Shanoff's WUC: Saints Prove Champs for Ages

Today's Calls: Super Bowl vs. MASH finale, Peyton Manning vs. 2010, Sean Payton vs. Jim Caldwell, Tiger vs. Tavistock, Villanova vs. Texas, Purdue vs. Michigan State, Kobe vs. All-Star Game, Vince Carter vs. 48, Danica vs. Daytona, ESPN vs. NFL Network and More. ↵

↵Drew Brees ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: The Saints’ Super Bowl title feels like one of those rare championships that everyone will remember. ↵

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↵There is a practical reason for that and an emotional reason for that. ↵

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↵The practical reason is simple: Basically, everyone was watching. It was the most-watched TV show of all time. ↵

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↵Of all time. ↵

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↵For a quarter-century, we've been hearing about "MASH finale," "MASH finale." For viewers under the age of 35, "MASH Finale" is like name-checking "Beatles on Ed Sullivan" or "Remember the first talkies" Still: It was the gold-standard for TV events. ↵

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↵Until now: The universally appreciated Saints story line pushed this from the standard "Super Bowl as most-watched show of the year" to something entirely unprecedented. ↵

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↵And because everyone was watching, that strongly supports the argument that these Saints will be the most-remembered NFL champs ever — perhaps any sports champs ever, displacing — say — the 2004 Red Sox. ↵

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↵Going into the Super Bowl, we all knew the super-charged emotional appeal of these Saints would make them memorable. Coming out of it, we have the empirical evidence to back it up, undoubtedly helped by the thrilling way they pulled it off. ↵

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↵These Saints are more than just champions of Super Bowl 44. They are the champions for the ages. ↵

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↵What next for the Colts? Clifton Brown has three ideas of how they can tweak things, but I have another great takeaway for next year — don't intentionally lose games. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Labor deal. Labor deal. Labor deal. It's not fun or sexy to talk about, but it is arguably the biggest story in sports for the rest of the year. ↵

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↵Sean Payton's Decisions, Cont'd: Brian Cook has a good follow-up to yesterday's WUC opening item about how Sean Payton's decisions in the Super Bowl hopefully will loosen the grip of conventional NFL coaching orthodoxy. ↵

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↵TSB's SB44 Hangover: One last time, check out Chris Littmann and Michael Tunison's coverage from Miami, which was really spectacular. (Now, guys, about those expense reports. ...) ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: The Tavistock Cup has suddenly become the most intriguing tournament of the year. Why? Because it is reportedly going to be Tiger's first "comeback" event before the Masters. Let the awkward compartmentalizing by golf media commence! ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Two big road wins, Villanova over West Virginia in Morgantown and Kansas over Texas in Austin. (Mike DeCourcy was at UT and has a great post-game analysis.) ↵

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↵Tonight's Best: Purdue at Michigan State, where all eyes will be on Kalin Lucas — who may or may not play. (With the Spartans a lock for the NCAA Tournament, isn't the smarter call to let Lucas sit and heal completely for the real games in March, rather than risking aggravating his injury further by playing him in a relatively meaningless game now?) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Kobe Bryant might not play in the All-Star Game? That would be a bummer for fans, but if last night's Lakers win at home is any indication, the West doesn't need Kobe to win. ↵

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↵LeBron 2010: The Cavs remain in a tight spot — if they win the NBA title, then LeBron can say he brought a championship to Cleveland, then leave with a clear conscience; if they don't win the NBA title (even if they make the Finals), then LeBron can say that nothing is going to get the team over the hump, then leave to start over with a new plan (say, playing with Wade in Miami). ↵

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↵Meanwhile: Would you buy a piece of the Knicks? I would buy a pitiful share or two, if only to say that LeBron works for me, in the event he comes to the team. (It's really too bad that NBA rules preclude players from getting ownership stakes in their teams, because that would be a huge drawing card for LeBron if the Dolans could give him equity.) ↵

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↵Last night's stud: Doesn't it feel like Vince Carter has one of these games every year? The prolific scoring binges mean nothing if he doesn't help the Magic return to the NBA Finals. ↵

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↵Danica: As someone who doesn't watch much NASCAR but regularly tunes in for the Daytona 500, I wonder if more casual fans will be interested in Saturday's Nationwide race at Daytona — featuring Danica — than Sunday's season-opening main event? ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Can there be a "Saints" of baseball? Stan McNeal points out some contenders, but baseball has something the NFL doesn't — no salary cap, which means that the teams aren't playing on as level of a field as they do in football. Still, even though they won't win the World Series, does the Mariners’ spending to win the AL West count? ↵

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↵Media: There is no way that Chris Berman leaves ESPN for the NFL Network. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I don't think a lot of people are taking them as seriously as they should be because really it is a life or death thing." ↵
↵— Brian Westbrook, on concussions — the NFL's other big offseason issue. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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