Mailbag time and it's all Brady vs. Roethlisberger this week.
Well, almost but not quite. Believe me, the feedback from my column on Monday is well represented, but we also take a swing at solving the peak of Elisabeth Shue, try to figure out why there is no love (in a manner of speaking) for the supporting actors in porn, debate if there is a sports equivalent of Charlie Sheen and look at the most overrated coach in NFL history. Just another 3,000 words of waste.
So with that, it's to the 'bag we go ...
Push on toughness? Really? Pretty good article until it lost all credibility at that moment. This coming from a quarterback (Brady) who looks for a flag from the referee if he is so much as sneezed on. He also usually draws these flags as well! Look, Brady is a Hall of Fame quarterback but is a product of a really great system design. He throws passes of seven yards on a three-step drop. He is only great at reading coverages, but aside from that I think without Belichick you have no Hall of Fame. You have no Super Bowls. I think you probably have a lot fewer Super Bowls if Belichick's cheating ways had been discovered earlier. Listen, before writing a biased article let us review. Tough Guys: Brett Favre, Roethlisberger, Rivers. Pre-Madonnas: Brady, Manning, and the other Manning.
A: Full disclosure is in order here: I usually try to clean up the spelling and grammar on the emails and comments. Just trust me, it's for the best. For example, our boy Will here misspelled "Belichick" and had "Super Bowl" as one word. Stuff like that. But I had to leave "Pre-Madonna" in. It's just too good. Plus, I have to consider the possibility that Will's actually suggesting Brady and Manning would have thrived musically in the years before Madonna came on the scene. Who knows?
But yeah, Will is clearly an anti-Brady guy and that's OK. A lot of folks thought a push for toughness between Brady and Roethlisberger was a reach. And I guess I don't equate toughness with bitching at referees and begging for flags. I look at it as playing through pain and willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit. And to me, both guys have demonstrated that they'll do that.
Toughness a push? Really? If anyone touches Brady they throw a flag! Brady would not have played one snap after breaking a nose, too bad we won’t see it since the league has their own set of rules for Manning and Brady.
The comment I hear all the time is that Brady would win more if he had the defense of the Steelers. He would not last a quarter with the offensive line the Steelers have had the past few years.
Oh, and the MVP’s that he has should go to Vinatieri. He won the two games.
A: Brady played the entire season with a broken foot, Jim, so I'm not sure he's sitting if he gets popped in the schnoz. And I would have been fine with Vinatieri winning MVP of the Rams game -- capping off the greatest postseason ever by a kicker -- but he missed two field goals in the Carolina game. People forget that. Look, Brady and Roethlisberger are tough, tough guys. I guess Brady complains more and looks for more flags. I think that's probably true. If you want to use that as a toughness tie-breaker, fine with me. But I just don't see how it applies.
I think it’s time for the Pats to begin a succession plan. Brady has had an amazing career, no doubt. But watching him come unraveled against the Jets was enough. In contrast even with a terrible passer rating against the Jets, Big Ben’s mobility ultimately led to their win. In the end it’s all about the W’s, not stats.
A: A succession plan? This isn't Howard Cunningham trying to get Richie to take over the hardware store. It's not as if some obvious successor is just kicking around and Belichick is ignoring him (or her, for those fond of Helen Hunt's performance in 1983's "Quarterback Princess").
What, exactly, would you like the Patriots to do? Use one of these top 33 picks on a QB? OK, let's say they pick Ryan Mallet at No. 28. So now you've got a guy who is going to sit for three, four years at least -- Brady has said that he wants to play until he's 40 -- and you'll have no idea if he's any good when it's finally his time.
And I understand that was the argument against picking Aaron Rodgers, but I see three big differences: Favre was nearly 36 when the Packers picked Rodgers (Brady is 33), his game was already in serious decline (as he would prove in 2005, throwing a league-best 29 picks for a 4-12 team) and Favre was already talking retirement. And again, it wasn't a case of a well-thought out succession plan for the Packers -- Rodgers had a historic fall in the first round of that draft, and was there when the Packers picked at No. 24. They never thought he was going to be there, and they didn't trade up to get him. Anyway, I would think the Patriots are two years away from a "do we or don't we?" scenario if a QB they really like is on the board in the first round.
I think your article is mostly fair, but I think you leave out some important points, especially in that the column largely only considers stats:
You mention Big Ben doesn’t have a season in the Top 30 of QB performances. His rookie season he won his first 13 starts in a row and a playoff game. As a rookie with a 98.1 QB rating and a playoff win, I would put that in the top 30 QB performances of all time.
Whether you think SpyGate impacted the game or not, you need to at least mention it in your comparison. The Pats won those three Super Bowls by three points each. Did it make a difference? I think so. The Steelers also lost that playoff game Ben’s rookie season to the Pats. You can’t just ignore that.
A: I understand that Roethlisberger was a rookie, but a 17-11 TD/INT ratio and a 98.1 passer rating (65th all time) doesn't equal a top 30 season for me. Great rookie season, but I'm not sure that should factor into the conversation. And Brady's two best seasons came after SpyGate, but I suppose it's fair to at least wonder if that helped the Pats win the Super Bowls. Fair.
But I'm not giving SpyGate the game ball for the Pats' playoff win over the Steelers, sorry. That game was a classic Bill Cowher home playoff choke job. It was 24-3 Pats in the second quarter. The Steelers were always tight in big spots with Cowher, as overrated a coach as there has been in NFL history. He leaves the Steelers and they don't miss a beat. Give me Mike Tomlin (and his Alonzo Mosley sunglasses) any day of the week. Here's the difference between the two: A Cowher team runs the ball three times in that final drive against the Jets, punts and puts the game in the hands of his defense. In theory, that's a perfectly legitimate way of thinking, but it's the kind of conservatism that always killed Cowher teams. It always seemed to me that it was more important for Cowher to appear to look like a tough guy than it was for him to actually have his team prepared to play in postseason games. The image of a coach projecting strength was very important to him. I'm sure -- when he comes back -- he'll get $8 million a year to coach the Giants or the Texans or Dolphins, but I think he's just as likely to flop as hit.
Something to consider: in Roethlisberger’s career the Steelers have been first in scoring defense three times, second once and third once. The other two times in his career? They finished 11th and 12th, in years that produced the Steelers' worst finishes in Ben’s tenure as the starting Pittsburgh QB. The Famed Steel Curtain was ranked first only twice. Since Dick LeBeau became the defensive coordinator, the Steelers have had perhaps the most dominant seven-year period of defensive play in the Live Ball Era (1978-present). Not to mention the '08 and '10 Steelers boasted the Defensive Player of the Year. Or that the Arizona Cardinals were the worst team to make a Super Bowl, including a 98.6 Defensive Passer Rating, nearly 18 points lower than the worst to make the big game. Big Ben threw for a 93.5 passer rating on the day, below even that awful disaster of a defense's average performance.
A: Some good stuff here. No doubt that Roethlisberger has benefitted from having what has been basically been a top-five defense his entire career. Again, if he puts up the same numbers against the Jets in the AFC title game but the defense allows 38 points, no one is talking about how Roethlisberger just has a knack for making the big play. Same goes for that Super Bowl against the Seahawks. But the Patriots' three Super Bowl defenses were ranked sixth, first and second, so I can't give Brady points for having to overcome a weak defense to win games.
Great write up and pretty fair comparison. With a win (gotta do that first) Ben gets in the conversation with the top guys. Looking at overall career, obviously Tommy is currently better, but he’s also got four extra years playing.
Ben has plenty of time to have some great statistical years. In fact if you extrapolate what he had in 12 games to a full season this year he would have 4000 yards and 22 TDs.
A: I agree, Ben needs that third Super Bowl to enter the mix. Right now the numbers are just a little short. But how about this? It's not impossible that Roethlisberger will retire as the only guy with five Super Bowls. Absolutely could happen. And if he continues to rack up 3,500-yard, 20-TD seasons and wins five Super Bowls, will he be viewed as the best quarterback of all time? No way he won't be in the top three. Seems crazy, because he just doesn't pass the eye test (not just his game, either -- the Best QB of All Time is supposed to look like Tom Brady, not the bastard child of Lyndon Byers and Seth Rogen), but that's exactly where he would rank. If, however, he never wins another Super Bowl, he'll need some monster statistical season to even get close to a seat at the table.
I love this Charlie Sheen story. Gets better every day, and we know exactly how it's going to end. Porn stars, coke, booze, fake teeth, Daddy trying to take over the will -- just fantastic. My question for your mailbag is this: Who is the sports equal of Chuckles? I'm thinking Mike Tyson.
A: Only because I'm sick of Brady/Roethlisberger.
Here's why the Tyson comparison doesn't work: He never had an Act II in his career. Once he lost to Buster Douglas it was over. Sheen has had two runs at the top of his business:
--The A-List Movie Star: Call it 1986-1993, when he starred or co-starred in "Platoon", "Eight Men Out," "Wall Street," 'Hot Shots," "Major League," "The Three Musketeers" and some other movies mixed in as well. There were some stiffs, but the point is that there was a seven or eight-year stretch where a studio would bank $40 million on a movie with Charlie Sheen as its biggest star.
--The Sitcom Star: After being in Hollywood purgatory for nearly a decade -- playing characters like Lyle Wilder in straight-to-video jobs such as "Bad Day on the Block" -- Sheen took over for Michael J. Fox in "Spin City" in 2000, playing the role of Charlie for three years before he moved over to "Two and a Half Men," where he plays the role of Charlie. (My uncle -- 70 years old and a retired rocket scientist -- once explained the premise of "Two and a Half Men" to me: "It's two brothers, one is a dork and the other is a d--k.")
If Tyson had won the heavyweight title in, say, 2003 and held it for three years, we might have a winner. But even then we'd still need a post-second comeback meltdown. I'm not sure there is one sports guy that comes close to a Sheen match. You'd need the craziness of Tyson, the drug addiction of Dwight Gooden, the sex addiction of Wade Boggs and Tiger Woods combined, the comeback ability of Andre Agassi and the daddy issues of Todd Marinovich. Wow, that's a list. As Sheen himself said when asked about his seven checks and 20 cash payments made to prostitutes while testifying during the Heidi Fleiss trial, "It's starting to add up." One in a million.
(Aside: Why is it always "porn star?" Are there no supporting actors in porn? I'm asking as if I don't know the answer, which I obviously do. Julie Meadows has three AVN Awards for Best Supporting Actress. She's the Dame Judi Dench of porn. But is she what you and I would call a star? The kind of tough question that keeps me up at night.)
Elisabeth Shue's peak? Three words: "Adventures in Babysitting." That is all.
A: Nah, she still had some of her "Karate Kid" baby fat. By the way, "The Karate Kid" is notable for a great many things, but I think its legacy might be this: The last studio film in which the female love interest out-weighed the male lead. Nope, Shue peaked in "Leaving Las Vegas," both physically and as an actress. The rare double, and rotation worthy in the dying VHS days of the late 1990s.
You are the perfect example of the kind of fraud you pretend to hate (you would love to hang out with Tom Jackson, and I bet you'd leave WEEI.com for ESPN.com in a second). First, Tom Brady was the best QB ever. Then it was Peyton Manning. Then it was Brady again. Now it's Ben Roethlisberger? For someone who always preaches about media members being consistent, that's pretty weak sauce.
Kirk M. Sux
A: The best closer in the business. Tough to argue, though. And the idea that I have zero credibility isn't exactly This Just In territory. We've known this for some time now. And yes, if the money was right I'd be laughing at Skip Bayless jokes, praising Erin Andrews as a journalist and chest-bumping Tom Jackson in Bristol. OK? I'm a fraud. You win, Kirk M. Sux. You always win.