Tag Archives: Super Bowl XLVIII

One Last Post from Super Bowl XLVIII: Do Championships Define a Player’s Greatness?

4 Feb

Today’s Final Report from  Super Bowl XLVIII is powered by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society

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by Chris Murray 

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Russell Wilson reflects on Seattle's Super Bowl win. Photo by Chris Murray.

Russell Wilson reflects on Seattle’s Super Bowl win. Photo by Chris Murray.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—With the Seattle Seahawks 43-8  thrashing of  the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the talk in social media, sports-talk radio and the various 24-hour cable sports networks has centered around the legacy of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

The current narrative among sports fans these days is that the more championship rings you have the greater you are as a player.  Of course, you will have someone saying the Manning’s greatness is now diminished because he didn’t get that second Super Bowl ring.

Of course, whenever I am in these discussions on social media or even sports-talk radio, I often point out the absolute silliness of that notion in team sports because it takes more than one player to win.

Pointing out to sports fans that it takes teams to win a championship is the equivalent of your mother telling you to eat your nasty-tasting vegetables because it’s good for you.

I think the popularity of this notion in the current era comes from one Michael Jordan who helped to lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. Never mind that he had help from teammates like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, Jordan is the face of those championships.

That mindset has invaded the ultimate team sport that is football and this is the stuff you see in the ongoing vilification of Manning after losing to Seattle.  The former Tennessee star has one Super Bowl ring, but it’s never enough for the limited, narrow scope of fans who are bedazzled by the glow of the ring or the trophy.

What they often fail to understand or maybe they don’t want to understand is the collective effort that it takes to get to win that championship.

There are a lot of great players in football who never won or even played in a championship game. Yet, in the eyes of various sports media types, the jockocracy, and fans, not winning a title somehow takes away from a player’s greatness.

During this past Super Bowl Week, I asked some prominent members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame if it was fair to tie a player’s greatness to the amount of championship rings he has or the  lack thereof.

“I would have to say that it is because that’s what this game is,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, who helped lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl crowns during the 1990s. “I don’t care how great you play individually if you can’t get others to play great we gotta to measure you on that. We can’t call this the ultimate team sport, but give you accolades for individual success.”

Then I asked Irvin what about guys like Dan Marino, Don Fouts or Barry Sanders? Those guys were Hall-of-Fame players who never won a championship. Surely their greatness is not diminished by their lack of rings, right?

“A Tom Brady couldn’t play defense, but can Tom Brady get a little more out of the guys that are playing defense? Is Tom Brady reaching and associating with guys in a way that brings more out of them?” Irvin asked rhetorically.

“So when we say hand the ball off to the ref like Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders never spiked the ball or acted crazy. Maybe he should have because maybe it would have gotten the defense fired up and maybe they would have gone out and made some plays.”

Cris Carter, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee and an outstanding receiver for the Minnesota Vikings would beg to differ with Irvin on that one. He said the notion of a great career being diminished because of lack of a Super Bowl ring is something created by the media.

“When you play certain positions you don’t have that much of an impact on who’s gonna win or lose the game,” Carter said. “Ninety-seven percent of players that play in the NFL don’t even play in a Super Bowl, 97 percent. So to think that you have to win a Super Bowl to be in the Hall of Fame wouldn’t be fair.”

Carter said it’s easy for Irvin to say championships define greatness because he played on a Cowboys team that had Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Larry Allen—all of whom are Hall of Famers.

Former New England Patriots linebacker and ESPN football analyst Tedy Bruschi was a part of three Super Bowl winners. I thought he would share Irvin’s sentiment, but he didn’t.

“Championships define greatness of teams that’s the way it is,” Bruschi said. “I don’t need Cris Carter to have a championship ring to know how great he is.  He’s one of the greatest of all time.”

As fans we have a weird kind of Drum Major Instinct when it comes to our athletes because we all like the glitz and the glamour of the guy who stands out in the crowd. In football and for that matter any sport, the guy who stands out does so because he stands on the shoulders of his teammates who are holding him up.

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Seattle’s Defense Reigns Supreme in Super Bowl XLVIII

3 Feb

Today’s Super Bowl Report is powered by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society

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By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Seattle's Kam Chancellor talks to reporters after Seahawks win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Photo by Chris Murray

Seattle’s Kam Chancellor talks to reporters after Seahawks win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Photo by Chris Murray

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Right from the very first play, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos couldn’t get out of the way of themselves and they definitely couldn’t navigate their way through a relentless, tenacious Seattle Seahawks defense.

By the time the game reached the third quarter, the Broncos found themselves in a deep hole from which they never recovered. To be quite frank, Denver did nothing to make this a competitive game.

“We needed to play really well to win and we didn’t come close to that,” said Manning, who was 34-of-49 for 280 yards with one touchdowns and two interceptions. “We weren’t sharp offensively from the get-go.”

Led by an aggressive defense that completely dominated the NFL’s No. 1 offense, Seattle surged to its first NFL Championship in franchise history with a 43-8 blowout win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in front of 82,529 fans at MetLife Stadium.

“It was a fantastic night on defense,” said Seahawks head coach Peter Carroll. “It’s still hard to get to (Manning), but we got to him in key situations and made the ball come our way.”

Seattle’s No. 1 ranked defense simply unhinged and dismantled the league’s most explosive offense by just punching them in the mouth early and often. In the first half, the Seahawks defense intercepted Manning twice-including a pick-six for a touchdown by linebacker and Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith.

“We had excellent pressure, somebody got their arm on the ball, I didn’t see who,” Smith said. “I guess the ball came out high and I was just fortunate that the running back was kind of sitting there waiting on it. I just attacked it and took off.”

Smith was the guy who got the game-winning interception off a tip ball by Richard Sherman in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I’ve always imagined myself making great plays,” Smith said. “Never thought about being the MVP.”

The Seahawks led 22-0 at half time and they held the Broncos to just 123 yards of total offense.  For the game, Seattle held Denver offense to 306 total yards. They forced four turnovers.

Russell Wilson managed the Seahawks offense well. He was an efficient 18-of-25 for 206 yards while tossing a pair of touchdown passes. The former Wisconsin star became the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

“To be the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, that’s history, man,” Wilson said. “It’s something special. It’s real. There are some many guys before me that have tried to change the game and done a great job at it. God is so good. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, Latino, Asian or 5-foot-11…It’s the heart that you have.”

The Seattle special teams also got in the act as wide receiver Percy Harvin, who missed most of the season with various injuries, took the second half kickoff 87-yards for a touchdown to give Seattle a 29-0 lead.

“W e knew it was a great chance we would catch them off guard,” Harvin said. “Those guys cleared out the right side of the field. There were two defenders over there. I just took the gap and did all I could.”

A pair of touchdown passes by Wilson to Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin rounded out the scoring for Seattle. Denver got its lone score on a TD pass from Manning Demaryius Thomas late in the third quarter.

Place kicker Steven Hauschka kicked two field goals and his kickoffs into the end zone kept the Broncos pinned in their own territory.

The day started going South for the Broncos from their first play when center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning’s head. The ball was kicked out of the end zone by running back Knowshon Moreno.

“I thought I heard (Manning’s voice),” Ramirez said. “Supposedly, we were almost three seconds late on the snap. Unfortunately, things happen.”

In 12 seconds the Seahawks had a 2-0 lead. It was the fastest score in Super Bowl history.

After the free kick, Seattle drove the ball from its own 36 to the Denver nine but settled for a 33-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka to increase the lead to 5-0.

On the Seahawks next possession, after the defense held Denver to a three and out, they drove from their own 28 to the Denver 14, but settled for a 31-yard field goal by Hauschka to give them an 8-0 lead.

When the Broncos offense got back on the field for their next possession late in the first quarter, things started getting progressively worse.  On third and seven from the Broncos 23, Manning was picked off by Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor at the Denver 37.

Seven plays later, Seattle scored the game’s first touchdown on a one-yard plunge by running back Marshawn Lynch to up the margin to 15-0 with 12 minutes left in the half.

If you want to point to when the competitive portion of this game ended. It was the 69-yard interception return for a touchdown by Smith that gave the Seahawks an insurmountable 22-0 lead.

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The Other Quarterback in Super Bowl XLVIII: Don’t Sleep on Russell Wilson

1 Feb

Today’s  Super Bowl XLVIII Report is powered by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society 

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By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fields questions from reporters and a few fans during Super Bowl Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fields questions from reporters and a few fans during Super Bowl Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

JERSEY CITY, N.J.—Lost in all the back and forth trash talk about ducks between precocious Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the other quarterback in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

In the midst of all the noise of Sherman comparing Manning’s passes to ducks along with the rancor of Marshawn Lynch’s stubborn refusal to play nice with the media all week, Wilson has been as quiet and unassuming in his preparation for Sunday’s game.

“I think the thing that I’ve been able to do is go through my check list and understand what I need to look at all the third down pressures, all the red zone pressures, all the two-minute situations, four-minute situations, backed up situations and really understanding those moments and making sure I’m prepared for those things,” Wilson said.

“When it happens in the game, I’ve already visualized it, I’ve already seen and I’ve already practiced it over and over inside my head.”

Conventional wisdom coming into Sunday’s game says if you stop Lynch in the running game, then you’ll force the Seahawks passing game with their receivers to beat you. Wilson said that’s an opportunity he relishes.

“Most teams try to throw the box at us because of Marshawn and our offensive line and what they can do,” Wilson said. “I look forward to do that if that’s the case.”

Late in the regular season and throughout the playoffs, Wilson wasn’t necessarily putting up the numbers that would have stat geeks jumping for joy. In wins over the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, Wilson never panicked when he was struggling and always made that one big play to put his team over top.

“Even when the numbers weren’t there, which everybody focused on, we were still winning and he was doing his part to win the game,” said head coach Pete Carroll.  “He didn’t force things he stayed with the game plan, he stayed with the formula we wanted to win with and managed the game in great fashion in the championship game.”

Wilson is more than just a game manager if you look at the numbers. During the regular season, he completed 63 percent of his passes, threw for 3,357 yards with 26 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

In the win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, Wilson made plays to get his team going. With Seattle down 10-0 in the second quarter and the offense struggling, Wilson did a Fran Tarkenton-like scramble around the pocket for what seemed to be an eternity and found Doug Baldwin for a huge 51-yard gain that got the Seahawks offense going and eventually led to field goal.

“I think (Wilson’s running) is a great advantage for us because not only can he make plays running the ball, but when he gets forced out of the pocket, he looks down field to makes plays in the passing game and that gives us huge opportunities as receivers to make plays down the field and get open,” Baldwin said.

Early in the fourth quarter, with his team facing a fourth and seven from the 49ers 35, Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for the touchdown to put the Seahawks on top for good. For the game, Wilson was 16-of-25 for 215 yards and that one touchdown.

“(Wilson) is an incredible competitor in every way. In preparation, in game day, he’s the epitome of what you want in your competitor. He’s got tremendous work habits,” Carroll said.

“He’s got a general all-around savvy that allows him to make great decisions under pressure. He’s extremely confident too, so no matter what is going on, he’s not going to waver in his focus and ability to handle things.”

If fans and the sports media are underestimating what Wilson can do in the passing game, the Broncos secondary won’t because of his ability to create plays with his feet.

“He extends plays,” said Denver safety Mike Adams. “If you have his receivers locked down, he can create something that’s what makes Russell Wilson unique. One thing he does do, he keeps his eyes down field and if he has to run, he going to run. We’ve got to contain that.”

With all the focus on Manning and the Broncos offense, Wilson said he’s ready for the challenge of matching throws with a legend.

“To compete against Peyton Manning is an honor and a privilege … It should be a great game,” Wilson said. “He’s been consistent on a regular basis and that’s where I want to be.”

The Champ Is Here: Bailey Finally Gets to Enjoy Super Bowl Spotlight After 15 Years

31 Jan

 

 

Today’s Super Bowl XLVIII Report is powered by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society 

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By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey fields questions from reporters during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey fields questions from reporters during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

JERSEY CITY, NJ.—Most of the talk during the buildup to Super Bowl XLVIII has been about players and their lasting legacies in the game.

For a player like Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, it’s about solidifying an already outstanding legacy as one of the game’s great quarterbacks by taking two different teams to a Super Bowl win.

In the case of young players like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman, it’s about establishing themselves and their team as one of best in the game in the here and now.

But let’s face some reality here, they’re a lot of great Hall of Famers who played in the NFL with distinction and have never come close to winning or even playing in a Super Bowl.

In the eyes of some football fans and observers in the age of sports talk radio and 24-hour cable sports networks a player not having that Super Bowl ring is that one thing that diminishes his greatness.

Considering that football is the ultimate team game, it’s a pretty silly notion.

“Championships define the greatness of teams. That’s the way it is,” said Tedy Bruschi, who won three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker with the New England Patriots. “I don’t need a Cris Carter to have a championship ring to know how great he is.”

The same could be said for the 15-year career of Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who will be playing in his first Super Bowl on Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks.

Bailey has done it all as a cornerback in this league and has done it longer than some of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame now. He’s a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and a five-time All-Pro selection, making the first-team three times. His career Pro Bowl selections are the most in NFL history by a defensive back.

Not many corners have lasted as long as Bailey and not been moved to safety. He is still playing the game and his position at a high level.

Going through a plethora of interviews during Super Bowl week, Bailey isn’t measuring his ring size or even thinking about what it would be like to win a championship. He’s more focused on trying to shut down Seattle’s passing game and helping his defense contain running back Marshawn Lynch.

“All I been thinking about is the things we got to clean up from yesterday,” said Bailey, who has 52 career interceptions. “We had a good practice. It’s never perfect. That’s really all I been thinking about. … I haven’t thought about what kind of ring or anything. I’m just worried about winning.”

Some of Bailey’s teammates, especially his colleagues in the Broncos secondary, want to win this game for him because he has been a leader and mentor to them. Safety Mike Adams, himself a 10-year veteran in the league, said the joy Bailey would experience, if Denver wins,  would be indescribable.

“I cannot imagine what he would be feeling because I know I would be feeling tears of joy and everything and I was in it for 10 years. [Bailey] has been in it for 15 years,” Adams said. “For him to get to this point and if he wins, that’s the ultimate. That’s what we play for.”

This season, Bailey played in just five regular-season games while playing through a foot injury that he suffered during the preseason. Though he was on the sideline, Bailey was coaching and advising his teammates during the course of games and in practice.

“He spent many games inactive, but he was always there,” said Denver head coach John Fox. “And in that defensive room, his guidance, his leadership was always there and that never wavered.”

While Bailey, who spent his first five years with the Washington Redskins, appreciates the encouragement of teammates, he said he’s just happy to be with a solid group of players, the best team he’s played on in his long career.

“I finally got with the right group of guys,” he said.

Bailey said whether his team wins on Sunday or not, he will not leave the game with any regrets.

“It’s been a journey to get here, but I don’t regret anything that’s happened in my career,” Bailey said. “I’m not worried about winning or losing right now. I’m just worried about going out and making sure we’re prepared to play and give ourselves a chance to win.

“If I feel like on (Sunday) that we’ve done enough to prepare and we don’t win, I’m cool with that because we gave it our best.”

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Pot Roast Versus Skittles: Former Temple Star Terrance Knighton Enjoying Super Bowl Spotlight

29 Jan

Today’s Super Bowl Report is powered by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society

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By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Temple and Denver Broncos start defensive lineman Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton taking questions at Super Bowl Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

Former Temple and Denver Broncos start defensive lineman Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton taking questions at Super Bowl Media Day. Photo by Chris Murray.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. –Former Temple star and Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton has spent a year in unfamiliar territory and it’s not because he was playing with a team in a new city.

In his fifth year in the pros since playing his college ball in North Philadelphia, Knighton is experiencing what it’s like to be on a winning team after playing for losing teams at the collegiate level and for the first four years of his NFL career.

Playing for a Denver Broncos team that is gearing up for their Super Bowl XLVIII matchup against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Knighton has enjoyed the season and relishing the opportunity to play for a championship.

“You dream about it, you pray on it, you hope it happens,” Knighton said. “I’m just glad take advantage of the moment.  … It was frustrating (playing for losing teams), but looking back on it now, it makes me cherish this moment even more. Adversity builds character. A lot of time people forget about the downs. But I remember it at times like this.”

This season, Knighton has made the difference in the middle of the Broncos defense. He has 31 tackles, three sacks, five tackles for a loss, seven quarterback hits and one interception. In the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Knighton had four tackles, including two for a loss and had one sack.

“We are very excited to have him. He has been a real stalwart up front, especially inside in both the run and the pass. We are pleased in the growth and development he made this year, but I attribute it to him,” Broncos head coach John Fox.

Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said Knighton really increased the level of his play when several Denver defensive lineman went to down to injury.  He was called upon not just improve his own game, but to also to be a leader of the defense.

“Basically it became, ‘Look we really need you to step up and not just play well. We need you to step up and lead, help Sly (Sylvester Willliams) be comfortable next to you, talk with him,” Del Rio said.  “He’s really taken that and run with it. He’s really embraced the role. He’s played well and he’s done more things behind the scenes aside from playing well, in terms of leadership and helping Sly, the young D-tackle playing next to him play at a better level.”

At 6-foot-3, 335 pounds, Knighton has become popular with his Denver teammates who affectionately call him, “Pot Roast.”  He said the name came when he ordered pot roast on a six-hour flight back to Denver.

“Plane is dark and the lady is walking down the aisle saying, ‘Pot roast, pot roast’, and I’m like, ‘Right here, right here’. My teammate behind me was like, ‘You’re saying that like that’s your name. I’m going to call you ‘Pot Roast,’’ Knighton said.  “And then it stuck with me. It was either that or ‘shrimp Alfred,’ so I’m glad I got that.”

Coming into their Super Bowl matchup with Seattle, Knighton will be among the players on the defensive line expected to slow down Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who gained 1,257 yards rushing and scored 12 touchdowns.

“I’m ready for the challenge,” Knighton said. “Our group is ready for the challenge. We have to play gap sound football and make we tackle him and knock the pile back because their offensive line does a great job of pushing the pile and finishing guys.  We want to be that force on the field.”

Oddly enough, some observers are billing this matchup as “Pot Roast versus Skittles.”

During his college days, Knighton excelled for a Temple team (2005-2008) that wasn’t very good. In his first year at Temple in 2005, Knighton played for a Temple team that went 0-11. He played under then-head coach Al Golden for three years and never had a winning season.

In three seasons as a starter with the Owls, Knighton accumulated 184 tackles (105 solo), seven sacks and 26 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and four blocked kicks. He said playing at Temple made him mentally strong despite all the losing.

“You’re playing in the heart of North Philadelphia, it’s a rough area,” Knighton said. “You gotta be tough. That’s why we take pride in being Temple-made and being Temple tough with two Fs.”

Though Knighton said he was blessed to be a third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he still experienced losing.   When he became an unrestricted free agent, Knighton said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally play for a winner.

“You can’t pass up playing for a Super Bowl contender,” Knighton said. “Playing next to a (linebacker) Von Miller, Champ Bailey behind you, Wesley Woodyard, you can’t pass up on things like that. I had the opportunity to play here and I jumped on it.”

Student of the Game: Seattle’s Richard Sherman Says He’s the Best because of His Intellect

29 Jan

Today’s Report from Super Bowl 48 is fueled by the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society

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Sherman says He Regrets Postgame Interview with Fox

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Richard Sherman addresses reports during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Photo by Chris Murray

Richard Sherman addresses reporters during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Photo by Chris Murray

NEWARK,N.J.—Even if you thought Richard Sherman’s bombastic postgame interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews was unsportsmanlike, loud and the obnoxious immaturity of a 20-something athlete, he did give you something think about.

When he proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL, you have to ask yourself is he lying?

In his three years with the Seahawks, Sherman has certainly put in the work to make that claim. The former Stanford star has 20-career interceptions including a league-leading eight in 2013. Sherman is a two-time All-Pro including the 2013 season.

Since his rookie season in 2011, Sherman’s interceptions are more than Tampa Bay’s Darelle Revis and Cleveland’s Joe Haden—the other two cornerbacks who also believe that they are the best in the game.

“We know that Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league and we believe in that,” said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson during Tuesday’s Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day at the Prudential Center. “In terms of what he does on a regular basis, he puts in the work. … He’s one of the best. He backs it up by his play, his actions and everything he does.”

The six-foot-three, 195-pound Sherman is more than a guy with tremendous athleticism with a penchant for talking trash. With all his physical ability to keep wide receivers from making big plays, Sherman is also a solid student of the game, a trait not often associated with African-American athletes.

“A lot of people do have that misconception that athletes don’t think the game through and that it doesn’t take a ton of intelligence to play this game because it’s such a brute sport because of guys running into each other,” said Sherman, who had a 3.99 grade-point average in the class room at Stanford. “It takes a lot of intelligence and quick thinking. You have to think on your toes, study the concepts and you have to be able to translate what you learn in the classroom onto the field and that takes a tremendous amount of talent.”

Perhaps the biggest edge that Sherman has as a cornerback was that he played in 37 games as a wide receiver and accumulated 81 receptions for 1,340 yards during his days at Stanford. He said his understanding of the receiver position has enabled him to play the cornerback position well.

“That’s given me a tremendous amount of insight just being able to understand route concepts, understand formations, tendencies and things that they like to do,” Sherman said. “It’s situational football. When receivers split outside the numbers, what they’re trying to do inside the numbers. It really helps, especially in the West Coast offense.”

Sherman also credits his coaches at Stanford-Vic Fangio, now the defensive coordinator with the 49ers and Derek Mason, former Stanford defensive coordinator and new Vanderbilt head coach for helping him to understand the Xs and Os of the game.

Denver wide receiver DeMaryius Thomas said he considers Sherman to be among the league’s best corners and is looking forward to going up against him.

“He’s a great player, I’ve watched him on the field and he’s smart,” said Thomas, who caught 92 passes for 1,340 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season. “He knows a lot that’s going on. I’m looking forward to a good game.”   

During the course of Super Bowl Media day interviews, Sherman was inevitably asked about the postgame interview and the things he said about San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, he admitted that it was something he wished he could take back.

 “Last week I felt like I was just attacking a man—attacking it and taking away from teammates,” Sherman said. “You never want to talk down to a man to build yourself up and things like that. So I regretted that and I regretted taking away from teammates. That’s the one thing that I wish I could do again.”

Sherman said the viscerally racist reaction to his post-NFC Championship on the social media site Twitter may have been a blessing in disguise in terms of generating a dialogue on race.

“I feel that anytime you can restart that conversation and you get people past that,” he said. “You get people on the other side of that conversation to be accepting and have no color lines.

“Understand that everybody ought to be judged for who they are as a person and what they do for the community instead of just how they look and their appearance, regardless men, women, child, whatever their religious beliefs are. People should be judged by their character and who they are and not by anything else.”

 

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AFC Championship: Win or Lose, Peyton Manning Still Among the Best to Play the Game

19 Jan

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning greet each other after the Patriots 34-31 win on Nov. 24.  Photo by the DenverPost.com.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning greet each other after the Patriots 34-31 win on Nov. 24. Photo by the DenverPost.com.

There are some who are touting Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver as some sort of legacy game for both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

It’s like Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier III in boxing or Achilles versus Hector in Greek mythology. We are looking for another epic struggle for the ages that will be etched indelibly on the minds of football fans everywhere.

I guess what folks are really trying to say that this will be a contest of how history will view what Brady and Manning done during their careers.  What people really want to know is who is the greatest between Brady and Manning?

To be honest, I think that both quarterbacks will be voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. After all, Brady has led the Patriots to three Super Bowls. Manning, who has one Super Bowl ring, he has re-written the NFL record book and considered to be among the all-time greats to play the game.

For all the things that Manning has done as a quarterback, it will not resonate for a lot of fans in this day and age because he doesn’t have as many Super Bowl rings as Brady. Hell, he doesn’t have as many as his brother Eli, who has two with the New York Giants.  Let’s face it, Eli is not as good as his elder brother.

Even if the Broncos can’t get past the Patriots, please don’t go around saying that Manning’s greatness as a quarterback is diminished because he doesn’t have as many rings as Brady or anybody else.

One of the things that bothers me about our current media landscape of 24-hour sports networks, talk radio and social media is that we are so caught up in the bling of championship rings that we tend to forget one immutable fact that’s important to success in sports like football—It’s a “team game.”

In an era where the No. 1 talking point in sports that we all get off on is Michael Jordan winning six rings as a member of the Chicago Bulls, we determine the greatness of players by how many championships they won while playing for a particular team.

The problem that I have with that notion is that Jordan didn’t win those titles by himself and neither did Brady. They were part of some great teams. Their names are not on those trophies by themselves. They played with players that complimented their skills.

I find that reminding fans that teams win championships, whether it’s a column in the newspaper or on social media, is like your mother telling you when you were a kid that you should eat your vegetables because they’re good for you.  You would rather have chocolate cake and other assorted sweets because it tastes better even though it has too much sugar.

We like to believe that our heroes act alone like they do in all the super hero comic books or in the movies. Such things as having outstanding offensive lineman, a great defense and special teams become secondary to making our favorite players larger than life.

In football, success in the postseason, contrary to popular belief, is dependent upon your teammates-offense, defense and special teams.  A bad day in one of those areas and you won’t win.

In Manning’s case, he is 10-11 in playoff games and has just one Super Bowl ring. If you look back through the playoff games he lost, I would venture to say that when you cut it down the middle that some of those losses weren’t his fault and some were very much his fault.

For example, in a crazy 21-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005, a missed chip-shot field goal near the end of that game ended his season.

In some of those games, the defense couldn’t stop the other team’s offense. Last season’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional playoff round was a classic example of that. You know the story.

The Broncos were up seven with under a minute to play and seemed on their way to the AFC Championship until a mistake by the defense allowed Jacoby Jones to score on a 70-yard touchdown pass that tied the game and sent it into overtime.

Of course, Manning’s last pass of the game in overtime was intercepted by Baltimore’s Corey Graham. It doesn’t come to that if Denver safety Raheem Moore is in better position to defend Jones in regulation.

Sometimes, the players on the other team are just better than your team that day. The Patriots beat Manning’s Indianapolis Colts teams twice in the playoffs because the Patriots defense outplayed his offense while the Colts defense couldn’t stop Brady and the Patriots.

There are plenty of great quarterbacks in this game who never won one Super Bowl. I think of the Dan Marinos, the Warren Moons, Jim Kellys and the Dan Fouts who were great quarterbacks, but never won a championship because some aspect of their team’s dynamic was flawed in some way.

I still remember flashes of Fouts watching helplessly on the sideline as the Oakland Raiders offense ran out the last seven minutes of the 1980 AFC Championship after the Chargers had scored the touchdown to come within seven.

The glare of those rings blinds us from the reality that winning a championship in team sports is hard. You need the right mix of players and good coaching along with a little bit of luck to win. You can have the greatest player in the world, but if you don’t have a solid team around him playing together, you’re not going to win jack.

Whether or not he beats New England on Sunday or the NFC squad two weeks later in the Super Bowl, Manning is still among the great quarterbacks in the history of the game.  Losing Sunday or two weeks from now will not dim the glory of his outstanding career.

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