Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl 2011 and Tuesday's NFL Buzz
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers have arrived in Dallas, and we're now full steam ahead for Super Bowl XLV.
I've already covered a ton of angles on the game and made my prediction, but we'll see what else I can come up with today to try and keep it fresh and interesting.
In better news, Union chief DeMaurice Smith finally appears to be coming to his senses and has drawn up a schedule of meetings with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. While things may not get solved this weekend, the fact that they are talking is progress.
Thanks for stopping by and keep checking in as we hit all the day's news with commentary and analysis.
Super Bowl 2011: The Big Game Gets Bigger Every Year
In a recent article about the "Never Missed A Super Bowl Club," one of the members said Super Bowl I cost him less than $100, and that included money spent on his date and travel.
Accounting for inflation, the numbers still don't add up when the cost of one of the cheapest tickets just to have a bad view of the game is $550. You can buy a ticket to stand outside and watch it on TV for $200, but if you do that, please remove yourself from the gene pool, the world no longer needs your genetics in it.
A suite could cost you $70,000, according to one report, and the "average" Super Bowl ticket is going to be $2,500.
There is something to be said for generating a lot of money for the local economy and the sport, but there is this word called "excess," and the Super Bowl definitely has reached that point.
Fortunately, the games have gotten better over the last 10-15 years, and there haven't been as many blowouts as their seemed to be in the 70s and 80s.
The future of the Super Bowl only points to things getting even bigger. In addition to the game, there's a carnival outside, and it's considered the first "unofficial" holiday of the year. With a very enthusiastic sports fan in the White House, maybe we could lobby President Obama to make Super Bowl Sunday an official national holiday.
It's a day when people already gather to eat food, drink spirits and celebrate a good time. Why not make it official?
For a look at NFL Trade Scenarios, check out 10 Blockbuster Trades.
2011 NFL Mock Draft: The Senior Bowl Switches Things Up At QB
Jake Locker hurt his draft prospects with an average week at the Senior Bowl, and Christian Ponder raised his by performing well and winning the MVP.
Locker scored the only touchdown drive for the north, but he lost two fumbles, recovered by his offensive lineman, and had a couple of very bad throws.
Everything a first-round draft prospect does at this time of year is hyper-analyzed, and Locker is no different.
The question is, how valuable is the information we gleaned from the Senior Bowl?
Answer: Not very.
The Senior Bowl is a bunch of skilled amateurs trying to figure out how to play together in one week. None of these players are professionals yet, even if most of them will have a shot at the NFL.
Look at the Pro Bowl. Even though these guys are the pros and the best at what they do, the Pro Bowl usually is a comical farce. Why would the Senior Bowl be perceived any different?
But it is. However, the Combine and individual workouts are coming up, and more value is placed on those events than the Senior Bowl.
As it stands right now, I think Locker still is a first-round pick and I'm going to mock him to Minnesota.
Locker chose to participate in the Senior Bowl despite its potential downside, so give him credit for throwing himself out there. Locker may not be ready to step in and be a starter in the NFL, but he's showing the right attitude, and that counts for a lot.
You need to have the right attitude to be a winner in the NFL, and Locker definitely has that potential.
For a look at the Super Bowl, check out why the Packers and Steelers should be role models for the rest of the league.
Troy Polamalu was named defensive player of the year by the AP, notching a victory over Green Bay Packer's linebacker Clay Matthews.
The Packers are hoping that's the only Steelers victory this week, obviously, but it's hard to argue with any defensive award this year that comes down to Polamalu and Matthews. Polamalu consistently has been one of the best players in the league since he came into the league, and Matthews already is jumping into the "elite" arena after two strong years in the NFL.
Polamalu edged Matthews out by two votes, just to show you how close it was. The third-place player, James Harrison, wasn't even close. This was a two-horse race all the way, and the AP got it right.
It's nice when you see someone get an award from an outside body that really deserves it. Often the media outlets get it wrong as they chase "the big story," or deliberately snub somebody to further a personal grudge or agenda.
Polamalu and Matthews are the poster children for the term "Gamechangers," and neither team's defense is the same when those two players aren't on the field.
Matthews is at the beginning of his career, so the Packers are set there. The Steelers, though, have to look at the Polamalu situation with concern. He's not getting any younger, and he's battled injuries the past two years. The Steelers are going to have to look long and hard to find a player who can even come close to Polamalu's talent.
Polamalu can be succeeded but he can't be replaced, and the Steelers will have to deal with that reality in the next few years.
For a look at the Super Bowl, check out 10 Underrated Players To Keep Your Eyes On.
The Green Bay Packers have a young team with a lot of potential, and they only are looking to get better.
They have a franchise quarterback in place with Aaron Rodgers, they have good depth at running back now with the emergence of James Starks, they have wide receivers, and they have a game-changer on defense named Clay Matthews.
The Packers proved how much depth they have across the board this year with Starks situation, and the continuity shown through the injuries to Nick Barnett, Brady Poppinga and Brandon Chillar.
Most teams that suffered the amount of injuries the Packers did would've folded and finished the season out of the playoffs, but the Packers rallied, pulled the new components together and made it into the playoffs as a Wildcard.
Should the Packers win Sunday, and I believe they will, this could be the first of three or four Super Bowls over the next decade. Win or lose, the Packers will be better next year, and hopefully won't fall victim to the injury bug like they did this season.
If you're a Packers fan, it's a smooth road ahead full of lots of postseason appearances. Enjoy the ride.
For a look at the Super Bowl, check out Power Ranking Quarterback Performances.
Super Bowl XLV: Steelers Refusing To Rule Out Maurkice Pouncey
Maurkice Pouncey has a broken ankle, a high ankle sprain, and possible ligament damage, according to the unconfirmed medical reports leaking out of the Steelers camp. Yet Pouncey still isn't being ruled out for Sunday's game.
While Pouncey is hurting, this is the Super Bowl, and you can bet Pouncey wants in that game, and will be taping that ankle up six different ways and taking whatever shots the league will allow to be able to play.
If Pouncey had his way, he'd probably hobble out on the field on his crutches and use them as weapons, because that's the kind of player he is. He probably told the trainers to tape it up so he could go back in and play during the AFC Championship game.
Compare this to another player in the NFC Championship game who not only gladly took a seat once he was injured, but checked out of the game the moment it happened.
You look at a guy like Maurkice Pouncey and see how he reacted to his injury, what he says he's going to do and compare it to Jay Cutler, and it's a lot easier to see why other NFL players turned on Cutler so quickly.
Actions speak louder than words, and Pouncey's actions speak volumes. Pouncey is a player, and he'll do anything he can to get back in the game. Let's just hope his ankle lets him.
For a look at Cutler's end of things, check out the 15 Most Gutless Performances In Sports History.
Sal Alosi has resigned from the Jets, and the Jets aren't exactly sorry to see him leave.
Alosi, now infamous for the tripping incident in a game versus the Miami Dolphins, was suspended for the rest of the season and fined $25,000.
The question of how much of the sideline tripping incident was Alosi's idea and how much was institutional policy is a matter of debate. There's no doubt the move to actually trip Nolan Carroll was Alosi's, but the human wall on the sideline smacks of a deeper policy decision.
There's no doubt Alosi deserved to lose his job, but the fact is the "human wall" that resulted in a fine for the Jets is practiced by other teams as well.
The league already has cracked down on the sideline walls, so it probably is a situation that won't come into play anytime in the near future, but to single out the Jets for this is kind of dumb.
The league had a public relations problem and went after the Jets to try and correct it. While it solved the problem, it let every other team in the league who does this kind of thing off the hook.
This situation is over, but which team will be the next victim of the league's "Fine first, ask questions later" way of dealing with public relations issues.
For a look at the Super Bowl, check out the 20 Most Memorable Plays In Super Bowl History.
Super Bowl XLV: League, Union, Using Super Bowl To Start Talking
There's nothing like waiting until the last minute, but that's exactly what the league and union are doing this weekend in Dallas.
According to NFL.com, union chief DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are going to have some real bargaining sessions on Saturday with plans for more in the coming weeks.
Both entities have known since the beginning of the process that the league's collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day on March 3, and that a lockout could commence as early as March 4, but there has been no urgency to the negotiations until the last few weeks.
This kind of "wait until the last minute" bargaining strategy is why there are strikes and lockouts. Instead of viewing a work stoppage as a defeat and a failure on the negotiators part, they look at it as a bargaining chip.
Nobody wins in a work stoppage. Everybody loses money, nobody is happy, people cross lines and there usually are a lot of bad feelings for years afterward.
Smith has been preaching hellfire and brimstone the last few weeks, which doesn't help anything, and if he goes into these negotiations like an angry 15-year old, he's not doing the players any favors.
Likewise, the owners have to be willing to compromise, because bargaining by its definition is a two-way street.
At the end of the day, there should be no 18-game schedule, a happy medium on the revenue sharing, and an agreement that trying to kill the Golden Goose is a very bad idea.
For a look at free agency after the new CBA is signed, check out Free Agents Most likely To Get Overpaid.