Doug Pederson. If there has ever been a time when the coach was the most deserving MVP, this may have been it. And yes, Nick Foles was great too, and a fine choice, and we're not beefing on that, but everything from his demeanor to his play calls to his rolls of the dice in several situations, not only paid dividends almost every time, it announced to his inexperienced team that the Eagles were there to win the game. Not just be part of the game. Awesome leadership. Awesome gameplan. And the fourth-and-goal, Wildcat snap, reverse pass from Trey Burton to Foles for a 1-yard TD was simply magic. It sped by the Nebraska fumblerooskie and the Boise State statue of liberty as the greatest, guttiest big-moment trick play in football history.
Foles. Yes, Pederson was the difference, but let's not undersell Foles here. Dude made three or four or five throws that were simply money. Money. His showing was amazing, and set the tea leaves in a place that will be interesting to read. (More on that to come.)
Brady and Gronk. First, you regulars know we believe Brady to be the GOAT. (We think Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback we've ever scene and Brady is the greatest, and that may be splitting hairs and more semantics than symmetry, but there you go.) Those dudes were amazing. Brady grabbed another postseason record with more than 500 passing yards in the Super Bowl. Gronk was a monster in the second half but now faces injury-related retirement questions. (More on this below.) While Brady throws to three guys who look like the new hot-shot partner at your accountant's office on the perimeter, we can quit saying that Brady has never had a Hall of Fame receiver to throw to. PUH-lease, Gronk is a monster. It's also worth noting, and while he certainly would trade No. 3 for No. 3, Brady won the MVP Saturday night, his third trophy as the league's most valuable player. He joins Barry Bonds as the only player in his 40s to win league MVP.
Justin Timberlake. Lots of folks are bagging on his performance — and how in the world has the narrative changed from the wardrobe malfunction when Timberlake and Janet Jackson were part of NippleGate back in the day to where it's Timberlake's fault? — but here's why we think he gets a weekend winner nod. One it was great fun and highly entertaining. Second, the tribute to Prince was money and well-executed. And finally and most importantly, how many times have we bagged on people for lip-syncing. Well, Timberlake did a vast majority of his own vocals and that made it more real and more fun for this viewer. So there's that.
Philly fans. In addition to celebrating the franchise's first Super Bowl title, the Eagles delivered on a projection of Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson, who said if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, he would buy all of Philadelphia a Bud Light. Bud Light stepped up and said they would help Johnson with the pledge. Bud Light announced afterward they would celebrate with fans in taverns along "Victory Lane" of the parade route where multiple Bud Light reps will be buying a Bud Light for all fans — 21-and-over— there. Maybe they should put "Philly! Philly!" on the can. Thoughts?
Bettor X. The guy who apparently gashed the Las Vegas sports books for more than $10 million in the baseball postseason reportedly made even more money betting Sunday's Eagles win. He laid seven-figure bets across the Vegas strip on the money line (his $1 million bets paid roughly $1.6 million). Yes, Nick Foles and Doug Pederson had a great Sunday, but Bettor X has been truly Super.
Terrell Owens and the rest of the new members of the NFL Hall of Fame. (Randy Moss had a social media reaction that was aces. Seriously.) Also, to the voters who finally and rightly gave the nod to T.O. Kudos. Here's TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer's excellent column on the decision in Monday's paper.
Tennessee hoops. Sure, the blowout win over Ole Miss may have been expected for a Tennessee team that is really rolling. But, with losses by Kansas and Duke this weekend, did you see the ESPN BPI computer rankings after this weekend have the Vols with a 24 percent chance of getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament? Read that again friends.
Kevin Hart. The comedian and lifelong Eagles fans tried to get on stage for the trophy presentation and was denied by some security guards. He did not take it well, and found his way to the NFL Network set and went off on a profanity-laced tirade. His reaction on social media was funny and quite human and included a ton of applicable hashtags such as #Shouldhavelistenedtomywife #IwasSuperdrunk #SoWhat #Ithrewupthismorning #HelpmebabyJesus.
Super Bowl commercials. Lots of people spent loads of money — more than $5 million per 30-second spot, plus the money to the stars in this spots — for little bounce back. We have some research numbers down in the "This and That" but other than a small chuckle at the Dilly! Dilly! spots — which we had much higher expectations for to be honest — but really other than a couple of Tide spots no product really resonated with us. How blah-tastic were the commercials? Eli Manning's NFL spot with his Giants teammates reenacting the Dirty Dancing scene was far and away the best spot. Far and away. (And know this, this New York Post sports front is absolutely money friends especially when you consider the rivalries with the Eagles and between New York and Boston in the game. Well-done.)
Everyone involved with the Patriots defense. Wow, talk about a turnstile? We watched the game with a group that included a friend who grew up in Michigan. Needless to say he's far from jazzed about the Matt Patricia era. In truth, it starts with Belichick, goes to DC Patricia and down to the players, who missed key tackles. In a game filled with stats that make you go, "Hmmmmm," are there any more impactful numbers than the Patriots had 613 yards of total offense and did not punt and still lost out there? And the questions about Malcolm Butler, a corner who played more than 97 percent of the Pats defensive snaps this year, playing one more snap than you did — and that was on punt return — should be asked every time Belichick has a media availability to be honest. (The early story circulating is Butler was a day late to Super Bowl drills because of illness. If that's it, well, we'd be shocked, but there you go.)
Work productivity for every business in Philadelphia. This one seems pretty clear, right? The debate of moving the game to Saturday seems more and more logical with each passing season.
Yes, the Super Bowl has everyone's attention this morning, but let's be really clear, the disaster that is the Cleveland Cavs must be mentioned here. Two-part question here: Has LeBron James called it a career in Cleveland? Dude was completely non-connected and not interested in Saturday's action in the home blowout on national TV to Houston. He had zero fouls. Zero. From there, we'll ask this: Has LeBron James underachieved? It's a fair question — and it's coming from an unabashed James fan boi — considering James was clearly not interested Saturday and finished a rebound and an assist short of a triple-double. In a game that he phoned in.
Sports fans. Ah, football is done. How many days until that first Friday of the high school season.
The catch rule. OK, in years past, we have been all over Roger Goodell and his Rope-a-Dope methods to crisis management. (Think about the PAT changes at the height of violence against women issues.) If there's any more evidence needed that the catch rule must be clarified is the two reviews of Philadelphia touchdown grabs last night. (We thought the first one — the juggle going out of bounds — should have be overturned. The second one — Zach Ertz diving into the end zone — was confirmed because Ertz had gone from receiver to a ball carrier so possession did not have to survive the ground rather just break the plain is evidence 1B why the rules have to be adjusted.)
Our NFL picks. Last year we crushed the final month of the NFL season and the playoffs, hitting more than 70 percent. This year, we decided to pick four games almost every week. We entered the Super Bowl a very blah-tastic 38-41-2 against the number this year. OK, here is where we listed all of our Super Bowl picks: We missed Patriots minus-4.5 and the coin toss (we had tails). We hit on over Tom Brady completions (26.5) and attempts (40) — he finished 28-of-48 — as well as first-quarter points being more than the kickoff temperature (12 points to 3 degrees), a score in the final two minutes of the first half and the over 48. So that means a 5-2 showing for Sunday closes the season at a very unproductive 43-43-2. Oy.
Wow, what a postseason. Mostly.
Wow, how about those trending TV numbers. (Forget the catch rule, the NFL really must address this as years start to dwindle before re-upping the TV deals. Side note: The first rounds of the overnights are quite strong, with ratings above 47, which should translate into 107-110 million viewers. So there's that.)
But the intrigue in and around the league next year is not only reserved to the power brokers and the decision makers. For the two teams that decide Super Bowl LII, those questions range from amazing to headache-producing.
The Patriots, which opened Monday as the Vegas favorite to win Super Bowl LIII, the questions are numerous.
Will Rob Gronkowski retire, a question that was posed to him after the game and one that carries a lot of weight considering the back surgeries and the concussion issues he has faced recently?
Will Brady be back? Will Belichick? Will the chemistry be changed or altered?
Will the defections of coordinators Josh McDaniel and Matt Patricia affect this team?
Hard to know, and harder still to answer.
It's also fair to ask, considering the coaching mistakes made by Belichick and especially Patricia, if the Patriots are prepared to be competitive when this dynasty ends.
Nevermind the questions that would be asked considering how bad Nick Foles made that defense look if the Falcons had not popped their pants in the second half of Super Bowl LI and we are talking about back-to-back Super Bowl flops for the Patriots.
On the other side, the two main questions about the Eagles are: How much better will they be in 2018 considering they can expect to have their MVP-candidate QB, their future Hall of Fame left tackle and their defensive captain back on the field? And that's with the knowledge that 21 of their 22 starters in last night's lineup are under contract for 2018. Wowser.
Secondly, what will they get for Nick Foles, who has way more value than most realize on the trade market because of a very friendly contract that has four more years on it on a roster other than the Eagles.
The other questions posed by the Eagles' win are more metaphysical in that will the guns up, guns out coaching scheme of Doug Pederson change the conservative nature that has paralyzed so many teams — especially against New England — in recent years? Secondly, will the build around the quarterback with weapons and depth and look to find a gem in the draft or a Keenum or Foles in free agency replace the overpay for a pretty good franchise guy like Alex Smith or Matt Stafford or interchangeable QB Z in the years ahead?
This and that
— Say what you want about Tiger, on and off the course, personal and public. Do not ever deny his impact on the game though. Golf Channel reported last month was its best January ever, carried in large part by its coverage of the first two days at Torrey Pines.
— According to System1 Research the top five commercials in terms of emotional connection with viewers as "Vacation Quarterback" followed by three U.S. Olympic-NBC coverage spots and the Giants' Dirty Dancing commercial. The top five brands mentioned during Super Bowl week were Avocados, Tide, Pepsi, T-Mobile and Doritos. As far as online activity and social media engagement during the Super Bowl, the Doritos rap commercial drew the most followed by "Solo" and then the Pepsi commercial.
— Speaking of Super Bowl ads, here is a review with clips to all the movie trailers that bought expensive ads during Sunday's game. Know this: In a houseful of kids who are Star Wars junkies, the clip of "Solo" got raves.
— One more Super Bowl tidbit, the helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Brandin Cooks from the game was also huge. One, it took away New England's best deep threat. Two, it will be viewed and reviewed as the league ponders whether to adopt the college targeting rule, which if it had been in place last night would have caused Philly safety Malcolm Jenkins to be ejected.
— OK, just one more Super Bowl tidbit. Here are Pats fans bemoaning the lack of a pass interference call on the Hail Mary at the end. The video show Chris Hogan getting lit up at the 10 with the ball in the air. Still, could you imagine the hubbub of a P.I. on a Hail Mary at the end of a Super Bowl. Egad.
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
Super Bowl winners. Super Bowl losers. Favorite commercial. It's all fair game friends.
As for the other stuff, well, know this: We will grade the entries and inform everyone of the results around lunch. Deal? Deal.
Question for the wannabe GMs out there: Would you trade Nick Foles for a first-rounder, say to Cleveland or Denver for the No. 4 or 5 overall pick? Discuss.
As for today, man, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are celebrating birthdays today. That's two of the five most famous athletes on this planet friends.
Today is National Weatherpersons Day, according to The Twitter, so thanks Paul Barys and David Glenn and even Chattanooga Chuck and the rest of the folks who predict the weather and let it roll.
Happy 84th birthday to The Hammer, the one and only Hank Aaron. Is there a better stat anywhere than, Hank and Tommie Aaron hold the all-time MLB record for most home runs by two brothers. Hank had 755; Tommie had 13.
OK, let's go off the board and try to include the whippersnappers around these part. Nolan Bushnell turns 75 today, and before you ask, who is Norman Bushnell, know this is the engineer who invented Atari and Pong.
A true genies friends.
Rushmore of old-school video games in the Arcade. Go.