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Mailbag: All hail the great NFC West

2/1/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Brad from San Jose writes: Did you know that after Sunday, the only team in the NFC West that the steelers have not met in the super bowl would be the San Francisco 49ers? If they beat the cardinals, San Francisco will also be the only team they have not beat as well. I certainly would like to see a 49ers vs the Steelers in the super bowl.

Mike Sando: I had not thought of that, so thanks for sharing. It's hard to keep all the NFC West Super Bowl teams straight. That is one of the challenges associated with covering such a dominant division. On a slightly more serious note, who would have won a game between the 1978 Steelers and the 1989 49ers?


Ezra from Las Vegas writes: OK, here is the overly confident prediction. The D comes out and plays good for AZ, 31-7 Az domination, and is still a underdog next year. Edge is the MVP, rushes over 100 because the O-line makes a good statement. I don't think anyone has made this prediction yet.
Mike Sando: And probably for good reason, Ezra! I'll be surprised if anyone on the Cardinals rushes for 100 yards against this Steelers defense, unless someone can break loose for one long run on a draw play or some other act of deception.

I could see Arizona running just well enough to avoid second-and-9 or worse most of the time. But if Arizona runs the ball consistently well against this defense, I'll be watching closely to see if Russ Grimm sneaked onto the field as one of the guards.


Creativemind from San Diego writes: I have been reading your comments for a long while. I have one question -- what is your beef with Mike Vick? I mean you have never said one single positive thing about the guy. In one blog you even made reference to his career passing percentage, as though that is the only stat that he brings to an organization.

You failed to take into consideration or mention that he has a career winning percentage somewhere around 60 percent and has taken his team to the championship game in 2004 and was the first qb to beat Brett Favre on the road in the post season in Green Bay. He has taken his team to the post season twice and has been elected to the pro bowl 3-times in only 4-full seasons as a starter. If he had the team that Atlanta now has, they would have made it to the super bowl and not gone 1 and done.

It is obvious to the readers that your comments are more of a personal nature and less than professional. You need to seriously stop the biased attacks and report the facts, because you can be replaced as easily as you got this gig. Word of advice.

Mike Sando: To say I have "never said one single positive thing about the guy" fails to recognize the fact that I was one of the very few people supporting Vick following his indictment and premature conviction in the court of public opinion. I got pummeled for it at the time, but I felt he deserved the benefit of the doubt early on.

The column I wrote -- "Let's not rush to judgment" -- is available here if you'd like to read it. I'll include one passage:

Animal-rights activists are organizing protests outside NFL offices, demanding action and threatening boycotts. Their outrage is understandable. Vick bears some responsibility for even putting himself in position to be indicted.

And yet a civil society can't let emotions interfere with due process. No matter how repulsive the charges, no matter how much we love our pets, no matter how bad the indictment makes Vick appear, it's unfair to judge without weighing the evidence.

Several phone conversations with defense attorneys and legal scholars drove home a point easily lost amid the outrage: No one has seen all the evidence. An indictment is all we have, and it's not enough.

In short, I refused to jump on Vick when he was at his most vulnerable. He has since become a convicted felon, and that affects how teams should approach him, in my view. The head coach and quarterback tend to become the face of an organization. The decisions teams make in filling those positions are important ones.

I think a team would be foolish to invest hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in a person with Vick's criminal background, particularly at the most important position. Society will give Vick a second chance. That doesn't mean an NFL team would be wise to give him one.

On the field, Vick was a terrific runner. He played with passion. He was not a good passer by starting NFL quarterback standards. The skills that made him so dangerous are the ones that will diminish as he gets older. Vick turns 29 in June. Buyer beware.


Aarownhere from Springfield writes: Hey sando, do you think the rams will trade down from the second overall pick? Their needs are lower round, right? Is there an o-lineman worth a second pick is there? I like Crabtree, but i see Devaney and Spags building the lines first. Thanks
Mike Sando: The Rams do need to rebuild their offensive line and teams can find offensive linemen later in the draft. If a team is targeting quarterback or another position of less interest to the Rams, I do think the Rams would be wise to consider moving back. However, teams rarely trade into the top few picks, for reasons outlined here. And with teams worried about their financial bottom lines, how many will want to make the investment associated with one of the top few choices in the draft?