|Parity not so super|
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist
Over the next two weeks, the NFL has to face one cold, hard fact about its present condition: Parity and hype are conflicting concepts. Parity is good for the regular season and the first rounds of the playoffs, but it loses its shine as the playoffs progress. As proof, look at the past few Super Bowl matchups -- there's always someone new, and the buildup is always less than compelling.
What a bummer Sunday turned out to be. Two weeks of exciting playoff games -- exciting for the stupendous ways in which teams managed to fail -- gave way to two forgettable championship games. They were so pedestrian we can't even find a good reason to fire a coach today.
Last week, everyone wanted to string up Mike Martz and Mike Sherman; but this week, we can't summon the energy. Tony Dungy? Ah, hell -- you did what you could with what you had. Belichick's just smarter than everybody else. And see you next year, Andy Reid. Oh, by the way, think about drafting a receiver when you get around to it.
It might be hard to get started, but we'll try to hype the Super Bowl. After all, it's a law. Over the next 12 days, you'll read about the matchups -- Fox vs. Belichick, Hochstein vs. Buckner, Delhomme vs. Bruschi. (It's early, though, and you'll probably need first names for the next week or so.) Can the Panthers find a way to repeat their stunning performance in the NFC title game by getting a solid and injurious cheap shot on Tom Brady? After befuddling Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense, will Belichick be popping champagne in the film room after watching the first reel of the Panthers' offense? Will Ricky Manning Jr. become this year's ... wait, who was that guy from last year ... Dexter Jackson?
And, finally, we promise to make every attempt to discover just how much 370-pound Ted Washington eats on game day. Ted will be asked to play the time-honored role of Gilbert Brown and Tony Siragusa in our desperate attempt to create some seamless Super Bowl storylines. It's our pledge to you.
By the time Delhomme looks over the line at Bruschi with Stephen Davis and eight tight ends lined up in the vaunted Carolina flex-T triple wishbone, you'll forget all about the commercials.
This Week's List
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.