There were lots of storylines and events highlighting the experience known as Superbowl XLI. Even without a Ravens appearance ….. which hit this town very hard …. there was a lot of local fanfare and interest surrounding the pinnacle event of a long and treacherous NFL season.
From a local perspective, the ‘NST Team – Nestor, Drew, Ray and Casey – kept us entertained with kick-ass interviews, all week long, from “radio row.” I recall seeing the guys on TV ….. behind the NFL Network set, as well. Each show was packed with great guests and substance.
I’d say my favorite interview was Hines Ward. Let’s face it, from a Baltimore fan’s view, we assume he’s an absolute JERK. However, I found through the on-air conversation that he was actually an engaging and personable guy. Alright, that damned Bob Irsay doll was funny, too …..
As for the game, it featured some poignant headlines. For the first time ever, an African American head coach was leading a team to the Superbowl. In fact, this game would feature two African American head coaches. The significance of this story is obvious and telling. Although, many media outlets exploited the nature of the historical event, both Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith stayed above the sensationalism.
Although, they were clearly honored to represent their heritage and sacrifices made by others before them, they made intent efforts to defer attention to their teams and earned accomplishments. The humility both men displayed exceeded any racial boundaries and this certainly served as a catalyst for what became a character-defining experience, for each of them.
The Colts and Bears both enjoyed a successful season, but it was “Peyton Manning & Company” who marched into Miami atop a wave of momentum. To be blunt, they’d just beaten the Ravens and Patriots, and suddenly stumbled upon a concocted defense that had eluded them for much of the regular season. It couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time.
The game actually unfolded in a way many sages predicted. Peyton Manning looked like the guy who’s destined for Canton. And, as for the “Good” Rex Grossman and the “Bad” Rex Grossman ….. the latter showed up. A lone bright spot for the Bears was Devin Hester ….. he’s simply unreal.
In the end, the game wasn’t even close. But it’s relevance and prominent position in my annual list of top stories is attributed to the blend of meaningful things that happened. For Peyton Manning – a player who has conducted himself with a modest determination – he finally “won the BIG ONE.” Although, Baltimoreans loathe the Colts ….. I’m one fan who suggests Manning has never done anything to offend us.
In fact, he tried (unsuccessfully) to honor Johnny Unitas in the game following his death. To put it plainly, Peyton Manning is a “classy” individual and he’s served the game admirably. To sum up the Tony Dungy/Lovie Smith story ….. they made the event much more appealing by handling it as modestly as they did. They’re true gentlemen.
Superbowl XLI was an absolutely special event ….. even if it was difficult to digest.