Super Bowl Quick Takes

    In my article last week, I predicted that the Patriots would not only win the Super Bowl, but that they would cover the spread. They didn’t do either. If you read my article last week, you’ll know how pleased I am that I was wrong. The Patriots lost only 5.26% of their games this season, but that 5.26% was the Super Bowl, the game that was all that counted in the final analysis.
    All of New England’s records this season meant absolutely nothing when Super Bowl XLII ended. The Patriots are a great football team, but it will be a long time before we have to read and hear about the “perfection” of Belichick, Brady, Moss, et al. The 1972 Miami Dolphins are still the NFL’s only “perfect” team.


    Belichick’s not going for the 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter can and should be questioned. He settled for a fourth-and-13 bomb that didn’t land. As it turned out, his team lost by three points, those three points.


    But let’s give credit to the Giants, especially after their forgettable 0-2 season beginning. (I was in New York in September when Green Bay blew out the Giants in game two of the regular season. The fans at ESPN Zone wanted to toss both Coughlin and Manning off the roof of the Marriott Marquis.) Coach Tom Coughlin deserves tremendous credit for doing whatever he did to rally his team.

    I’ve taken shots at Eli Manning (and family) for four years for manipulating the 2004 NFL draft. Sunday, however, Manning manipulated the Super Bowl, with some brilliant assistance on the winning drive from David Tyree. That single hook-up between Manning and Tyree is the most incredible clutch play at both ends that I have ever seen. It defied all odds and hit the lottery. (If I’m Manning, I give the keys to the MVP Cadillac to Tyree.) The Giants showed that offense is pretty but defense wins, and New York’s defense proved that statement and raised that bar Sunday. They controlled the game for all four quarters. To quote Ali’s (Cassius Clay then) statement after he won the title from Sonny Liston, the New York Giants did “shock the world” on Sunday.


    Bill Belichick should be reprimanded by the league for leaving the courtroom one second before the final verdict was made official. What would the NFL do about it had the entire Patriots team walked off with him before the final tick? What do you think his players feel about what he did? Bill Belichick has zero class!   

    So where does this one rank with the all-time Super Bowl upsets? Very high; after all, the opening line was 14 as the Giants were given little-to-no credit to pull it off. It ranks with the 2002 Super Bowl when the 14-point underdog Patriots beat the Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf.” KC overcame dog status of 13 points by hammering Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. But Super Bowl III was the absolute king of big game upsets. The Jets were 18-point underdogs when they defeated the Colts (then Baltimore) and brought lasting credibility to the AFC.

    I’ve been to two Super Bowls, both won by Roger Staubach’s Cowboys. It’s hard to imagine that 30 years have passed since my last one. Dallas defeated Denver in Super Bowl XII in New Orleans. Dallas beat Miami in Super Bowl VI, also in New Orleans.
    I had the privilege of knowing the Cowboys’ president, Tex Schramm. I once told him that he should send a chartered jet to pick me up to take me to any Super Bowl in which the Cowboys played as they were 2-0 when I was present. He didn’t buy it. As history shows, he should have. Those Cowboys teams were 0-3 without me.


    Super Bowl I (The first two Super Bowls were actually known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game) in the L.A. Coliseum (seating capacity 100,000+ then) in 1967 lists 61,946 as the official paid attendance. Don’t believe it. That number includes 15,000-20,000 tickets that were literally given away as fans viewed the game as nothing more than an exhibition between NFL powerhouse Green Bay, and Kansas City of “that other league.” (As it turned out, they were correct.) The printed ticket price for that first game was $12.

    Things have changed since then. “Scalped” tickets for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII were going for as high as $20,000. I guess the economy is better than I think it is.


Story of the Week


    This article is for Jodie Dames, proud daughter of the subject of my feature story this week. Joe Seay is a very well known person in a sport in which I’ve never written, namely wrestling. This wrestling is the real deal, a real sport.


    Joe Seay, an Oklahoma native, was a state wrestling champion while attending high school in Kansas. A 1964 graduate of Kansas State, Seay wrestled there three years and later won three national Greco-Roman crowns while placing second twice in freestyle.


    But it was as a coach at all levels that he earned lasting renown. After leading his teams at Cal State-Bakersfield and Oklahoma State to a total of nine NCAA wrestling championships, Joe Seay then coached the USA to milestone victories in the Goodwill Games, World Championships and Olympic Games.


    Starting with eight years at Bakersfield South High in California, he compiled a record of 177-12-2 and was national high school Coach of the Year. Moving across town to Cal State, he coached a dozen years and won seven Division II national championships with a record of 189-56-2. At Oklahoma State, from 1985 to 1992, he went 114-8-2 with back-to-back Division I crowns in 1989 and 1990.


    His record adds up to 480 victories and an .859 winning percentage. He is the only coach to win collegiate team titles in both divisions, and he was named national Coach of the Year five times.


    When his collegiate coaching career ended in 1992, Seay quickly stepped into a major role on the international scene. Already closely affiliated with the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club program, he became their head coach and continued the club's still unbroken streak of national freestyle championships.


    The Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club’s mission is to assist elite athletes in becoming Olympic and World Champions. Over the past 25 years, the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club has produced more Olympic, World and U.S. National Champions than any other elite wrestling club in the United States. To date, the Sunkist Kids have 55 Olympic and World Medals, and 164 National Champions. Their success was primarily due to its coaching staff, dedicated athletes, devoted volunteers from behind the scenes, and financial resources. Joe Seay contributed greatly to this program, and its success.


    Seay coached the USA to its first-ever Senior World Freestyle championship in 1993, and repeated two years later, and also led a Pan American Games victory in 1995. And at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, Seay's wrestlers won the medal count.


    As a coach who has left an indelible mark on all levels of the sport, Joe Seay is honored as a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.


Last Week’s Trivia


    There are seven teams in the four major sports that do not have a city or state in their name. They are New England Patriots, Golden State Warriors, Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Tampa is the name of the city; there is no city in Florida officially named Tampa Bay. Check it out.


Trivia Question of the Week


    He is the only MLB pitcher to have faced both Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. He pitched to Ruth in his rookie season, 1934, and he pitched to Mantle in his final season, 1952. Name him. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.