Why the Hate Sports Illustrated?

IRVING, Tex. - Sports Illustrated coughs up two – count ‘em, TWO – anti-Tony Romo articles this week. Why all the hate? I've figured out two reasons. …

First to the columns:

One is from Don Banks, the respected NFL writer who offers his "QB power rankings at the moment'': No. 1 is Tom Brady and No. 2 is Peyton Manning. No arguments there.

No. 3 is Brett Favre. Some arguments there. … but I can deal with it.

No. 4 is a man who two weeks ago was such a mess that his own franchise was wondering if he's even the guy – let alone the fourth-best guy in the NFL.

Yes, No. 4 is Eli Manning. Hmmm.

No. 5 is Tony Romo.

Banks notes that Romo has "one touchdown pass, five interceptions, five sacks, three fumbles, one sore thumb and one over-exposed girlfriend (you know what we mean) in his past three games.

For a second straight December, he went from Romo to No-Mo (as in, no momentum).''

The numbers are accurate. The girlfriend reference is dubious. The December thing seems overblown.

But I can settle Eli vs. Tony this way: Which QB would you rather have? Which QB would any NFL team rather have? I dare say that two weeks ago, the Giants would've happily traded Manning for Romo. … and I'm not sure why a singular playoff win in Tampa Bay changes all that.

Wait. Actually, I AM sure why a singular playoff win in Tampa Bay changes all that: Because that's how it works. Flavor of the Week. New pets. Chic picks. Fresh storylines.

It would be kind of tired to pick Matt Hasselbeck (No. 6) over Eli. But Hasselbeck is better. It would garner much attention to pick Davis Garrard (No. 7) over Eli. But I'd rather have Garrard. It wouldn't be a stretch at all to say that Philip Rivers (No. 8) is as good as Eli. But Eli – despised by Giants watchers for much of his career – now has a playoff win. So now he's "hot.'' "New.'' "Chic.'' "Fresh.'' The Flavor of the Week.

Now to the second column:

This one is from Reuben Frank, whose work I am not familiar with. Mr. Frank says Sunday's playoff game represents for Romo "a mandate on hype vs. substance.''

Mr. Frank claims "Romo dislikes (getting hit) more than most … He rushes throws, gets skittish in the pocket, makes mistakes.'' Mr. Frank insists that "when things start to fall apart, he often isn't able to handle it.'' And Mr. Frank asserts that "once he starts playing poorly, he rarely stops.''

Those assessments are made without any offered proof. And none of them really pass the smell test.

The fact is, Romo's "substance'' this year was MVP-caliber. The fact is, when Romo gets "skittish,'' he moves and throws very well on the run. The fact is, he HAS played poorly at times. … and somehow "stopped'' the skid by beating Buffalo and Detroit and, heck, pretty much every other team he's opposed.

OK, so SI's Don Banks likes Eli Manning and dislikes Tony Romo because he's tired of the Romo story and excited by the Eli angle. But why does SI's Reuben Frank feel the same way? You've got to read all the way to the bottom of Mr. Frank's column, to the fine print, which reads:

Reuben Frank is a sports writer with The Burlington County Times in Willingboro, N.J. Mr. Frank, who apparently doesn't like Tony Romo against the Giants, is from New Jersey?

Oh. Hmmm.

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