The Award Section
Offensive Player of the Week
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans.
Dolphins fans must be puking this morning. On their own field, the player Nick Saban and Miami doctors passed on outdueled the great Manning to win the Super Bowl. "You just had to know Drew to know he was going to be OK, even when a lot of doctors questioned him,'' said GM Mickey Loomis.
OK? How about superb? A 32-of-39 Super Bowl is so much more than any Saints fan had a right to expect from Brees. We've talked about Brees a lot in recent weeks as the great community-minded man, and he is. But more than that, he's a great football player, with no weaknesses. Scouts now have to look twice at 6-foot quarterbacks who are very smart. I know I'd have my eyes open. In the biggest game of his life, Brees had one of the five or 10 best games of his life, and that says everything about him.
Defensive Player of the Week
Tracy Porter, CB, New Orleans.
He's rapidly earning the name Mr. Clutch in his own locker room. He had a huge pick-six at Miami early in the season, another pick to send the NFC championship game to overtime, and then, in the biggest game of his life, he "jumped the route,'' Peyton Manning said. Porter picked off a pass intended for Reggie Wayne that, had it hit its intended target, might have tied the game up. "We're up by seven, and that interception was a 10- or 14-point swing,''Sean Payton said. "That really clinched the game for us.'' Porter and Jabari Greer form a good combo platter for the Saints' long-term future at corner.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Garrett Hartley, K, New Orleans.
Late in the third quarter, Hartley was an MVP candidate, with 46-, 44- and 47-yard field goals, the first time in Super Bowl history a kicker has had three field goals outside the 40-yard line. Not bad for a second-year guy who played college ball at Oklahoma. "Just trying to do my job,'' he said afterward. "I was a little nervous before the game, but when I'm out there, all I'm thinking is get it over the crossbar.''
Coach of the Week
Sean Payton, head coach, New Orleans
Down four at the half, Payton, obviously, onside kicked to start the third quarter -- and to start finishing off the Colts. Think how far this team has come in four seasons. When Payton took over, the mayor of New Orleans was hoping the team would stay for one year, maybe two, at least, because the finances in town were so tenuous. At the end of that first electric year, Payton had turned the Saints into playoff contenders. After scuffling for a couple of years, Payton and GM Loomis made all the right moves this year (Darren Sharper and Greer, particularly) and got the team its first title ever. Outside the stadium Sunday night, cradling the Lombardi Trophy like he never wanted to let it go, Payton said, "I want this night to go in slow-motion. I want to remember everything.''
Goat of the Week
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis.
Last week, Favre throws the late pick to blow it. This week, it's Manning who, down 24-17 with 3:25 left to play and driving, threw errantly to Wayne, allowing Porter to romp 74 yards with the insurance touchdown. Manning was a respectable 31 of 45, but he didn't make the big throws when they were needed, like the last four minutes. Manning will be miserable about his throw to Porter and about this loss for weeks. Months, maybe. Doubt you'll see him in any "Cut that meat'' commercials.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
There are many things in the world I do not understand, and the tattoo part is one.
Saints' backup defensive lineman Remi Ayodele has the faces of six women tattooed on his left arm.
"Classic ladies,'' he said last week. "Beautiful ladies.'' And then he showed them off. Marilyn Monroe, right down to the cheek mole. Dorothy Dandridge. Audrey Hepburn. Aaliyah, the late R&B star. Bettie Page, the pinup model from the fifties. And Lucille Ball.
Lucy? Ricky's Lucy?
"Lucy's beautiful!'' Ayodele said. "Lucy was hot! I had to get her.''
This year, he's going to add Jayne Mansfield. As you can tell, he has a bit of an obsession with the starlets of yesteryear. "That's when women were the hottest,'' he said.
I wonder what will happen when Ayodele, a bachelor, finally meets the woman of his dreams. Will his seven other gals be an impediment to the relationship?
"My wife would have to understand,'' he said. "They're all my girls.''
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Four from Super Bowl week:
1. One hour, 16 minutes to drive the 27 miles from Fort Lauderdale to South Beach. On Monday. That's why I love my hotel room at the Super Bowl.
2. Why is there a hockey team adjacent to a shopping mall in the middle of Luxuryville, Fla.? Rick Gosselin and I went to the Panthers-Flames Friday night (yes, we are hockey loons), and I was taken with the fact that you drive and drive and drive and there's a huge shopping mall and boom -- the BankAtlantic Center just appears. On the first Friday night in February, you go from the heavy air of south Florida to the chill of a hockey rink. We had a good time at the game, but it's not a very lively place.
3. South Florida is an odd mix. At the Broward County Convention Center, where the media worked last week, there's an adjoining strip mall with a French bakery and some lunch items. I went in and ordered a tuna on croissant, and the woman behind the counter had trouble understanding me. She was French, and spoke no English. "Croissant ... tuna?'' I said, and she said a bunch of things in French, and I'm not fluent, so I just nodded, and I looked around at the other help there, and no one seemed to know English, and I thought: How odd. A real French bakery, in the midst of an American/Hispanic area. I wonder who goes in there, and what happens if they want to order something more complicated?
4. I will say this about the rooms at the very nice Doral Golf Resort and Spa, where I stayed Saturday night after a speaking engagement there: Not sure whether the rooms are separated by cardboard or oak tag, but I was able to hear a fairly intense conversation between a couple of golfers ticked off at their round the previous day. And it was nice of them to let me hear the proflowers.com commercial 64 times on various ESPN shows. "Proflowers value is incredible!'' Wow! How informative. I thought I was in the Superdome when Minnesota had the ball two weeks ago.
Tweet of the Week
"Peyton Manning is treating New Orleans worse than FEMA did.''
As they say in the NFL, "NFL.'' Not For Long.
NFL Truth & Rumors