By: John Molori
February 02, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Cover Three
- We are Family
- Dead dynasty?
- Pay the Trent
- Mississippi Mud

Cowher power invades Sports Illustrated A few national stories hovering around Super Bowl XL

If you want positive proof that the mainstream national media has always lusted after a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl, look no further than Sports Illustrated. The venerable magazine featured the Steelers on its cover for THREE consecutive NFL playoff weeks (January 30, January 23, January 16).

Worse, Jerome Bettis has appeared on two of those three covers. Sorry Steeler suck-ups, but Bettis has been nothing more than a glorified third down back for quite a while now. Hey, I love that his parents have seen all his games, and that he is coming home to Detroit, but come on.

Maybe these are just the sad ramblings of a disconsolate Patriots fan, but if not for Kimo von Oelhoffen's dirty run at Carson Palmer's knee and Mrs. Nick Harper's Lorena Bobbitt impression, the "Bus" would have overturned in Cincy or Indy.

The Denver Broncos dethroned the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Mike Holmgren is leading his second franchise to the Super Bowl. Steve Smith caught more balls than a porn star. And no cover?

Sure, Sport Illustrated explained that for the two most recent issues, they ran multiple covers based on geographic regions. That's silly, too. Run one cover and give equal national credit to all the deserving NFL playoff teams. Maybe SI really stands for Steelers Ilustrated.

Brother in arm

Media Blitz had a chance to speak to Giants backup QB Tim Hasselbeck about his QB brother Matt, who leads Seattle into Super Bowl XL on Sunday. The Giants' Hasselbeck reflects on growing up with Tim in a football family led by their dad, ex-Patriot, Raider and Giant Don Hasselbeck.

Says Tim, "When Matt and I were kids, my father was just dad. We thought all kids got to hang out in NFL locker rooms and meet the players. I don't think Matt and I would ever know what it would be like to have a father who sold insurance or something like that."

Hasselbeck says that Don was not the typical football dad. "He never pushed us into football. In fact, Matt will tell you that he tried to convince us not to play the game. He did say that if you are going to play, play quarterback.

"I think he wanted us to avoid some of the physical effects of the game. Our dad played nine years and he knows the wear and tear of the game. Matt and I are fortunate to have him."

Standing Pats

Several members of the national media referred to the Patriots playoff demise as the end of a dynasty. This is pure, unadulterated crap. The Patriots are in a vastly different situation than the other NFL dynasties of the Super Bowl era.

Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers grew old together and, most importantly, stopped being Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. The coaching legend left the Pack and eventually returned to the NFL with Washington. I don't think Bill Belichick will be leaving Foxboro any time soon.

The Dolphins of the early 1970s also fell victim to age and to the defection of the likes of Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick to the old World Football League.

The defectors returned, but up and coming foes like Pittsburgh, Oakland, Denver, Baltimore and even those star-crossed 1976 Patriots had matured to challenge Miami's supremacy.

I don't foresee any Patriots opting for a rival league since Vince McMahon has wisely decided to stick to wrestling.

The Steelers of the 1970s were a Hall of Fame boot camp, but like the Boston Celtics of the 1980s, there were no recruits on the way. Terry Bradshaw turned into Mark Malone and Franco Harris morphed into Walter Abercrombie. So much for continued dominance.

The Patriots have already proven themselves capable of developing talented backups and immense depth in the face of player departures and a rash of injuries.

The 49ers of the 1980s and 1990s won their five Super Bowls over a wide span of thirteen years. A mob-connected owner (Eddie DiBartolo), a couple of overrated coaches (George Seifert and Steve Mariucci), poor drafting (J.J. Stokes) and age ended the San Francisco gold rush.

Call me crazy, but I don't think Robert Kraft will be ordering a horse's head for anyone's bed this offseason while New England's coaching and drafting speaks for itself.

Lastly, the Dallas dynasty of the early 1990s faded due to two words: Jerry Jones, oh and one more word, arrests. Between the egomaniacal Jones forcing genius Jimmy Johnson to bolt and the off-field activities of Michael Irvin, Leon Lett and the rest of South America's Team, it had to end.

Throw in a series of overmatched coaches (Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo) and a quarterback (Troy Aikman) who took more shots in Dallas than JFK, and you have the recipe for a short run of titles.

New England's championship streak may have ended at two, but with solid ownership, a core group of committed and driven players and a quarterback who frighteningly may just be reaching his prime, the gravy train has hardly run off track.

Council of Trent

The NFL Network has wisely added Trent Dilfer to its "Everything but the Game" Super Bowl preview programming. Dilfer, the veteran Browns QB, did a terrific job for the network covering the playoffs and asking pertinent postgame questions.

Dilfer admits on the air that he is close with many players. He told the NFL Network studio crew point blank that he and Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck are the best of friends. Still, Dilfer has proven to be insightful, prepared and serious about this broadcasting endeavor.

This week, as part of the network's weeklong coverage from Detroit, Dilfer, who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, and spent four years with the Seahawks, will work as an analyst on the NFL Total Access set with Rich Eisen, Terrell Davis, Lincoln Kennedy and Rod Woodson.

You can bet all of the NFL's television partners will be watching. When Dilfer does decide to hang them up, he is sure to have a cushy TV gig waiting for him somewhere.

Place your Brett

Here is my early favorite for top off-season story I could not care less about. Will Brett Favre retire? With all due respect to John Madden who verbally massages Favre at every turn, is there anyone outside of a Wisconsin cheese-eating contest who is still interested in this tired old saga?

It's not exactly a network cliffhanger. I cared about who shot J.R. Ewing. I want to know who will be asked to leave the island. Next week's " Desperate Housewives" has Eva Longoria and, well, Eva Longoria! I'm just not getting this Favre thing.

Last week, ESPN's Chris Mortensen stated, "Brett Favre remains typically silent over his future but he will sit down to talk with new Packers coach Mike McCarthy later this week."

When did sitting down become breaking news? What's next, an exclusive on Favre leaning against a fence? This past Sunday, Mortensen chatted with Favre from Mississippi.

Said Favre, "I still know I can play. I still love to play. But there' s just so much more to it than that now. I never thought it would get complicated. I never thought mentally I would give out before I would physically."

Excuse my lack of sensitivity, but we've heard these words before from Favre. "I know I still can play physically," he told Mortensen. "I know I got banged around a lot this year, but I feel as good now as I did 3-4 years ago. My arm strength is as good today as it was 10 years ago."

This is the typical back and forth that comes from any athlete at the end of the line, but Favre has dragged this thing out to the point of near selfishness.

He went on to chat with Mortensen about his family ties and how he is missing so much by still playing, but then did a turnabout and said, "There's days I wake up and I say "You know what? You can't retire. Don't be stupid. What will I do?'

"There's other days I go, "What if it's crunch time? Do you want the ball? I don't know if I do.' And that's the things I have to sort out now."

Clearly, Favre is in turmoil, but dragging it out publicly is embarrassing. If Favre comes back, great. He's fun to watch. If he retires, great. John Madden will need a XXXL handkerchief. Spare us the forced drama, Brett. Just give us your bottom line so ESPN can put it on their Bottom Line.

John Molori's columns are published at ColdHardFootballFacts.com, The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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