AFC North: Super Bowl XL
Becky from Galloway, Ohio, writes: Any chance the Cincinnati Bengals will cut J.T. O'Sullivan or Jordan Palmer?
James Walker: This has been a hot topic in Cincinnati, Becky. I suggested before the preseason started that the Bengals should at least consider keeping two quarterbacks to save a roster spot at receiver, defensive back or linebacker. The coaching staff could not be encouraged with what they saw last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but the good news is the Bengals have five preseason games this year. Let's see if the quarterback play improves this weekend.
Nick Kenner from Florence, Ky., writes: With the recent injury to Brian Leonard of the Cincinnati Bengals, what are the chances the Bengals will try to go after Brian Westbrook?
Walker: This isn't going to happen, Nick. Leonard's prognosis was better than expected and Cincinnati already signed running back James Johnson to fill in for the time being. Keep in mind, Leonard was only the third running back. The Bengals don't need to sign a potential starter like Westbrook to replace him. Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott will get the bulk of the carries.
Ben from Grocton, Conn., writes: Is there a chance rookie receiver Emmanuel Sanders gets playing time as the No. 3 receiver?
Walker: The Steelers are comfortable with Antwaan Randle El as their No. 3 receiver, Ben. Sanders has good potential, but the team needs some proven veterans on the field offensively while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger serves his conditional six-game suspension.
Patrick from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Is it possible that the Steelers could re-sign Willie Parker?
Walker: Patrick, last I checked Parker signed with the Washington Redskins.
Joe from South Bend, Ind., writes: How much will the Cleveland Browns' offensive line help quarterback Jake Delhomme?
Walker: This is probably the best thing going for Delhomme, Joe, because from what I saw in camp this week, the receivers and offense in general are not very dynamic. The line should help give Delhomme some time in the pocket and boost the running game.
CJ from North Carolina writes: What's the word from camp regarding James Davis?
Walker: Davis looks decent, CJ. But he's not lighting up training camp the way he was a year ago. The preseason will be big for him, because the Browns have a lot of running backs.
Broderick Ramsey from Los Angeles, writes: What will the Baltimore Ravens do about their secondary?
Walker: There's been a lot of trade speculation lately, Broderick, but the Ravens will have to give away a good player to get a good player. Would they be willing to trade running back Willis McGahee, for example? I’m not sure. Baltimore could also just wait it out and see if its two cornerbacks -- Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington -- get healthy enough for the regular season.
Jonah from Minot, N.D., writes: Are you much of a "Madden" gamer, JW? Also, what's your favorite team to use?
Walker: I am officially retired this year, Jonah. I don't have much time anymore during football season. But I used a variety of teams when I played just to keep things interesting.
Here are this week's comments and complaints from our AFC North community:
Silas Fontain from Denmark writes: Steelers fans are entertaining. Last year around this time they were the kings of everything coming off their Super Bowl win, and nobody would beat them. This year the Bengals fans are high on their division title, and the Steelers fans are the one's trying to talk about reality. Oh boy, memory is short.
RJ from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: With mistakes in Super Bowl XL, I guess we're supposed to assume that a different team would have won if not for the mistakes, right? But anyone who saw that game knows that the Steelers had the better running game and defense. Besides, several times the officials have admitted to making mistakes that hurt the Steelers -- most notably in that playoff game against Jacksonville. So, it balances out.
Kizzie from Iraq writes: Being from Baltimore, I hate the Steelers and love the Ravens. But with that said the Ravens' and Bengals' opening schedules are brutal. The Steelers will still be in the division race after Ben Roethlisberger's suspension.
Kenny from Cleveland writes: Could you be any more in love with the Bungles right now?
Nick Langseth from Minneapolis, Minn., writes: I am a huge Bengals fan from North Dakota and have had to endure terrible Bengals teams in my youth. So now I am savoring every good moment I can. I love the Bengals.
Brian from Erie, Pa., writes: Why does every athlete hate on Cleveland so much? Let me put it this way. You can constantly play on the "rookie" level in Madden and always win the Super Bowl. But its gets boring. Winning on "All-Madden" is something you have to work for and is so much more rewarding when you finally get there. Players want fans to worship them, but hate when we come down on them for not performing their jobs. Sure, you can play in Jacksonville and never get booed, but that's because people don't care. If a team ever wins in Cleveland, they will be loved forever unlike anyone has seen.
AFC North blog hater of the week
Unconvinced from Indiana writes: You've spent the early part of your career covering Ohio teams. You LIVE in Cleveland. How do you expect anyone to believe you'll write objectively about other teams in the AFC North?
If you have any additional comments or complaints, send them to our division inbox.
More than four years later, referee Bill Leavy put Super Bowl XL back in the spotlight by recently admitting he blew some calls in the game. On Tuesday Holmgren, now president of the Cleveland Browns, reacted to the news.
"Of course I was disappointed at the time, and because it was the Super Bowl, I still think about it on occasion," Holmgren said. "But like anything in this business, if you let it linger it's going to have an adverse effect on what you do moving forward.
"We didn't play our best football that day. Had we played better and coached better, those calls might not have made a difference. Everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes, and you can't hold one person accountable for the final outcome of that game."
Several former Seahawks applauded Leavy's admission but said the loss still stings.
"On a whole, unless they're going to come out and say 'Hey, here's the trophy and here's your ring,' it's not going to make a difference," Browns quarterback and former Seahawk Seneca Wallace said.
Added former Seahawk Bobby Engram: "I hope [Leavy] feels better about himself. He's human and we all make mistakes. I'm sure he was trying his hardest, but it was difficult for us to overcome some of those missed calls."
Holmgren led two different franchises -- Seattle and Green Bay -- to Super Bowls and is now in his first year attempting to turn around the Browns, who finished 5-11 last season.
Here was their reaction:
Browns quarterback and former Seahawk Seneca Wallace:
"On a whole, unless they're going to come out and say 'Hey, here's the trophy and here's your ring,' it's not going to make a difference. But if we took care of what we were supposed to take care of in that game ... I think a lot of those calls wouldn't have made a difference. But it's good that he came out now and admitted that he blew some calls."
"We can only control what we can control. If the refs are going to make bad calls, they're going to make bad calls. We can dispute and argue them all we want. But at the end of the day [Pittsburgh] walked away with the trophy."
"[Mike Holmgren] wasn't happy at all. He's a very intense guy. From what I remembered, he was very upset with some of the calls that went on in that game."Browns receiver and former Seahawk Bobby Engram:
"I hope he feels better about himself. He’s human and we all make mistakes. I’m sure he was trying his hardest, but it was difficult for us to overcome some of those missed calls.”
"We talked about it until we were blue in the face the first year after. To throw salt in that wound, I live in Pittsburgh and went to Penn State. Even the fans there, they knew. The fans knew me from Penn State, so they treat me a little differently. And when you talked to a majority of them, they say that they hated to see it go down like that. They saw it. Those calls were such momentum-changers. We kept battling and kept battling. But we could only overcome so much, especially when we didn’t play our best football that day."
"But I feel bad for the guy. These refs try hard and I respect what they do. It's not an easy job. It's a fast-paced game and a lot of big, strong guys are flying around. It's just unfortunate that he had a bad game in the Super Bowl."
NFL referee Bill Leavy publicly admits that he made bad calls that contributed to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 21-10 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
"It was a tough thing for me," Leavy said. "I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that."
Leavy never explained which two calls he blew in the Super Bowl. But the chatter over the years often point out several controversial plays in the game, including a holding call that negated a long reception by Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens, and an illegal blocking call against Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. There are also questions of whether Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got in on his 1-yard touchdown run in the first half, but we won't go too deep into the particulars.
Either way, it's an interesting development from Leavy despite the fact that it comes several years later. I covered that game in Detroit and felt at the time it was poorly officiated, especially for a Super Bowl.
What's your take?
|Frazer Harrison/Getty Images|
|The Steelers received this ring after winning Super Bowl XL.|
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
For teams coming off championships, this is one of the most exciting days of the year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will receive their Super Bowl rings later on Tuesday in a private ceremony held amongst players, coaches, team employees and their families.
Pittsburgh defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in February to win its NFL-best sixth Super Bowl title. For many veterans on the team, this will be their second ring after also winning Super Bowl XL following the 2005 season.
The Steelers will begin their title defense Sept. 10 at home against the Tennessee Titans.