The XXV things I heard, saw, know or somehow experienced at Super Bowl LVII:
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster made one of the best entrances in Super Bowl history, without a doubt, on Sunday afternoon:
JuJu on that Super Bowl beat 😮💨@TeamJuJu | #SBLVII pic.twitter.com/UYVEnRBwoc
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 12, 2023
2. Interesting Super Bowl tidbit from Roger Goodell: The NFL is likely to pick two more Super Bowl sites by year’s end. The next two are set: Super Bowl 58 next year in Las Vegas, and SB 59 in February 2025 in New Orleans. I’d bet a lot that one of the two games after that, in 2026 or ’27, will go to Los Angeles. The NFL loved the venue, the city and the facilities last year at SoFi, and the idea when the place was built was to give LA a game once every four or five years.
3. Best news tidbit, nearly hatched: The NFL is working toward playing its two games in Germany on consecutive Sundays next November. I’m told Kansas City and New England, previously announced as host teams, expect to play on Sundays in an eight-day span, and it’s probable but not certain that both games will be in Frankfurt. Last year’s successful Germany debut was at Allianz Arena in Munich. The Frankfurt stadium is Deutsche Bank Park, with a retractable roof, about four miles from the city center. It’ll be pretty amazing to have Patrick Mahomes and Bill Belichick in Germany on back-to-back NFL weekends.
4. Best news tidbit, not yet hatched, but developing: The NFL is working with digital geniuses to develop a low-latency broadcast. Low-latency means a shorter time between a live football play and when you see it on your TV or mobile device. Why is this important, shortening the time between the live play and when it can be shown? Because that would allow viewers to be more able to bet on props involving each play. Seems a little insidious to me, to invite more people to bet more money on more football things, but the NFL is driving to make a jillion on sports betting, and this could be the next addictive frontier.
5. I won’t be surprised if there’s news soon on the Dan Snyder story in Washington. Stuff seems to be percolating.
6. Today is day 360 since the NFL announced that Mary Jo White was leading an investigation into the Snyder ownership. A year seems sufficient. Right?
7. Interview Subject of the Week: Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, in charge of the care and development of the best line in football, and the man who invented a left tackle out of Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata. We spoke during a Wednesday media availability, and I asked him about the Jeff Stoutland University thing—when Mailata, introduced before a Monday night game, said: “Jordan Mailata, Jeff Stoutland University.”
8. Stoutland: “We spent a lot of time working together, after practice, in camp, before practice, all the time, I mean. I really believe that when he had to get up there and speak of where he went to college, it wasn’t a joke now. This wasn’t a joke. He didn’t know what to say. So he didn’t have a college like our guys, and he said to Lane Johnson, ‘Lane, what do I say?’ Lane goes, ‘Just say, Jeff Stoutland University. That’s where you learned how to play this game.’”
9. So … Phoenix as a Super Bowl site. It’s spread out, very spread out. But I kind of like that. The weather’s nice, lots of good places to eat and to walk, and downtown is good and big enough to have all the events needed. It’s certainly not a walkable Super Bowl. My hotel in Scottsdale was 32 miles from the stadium, but I don’t care much about that. All in all, it’s a good place to hold the game, at a very good time of year.
10. Tone Deaf Quote of the Week: From Roger Goodell, in his annual Super Bowl press conference, on officiating, in the wake of the fourth-quarter debacle in the AFC Championship Game: “I don’t think it’s ever been better.” Five documented errors in one series (see my column last week), and officiating has never been better? Obviously Goodell wants to back his officials. Understandable. Loyal. But don’t take us for saps, please. A better way to truth-tell to your fans and to back the officials would be to say: “We didn’t reach the highest standards we expect late in the AFC Championship Game. But our officials have an excellent track record, and I believe over the span of the season we had a great season.”
11. This is not in any way scientific, because there aren’t a ton of NFL GMs and personnel people who hang around the Super Bowl. But Aaron Rodgers starts what he called a four-day darkness period in the pitch dark of a home, alone, today, and there was eyebrow-raising among a few league or team people I brought this up with, the reaction being: I can see why the Packers would consider trading him. Seems like a good person, but he might be more trouble than he’s worth. Not to the Jets.
12. Re: Hall of Fame voting, a few thoughts. (I’m one of the 49 voters for the Hall.) Most of you know how the process works. The 15 modern-era finalists get discussed, as do the four total Senior and Contributor candidates. The committee votes, one by one, on the three Senior (Ken Riley, Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley) and one Contributor (Don Coryell) candidates. If they get 80 percent of the private vote, they’re in. All four got in. Then we vote to cut the 15 modern candidates down to 10. When the top 10 get announced, we vote for our top five. After the cut to five is made, we’re asked to vote yes or no on the final five. If they get 80 percent yes votes, they’re in. Overall, this was a more contentious year than usual. Lots of discussion on return specialist Devin Hester, who didn’t make it, and on the three receivers who seem to be cancelling each other out.
13. My cut to five: Andre Johnson, Albert Lewis, Darrelle Revis, Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas. Toughest decision for me was Lewis or Ronde Barber, who I was also bullish on. But I thought Lewis’ all-around game—superb coverage, physicality, special teams, kick-blocking—gave him a microscopic edge. I was happy for Barber, though. Sad for Lewis. And I fully supported Demarcus Ware, who was seventh on my list.
14. Discussion time: six hours, 23 minutes. Slightly less than usual.
15. As for the receiver logjam, the candidacies of Andre Johnson, Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne all have their partisans among the voters. I don’t know how it gets solved, particularly with more receivers with inflated numbers entering the pool in coming seasons. I am partial to Johnson. He’s the biggest (6-3, 230). He’s virtually as fast as the fastest, Holt (4.40 to 4.38 for Holt in the 40-). He didn’t have the advantage of playing with Peyton Manning or on the Greatest Show on Turf. (Though Holt played more than half his career with lesser QBs on lesser offenses.) And he didn’t have a player like Marvin Harrison or Isaac Bruce on the other side to take attention away from him. I think Johnson’s clearly the best of the three, but I’m one of 49 voters.
16. I don’t think there’s a lock next year among first-time-eligibles, but the cases of first-timers Julius Peppers and Antonio Gates will be strong.
17. My theory on why it might take a while for Darren Woodson or any safety to make the Hall of Fame soon: In the 16 years from 2001 to 2016, zero safeties were elected among the 99 enshrinees. In the past seven years, which you might call the Safety Overcorrection Era, 10 safeties have been enshrined among the 52 men voted into the Hall: Kenny Easley, Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, Johnny Robinson, Steve Atwater, Cliff Harris, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, John Lynch and LeRoy Butler. (I didn’t include Charles Woodson, of course, because he spent only the last four years of his career at safety.)
18. Not-so-strange workout bedfellows: Colts owner Jim Irsay with a toned Paul McCartney in the gym at the Phoenician Resort.
19. House speaker Kevin McCarthy and “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet communing with football power people at the Friday night commissioner’s party. McCarthy’s tight with Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill.
20. Walk of the Week: The 70-minute Sunday morning walk on the Wind Cave Trail up Usery Mountain in Mesa. Made it with Don Van Natta, a hiking vet, just after 7 a.m.
21. Nick Sirianni, with the tears streaming down during the National Anthem. That was a wow.
22. I’m sure you all would be shocked to know that, circa 2007/2008, when I coached a 10U travel softball team in Montclair, N.J., our team song was “Umbrella,” and our girls delighted in singing it, especially the eh-eh-eh-eh-eh part. Other than recognizing the song, and being happy to hear it, I won’t be able to give a review on the Rihanna halftime show.
23. Patrick Mahomes re-sprained his ankle at 6:02 p.m. local time. He did not play for the rest of the half, which ended at 6:16 p.m. The halftime show ended at 6:40 p.m. The third quarter kicked off at 6:49 p.m. Kansas City got the kickoff, and Mahomes trotted on the field and took his first snap of the quarter at 6:50 p.m. Thoughts: Incredible that the field got cleared of the halftime show extravaganza and the game resumed in nine minutes time … and I have no idea how Mahomes looked borderline absolutely normal 48 minutes after the world saw him in agony. What a performer.
24. The turf was abominable. How can the Super Bowl be played on an ice rink? That simply has to be addressed at the highest level of the league, and this week. This field was new sod, grown in Arizona, installed two weeks ago, and cost $800,000. And on both the painted areas and the pure grass areas, players slipped all night. Inexcusable.
25. I cannot be more impressed with Jalen Hurts as a player, a leader, a competitor. Think how far Hurts has come, and how high the Eagles have risen with him, in the last six months. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman has a lot of tough decisions to make on his roster, but how good must he feel to know that he invested a low second-round pick in a backup QB in 2020 and what he has now is a long-term quarterback who is the envy of every franchise in football? Listen to Hurts after this crushing loss: “It is a tough feeling to come up short. It’s a very tough feeling. But I know that the only direction is to rise. That’ll be the MO going forward. That is the mentality.” Perfect.