Press Coverage: Super Bowl Stories vs. Storylines

↵When you have no rooting interest in a game other than bragging rights for being correct with whatever team you told your friends – or readers or listeners or bookies – was a 'sure-fire lock' to win this weekend, it's hard, sometimes, to realize the difference between a good storyline and a good story. ↵

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↵Brett Favre getting back to the Super Bowl would have been a good storyline. The most accomplished quarterback in history playing against the guy most think will eventually break his records is a good storyline. A guy in his 40s, picking himself up off the turf with about ten different injuries to lead his team to the Super Bowl is a good storyline. ↵

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↵The Saints – and the jubilation sweeping across the city of New Orleans – is a good story. ↵

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↵There's something to be said about the redemptive nature of this Super Bowl trip for the Saints after more than 40 years on the outside, with clearly the last four-and-a-half creating the most obvious need for catharsis. I wonder how much of the next two weeks will be about football, and how much of it is just a long-overdue excuse to celebrate. ↵

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↵Bill Barrow of the Times-Picayune captured the moment: ↵

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↵⇥You might call this one a stranger-hugger -- grabbing the person closest to you, then the next. No one paying attention to anyone's words. No one ashamed of the tears. ↵⇥

↵⇥Of course, there really were no strangers to begin with in a city that has known so much pain -- the kind that extends well beyond the football field, into the sad realm of hurricane winds, rising waters, lost lives and wrecked property. The kind of immeasurable pain that almost makes a mockery of the bags that once covered the heads of New Orleans Saints fans in what is now a bygone era. ↵⇥

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↵⇥All of that history, from the 1-15 football seasons to the broken levees, made the hugs all the more real in the moments after Garrett Hartley's 40-yard field goal split the Superdome uprights, sending the 43rd edition of the Saints to the Super Bowl and sending a grateful city into a surreal celebration never before seen through decades of parades, festivals and other good times that have always rolled through the Crescent City. ↵⇥

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↵While Favre and the Vikings may have given us great storylines, we clearly got the better story. ↵

↵Get Ready to Find Out Who Archie Is Rooting For ↵
↵Speaking of storylines, the one that should get hammered into the ground more than any other the next two weeks is "Hey Archie, who ya rooting for?" ↵

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↵The Manning patriarch, as we all know was a great quarterback for the Saints. His family took root in New Orleans and his boys were born there. We heard the stories the first time Peyton went to the Super Bowl. We heard them when Eli got there too. Archie Manning does a wonderful job of making himself completely available for the media during this time – and savvy enough to tie in with one of those Super Bowl sponsors that tags his every appearance with a plug for Craftsman or AC Delco or the Snuggie or whoever will pay him to be so ubiquitous the next two weeks – but with his most famous son in the game against his old team, Archie might be in the spotlight more than Drew Brees. ↵

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↵Denver Post columnist Woody Paige got a jump on the field: ↵

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↵⇥The legendary Southern college football hero was picked second overall in the 1971 draft by the Saints. But as good as Archie was, the Saints were so bad. Eventually, he moved on — to the Vikings. ↵⇥

↵⇥While he lived and played in New Orleans, son Peyton was born, then son Eli. Both now have won Super Bowls. ↵⇥

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↵⇥But Archie and his wife, Olivia, own a stately home in the Garden District of New Orleans, so their loyalties will be split between the team Archie toiled for and the team for which their son is the star. Maybe the Colts and the Saints were channeling Archie in the conference championships. ↵⇥

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↵Get ready for a lot more of that. ↵

↵Fans Not Smiling After Joe Buck's Call ↵
↵Tracking the tenor of a game through the internet is a tough thing to do when both Brett Favre and Joe Buck are on the same telecast. Anything Favre does can annoy the average fan – please stop futzing with the chinstrap, Brett – and it gets even worse when his efforts are lauded by those in the announcing booth. "Look at Brett tie his shoe…ooh, going with the bunny ears technique…having fun just like a kid out there, folks." ↵

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↵On Friday, I tried to defend Buck as one of the best in the business, but his constant lauding of Favre became too much to handle. I do contend that much of the anti-Buck sentiment online during the game was predicated on the fact that he would just not stop talking about how remarkable Favre was. Was some of that manifesting itself in vitriol aimed at Buck? Or is the only reason fans ever turned on Favre in the first place is because the media – starting with those in the booth – can't stop telling us how great he is? Regardless, the internet got a good chuckle after this call: ↵

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↵⇥"Favre still smiling…eighth play of the drive…second and eight and he's PICKED OFF." ↵
↵Not only was Favre picked off, but he was smacked down to the turf, clearly not smiling anymore. And what was most interesting about that call (H/T to Philadelphia Will Do for immediately getting the audio) is that the camera was on the wide shot, preparing for the snap, when Buck mentioned Favre was still smiling. Does Buck have his own "Favre Face" camera? How did he know? What if it was nothing more than an uncomfortable grimace? ↵

↵To his credit, Buck also mentioned at one point that Favre "guns" a pass across the middle, while on the next drive – not the next play as we all hoped, but close enough – Buck said Favre "slings" it to the outside. It's safe to assume Buck was smiling while Favre was both gunning and slinging. ↵

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↵Am I The Only One Creeped Out By This? ↵
↵It is a life goal of mine to become one half of the older couple at weddings who dance way too actively for the situation. You know that couple…before the salad is even plated, they're already out on the dance floor doing twirls and twists and generally entertaining the crowd still trying to figure out the best route from their table to the open bar. The couple lives for the wedding hall dance floor and doesn't care who sees them. And the best part is, it's often that weird last-on-the-invite-list couple that steals the show. ↵

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↵Well, a college basketball arena isn't exactly a wedding hall, and Digger Phelps is hardly Betty from accounting's husband or that strange uncle your mother made you invite – check that, he might actually be the strange uncle your mom made you invite – but the dancing is just really creepy, isn't it? Andy Hutchins had the video posted this weekend, but in case you missed it…enjoy? ↵

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↵Sure the crowd is into it, and it's a fun college atmosphere, but there's just something really strange and weird and awkward and, well, creepy, about the whole thing. The planning and choreography. The video cameras. The fact that he's about three times older than the girl he's dancing with. Much like the highlighter gag that started out as a joke and then got way too ridiculous after a while, let's hope this doesn't become any more of a viral video trend than it already is and Digger keeps his dancing on the wedding circuit from now on. ↵

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↵Happy 92nd Birthday To the Voice of Summer ↵
↵Legendary Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell turns 92 years old today. Harwell, who was the voice of the Detroit Tigers until 2002, is still writing a column for the Detroit Free Press. Today's column is about looking back on his time as a student at Emory and how he was a hustler as a college kid, helping to bring big band acts to campus. He tells the story about the time he convinced Tommy Dorsey, who passed in 1956 by the way, to come to his fraternity house for dinner. ↵

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↵Sunday's column, where he talked about the decision to keep writing, shows that even at an advanced age, Harwell still has the goods: ↵

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↵⇥Two influences in my life have become personified: Mr. Ego and Mr. Lazybones. They've been around forever. ↵⇥

↵⇥The other night I was thinking about the Free Press' suggestion that I write a column again this year, as long as I'm able. ↵⇥

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↵⇥First, Mr. Ego speaks. "Go for it, man," he says. "This will be 20 straight years you've written a column for the Freep. Also, it means you've been writing for a major publication since 1934 -- a total of 76 years. You can even tell about winning that national high school award. It'll help your résumé." ↵⇥

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↵⇥"Résumé?" I say. "The stage I'm in, who needs a résumé?" ↵⇥

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↵⇥Now here comes Mr. Lazybones. "Don't do it," he tells me. "Your credo has always been 'Don't do anything you don't have to.' Forget the whole thing. Nobody will pay attention anyhow." ↵⇥

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↵⇥"Go away, Lazybones," I say. "They've told me I can write about anything -- my boyhood, getting old, and, of course, baseball and other sports. ↵⇥

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↵⇥So here we go again -- with a column in 2010, as long as I can last. As I told Mr. Lazybones, my family and my friend and attorney, S. Gary Spicer, have grown tired of all my old stories. So, maybe I can foist them on you Free Press readers. ↵⇥

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↵Foist away, Ernie. Not just people in Detroit, but all sports fans will love every story you have the chance to tell.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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