I'm wondering if maybe just maybe this might be the year we see the first Super Bowl overtime game. Hey, after 45 years without one aren't we due?
Several billion is expected to be wagered on the Super Bowl, and not all the bets will be made on the game. Sure, you can put money down on whether to take the Patriots giving three or the Giants getting three. And you can pick the over-under on how many combined points will be scored and how many touchdown passes and interceptions Tom Brady and Eli Manning will toss.
But you can also wager on who will win the coin toss (NFC teams have won 14 straight times, so I'm thinking the odds might finally be in the AFC's favor) as well as goofy things such as the length of Kelly Clarkson's national anthem, whether Madonna will experience a wardrobe malfunction, a la Janet Jackson, and how many times the TV cameras will zoom in on Peyton Manning watching from a Lucas Oil Stadium luxury suite.
There's still a place in the NFL for the little guy and the overlooked guy. Consider Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and his Giants counterpart Victor Cruz. Neither guy was drafted, but each finished the season among the league leaders. Welker was second in receiving yards with 1,569, while Cruz was third (1,536). Welker had an amazing 122 receptions, marking his fourth season with more than 110 catches. Cruz, a second-year player out of the University of Massachusetts, had 82 receptions, which were 82 more than he had during his rookie season.
"There's a lot of us," Cruz told reporters Wednesday. "There's a lot of [college] receivers around the country that have the talent and just don't get the opportunity or get the chance to show their skills on the national stage . . . They're kind of flying under the radar and then they put up some good numbers and then they get a chance in the NFL. They get a [rookie] free agent deal, and they make the best of their opportunity. Sometimes you just get overlooked."
Bill Belichick clearly loves players like Welker and Cruz. Just look at his current 53-man roster. It boasts 18 undrafted free agents, eight of whom are starters. To his credit, the Patriots genius coach has never been overly enamored with where a guy was drafted, if at all, or where he played his college ball. "I tell the team that I don't care how you got here, it's what you do when you get here,'' he said.
Bills fans have witnessed more Tom Brady touchdown passes than they'd care to admit while enduring 18 losses in 20 games vs. the Patriots this past decade. Now, they also have to endure Brady throwing verbal barbs, too. At Wednesday's media scrum, the Patriots quarterback took a cheap shot at his Buffalo accommodations. "I don't know if you guys have been to the hotels in Buffalo,'' he said, "but they're not the nicest places in the world."
After the presser, Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan asked Brady if he ranked the hotels and if Buffalo's were the league's worst.
"No, they're fine,'' Brady said, smiling.
Then, before heading out the door, Brady looked back and said, "Don't write that. You'll get me in trouble."
Ah, too, late, Tom. If you didn't want to get people in Buffalo further irritated, you probably shouldn't have flapped your gums.
Maybe Patriots All-Pro tight end and Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski can help Mr. Brady find better accommodations before next season's game at the Ralph.