Sports Q&A: Super Bowl Edition

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Just as Ohio State did in the BCS title game, the Bears returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, yet still lost handily. Is returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown a curse?

Statistics don't lie. In the last two football championship games, the team that returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown has lost, surprisingly. Why on Earth teams continue to win the coin toss, elect to receive, and then return the kickoff for a touchdown is beyond me. Maybe it's just a case of bad preparation, bad coaching, inadequate scouting, or a combination of the three.

Here's another statistic that bears attention: in the last two football championship games, the team that kicked off and allowed a touchdown to begin the game has won. Obviously, the Florida Gators and Indianapolis Colts did their homework. Devin Hester had five kick return touchdowns in the regular season.

Why would the Colts choose to kick right to him to start the game unless they knew that allowing a score to open the game and go down 7-0 would practically guarantee a victory? Mad kudos to Colts special teams coach Russ Pernell for identifying this weakness and exploiting it, and props to kicker Adam Vinatieri for accuracy in kicking right to Hester, and for making his tackle attempt look genuine. Vinatieri is a firm believer in statistics, as he knows that the team that successfully kicks a game-winning field goal as time expires has won 100% of those games.

Now, the Bears could have easily countered the Colts game plan by having Hester simply step out of bounds at the one-yard line instead of completing the touchdown run. Thomas Jones punching it in from one yard out on the game's first play from scrimmage would have clearly changed the fortunes of the Bears.

What was the best Super Bowl commercial?

I'd have to call it a draw between two ads: the Snickers commercial in which two guys working under the hood of a car share a Snickers and a kiss, and the Bud Light ad in which the open-handed slap replaces the "high five" and the "pound" as a new form of manly greeting. Beer is an easy sell, but peddling chocolate to the masses via the image of two men kissing took balls.

How will we ever look at a Snickers bar the same again? For certain radical bible-thumpers and hardcore rednecks, this means never eating a Snickers bar again. In fact, sales of Snickers in auto mechanic shops nationwide have all but ceased in the last week. For me and many others, however, when hunger strikes, I'll reach for a Snickers, and feel comfortable enough in my manhood not to deny my feelings, even if that means snacking on what is now known as the "gay bar." Just like locking lips over a rebuilt carburetor, Snickers really satisfies. Let's just hope Hillshire Farms doesn't get any crazy ideas when they try to advertise their Polish sausage.

Bud Light chose the opposite approach to sell their product — not men kissing, but men slapping each other, good-naturedly, of course. Don't be surprised to see the Three Stooges in a follow-up, or the entire Bears team "high-fiving" Grossman.

What does the future hold for Rex Grossman in Chicago?

Ask Lovie Smith, and he's sure to tell you, "Rex Grossman is our quarterback." And I'm sure Lovie feels much better saying that in the offseason than he did back in December. Grossman's future's so bright, his seeing-eye dog has to wear shades. Speaking of shades, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon made them famous in Chicago's 1985 run to Super Bowl glory.

The Bears have to ask themselves: is Grossman the man to lead them to their second Super Bowl win, thereby ensuring Grossman's immortality in Chicago sports lore, plus the many trappings that come with it, such as appearances on Pros Versus Joe's, or entry in the World Hot Dog Eating Championship? Or, should the Bears look elsewhere for the quarterback who will lead them there?

Grossman has one more year remaining on his contract; if the Bears fail to resign him, then, after next year, he's fair game. Can you imagine the bidding war for Grossman's services, especially when teams from the Canadian Football League become involved? Seriously, the Bears have invested too much time and money in Grossman to waste, so expect Chicago to resign Grossman to a long-term deal (although Chicago's criteria for "long-term" may change from "years" to "games").

Can the Colts repeat as Super Bowl champions?

While the Chargers look like early favorites, the Colts are certainly capable of repeating, and Marty Schottenheimer is not their coach. Will they repeat? Who knows? There's always the talk of a letdown, and Peyton Manning will have to face the criticism as the "greatest quarterback never to have won multiple Super Bowls." Overcoming all this will be the key to the Colts season.

Now, if this were the "all offense, no defense" Indy teams to which we've become accustomed, I'd give them no chance. But the Colts seem to have transformed into an entirely new team during their playoff run. They're now a good defensive team with a ball-control offense. You know, like the Ravens or the Bears, just without the quarterback who will lose the game for you. And the Colts have proved they can win games even when Manning doesn't play well. Plus, the Colts play in the AFC South, a division they've owned, so a good playoff-seeding is almost guaranteed.

Of course, after winning Super Bowl XL, the Steelers missed the playoffs, but I don't see Manning getting on a motorcycle, much less wrecking one. So Indy will definitely make the playoffs, but a repeating as NFL champions is too much to expect. A trip to the AFC Championship Game is certainly attainable.

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