Greeson: Super Bowl left a bunch of what-ifs

Greeson: Super Bowl left a bunch of what-ifs

February 7th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) breaks a tackle by New England Patriots outside linebacker Tracy White during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis.

Photo by (AP Photo by David J. Phillip)

Maybe it's the end of football season. Or maybe it's the New Year's Eve-type build-up and the typical post-Super Bowl blahs.

Heck, maybe it's the fact that the only truly good Super Bowl commercial featured a stripped-down chocolate candy dancing to a pop song -- and for $3.5 million for every 30 seconds, everyone this side of M&Ms should be asking for a refund.

Beyond the lackluster commercials, what do we make of a Super Bowl that was won by a reluctant touchdown that was allowed on purpose by a defense that played over its head?

What do we make of a game that swung drastically when football's best possession receiver dropped an off-target pass from the best quarterback of his generation?

What do we make of a Super Bowl that had a halftime show featuring Madonna and included an obscene gesture -- and Madonna was not involved in said gesture?

What do we make of a world where Eli Manning fans have a legit argument that the youngest Manning brother is better than his more celebrated older sibling and now owns Tom Brady?

Obviously, the New York Giants' 21-17 Super Bowl win over New England left a lot of unanswered questions. Certainly this changes the perspective of the Giants' Manning and coach Tom Coughlin, but does it negatively alter the legacies of Brady and Pats coach Bill Belichick? Maybe a little, but getting to the Super Bowl and losing is way better than never getting to the Super Bowl, no matter how much the Buffalo Bills get heckled.

It's hardly surprising that there are more questions than answers today. The Giants won the game, but what will be the lasting memory from this Super Bowl? Ahmad Bradshaw apologetically falling into the end zone in the final minute for a game-winning TD that the Patriots allowed to happen? The Pats' missed chances? Mario Manningham's brilliant catch down the sideline on the winning drive?

It's probably Manningham's great catch and Welker's great missed chance. Making the most of the moment, that's the definition of most Super Bowls, really, and these Giants did just that.

On the biggest stage, New York was the best team Sunday night. But does being the Super Bowl champion mean you're the best team in the league that year or the best team left late in the year?

Almost everyone despises the Bowl Championship Subdivision and the way major college football determines its champion. Most agree that playoffs are better -- and they are -- but if you were to compare these Giants to a college team, it would likely be the Baylor Bears. Each has a big-time quarterback (the Giants' Manning and Baylor Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III), and each had a rocky start before taking off (the Giants were 7-7 with their coach on the hot seat before winning six straight and a title; Baylor was 4-3 before winning six straight to cap the best year in 30 years) and finishing with a flourish.

But such is the nature of playoffs and the postseason. Consider the champions in major team sports other than college football in the last year even before Sunday:

  • Super Bowl XLV -- the Green Bay Packers were the No. 6 seed and final team to qualify for the playoffs;

  • NBA -- the Dallas Mavericks were the No. 3 seed in the West;

  • World Series -- the St. Louis Cards were the NL wild-card team that was lucky to get in the playoffs;

  • College basketball -- the UConn Huskies were the ninth-best team in the Big East before winning nine straight postseason games.

At least in college football, the title game was between LSU and Alabama, a matchup that was viewed as the two best teams by almost everyone, including Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

All of the aforementioned champions pulled off upsets and turned a hot streak late in the season into rings. Are they the best team in their sport this year or the hottest team in their sport at the end of the year?

Much like the lasting image from Sunday's Super Bowl, it's a question that's open for debate. Which is a good thing considering it's 207 days until the opening Saturday of the college football season.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.