Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Monday, January 30, 2012
Power Rankings: Mercy Irsay Edition

By Greg Hardy
Page 2

Punch your cheap-o ticket to this week's insanity in Indianapolis with ESPN.com's Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent the weekend trying to sort through Dwight Howard trade offers. Until Howard demanded we trade our HP laptop for a MacBook Pro to calculate his trade value. Dwight, we give up. We'd trade anything just so you can go where it makes you happy and leave us alone. To the results!

1. Jim Irsay

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.9 9.6 19.5

Credentials: Everybody wants to rule the world. And sometimes the world ends up on a billionaire's doorstep. There's really no rhyme or reason as to why the Indianapolis Colts' owner seems to be at the nexus of all that is happening in the NFL, but we can't seem to avoid him. First, there's the family feud between him and Peyton Manning as they trade hissy-fit quotes about who will control the heart and soul of the Colts' locker room. (Hint: It's going to be Irsay). But now as the self-styled rock 'n' roll-souled mogul asserts that he doesn't know who he'll take in the NFL draft (Hint: It's going to be Andrew Luck), this all takes place as Super Bowl XLVI sets up shop in his backyard. Yeah, Jerry Jones was visible last year at Cowboys Stadium as the guy in charge of WHERE the Super Bowl was played … but there just seems to be this vibe that between Irsay's Twitter ravings and media appearances that he's the cruise director of Super Bowl XLVI and is in charge of its outcome. How far does this go? Does Irsay get to flip the pregame coin? Sing the national anthem? Pilot his private jet over Lucas Oil Stadium for the flyover? Sign off on Rob Gronkowski's X-rays? Tuck Victor Cruz into bed and read him a story after the game? Maybe the QB of the team that's trailing by five points at the two-minute warning will get knocked out, and Irsay will have to trot on the field to throw the Hail Mary pass for the … well, we'd tell you what team that would be for, but Irsay has already paid Page 2 to embargo the result until Sunday night. Stay tuned.


2. Rob Gronkowski's ankle

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.0 18.5

Credentials: What's the big deal about the feared Patriots tight end maybe having to battle a high ankle sprain sustained in the victory against the Baltimore Ravens? Maybe he'll be able to run around on it on Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe he won't be able to put much weight on it but will waddle around as a decoy. Hey, it's not like Bill Belichick is going to order him into the game in the final seconds to attempt a 48-yard, game-winning field goal. Or is this all an elaborate set-up to make the Giants think he won't try that? The Patriots have revolutionized the tight end position to this extent, why not have it leak over into special teams heroics? Genius!


3. Peyton Manning

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.9 8.2 17.1

Credentials: OK, who's the latest front-runner on the trading frontier among NFL teams that can pluck the greatest QB in Indianapolis Colts history? (Relax, Johnny Unitas fans, we said Indy Colts, not Baltimore Colts.) The Tennessee Titans, where he'll be welcomed as a returning hero by Tennessee Vols fans? San Francisco, where he can easily slide into the role of Alex Smith's stronger, wiser, funnier, handsomer older brother? How about the New York Jets, where coach Rex Ryan can show the simple country boy around the big city? Let's try the Denver Broncos, where we can think big picture. As in Biblical big picture, where Manning can play John the Baptist to Tim Tebow's eventual rise to Super Bowl salvation. But if we get struck by lightning for typing that, we'll take it as a sign it wasn't meant to be.


4. Australian Open marathon

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.4 15.1

Credentials: Do the math. Novak Djokovic + Rafael Nadal = 5 hours and 53 minutes of major men's final tennis for the ages. Victoria Azarenka's women's final win over Maria Sharapova took 1 hour, 22 minutes. So if you edited a "due to time constraints we move ahead in our broadcast" version of Djokovic's win to 1 hour, 22 minutes, that would still leave on the cutting room floor 4 hours and 31 minutes of tennis footage that would make you sweat, bleed, dehydrate and pass out. That's why the media hardly ever try the "We ran an XBox computer model of who would win a men's major tennis match" gimmick. It would require more computer memory than it would take to randomly CGI three "Avatar" sequels.


5. New York Giants

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.4 14.5

Credentials: We're not about to tell coach Tom Coughlin how to do his job. Especially when he's gotten the Super Bowl victory job done against the Patriots once already. Just consider this a suggestion for how to win the psychological battle for your Super Bowl rematch with New England, which undoubtedly has been working overtime to purge from its memory the improbable way the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII. Get in touch with your uniform manufacturer to see if there's still time to switch the names on the backs of everyone's jersey to "TYREE." We can't be sure what would be going through the Patriots' minds when they saw that as you run out of the tunnel, but we bet it would sound a lot like nails across a chalkboard.


6. Team Chara

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.2 6.4 12.6

Credentials: Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and his League of Extraordinary Hockey Players scored six goals in the third period to ice Sunday's NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa against Team Alfredsson, 12-9. As their prize, Team Chara members can choose between commemorative diamond rings or becoming an actual expansion team to supplant the Columbus Blue Jackets. For surrendering 12 goals, Team Alfredsson can choose between being forced to read "All-Star Hockey Defense For Dummies" or just collecting a coupon for 25 percent off at the NHL.com store.


7. The Pro Bowl

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.3 10.7

Credentials: On the morning after the AFC's 59-41 win over the NFC in Hawaii, you've got to wonder if the NFL will ever crack down on the lack of defense on display. It may have something to do with the fact that players are aware that commissioner Roger Goodell is toying with the concept of elevating the fines for illegal hits to consist of the guilty player being thrown into a live volcano. Yeah, the whole value of a free trip to Hawaii is the ability to return from a trip to Hawaii, eh?


8. National signing day

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 4.8 10.0

Credentials: For college football fans, Wednesday is the day the stars come out -- whether these high school athletes are rated three-star, four-star or five star. For fans who live and die by this stuff, every stud player who signs with their team is a god-in-training, every player who chooses a rival is the scum of the earth. Unless that kid decides at the last minute to screw a school out of his promise to sign and goes to a rival; in that case, the kid is in the god category again. If you need more details about the ethics of college recruiting, we can arrange a phone interview between you and any Division I coach, as soon as he throws out all his disposable, untraceable cell phones and can get back to his office land line.


9. Derrick Rose

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 4.2 9.4

Credentials: How painful must it have been for the star Chicago Bulls guard to miss two free throws and then a game-tying jumper in the final 22.7 seconds in a 97-93 loss at Miami? Especially considering how LeBron James missed two free throws with 5.1 seconds left but still won. The box score shows Rose was 12-of-14 from the line in that game while James was 10-of-15. So don't be so hard on yourself, Derrick. We know that if the All-Star Game ever replaced the slam dunk contest with a missed free throw contest, you'd school King James every year. The fact that David Stern could conceivably strong-arm the players' association into the indignity of staging a missed free throw contest, we'll save for another debate.


10. Super Bowl tickets

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.0 4.2 9.2

Credentials: Passes for The Big Game (by which, of course, we mean the Super Bowl. "The Big Game" is the sticks-out-like-a-sore-throwing-hand-thumb euphemism seen in commercials and print advertisements for companies that don't want to get sued by the NFL because they're too cheap to become an official sponsor) are starting at $2,200 on StubHub.com/SuperBowlXLVI/Nosebleeds. But if you risk buying from a scalper on the mean streets of Indianapolis, how can you be sure you're not buying a counterfeit ticket? Here's a simple test. Instead of logos for the Patriots or Giants or the Lombardi Trophy or the NFL shield on the ticket, do you see Disney animated characters? That's a sign you might have been fooled into buying tickets for EPCOT's "Journey Into Imagination." So close your eyes, and imagine being in your game seat -- or at least having your $6,000 back so you can at least gorge yourself on Fools Gold-Flavored Doritos to escape your misery.


11. Liam Neeson vs. wolves

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.3 4.2 8.5

Credentials: "The Grey" won the weekend box office by wolfing down $20 million in tickets. And it was a shrewd idea by the filmmakers to release the man vs. nature vs. fangs epic on the same weekend as the Screen Actors Guild Awards. That put it in a calendar cycle where the film likely wouldn't be in danger of being nominated for any SAG honors either this year or next year. Because how embarrassing would it have been if "The Grey" won "best ensemble cast" and on the way to the podium the beasts escaped their leashes and accidentally mauled half the cast of "Modern Family?"


12. Tiger Woods

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 3.2 7.2

Credentials: Confidence-booster or confidence-killer? Tiger was tied for the lead going into the final day of the Abu Dhabi Championship, but a par 72 sank him to third place as 117th-ranked Robert Rock won the tourney. Maybe Woods is on the verge of regaining his killer closing ways. But until Tiger starts sealing the deal with consistency, we're just going to have to accept the fact we live in a world where he needs to avoid eye contact with a random 34-year-old Englishmen lest Tiger gets rattled sizing up the bunkers.


13. Valentine's Day shopping

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.1 2.3 5.4

Credentials: Some gals will wish for chocolate. Some gals will wish for roses. We just don't understand how any of the NFL's official sponsors haven't had the imagination to wish for a V-Day campaign featuring Tim Tebow as Cupid hawking their product. C'mon, it's a no-brainer: Mr. Dimples and Chisled Biceps, wearing a diaper and tiny angel wings, with a bow and arrow that can compensate for his less-than-lovely accuracy? Try getting that image out of your head the rest of the day.


Also receiving votes
• "Matthew Broderick's Day Off": The Ferris Bueller-inspired Super Bowl car commercial has gone viral, and fans of the 1986 John Hughes classic are playing hooky from work for 2½ minutes for a mini-high school reunion. Naturally, Ferris Bueller's return would come in a Super Bowl ad -- you think we've got forever to wait until a Chicago Cubs World Series spot? Anyway, we'd have loved to have been in the conference room when the ad's creative team had to vote as to whether they'd re-enact the scene where their vehicle instead of a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California would hurtle in reverse through a plate-glass window into the suburban Chicago wilderness.

Never receiving votes
• Super Bowl gluttony: Memo to the guy who's building a scale model of Lucas Oil Stadium using Twinkies, corn dogs, refried beans, bologna-and-peanut-butter sandwiches, marshmallow Peeps, artificial guacamole dip and -- in this year's innovative twist -- black Twizzler licorice strings as the first-down markers. Why waste this concoction on something as trivial as a Super Bowl party? If you really want to prove you're the King of Caloric Overload, save it until the state fair is in town and ask a carny to deep-fry it for you.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


Back to Page 2


• Philbrick: Page 2's Greatest Hits, 2000-2012
• Caple: Fond memories of a road warrior
• Snibbe: An illustrated history of Page 2
Philbrick, Gallo: Farewell podcast Listen