hazardous to your health
• Hill: Moss was right to quit on Raiders
• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Page 2: Suggested questions for media day
• Jackson: Perks for perfect Patriots
• Hruby: Analyzing the Brady tape
• Best teams not to win a championship
• Fleming: Footnoting greatness
• Gallo: The first 24 hours of hype
• Page 2 obtains Boston's contract with the devil
• Snibbe: Championship Sunday by the numbers
• Garfamudis: Patriots aren't perfect
• The curse of Mo Lewis
Inside the brain• Inside Jared Lorenzen's brain
• Inside Matt Cassel's brain
• Inside Tiki Barber's brain
All things Super Bowl• Complete ESPN.com coverage
• From 2007: The Ultimate Super Rankings
E-Ticket• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Neel: Almost immortal