Alan Dell

Ten things Super Bowl XLIV won’t tell us


That they are the greatest NFL team of all time: The honor has to stay with the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to go through an NFL season undefeated. Colts president Bill Polian took that opportunity away from the Colts when he decided the starters should be pulled in game 15 after the team had won its first 14. So whatever excuses Colts’ fans come up with, they can’t win this argument.

That Bill Polian is the most disliked person in Indianapolis: This question might have already been answered in the affirmative just by looking at the faces of the Colts’ players when they were yanked out of Game 15 against the New York Jets and the response by their fans. If Polian proved anything, it’s that he doesn’t have an appreciation for greatness and for history. He was worried about injuries, but heck, you can tear an ACL jogging by your lonesome.

That Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time: There is no doubt about Peyton’s greatness, but of all time? We can’t forget Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Colts legend Johnny Unitas. Manning will have to win more than two Super Bowls to claim the title of “Greatest Ever.” And you can argue most of the others played when rules were not so sympathetic to receivers and quarterbacks.

That Jim Caldwell is the greatest rookie coach of all time: A lot of people are saying he borrowed this team from Tony Dungy and is reaping the benefits. Others argue the real coach of the Colts is Manning. It would be hard to dispute the latter, particularly when it comes to offense. Do the Colts really need an offensive coordinator with Peyton running the show? To his credit, Caldwell is a modest man who doesn’t mind being over-shadowed.

That this is the greatest victory for the franchise: The franchise’s signature win was the overtime game against the New York Giants engineered by Johnny U back in 1958, which ESPN has dubbed the greatest NFL game of all time. It brought pro football to the forefront of American sports and in many people’s minds pushed the game ahead of baseball and on its way to becoming the new national past time.


That they are the better team: Unless Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney plays without any signs of a bad ankle (unlikely), the Saints will have to live with the consensus opinion that his injury was the reason they won. It’s doubtful that stigma would bother the players much, and it won’t diminish the celebration they are going to have on Bourbon Street. Those folks know how to light up the city under any circumstance and won’t allow a small thing like Freeney’s ankle to destroy their reputation for putting on a good party.

That Archie Manning is happy: In many minds, the elder Manning is the heart and soul of this franchise. He quarterbacked New Orleans through some of its darkest times, took a beating you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy and still lives there. He played 10 full seasons for the Saints and never had a winning record, which is sure to make a victory feel sweet. But it’s awful hard to go against your own flesh and blood.

That the Saints saved Raheem Morris’ job: New Orleans blew a 17-point lead and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16. The win might have given Morris another year, but you can’t ignore the fact the Glazers are trying to set a new standard for penny pinching and Morris is reportedly the lowest-paid coach in the NFL and also the defensive coordinator, which saves management another salary slot.

That Adrian McPherson could be leading the Saints into this Super Bowl: This one might be a reach; but the former Southeast High great did get selected by the Saints in the 2005 draft and might have stuck with them if he wasn’t hit by a Tennessee Titans golf cart, which resulted in him filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against that team. When Sean Payton took over the Saints, he cut McPherson and eventually settled on Drew Brees, a move that is hard to find fault with.

That the Saints are the feel good story of the year in sports: New Orleans fans have already answered this question with a resounding yes, though others around the country might disagree. Anyone who has resided in the Bayou and lived through the “Aints” and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina will passionately argue their point. To them this is more than a game. It’s the rebirth of a long suffering populous.

— Alan Dell, Herald staff