- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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Here is the list of Frequently Asked Questions for 2013. Please consult the FAQ list before calling our service line. Thank you.
Q: Why are you always so wrong?
A: It's not easy. Ask the Mayans. So, yes, I was wrong on Notre Dame, Joe Paterno and Europe's chances of winning the Ryder Cup, among a few hundred other things. So sue.
Q: When will you stop making predictions?
A: Hard to predict.
Q: Who's going to be the MVP?
A: I know who should win it. Peyton Manning, and not just because of the unseemly way the Vikings' Adrian Peterson has been campaigning for it. "In my heart, I believe I'm the MVP. Whether I win it or not, I feel I'm the MVP." (People, we don't campaign for Nobel Prizes, Pulitzers or MVPs. Does Meryl Streep announce, "In my heart, I'm the Best Actress"?)
What Peterson did for the Vikings -- 2,000-plus yards coming off knee surgery -- was stunning. But what Peyton Manning did was mind-morphing. Playing for a new team, with a new coach, in a new city, he won 11 straight games, put up the second-best season of his career, and took his team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, all after having more neck work done than Joan Rivers.
Just look at Manning's December alone: five wins, the highest completion percentage in the league (by 7 points), the highest passer rating in the league (by 18 points), and the AFC Offensive Player of the Month (his sixth, tying an NFL record.) He took an offense that was 25th in points last season and made it second. He took a team with the second-hardest schedule in the NFL to 13-3. And he didn't have to come back from one surgery; he had to come back from four.
"People thought he was done," says Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley. "People were saying he'd be a fool to play. They were saying his career was over. People have no idea what he went through just to get back on the field."
Q: Who's going to be Offensive Rookie of the Year?
A: Andrew Luck. Do you recall what owner Jim Irsay did to the two-win Colts just before he got there? He not only cut Manning, he let go of Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday, WR Pierre Garcon, TE Jacob Tamme, Pro Bowl TE Dallas Clark and half a dozen others. And he signed almost nobody. This was supposed to be a just-drink-your-beer-and-stare-up-at-all-the-banners season.
Except Luck turned up as the reincarnation of Roger Staubach and started winning with people off the taxi squad. Do you realize his leading rusher had one fewer yard than Robert Griffin III? And yet even with every defense sending the 2nd Infantry after him, Luck still won 11 games, seven of them from behind in the fourth quarter.
Don't get me wrong. Griffin was fabulous and mistake-free and astonishing. Name a rookie who gets voted captain halfway through the season! And Russell Wilson of the Seahawks was a revelation too, and possibly the greatest player ever with two sporting goods manufacturers for a name. And Doug Martin of the Bucs. And Alfred Morris, who is not a butler but a running back in Washington. It might be the best rookie class in NFL history. And yet Luck stands above them all.
In fact, the question isn't, "Is Luck the Offensive Rookie of the Year?" The question is: "Why isn't Luck getting MVP talk?"
Q: Why should we believe you? You're wrong more than Karl Rove.
A: Because I was right occasionally in 2012, too. Predicted before the draft that Luck was "a solid-gold slam-the-door star-to-be" and could win "right away" and he has. Slammed Roger Goodell's punishment of Saints players in the bounty scandal as the "worst railroad job since Amtrak" and those penalties were reversed. I said playing the PGA on Kiawah Island in South Carolina would be a logistical "disaster" and it was, unless you like three-hour drives to see golfers play in 100 degree heat index. And I'm STILL going to be right on Jimmer (7.9 ppg, career). You're welcome.
Q: What's your Movie of the Year?
A: "Skyfall." It's about the Texans in the playoffs.
Q: What's the nastiest tweet you got @ReillyRick this year?
A: "H8 U times infinity." And that is a lot.
Q: What's the nicest tweet you got?
A: A reader said he'd waste no time reading my next column. Thought that was nice.
Q: What's Peyton Manning like?
A: Like this: Ever since he was a kid, Manning has been writing down his New Year's resolutions on an index card and keeping them. His dad taught him to do that. That means that somewhere, he's got all his resolutions, neatly organized, just to be sure he followed up. The man is, above all else, accountable.
And like this: During the offseason, just after he signed, there was a period where no coaches could be on the practice field, because of the new NFLPA rules. The coaches weren't even supposed to look. But one day, Broncos coach John Fox couldn't help himself and looked out his office window, which sits above the field. He was shocked to see a coach running practice, marching people around in groups, keeping things fastidiously beehived. He was about to call security to get the coach off when he realized it was Manning. No wonder Fox likes to say, "He not only does his job, he does yours."
And even like this: After road wins this year, Manning has been getting on the PA system in the front of the plane and putting on a kind of one-man review. For instance, when Eric Decker tripped on absolutely nothing at San Diego, ruining what would've been a long touchdown, Manning got up and played, in his honor, "Another One Bites the Dust" on the phone. After the big road win at Baltimore, he got up and pleaded with one of the more rotund coaching staff members not to take off his shirt to celebrate. That's what you need in a leader. Somebody who knows when to push and when to back off.
Q: Is every question in this thing about Manning?
A: That's not a Frequently Asked Question.
Q: What was the Quote of the Year for 2012?
A: "You got to go with what you have in your pants."
-- Nicolas Colsaerts of the European Ryder Cup team, after making eight birdies (and an eagle) to help beat Tiger Woods, who made seven.
Q: What will be the Quote of the Year for 2013?
A: "Why don't they just make this league two-hand touch? … Hey, anybody remember where I parked my car?"
Q: What's "Silver Linings Playbook" about?
A: The Jets cut Tim Tebow only to realize all the stuff he returned has an aura.
Q: Who's going to win the Super Bowl?
A: Green Bay. Picked the Packers to beat the Steelers before the start of the season and I'm not changing halfway through the season like some people, not to mention any (cough-Colin-cough-Cowherd) names. You might say Denver (hottest team in the NFL) or Seattle (hottest team in NFC) or San Francisco (hottest team with a nut for a coach) or Atlanta (OK, forget that, nobody's saying Atlanta). But you'd be wrong.
The Ravens are too beat up. The Bengals are too beat. The Redskins aren't ready. The Texans were ready two months ago. The Vikings run too much. The Colts pass too much. The Patriots? Have you ever tried to sleep with a new baby in the house?
Q: Where will Andy Reid coach next?
Q: Who stars in the new movie "Pawn Shop Chronicles"?
A: Vince Young.
Q: Do you know what the little red light means now on the front of a TV camera?
A: Very funny.
Q: Still think you're dumber than a bag of bellybutton lint on the MVP. It's Peterson.
A: The V is for "Valuable" and the QB has the most chance to be valuable. I didn't name the award.
"With the way the game is today, the guy pulling the trigger is the most valuable player," says John Elway. "Adrian Peterson is a great player, a tremendous player, but a guy who dictates the game from start to finish is more valuable to any team. And nobody dictated games the way Peyton did this year."
Q: Please tell us you're out of movie jokes?
A: No. Go see "Life of Pie." It's the true story of the love affair between Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and Marie Callender.
Q: What FAQ do you get asked most F?
A: "Will you critique my blog?"
Q: Will you?
Q: H8 U times infinity.
A: Get in line.
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