Posted: Thursday February 2, 2006 1:24PM; Updated: Thursday February 2, 2006 9:59PM
It's nice to hear that Barry Sanders has been around Detroit this week, making Super Bowl-related appearances. For the best player in Lions history, it's as close to the big game as he'll ever get.
Can it really be that seven NFL seasons already have come and gone since we last saw No. 20 fake a defender out of his shoes and turn a two-yard gain into a cross-field, zig-zagging work of art? Sanders is 37, and there's still an aura of Garbo-like mystery surrounding the running back who walked away from the game after 10 seasons of brilliance with little explanation and no regrets.
Well, maybe one regret. Sanders told the Detroit Free Press that he does think about not getting the chance to play on the game's grandest stage. Sanders played in just five playoff games in his 10 years as a Lion, winning only once, in the 1991 divisional round.
"Yeah I definitely feel like I missed out on that,'' he said. "When I came out of college [in 1989], you naturally expect, 'Yeah, I'll play in a Super Bowl.' You figure that's what you're here for.''
Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave homeboy Jerome Bettis a key to the city this week, reportedly only the fourth time that honor has been bestowed.
The other three recipients? Well, let's see. There was actor James Earl Jones. Detroit neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson, of Johns Hopkins University. And ... oh, yeah, somebody named Saddam Hussein, who got one back in 1980, before he seemed to fall out of favor with certain members of the U.S. government. And the U.S. Army for that matter.
You can't make this stuff up, folks. And yes, I'm here all week. Tip your waitress and try the veal.
Now that the Buffalo Bills have hired Jerry Falwell to be their defensive coordinator, I expect them to feature a defense that slants heavily to the right side. What's that? It's actually Perry Fewell, the former Bears defensive backs coach, that Buffalo hired?
Matt Hasselbeck keeps telling it like it is this week. The Seattle quarterback was asked if there was anything people might not know about the NFC champion Seahawks?
"There's a lot that people don't know,'' he said. "Like our names.''
Hasselbeck also acknowledged that he expects it to be a virtual road-game setting for Seattle on Sunday, given Detroit's close proximity to Pittsburgh and how well the Steelers faithful travel.
"My plea would just be for all the people coming to the Super Bowl that are undecided on who they want to root for, root for us,'' Hasselbeck said. "We could use it. Get loud for us. I don't know if anyone will answer the call, but if you're a Patriots fan, I would think that you have to root for us. Broncos fans, Colts fans, Bengals fans. Root for us.''
Hand warmers. One of the freebies that the Detroit Super Bowl Committee gave each media member when they arrived this week was a package of hand warmers, the little disposal kind that activates upon contact with air.
That's when I finally begrudgingly admitted to myself that the Super Bowl wasn't going to be held in San Diego this year.
Good for Mike Holmgren, who hasn't given us the coach's cliché about nothing matters but winning this week. It isn't the end of the world to lose the Super Bowl. Somebody does it every year. I looked it up.
"I told the players that they've accomplished quite a bit already,'' Holmgren said this week. "We still have that game to play, but I'm not one of those that if bad things happen Sunday, they didn't deserve to be here or the season is a waste. I'm not ready to discount seven months of my life if the game doesn't go our way on Sunday.
"I think a lot of great things have been accomplished by our franchise this year. We are going to play like crazy, and we want to get that trophy on Sunday, but I don't want to discount what we have done so far, because as coaches and players you have to enjoy the journey and you have to enjoy each day. Those people who can't are probably in it for the wrong reasons.''