Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning is so last month. Tom Brady vs. Donovan McNabb is a little more au courant, but even that little set-to is nothing compared with the Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana debate that seems to keep some people up at night.
Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback in history, a greater quarterback, already, than Joe Montana was? I’m pleased to offer my opinion on the subject: I don’t know. Let’s talk again around the end of the decade.
I’m really sticking my neck out with that one because I’ve seen what happened to Skip Bayless, who offered his considered opinion on the subject on ESPN.com last week. He also tackled the crucial quandary “Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach in NFL history, a greater coach than even Bill Parcells?”
My take on that one, by the way: Who cares? And let’s just ignore the ridiculously obvious question raised by these two: When did we all agree that Joe Montana and Bill Parcells — Bill Parcells?!? — are the greatest quarterback and coach in history?
Montana maybe. Parcells only if you consider history to have started after Don Shula stopped coaching, which would also be after George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, John Madden, Chuck Noll and maybe a couple of others did. Bill Parcells, greatest ever. Good grief. Parcells’ career is roughly equivalent to that of Hank Stram. Wonderful coach. Hall of Fame. But not even in the greatest-ever conversation.
Anyway, what happened to Bayless is that he was taken to the woodshed by the Web site Cold Hard Football Facts, which critiqued his column point by point, paragraph by paragraph, in what has to be the most amusing thing I’ve read about sports in 2005, and maybe in the 21st century.
Just one sample: Bayless talked up Montana’s 1981 season by writing that “his go-to wideout that year was a former college quarterback named Freddie Solomon. His running backs were the immortal Wendell Tyler and Lenvil Elliott.” He then described one of Montana’s signature moments, “the Catch,” his touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the NFC Championship Game against the Cowboys.
Cold Hard Football Facts doesn’t even bother to mention that Elliott, one of Montana’s supposed two running backs in 1981, was seventh on the team in rushing, touching the football a grand total of 14 times on the season. But it does assure readers that A) Clark, not Solomon, was Montana’s go-to wideout that year and B) Wendell Tyler was actually a hell of a back, though that was just a bit irrelevant because C) Tyler didn’t join the 49ers until 1983. And then CHFF takes on “the Catch”:
“Yes, it was a great pass, and one of the great moments in NFL history. But it’s a pass Montana wouldn’t have needed had he not thrown three drive-killing interceptions earlier that day. This doddering old coot Bayless apparently forgot about those mistakes. What do you expect? He doesn’t even know who was on the team. What a donkey.”
Oh, golly, it’s great stuff. Goes on like that for the whole column. I love to see a typist eviscerated like that.
Uh, unless it’s me.
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Terrell’s ankle, and other news of … not [PERMALINK]
Speaking of who cares, we bring you Terrell Owens’ ankle, and whether it will let him play in the Super Bowl. This question — answer: we’ll find out on Sunday, won’t we? — is the early leader in the sweepstakes for most annoyingly overdone story of Super Bowl week.
Listen, folks, I know that some of you are dumb enough to bet significant money on a game in which the ball bounces funny, and you want to know about Owens’ health so you can decide whether to take the points. I just don’t see that as a good reason the rest of us, the overwhelming majority who bet beer money or not at all, should have to listen to all this obsessing.
He’s going to play. No, he’s not. His doctor says no. He says yes. McNabb says maybe. He practiced. Oh, no, he tripped on a blade of grass. He’s OK! It’s like listening to people argue about whether it’s going to be 65 or 68 tomorrow. Relax. It’s just the boredom and impatience talking. We’ll find out.
Weren’t you ready for the Super Bowl on Sunday? Wouldn’t that have been great, to have the Super Bowl, the most important game of the year, follow the perfect weekly rhythm of the rest of the season? By this point in the week, we’d just be wrapping up our picking over of the conference championship games, putting the final touches on our theories about what happened to Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, why the Eagles and Patriots had it so easy.
Then we’d have a day or two of Super Bowl hype, of media day and poking fun at Jacksonville, silly human-interest stories about the players and the ritual recitation of party-related statistics, how many chicken wings will be served at the official corporate parties or whatever. By Thursday, Friday at the latest, it’d be all football.
Thanks to the dead week, the edge has been lost. If the Super Bowl had been played Sunday we’d have spent last Tuesday just starting to ramp up our delicious anticipation of the biggest sports holiday of the year. Instead, we’re enduring. The conference championship games have receded into memory. You were a little surprised to see the name Michael Vick up there a couple of paragraphs ago, weren’t you? The Falcons? Oh, yeah.
As a service to my fellow typists and their broadcast counterparts, here is a list of just a few stories the football fans of the world are not dying to read, hear or see. This is just the egregious tip of an obnoxious iceberg.
Gosh, Jacksonville sucks! Tony Kornheiser got the jump on this one, not even waiting for the press corps to arrive to blast the sleepy Southern burg.
As usual, Kornheiser was at least mildly amusing. “Have you ever been to Tampa? It’s heaven, if you like Waffle Houses. Jacksonville makes Tampa look like Paris!” And so on. But you know, we get it. Jacksonville is not a great world capital like Houston or San Diego. This is not news to anybody. Writing the “Jacksonville is a hick town” piece is the journalistic equivalent of a comedian doing airline food jokes. It’s weak.
Having said that, I’d love to be able to read what Jim Murray would have written about Jax in the Los Angeles Times had he lived to see this Super Bowl. He once speculated that the redevelopment of downtown Cincinnati seemed not to be progressing because it was Kentucky’s turn to use the cement mixer.
Mayoral and gubernatorial wagers: One will ship food to the other. Yawn. This year, in a twist, the governors of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have agreed that the loser will sing the national anthem at a Celtics-76ers game in the winner’s home state, wearing the home team’s jersey. Yawn. Oh, except if the Patriots win, it’ll be the wife of … ZZZZZZZZZ
Look at all the media! If there’s a sorrier journalistic activity than doing a story about all the people doing stories about a subject, I don’t know what it is. At least the next layer — doing a story about the people who are doing stories about all the people doing stories — has a touch of the postmodern about it, so it’s only the second sorriest.
A kid reporter! This is a mere subset of “Look at all the media!” but it’s a particularly pestiferous one. There are always a handful of kids wandering around Super Bowl week doing stories, either as part of some kid-oriented enterprise or as a stunt for a grown-up TV show.
Even I — a relatively new father who now thinks that almost everything almost everyone under the age of 13 does is impossibly cute — respond to this by wanting to take a hostage. Enough with the kid reporters.
Previous column: The readers write
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Bookmark http://www.salon.com/sports to get the new Kaufman column every day. Discuss this column and the sports news of the day in Table Talk. Send an e-mail to King Kaufman. To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.