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Don't miss the real beauty of it all

The football gods are officially on notice


Paul from Hartland, WI

Brady is AMAZING but I'm astounded at the circumstances and fortune that have allowed him to win five. The great defenses and clutch kicks that helped him win Super Bowls early in his career, the Woodson forced fumble, the Wilson interception, the Edelman catch. How many of his passes were tipped up in the air or off-target after he was hit that fell harmlessly to the ground, or hit Martellus Bennett in stride, on Sunday? Granted, the luck went against them in the Giants Tyree Super Bowl, but they've been blessed otherwise.

All those thoughts went through my head as well while the inevitable TD drive in OT was unfolding. Here's a guy who lost Super Bowls on the Tyree and Manningham catches, and then won his last two when the Seahawks needed just one more yard, and the Falcons didn't even need one. Brady has earned the greatest-of-all-time label. I'm not disputing that, and I don't think there's any more argument. But this is a crazy game, and if we don't absorb all the "circumstances and fortune," as you say, that go both ways, then we're missing the real beauty of it all.

Gary from Menasha, WI

As I watched the fourth quarter unfold and had already expected two straight running plays to expire time off the clock, I couldn't help but wonder if the 49ers were having second thoughts regarding their head coach selection.

I think the 49ers are getting a great up-and-coming coach, but Kyle Shanahan overthought it. He's got second-and-11 on the New England 23 with the clock at four minutes and counting. The Falcons just gave up a sack-fumble (and subsequent TD) on the previous possession when they tried to throw on third-and-1 and the back missed the blitz pick-up. A miraculous catch by Jones got you in position to make it a two-score game again. Don't push your luck. Everything screamed play it safe. Whether he burns another 1:20 or forces the Patriots to use two of their three timeouts, two more runs and a field goal reduce New England's hopes to a successful onside kick. Sure, Bryant could have missed the field goal, or the onside kick could have worked, but it's tough to lose a Super Bowl when you might not have needed to gain another yard to be champions.

Clint from Port Washington, WI

Brady is great, but he wasn't having a great game. The Falcons' defense was on the field for 93 plays and over 40 minutes. They got tired. I believe that was why the Patriots won, not Brady's play.

I take nothing away from Brady, but the time of possession – which was an issue coming out of halftime, with Atlanta's defense on the field for the final 8:48 of the second quarter – is why the Falcons needed to make sure they got points once they drove within Bryant's range. Some folks are saying, "At least they didn't let off the gas." Well, your defense's tank needs to be part of the ideal gas equation, too.

Jason from Syracuse, NY

"Ain't gonna be no rematch."

Super Bowl LIS (51½ in Roman numerals, I think) likely will be the 2017 Thursday night opener in Foxboro. But thanks, Apollo.

Preston from Tallahassee, FL

No dog in the SB 51 fight. It's wrong for NFL games to allow a coin toss to settle what could not be settled in 60 minutes. No other sport prohibits the other team from having the ball and a chance to score in OT. If you don't like the college way, then let the scoring team kick off. Overtime should look like the game and in the game a coin toss still enables each team to have the ball.

I realize I'm becoming part of a smaller and smaller minority here, and I really don't like admitting I agree with Vic, but I hope the NFL doesn't change the current overtime rule.

Monica from Blue Mounds, WI

Wisconsin girl, Packers fan, but I really think James White deserved MVP. Yes, I know, Brady, but White made the most of his plays.

I still give it to Brady, but I hear you.

Simon from Mountain View, CA

NFC teams should stop beating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. It leads to heartbreak in the Super Bowl.

The football gods are officially on notice.

Tim from Bellevue, WA

Living in the Seattle area I constantly hear about how Tom Cable is a genius OL coach, but their line gets worse and worse each year. The Packers' line is always one of the top in the league, generally filled with developed fourth- and fifth-round picks. What is James Campen's reputation amongst NFL coaches and personnel people? I would think he has to be in the discussion of the best OL coaches in the league.

I'm not going to disparage a distinguished career like Cable's, regardless of Seattle's recent struggles up front. But what Campen has done with one first-round draft pick in his unit deserves plenty of praise he hasn't often received, including from a fan base wanting to fire him multiple times. O-line coaches get talked about most when their units are road-grading, run-it-down-your-throat types, but perhaps more recognition will come Campen's way after how the Packers pass-blocked in 2016. Whether it does or not, Campen won't care about the credit. He's an O-lineman through and through.

Justin from Powhatan Point, OH

The fact that Terrell Davis made the Hall of Fame with really only four years of stats got me thinking. If he got in based off of his numbers, and his four years of elite stats, why isn't Sterling Sharpe getting as much attention for his 4-5 years of elite stats? Did TD get in for what he did, or what he could've done?

Davis' selection could open a door to more players like Sharpe, but I think what Davis did in the postseason separates him and will keep that door from opening too wide. Eight postseason games, 1,140 rushing yards, 12 TDs and a Super Bowl MVP. He was the indispensable player for the back-to-back champion Broncos.

Aaron from Waukegan, IL

Does Morten Andersen's election into the Hall of Fame open any doors for guys like Vinatieri, Janikowski, or maybe even Crosby, or Justin Tucker when their time comes? Of course some of those stories have plenty left to be written yet, but does Andersen's situation possibly affect guys playing now or is it still mostly irrelevant to them?

Andersen's selection makes Vinatieri a slam dunk now if he wasn't already. Any kicker who passes Andersen as the league's all-time leading scorer would be a shoo-in, too. I don't know if the committee felt holding the all-time scoring record for a decade should simply punch Andersen's ticket, or if there was more to it. But beyond the stats, it'll probably come down to Vinatieri-like ultra-clutch postseason moments for the others.

Joey from Houston, TX

Mike, as much as the coaches nominated deserve recognition for the great job they did with their respective teams, watching the NFL Honors ceremony for coach of the year feels amiss to me without MM being AT LEAST nominated. He came into the year ready to pound the run, lost all his running backs, watched his secondary get decimated by injuries as well, but adapted and got his team to the NFC Championship Game. That's top-level coaching in my book.

Mine, too, but the outsider only sees that he had Aaron Rodgers all season on a team picked by many to go to the Super Bowl, and they were 4-6 at Thanksgiving, being discussed amongst the league's most disappointing teams. Expectations can define perceptions sometimes.

Tom from Westfield, MA

Out of all the things that happened over the course of this weekend, the thing that has me scratching my head the most is Jason Garrett being named coach of the year. I just don't understand it.

I do, though I believe there were a ton of worthy candidates. Garrett lost his starting QB in the preseason, plugged in a rookie fourth-round draft pick and went 13-1 from Weeks 2-16. How'd those young QBs work for the defending Super Bowl champions with one of the league's top defenses?

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I really don't understand MVP voting. I get Matt winning the award due to his incredible season (though he has weapons everywhere), but for Zeke and Brady to have more votes than Aaron seems ridiculous. Brady's team went 3-1 without him. Zeke has the best O-line in football. You saw what happened to Green Bay a few years ago when Aaron got hurt (and with Carr and the Raiders this year). Aaron is the single most valuable player to any team in this league, period.

Nothing about past years matters in the voting, nor should it. It's hard to win an MVP when you start 4-6, I'll say that. I thought Elliott should have gotten more votes, frankly, and he would have received mine. He's already getting the unfair Emmitt Smith treatment with regard to the Dallas O-line, and I'm not buying it. I saw him twice in person and he's not a normal running back.

Paul from Columbus, OH

We've seen it before that some players are willing to forego larger contracts with other teams in order to stay with the Packers. I think that says great things about the culture this organization has created. Do you believe that Cook's comments about how much he has loved coming to Green Bay could mean a more team-friendly contract for him next year, even though he could potentially receive more money elsewhere? I understand it's a business, but at what point does playing for a perennial playoff contender with one of the best QBs in the game become the deciding factor?

It'll be a factor for Cook, but the Packers aren't the only perennial playoff contender with a top QB. They were just the first one Cook found. I think Cook comes back, but I don't think he's going to short-change himself in the process.

Joseph from Durham, NC

Hello Insiders! Besides entertainment you guys provide an education which is very much appreciated. Last week, Mike answered an inquiry regarding the significance of consistency and used the 2010 Packers as an example. Most folks will remember 2010 as the year Green Bay lost six regular-season games, squeaked into the playoffs on the final day as the sixth seed and won three road playoff games en route to a world championship. I feel that the most interesting aspect of those six regular-season losses was that they were by a total of only 20 points! Two last-second FGs; two OT FGs; and two four-point losses without Aaron Rodgers with a chance to win those games near the end.

Statistically speaking, the most remarkable thing about the 2010 season is the Packers never trailed in a game by more than seven points, all year.

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

Going along with the whole building in the offseason topic, one thing that struck me this year was the size of Bakhtiari compared to Spriggs. This isn't a knock on Spriggs but rather maybe a picture of what a few extra years in the NFL can really do for a player physically. It definitely bodes well for the team when you have young guys like Spriggs, Clark, Fackrell, and Lowry among others who are only first-year players and have so much room to grow physically as well as mentally.

Bakhtiari says when he looks at film from his rookie year, he doesn't recognize himself in any facet – size, strength, technique. Spriggs has the perfect frame for an offensive tackle and I'm curious to see how he builds upon it.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, you've stated before that you watch game film. Is it true that every player is graded on every play? Have you ever asked one of the Packer coaches to show you two 10-play drives (offense and defense) to see how the grades are determined?

I've never done that, but it's an interesting idea. I've gleaned over the years that players are graded on three things every play – assignment, technique and result.

Ryan from Burbank, CA

With Kurt Warner being elected into the Hall of Fame, does that count towards the Packers all-time member total?

Ha. Nice try. Warner never played in a game for the Packers. Teams don't count "everybody" in the comprehensive sense. Five HOFers who played for Green Bay are not among the 24 inductees the Packers list as "theirs" – Len Ford, Ted Hendricks, Walt Kiesling, Jan Stenerud and Emlen Tunnell. To fend off the follow-up, I would expect both the Raiders and Packers to count Charles Woodson, just as the Eagles and Packers did with Reggie White. One last HOF thought I'll throw out as a question to Wes for tomorrow – does Kenny Easley getting in boost the chances for LeRoy Butler somewhere down the line? I think so.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

This is probably not an original observation, but one that may be worth mentioning. Think of how championships have been determined over the last year: Villanova's three-point buzzer beater, the Cavs winning on the road in Game 7, the Cubs winning in extra innings in Game 7, Clemson scoring with four seconds on the clock, and now the Pats' historic comeback. Whatever one's rooting interest, it has been a great year to be a sports fan.

Amen to that.

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