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Manly House of Football: Waiting out the pre-Super Bowl hype

Not to panic you, but yesterday I was seen writing this column while wearing a walking boot. I was later seen wearing a pair of cowboy boots. Needless to say, TMZ is camped out in front of my building. That may have more to do with the fact that I live in the same building as Lindsay Lohan, but now that Super Bowl-hype is officially upon us, you never know -- and once the Manly Superblog starts rolling next week, careers can be made or ruined for anyone who gets a hot tip on what I'll be ranting about.

(FYI: While no one cares if I have a high ankle sprain, the Lindsay Lohan part is actually true. On more than one morning I have had to walk my dog through an army of paparazzi. As they completely ignore me and my squatting, peeing mutt, my running joke is to adopt my most impatient, world-weary tone and yell out, "Just one shot, guys, I'm trying to live my life here," only to be ignored -- save for one or two who laugh and snap our shot. The smart ones, I might add -- because the night my dog gets arrested for starting a fight at Hyde, those shots are worth a fortune!)

Off-week time killers

When Super Bowl quarterbacks have time to hit NYC for a Bundchen-call, we have a clear case of too much idle time. Man, it is harder than ever to abide the two-week wait for the kickoff in Arizona. I mean, doesn't the intensity of that incredible Giants-Packers game feel like it went down a year ago?

This game had so many ear-flap hats, I thought I was at an Elmer Fudd Convention. What was better than seeing Aikman and Buck's breath when they cut to a shot of the announcers in the booth? I had a buddy who went to the game and told me he was so bundled up in layers, hoods and goggles, he described himself as "Just a mouth."

Nothing, however, could hold a candle to the majesty that blessed us with five minutes to go in the third when the cameras provided us with a breathtaking gander at three hot Packer girls in bikini tops. Ungowah. Admit it, despite the courage of braving that cold in something from Victoria's Secret, you suspected the show might come with a nice ring or three of Wisconsin farm girl fat -- but no! These were lean, mean Packer machines -- and for that reason alone, you can make a strong case that Green Bay deserved the win.

Alas, destiny threw the curve. If it's any consolation, I can't cook up one single reason that Favre won't be back next year, when Green Bay picks up right where it left off. No way Brett goes out on a bad interception, and why would he? The team will be intact, a year wiser, and he gets to come back to a superb offensive line and a bag stuffed full of elite pass targets. If this offseason's annual mystery drags into April, I will be shocked and dismayed, but enough about the Pack. ...

Now for the hard part -- I have procrastinated long enough, and now it's time to come clean and admit how wrong I have been by dumping on the Giants all season. I never gave them an ounce of respect, I counted them out at every turn, save for a few condescending snarks about how a smart contrarian knows they might just survive as long as the entire world has counted them out.

Swing and a miss. And to make matters even worse, I went down with a flourish last week when I wound up and unleashed the "Eli and the Giant WRs can't play in cold weather" hardballs. In my defense, heading into the game, I had a case ... until they laughed in the face of miunus-24-degree wind chill and played catch like they were in Tampa. In hindsight, I want to ask myself, "What part of nine (and now 10) consecutive road wins don't you get?!" Honestly, I'm at a loss trying to think of ways the Jints could have rammed it any further down the throats of naysayers like me.

Here's an email from a Giants fan that does an excellent job of summing up my bottomless cup of wrong:

That's right, big Nick. Keep picking against my Jints and us fair-weather fans. We wouldn't have it any other way. Unfortunately it is very difficult to understand the Giants fans mindset. I should know. But if you really saw yesterday's game though our eyes, you got a taste of what being a Giants fan is all about. Nothing is ever easy. Nothing is ever comfortable. It's always taken to the last minute. No first down to seal the games with two minutes left. Always giving the other team a chance to snag victory. No 20-point wins, etc., etc. We need a freaking cardiac doctor on call when we watch games. But at no time, no time do we not support our team. It may seem that way on talk radio, but in this part of the country we expect people to perform at a high level and do it with a certain amount bravado or confidence. We don't tolerate mistakes and we're impatient people. We all want Eli to do well and are glad it's happening now.

And what in the world is that thing on both sides of the 50 yard line in Foxboro? The grey thing with yellow sparks or tear drops coming out of it that almost looks like a wrench or vise. I called a couple of Pat's season ticket holders I know and they never even noticed it all season or even questioned it. One said that someone told him it was a lighthouse. A lighthouse? Can you get an answer on that?

Cheers. And as far as you're concerned, Go Pats.-- Steve

Fair enough. While I have no immediate answer to your Patriot sparks at midfield -- save to venture a guess that it is there to distract us from the signal-stealing video equipment hidden inside of it -- I do admit that I also have to doff my cap to Tom Coughlin, a winning head coach whom I have been hard on over the years.

Hey, who could blame me? From afar, he's not the most likeable of fellows. There's just something about those eyes -- a little too close together. That's how ungrounded my attacks have been -- and I'm not proud. Why, even last Sunday, as his team mounted a valiant win, I was salivating at all the jokes I was going to make about how Coughlin's red, frozen Vaseline face made him look like he was wearing more rouge than a crazy lady at a bus stop.

Well, who is laughing now? That's right, all the way to Scottsdale! ... in a week?! Yep here we sit, with a big hole in our football season as we wait two weeks for the next game. It's like a creepy preview of the vast, hideous offseason.

Like many of you, I am grasping at anything to stay connected to the game now that the schedule makers have pulled the breaks on momentum. Here's all the proof you need that the WGA strike has ground life in Hollywood to a halt: Out of desperation, I found some refuge sharing some quality time with my son and the NFL Network's coverage of Senior Bowl practices.

The best part so far is watching Mike Martz, mic'd up (check it out for yourself) working with the South squad's young QBs. So much information and so many corrections as he drills them on footwork and where the reads are happening, from the first step of their backpedal, while not tipping the safety where you're going with the ball -- hardcore football fan heaven.

If this guy doesn't pull some magic out of Alex Smith's hat, you have to start wondering if there was any "Round 1, Pick 1" magic to begin with, and that's a part of what is so interesting watching these practices. Regardless of what position is getting drilled, however, you come away from the Senior Bowl snap shots with even more respect for the challenges of being an elite NFL talent evaluator. These kids really look raw -- for every player who blows you away, you've got 20 who don't seem ready for the pros. What kind of jeweler's eye do you need to sift through all those average performances? What on earth constitutes a third-round pick with Pro Bowl potential? Beats me, but then again, judging by the fact that there are 30 NFL teams idle next Sunday, it would appear that I am not alone.

Here's one thing I do know: In the meantime and in between time, smart NFL consumers let the Manly Superblog be their beacon of light during the interminable week ahead, the game itself, and beyond.

Back with more before ya know it. -- NB

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