Super Bowl XLVIII: The Future is Now

Peyton Manning congratulates Russell Wilson on his Super Bowl victory. (Photo: Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Peyton Manning congratulates Russell Wilson on his Super Bowl victory.
(Photo: Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

I still can’t believe it. I woke up this morning thinking, “Did it really happen like that?” Was Super Bowl XLVIII really the smackdown of my foggy morning memory?

And then, I remembered the conversation I had with my dad before I went to bed last night. He said, “Heather…it was a changing of the guard. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the quarterbacks of the past. The NFL belongs to Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck now.”

And you know what? He’s right.

One of the things I loved about the matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks was that storyline. The guy who was the blueprint for the modern day quarterback meets…the modern day quarterback. Only this time, the blueprint is a little different. Today’s modern day quarterback is younger, stronger, shorter (in Wilson’s case), and a little more mobile (ok, a lot more mobile).

The writing was on the wall during the 2012 draft. We saw the new class of NFL quarterbacks emerge. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson didn’t just come out of college ready to play…they came out ready to win. Throw in Colin Kaepernick, who started in his first game for the San Francisco 49ers in November of 2012, and in just two seasons…all of those quarterbacks have taken their teams to the NFL playoffs, won playoff games, two (Kaepernick and Wilson) have appeared in Super Bowls, and now…Russell Wilson has won one.

The NFL has always been a young man’s league. But, at no time has that been truer than now.

So, what does that mean for football fans? Well, for me…it means a couple of things.

I am going to enjoy every last game I get to see Peyton Manning and Tom Brady play in. I will cherish every memory the future hall of famers have given me over the years and hope to add to that collection for seasons to come.

In the meantime, I will appreciate watching the new franchise faces of the league as they emerge from the shadows of the Bradys and Mannings, come into their own, and start writing their Road to Canton stories. Just like Russell Wilson did last night.

The future of the NFL is in good hands.

Welcome to the future.


On love, loss, and homecomings. Peyton’s coming home. And I am a mess.

The heart is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you during the darndest times. You can tell yourself whatever you want in your head. But your heart won’t let you lie.

I was fine. I was good. Better than good…I was great. I was watching the Cowboys – Redskins game on Sunday Night Football. I was thinking about how happy I was that my Colts chose Andrew Luck over Robert Griffin III.

And then, I heard it…Peyton Manning’s voice. Those famous words, “I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

Here we go. Required viewing. Just like the Mayflower vans when the Colts play the Ravens. We’ll be seeing that clip a lot this week. Every day. Multiple times a day. All week. I’ve seen it so many times, it hardly even bothers me anymore.

But what I saw next…I was totally unprepared for. I looked up from my iPad to see Peyton Manning in a Colts jersey. Running onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. In slow motion. The words, “I’m coming home…I’m coming home…Tell the world that I’m coming home,” played in the background.

It caught me off guard. I couldn’t breathe. Almost instantly, there were tears. Lots of tears. Running down my face. I kind of gasped and sobbed at the same time.

What was happening?

You know how you think you’re over someone? And then you see them? And you feel like someone hit you with a big old bag of bricks? Like you’ve been knocked off your feet?

That’s what happened to me when I saw the promo for Peyton Manning’s homecoming on Sunday Night Football.

I went into a mini tailspin. Which is weird, because I’m over it. I’m so over him. I’ve moved on. I have Andrew Luck. What more could I ask for?

I feel like I did in high school. When my old boyfriend came home from college and I was happily dating someone else. It’s weird. Especially when your new boyfriend tells your old boyfriend he’s sick of hearing about him all the time.

Yes. That actually happened. I know. But I’m pretty sure it won’t happen this week. That’s not exactly Andrew Luck’s style.

All this time, I’ve been thinking about the game. I’ve been thinking about my team. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to wear. But, I hadn’t yet pictured what would happen when I saw Peyton Manning back on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Until Sunday night.

And all I can tell you is this…

It wasn’t pretty. And I’m going to need waterproof mascara. And I may need counseling.

Damn it, Peyton.

I thought I was over you.


It’s weird in Jerry World

Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager Jerry Jones (Photo: USA Today)

Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager Jerry Jones
(Photo: USA Today)

Remember when you were little? And you could be anything you wanted to be? Then you grew up. And you realized what a super hero gets paid.

Well, that never happens to some people.

Take, Jerry Jones for example. Jerry Jones is the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. He works at Cowboy Stadium, otherwise known as Jerry World. And when he’s not working (and sometimes when he is), he likes to pretend.

When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he fired the longtime general manager, Tex Schramm, and took over complete control of football operations. To this day, Jones remains the NFL owner most involved in the day-to-day operations of his team.

And that’s all fine and good. Until Jerry World collides with the real world.

For example, one of Jerry’s favorite games is to pretend he is part of the team. He is often seen on the field and makes appearances in the locker room after games. In Jerry World, the team wants him there. In the real world…they locked him out once (that we know of).

This offseason, Jerry invented a new game. In this one, paying players what other players make, magically turns them into that player. So, Jerry Jones signed Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to a six-year $108 million dollar contract extension. In real life.

Jones reportedly told Romo that now that he is making “Peyton Manning money,” he expects him to put in Peyton Manning-type time on the job. Apparently, he would rather have Romo studying tape than playing golf. Fair enough.

Romo recently had surgery to remove a cyst in his back, and will miss most of the team’s offseason training activities. But he’ll have plenty of time to watch tape. Which just goes to show you, be careful what you wish for. In Jerry World and the real world.

Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. Tony Romo is Tony Romo. It was reported this week that Peyton Manning shot a 77 at Augusta National. Apparently, Peyton Manning time does include golf.

Here’s a thought. Maybe Jerry Jones should start putting in Robert Kraft-type time…and pay someone else to do it.

Pretend is great. But real is better.

For now, Jerry Jones is happy in Jerry World.

Who wouldn’t be?


Brady post breakup: Mad, sad, and really, really tan

Tom Brady and Wes Welker 2012  (Photo: Stephen J Cohen/WireImage)

Tom Brady and Wes Welker 2012
(Photo: Stephen J Cohen)

Somewhere, on a deserted tropical island, with the sun on his face, the breeze in his hair, and a fruity drink in his hand, Tom Brady…is fuming. While his wife and kids frolic and play, he is moping around like he just lost his best friend. Because, well…he did.

After making his own contribution to the team by extending his contract (to free up salary cap space), the New England Patriots returned the favor by failing to re-sign the star quarterback’s go-to guy, wide receiver Wes Welker.

To add insult to injury…for a measly two million dollars, Welker was swayed to sign with the Denver Broncos, where he will become the go-to guy for Brady’s archrival, Peyton Manning, who apparently played a major role in wooing Welker. Peyton also happens to be the big brother of Brady’s real nemesis…Eli Manning.

Yes, life for Tom Brady isn’t all champagne and roses, at least not this week. But don’t worry. After pouting, stomping his Uggs, and refusing to cut his hair, Brady will be just fine.

Why? Because Tom Brady is a professional, a competitor, and a team player. And he has demonstrated  as much on and off the field, most recently with his financial concession. I know, that’s not much of a sacrifice when your wife is the highest paid supermodel on the planet. But, it’s not just about money. It’s also about ego and pride, which Brady is also willing to put aside for the good of the team.

Also, I’m sure Gisele has already instructed staff to remove all photos of Wes Welker from their home (the ones that weren’t removed after Super Bowl XLVI anyway), along with anything with an eight or a three on it.

So…don’t worry about Tommy. After an extended vacation, he will board his private jet, return to his private castle, and eventually start to play with his new toy, Patriot wide receiver Danny Amendola (Welker 2.0), signed from the Rams during free agency.

And soon, Tom Brady will realize that hooking up with someone younger, faster, and better looking really is the best cure for a broken heart.


Disclosure: I have no idea where Tom Brady is. All I know is that he is “out of the country.” I assume he is on a tropical island because, well…why wouldn’t he be?

Save the Pro Bowl

The 2013 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, HI (Photo: Getty)

The 2013 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, HI
(Photo: Getty)

We have a love/hate relationship with the NFL Pro Bowl. The players love it. The fans hate it. And the NFL doesn’t know what to think. So, I’m going to tell them. We need to save the Pro Bowl. And this is why…

No, it’s not a “real” football game, but neither is a preseason game…and for that matter some “real” games played by “real” teams this year…

But unlike the preseason games, the fans (and specifically the season ticket holders) are not forced to buy tickets to the Pro Bowl. You don’t even have to watch it. No one admits to watching it. But the ratings are somehow big, which tells me more people watch than admit to it. I admit it. I watched. (And while I’m at it…I also watch The Bachelor.)

The game has been heavily criticized in recent years for its lack of football. So much so, that the NFL contemplated getting rid of the Pro Bowl after last year’s pathetic performance. This year, the players stepped it up…and it showed. While it wasn’t exactly competitive, it was entertaining. There was even blood shed, possibly for the first time in Pro Bowl history. Texans defensive tackle JJ Watt cut his finger and splattered blood all over himself. When Michelle Tafoya asked him about it on the sideline, he sent a message directly to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The players were playing. Hard.

Yes, it’s cool to hate the Pro Bowl. But how about we focus instead, on what’s cool about it…

  1. Watching players on the field, making plays with players from opposing teams, which they would never have an opportunity to make otherwise. As a Colts fan, I could have watched Andrew Luck throwing to AJ Green all day long (no offense to Reggie Wayne or TY Hilton). And no one was happier to be catching passes from Pro Bowl quarterbacks than Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. When he caught his first pass from Drew Brees, it was the first time he had a real quarterback throw to him all year…let alone a future Hall of Famer. And as Brian McIntyre reported, the touchdown pass Fitzgerald caught from Russell Wilson was his first NFL touchdown since November 4th.
  2. The memorable moments. Like Peyton Manning’s first throw…to former teammate Reggie Wayne. And possibly the most memorable Pro Bowl moment in history involved Peyton’s other former teammate, Green Bay Packer and NFC Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. Saturday announced his retirement prior to the Pro Bowl, but stepped in on the AFC team to make one last ceremonious snap to Manning before hugging him and walking off the field with the ball. I get teary just thinking about it.
  3. Trick plays. We saw defenders come in as receivers, laterals, a backwards onside kick, and very little punting. There is a reason you don’t see many fancy plays during the regular season. And watching the Pro Bowl, you see why. But they’re fun to watch…even when they don’t work.
  4. Not everything about the Pro Bowl is about the fans. And not everything special about it takes place on the field. It’s a chance for players to engage with each other, with their families, and with each other’s families, to reflect on the season, and to rub elbows with some of the greatest players in the game. Both Pro Bowl rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, remarked on the experience of socializing, practicing, game planning, and playing with some of their childhood idols. And who will ever forget the image of Peyton Manning on the sideline with his son Marshall in his lap?
Peyton Manning and his son, Marshall

Peyton & Marshall Manning

Truly special moments. Some on the field. Some off. That is what the Pro Bowl is about.

Love it or hate it…we should keep it.