Beast or Burden
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to sign a contract extension this offseason. Perhaps if the sullen star runner knew he was on his way out he'd comment more forcefully about not being given the ball on the 1-yard line, one timeout left, the Super Bowl on the line.
Lynch, who doesn't speak willingly to the media, took the high ground in responses to questions about the ill-fated playcall - a quick slant that was intercepted, sealing the Super Bowl for the Patriots. He said football is a team game, which is to say, boiling it down to one play isn't appropriate, and assigning blame on play calls isn't valid.
But it isn't a question of blame. When the Steelers' running game was sagging in 2013, Mean Joe Greene said that teams have to run the ball and run it successfully on running downs. Short-yardage situations have not yet been replaced by the glitz and glamor of spread-out, shotgun passing.
It's odd, considering the biggest knock on 2015 Hall of Fame class member Jerome Bettis was his lower yards per carry average. Bettis, like Lynch, scores on that play 99 times out of 100.
Perhaps that 100th time is a fumble, but no one, to this day, questions why the Steelers handed off on 1st and goal from Indianapolis's 2-yard line in the 2005 divisional playoffs.
Super Bowl XLIX will go down as an example of the old school beating out the new age.
Just as Lynch's play throughout the Super Bowl made his argument for a big new contract, Seattle's decision to not put the ball in his hands with the game on the line also boosted the contract value of another player - New England's Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie who made the Super Bowl's biggest defensive play since James Harrison rumbled 101 yards for a touchdown.
All credit should go to him for finding a way to fight through the legal screen to beat the receiver to the spot - something a far more talented cornerback, Darrelle Revis, failed to do in allowing a touchdown earlier in the game.
Butler's play will forever be the footnote to Super Bowl ILIX - Seattle didn't run from the one-yard line, and Butler made the catch - for the Patriots.
Disservice to Terry Bradshaw
As the world congratulates the accomplishments, controversy aside, of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the football world is displaying their ignorance.
Hundreds of media types launched in the standard rank-and-file of historical cataloging the instant a game is over. The final verdict appears to be the dismissal of the 1970s, the dawn of football starting in 1982 and Brady having written the latest chapter.
He joins Joe Montana in the four-ring quarterback club, if one were to peruse most 24-hour news programs and publications.
Terry Bradshaw, the first quarterback to win four rings, gets nothing.
Montana didn't lose one, mind you, but neither did Bradshaw. Brady lost two. Pardon me for choosing to remember history, but 4-0 in six years has plenty of backing as one of the greatest, and most difficult to top, accomplishments in NFL history.
Historians shouldn't fail to remember Brady's two losses in the big game any more than they should forget about Bradshaw's two MVPs and spotless Super Bowl record. One main reason is the savage level of defense being played back then.
A running joke in the NFL today, one echoed by current players, is how teams can't get too close to Brady without drawing a flag and a fine. Bradshaw took the teeth of the unregulated pass-rushing era. Even Montana didn't have to compete with that.
Discuss Brady having won four Super Bowls, and discuss his place in history. Don't discount Bradshaw because Brady grew up a fan of Montana. There is no pair here, it's a group of three. And while Bradshaw may be accused of not being able to spell three-letter words without help, he needs four fingers, and one fist, to represent his Super Bowl record.
Bettis joins another elite club
Jerome Bettis will likely be the star of the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class of 2015. Steeler Nation will invade its neighboring state, and fill up Fawcett Stadium with enough black and gold to make Browns and Bengals fans uneasy.
His career accomplishments will be front and center at Canton, as they should be. But there's something else, not as widely known as his career statistics, but perhaps even more important, that deserves discussion.
Bettis joins 21 other players who in the Hall of Fame and are also recipients of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. Bettis won his in 2001, joining Steelers legends Franco Harris (1976), Joe Greene (1979) and Lynn Swann (1981). He will also enter the Hall alongside Will Shields and Junior Seau, Payton Award winners in 2003 and 1994, respectively.
Adding three players to the Hall of Fame who also won that award is newsworthy, even if it won't grab much in terms of headlines. Bettis's playing days provided ample evidence to his worthiness of induction, but his contributions off the field are what endeared him to Pittsburgh and to Steeler Nation.
We should cheer for that as we're celebrating the Bus's last stop.
Your take: More money was wasted on others (in regards to Lance Moore). The ridiculous 2.7 given to Ike who should have come back at the minimum like Harrison or taken a hike. At the very least, they should have given him a Keisel like contract which was in the 1.5M area. The money given to Cortez and Gilbert(though in Gilbert’s case, at least he earned the starting spot, so not a total waste). the 5M given to Mitchell. the 2M given to Cam. Lance Moore was a depth signing., That was the standard rate paid to veteran WRs of his caliber on the downside of his career.
My take: It can be difficult to determine fact from assumption when it comes to contracts and roster decisions. Suggesting the decision to keep Ike Taylor at $2.7 million was made in a vacuum is misleading. Taylor's contract still had a sizable amount of prorated bonus money that needed to be counted. Dropping him down to the league minimum probably wouldn't have been something Taylor wanted, so he would have asked for his release.
That would have pushed more dead money onto the cap and it would open up a roster spot, forcing them to spend more money to have fewer players.
In retrospect, $2.7 million was too much for Taylor, but the market showed the level of player for that salary really did not suggest releasing him flat-out, taking the dead money and spending more on someone else was all that great of an alternative. Considering the decision was made before Taylor's collapse over the 2014 season, the move made sense at the time.
Ike's deal was a one-year rental with a slight premium paid to a long-standing and respected veteran.