Super commentary

A moment of silence, please, for the passing of the football season. After today's Super Bowl, we are left with the National Bricklayer's Association as the only professional sport to watch on television. The NBA is so unwatchable, the only reason to turn on the TV until fall is "Iron Chef America" and "Iron Chef" reruns on Food Network.

Here are some random thoughts heading into today's big game.

— I was fast forwarding through a tape of the Packers-Vikings playoff game the other day when it struck me just how stupid the people at Fox think we are. Since Fox televises today's Super Bowl, I thought I'd ask the following.

1. Why do they feel the need to put a blue line on the screen to show where the line of scrimmage is? Can't we figure that out, say, when the teams line up before the play?

2. Why do they have a graphic saying "3rd and 6" or whatever on the top of the screen, a big gray arrow saying "3rd and 6" superimposed on the field, and then the yellow first down line six yards from the blue line-of-scrimmage line?

Terrell Owens may act like a first-class jerk with his touchdown celebrations and (back in San Francisco) when he is throwing a temper tantrum about not getting the ball enough, but he gets my kudos for getting himself ready to play today. Here's a guy who got $17 million just to sign with the Eagles, and he easily could have followed doctor's orders and relaxed on his wallet while the injury healed.

You know that's what Cletidus Hunt would have done.

Instead, Owens busted his tail to get back on the field. Just when you think athletes put the almighty dollar ahead of what's really important, winning a championship, Owens shows that, indeed, the Super Bowl ring is part of what drives him.

— The Patriots and Eagles have shown that it is possible to build a Super Bowl-caliber team over the long term in this salary-cap era.

I'm going to walk a fine line here, because I'm hoping Brett Favre returns next season. But the reason for the Patriots' success is they don't have any Favre-like contracts.

Favre counted $10.53 million on the 2004 salary cap. Are the Packers better off with Favre at quarterback, or will they eventually be better served with a decent quarterback and extra money to buy help on defense?

The Patriots have been lucky and good. They are lucky to have a guy like Tom Brady at quarterback. Brady counts just $5.06 million against the Patriots' salary cap. He is content winning Super Bowls and realizes the difference between $5 million a year and $10 million a year is the amount of inheritance his great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will get. His total contract is worth about $7 million less than Peyton Manning's $34.5 million signing bonus. Brady has won two Super Bowls, Manning has won one playoff game and Favre has been mediocre at best in recent playoff games. You pick.

The Packers' third-largest cap number, $7.15 million, belonged to Joe Johnson. The Patriots are lucky to not have any Johnson-style contracts eating up their cap.

The Patriots have been brilliant in the draft. Last year, they had six picks in the first four rounds while the Packers had six picks total. In 2003, the Patriots drafted 10 players. Of their picks in the first four rounds, three start and two play key roles. The Packers picked nine players in 2003, and only Nick Barnett starts or even plays regularly. The best way to stay within the salary cap is by finding cheap players, and the cheapest players are rookies.

In Philadelphia, the Eagles have been content to let quality players leave if deemed too costly. In the last three years, starters such as linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, defensive end Hugh Douglas, running back Duce Staley and both starting cornerbacks, Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, were let go. Hindsight shows the Eagles were right in doing so, but imagine the beating Mike Sherman would have taken had he let guys like Chad Clifton and Ahman Green sign elsewhere.

Here's some troubling news for the Packers. The Eagles are about $18 million under the 2005 cap. The Packers are projected to be $5 million over it, which is why either Marco Rivera or Mike Wahle may be wearing something other than green and gold next fall.

— The NFL's all-time rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, retired on Thursday, sparking talk of who's the best running back of all time. All I know is it's not Barry Sanders, who rushed for minus-1 yard in 13 attempts during a Dec. 31, 1994, playoff game at Lambeau Field. — And finally, plenty has been said about Donald Driver's comments on Favre possibly retiring. Driver said the Packers' placing of a deadline on Favre to decide may, in fact, drive Favre to retire.

Let's hope that's not the case. And if it is the case, then shame on Favre. Ricky Williams single-handedly torpedoed the Dolphins' season by retiring and not giving the team a chance to find a replacement. It may seem callous for the Packers to give Favre a deadline, given all the personal turmoil he's gone through in the last 16 months, but no man is bigger than the team. The Packers need to know which direction to take heading into April's draft.

Huber writes for Contact him via e-mail at

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