Today: A game of Three & Out, in which we discuss ESPN’s Super Bowl post game coverage. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

FIRST DOWN: Peyton Manning, Good Guy.

Yes. That happened. For 60 minutes. This game served as a mix tape highlighting each of Peyton Manning‘s worst attributes. It all manifested itself, rather amazingly. Happy feet. Sulking. The Manning Face. The uneven throwing velocity. The Pick Six. Fear not: we aren’t here to pile on and pile on, and then when there’s nothing left to add, because there’s nothing else to do, pile on some more. There are plenty of other places to find that type of Anti-Manning Fetish around the Internet today. But it’s certainly worth noting that the historical ramifications of Peyton Manning’s season shockingly vanished, or at least have to be reconsidered after the 43-8 defeat at the hands of the Seahawks.

So, after that all occurred, when the dust began to settle, we traveled to the Worldwide Leader — for insight, to be told What This All Means.


“Steve Young is confused.” That’s the first thing I wrote down in my notebook. And confused, he was.

Now, there’s a delicacy here, a sense of diplomacy and self-restraint that only appears when we want to say something, without actually saying anything. His parsed words managed to retract ideas he, himself, expressed only moments before. His weariness to Go There is because he was talking about Peyton Manning and the “L Word.”

Young’s opinion started out fine: That Manning’s legacy is already profound because he changed the game by eliminating the barrier between coach and player through an ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage. This feat, essentially, streamlined offensive strategy to the efficient standards at which units operate today. “He changed the game,” Young told us.

But Young then continued, stating that when you put yourself in that conversation, you hold yourself up to the ridicule and scrutiny in terms of your shortcomings. Here is where the backtracking began: “Wait,” Young stopped (I’m paraphrasing here). “I’m not saying Manning put himself in the conversation with words, but when you play so well, you do it with actions.”

Again, he was saying something without actually saying anything. Empty words, really. Young’s blurry statement, masked as an underlying critique, was unlike whatever the fuck happened during the Fox live broadcast, which has been ridiculed across the Internet today, when Joe Buck arbitrarily referred to Peyton Manning as “the classy Peyton Manning” in the waning moments of the game. It’s not that Buck is wrong. Dan Wetzel did an excellent job describing how Manning, even in defeat, was gracious. It was just a misplaced qualifier, given the timing.

And so he is: A classy fellow, that Peyton. A nice, affable guy; who most everyone in sports media has an unending affinity towards. But sometimes, nice guys do finish last. And that’s OK.

SECOND DOWN: The Seahawk Way

A respite in Legacy Discourse happens (thank God), but instead of game analysis, we’re treated to dynasty discussion. Hilarity ensues when Chris Berman – who’s notoriously ornery about working environments (see above) – asks for a graphic. Then, asks for it again. And again. He has a point, by God, HE HAS A POINT. (Excuse my cackling, you just know a poor P.A., who’s making .0007% of Berman’s salary, was reamed out after this mishap.)

Later, Tom Jackson tells us that the Seahawks are definitive contenders for the next seven years. Why seven? Because, that’s why. Young, Berman, and Jackson then go on to mock people who called Russell Wilson a “game manager.” Good thing ESPN doesn’t employ such “analysts” who would make such a designation!


// The best part of the coverage was Young. Because this blowout means something, right? But of course, it has to! So now we’re throwing out meaningless (and delusional) praise: Pete Carroll, Leader of Men, Promoter of Individuality, and Mental Health Lobbyist.




Am I the only person who thinks this is batshit crazy? I mean, I get it: Last year, Joe Flacco became elite; this year, Pete Carroll became a philosopher. There’s this insatiable need to assign importance by screaming, “It’s all happening! And it’s happening all the time!” And that quickly turns problematic. I’m hardly the first person to write about the media’s propensity to reclassify NFL head coaches as institutional deities, but Young’s rant here is almost surreal.


Are we even talking about football anymore? Whatever. Shine on, you crazy diamond.


(I thought these two traits were mutually exclusive, too!)

THIRD DOWN: Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging

Quick Update: While the search for the next Red Sox reporter continues, NESN announced the addition of Sarah Davis as an on-air talent. Jenny Dell’s replacement is at-large. Somewhere. And when she — or he!! — is identified, expect the Internet to break.

24 thoughts on “Sports Media Musings: ESPN Lacks Focus In Super Bowl Coverage; NESN Adds Sarah Davis

  1. Ryan:

    In the deification of Pete Carroll (which I find absurd) was their any mention of the quantity of PED suspensions that have hit Seattle since his ascension? I did not think so…and I am sure our good buddy Nick Cafardo was looking really hard for that story.

    I think the better team won. I think Manning proved he was exactly what his reputation says it is…great in the regular season, but unbelievably bad under pressure when it all is on his shoulders. I was amazed when they gave up with 4:00 to go…down 35 and running the ball to get the game over. No one on the broadcast called him out for quitting yet that is what either John Fox ordered or Manning accepted. I think that performance ends all the Brady/Manning comparison talk…we should be having Manning/Marino/Jim Kelly/ Fran Tarkington arguments because that is the class he belongs in.


    1. For the record, I’m not a Pete Carroll hater, but just for fun, I’ll add to that point: How about his decision to flee USC when the NCAA was about to drop the hammer?

      Yeah, and while I agree with the columnists who say the Patriots would’ve lost, I’m not willing to say they’d go down like that. And that’s the big difference here. When’s the last time the Patriots were manhandled like that? Even the last two AFC Championship games — both of which they decidedly lost — New England was contending (they were winning at HT against Bal).


      1. Yeah, isn’t that nice?

        He knew what was happening because they got sloppy paying the players. I believe every one of the top25 programs have something going on, but it’s when you get dumb and get caught, like Pete did. Coaching is one thing, but when it seems like every single one of your 5th/6th/7th round picks play like 1st rounders, nobody raises an eyebrow?

        It seems like the media’s new thing is that BB sucks and we should try and get Carroll back now?


      2. I could and have written tomes detailing my issues with Pete Carroll. Do people forget that not one but two NFL teams quit on this guy? or that by 2003 bill belichick had purged the team of every one of his/greer’s draft picks save Kevin Faulk. or as you point he left USC one step ahead of the posse? or that he took a Patriots team that went to the 1996 Super Bowl and over the next 3 years got successive worse? or that on 3 years in NE he came up with one creative game plan … the zolak win over SF?

        now as I drive I am hearing listeners say… I prefer Pete Carroll to bill belichick… are they nuts? let see Pete get to 8 conference championships in 13 years, win 5 of them….and not have less than a 10 win season in that run… then maybe I will consider. however I will never forget the jets firing him to bring in Rich Kotite for gods sake.!!

        congrats to Pete and the Seahawks…They deserved to win yesterday….they also got lucky because they got to play a Denver team that was not prepared. let’s see them do it again but more importantly someone should look into Pete and remind the world that he has some real issues.


        1. But wait, to clarify: Has anyone in the media espoused the idea of Carroll > Belichick?

          In reality, it’s Bellichick > Carroll (no fault of Pete, BB is just the GOAT) > Me > John Fox…

          I’m kidding (sort of), but Fox’s game plan lacked imagination. Not to mention, his team – yes, not just Peyton – no-showed.


          1. One hour of Felger and Mazz (4PM to 5PM)…people calling in and saying they want Pete over Belichick because his defense attacks and he knows how to build a team. I can’t think of something more frustrating. Let’s see Seattle get to the NFC championship game when their QB is Paid $15 mill a season instead of $450,000. It was beyond stupid and F & M fed right into it.

            As for Fox’s game plan. It was awful but perhaps he knew his QB did not want the ball because of the pressure.


          2. But ltd, you must know that the “cap is crap”, right? Seattle will continue to be this good even after their young players hit a stage where the team has to radically increase their salaries to keep them. And if they don’t? Its because the owner is cheap, like Bob Kraft. Not because there is a salary cap they must work under.


          3. Don’t know what I was thinking Brian 🙂 Of course Pete Carroll is smarter than Bill Belichick and who would not be “pumped and jacked” to play for him. As for Paul Allen being cheap…He is only worth $13 bill conservatively…I doubt he got that much money taking risks.


        2. the nut jobs always make the most noise..heard a WEEI caller yesterday say he wanted Pats to trade Brady to Houston for 1st overall pick and then have Pats draft Johnny Manziel…smh …


    2. I think this has a ton to do with the media’s complete indifference to PEDs in the NFL, but I already see the articles telling you to not pay attention to the guys they’ve caught:

      I think a supermajority of guys in the NFL do PEDs of some sort, including guys on my own team, but its funny when you get stuff like this (sad since SoE tends to not toe the NFL PR’s line). But, I’ve come to accept it as an identical issue like “cheating” in the NCAA (paying the guys illegally, benefits, etc). People only point it out when it’s their rival..


  2. A popular question by fans, really of 31 different fan bases, is “how can we be like Seattle?” Certain hosts keep hinting at that you have to select all of these “playmakers” aka “high round picks”. Meanwhile, much of Seattle’s roster is higher round picks. Seattle is also so unique with their cap, given the lack of many big contracts. Matt Chatham has been killing it on this for the past few days.

    I suggest you check his timeline out at


      1. Seattle is the new shiny toy.

        31 fanbases want it.

        My big problem is the hosts that are supposed to be informed not even bothering to look it up.

        It reminds me of the # of people in media who kept believing the Floyd $10M bet on Denver was real. If you follow any of the Vegas folks, it was debunked within an hour of the account putting it out there. I still heard it today, a week after it came out.


  3. Headline on “Eric Wilbur: Patriots would have gotten crushed too”.
    Neat. I’m sure that story isn’t designed to raise the ire of Patriots fans or anything like that at all. Nope.


    1. Ire? If you don’t agree with that assessment, you’re not a Pats fan — you’re mentally unbalanced.


      1. Daver — I agree. However, I think Wilbur’s column is also designed to raise ire. Coming off that glorious Manning Beatdown (I’m a homer and I admit it), there are countless angles that can be taken. Wilbur intentionally takes the one that will grind a knuckle into the Patriots fan base, which is nothing new for him. He gains supernatural powers from his incessant trolling of Boston sports fans.


    2. It’s not just the Pats — I can’t think of one AFC team that would have been able to execute on offense against Seattle.


      1. I’ll play…the Pats with Gronk give Seattle a Game. They may not win it but they would have looked better than Denver did. People forget the Pats without Gronk beat Denver in the regular season.

        I don’t buy all this talk that the NFC is so far ahead of the AFC or the top teams. Seattle had a remarkably injury free year (ahem…PED’s…ahem) … they barely got by SF…and they ran into a completely flat Denver team that was completely different away from Mile High. Sure they beat the Pats handily in the AFC championship…but they only scored 26 points against a decimated Pats defense that just ran out of warm bodies. Remember the Pats were down 8 with the ball with 6 minutes left in the AFC championship game.

        I don’t think we should concede anything to Seattle other than they beat an under prepared, scared Denver team in the Superbowl.


  4. E$PN? Really? You must watch only for the clips. Everything else is $cripted for one thing only. Objectivity, my arse.

    Fox post was useless. What, 20 minutes before it broke to one of their latest 30 minute sit-comms?

    Best post-game was the NFL Network.

    Heard the 3rd driving home. Great listening to Jim Gray and others in shocked disbelief of such an epic fail.


  5. Here’s some fine “hot sports takes” after last night’s Super Bowl:

    -Belichick was lucky to get Brady in the sixth round, Carroll was not to get Wilson in the third
    -The Patriots need playmakers
    -The Patriots only get byes because the AFC East sucks
    -The Patriots are only successful because the opponent always blows it
    and an old favorite, now in new form:
    -Belichick won because of Parcells guys. Carroll is far superior because he constructed the entire team himself

    How many in the media were declaring Belichick a moron for choosing Brady over Bledsoe, and now are jumping aboard that first take?

    The Patriots defense in recent years (heck, even in the Super Bowl years) is one that relies more on forcing turnovers and being tough in the red zone than pure yards. So those aren’t plays? They do that kind of things and the Mazz’s of the world scream about their yardage stats or something like that.

    And the Patriots were 4-2 against the AFC East this year, 8-2 versus everyone else. Not to mention when you’ve got someone claiming the Pats are only successful due to the AFC East sucking, but this same person proclaimed the Jets as surpassing the Patriots a couple of years ago (gee, who could that be?)

    To be fair, Felger & Mazz is a place where you can hear Manning get the criticism he deserves, which is white washed to a ridiculous extent at the national level (ex. Troy Aikman).

    And Ryan, just wanted to mention I share your Anna Kendrick adoration. 😛


    1. You also forget the new F+M claim that if BB ran the team like Pete did, in terms of players saying things and expressing emotion, they’d win more games. Like, somehow, we can attach a “WAR”-like stat to a player based on the amount of trash they talk during media availability.

      Remember when Rex did that? Same exact thing. He’s got destroyed over the past few years as the Jets went back to being what they are.

      It’s amazing how things have changed with them.


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