After two weeks of incessant talk, predictions and speculation about Dwight Freeney's ankle injury, Super Bowl XLIV has finally arrived here in Miami. But, before I make my bold prediction, I'd like to touch on a few other NFL issues.
First, the news is that linebacker Joey Porter is unhappy with the Dolphins, and management is unhappy with him. Porter played hurt in 2009, and was not the player he had been in 2008, when he led the team in sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The revelation that Porter refused to come off the field for certain plays to give the Dolphins a chance to see some of the younger players at work is disheartening, and now we have a partial answer as to why Cameron Wake played so little despite his production.
The fact is, Porter is a declining player who had exactly one great year in Miami sandwiched by two mediocre ones, and his personality and ego make it easier to get rid of him when he's not performing on the field.
If I were Bill Parcells, the solution would be simple: Cut Porter loose and bring back Jason Taylor, who is still a respected team leader and can still provide some heat in the pass rush. Then, address the linebacker needs in this year's draft.
As for the other development in Dolphinland, it appears that Chad Pennington would like to return to Miami for another year. Pennington injured his throwing shoulder in Week 3 and did not play another down the rest of the season.
Provided his asking price isn't too steep (and that he can throw the ball as well as he could before the injury), I think the Dolphins should retain him. Pennington is the kind of crafty veteran who can advise new starter Chad Henne, and if Henne can gain even 40 percent of Pennington's knowledge and leadership, the Dolphins will benefit from the move.
The only problem is, the team can't carry four quarterbacks on the roster on game days, so either Tyler Thigpen or Pat White will be the odd man out. Considering White was last year's second round pick -- even though he didn't complete a pass in 2009 -- it looks like Thigpen may lose the race, though Thipgen is clearly the better player at this point.
Hall of Fame musings
Looking at the list of names in this year's Hall of Fame nominations, I couldn't help but wonder one thing: Where is Cris Carter?
Last year, I thought he was an absolute lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowler who retired with 1,101 career receptions, second only to Jerry Rice at the time, who is acknowledged as the greatest to play the position.
Carter also ranked fourth in yards receiving (he's now eighth) and he was fifth in total TDs. The point is, during their careers, Carter was widely viewed as the second-best receiver in the game behind Rice, and I've never seen a receiver make as many great catches (and one-handed receptions) as Carter did.
Now, he has not just missed the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but twice. And while Russ Grimm and John Randle were good players, Carter was better at his position than either of them.
That leads to one conclusion: Carter's standoffishness with the media has cost him his place in Canton so far.
It's unfortunate that the voters entrusted with making the Hall of Fame selection let old biases and opinions get in the way of the voting.
It proves that voters are at their most human at a time when they should be completely impartial.
I don't care how much of a jerk Carter was with the media (and I interviewed him once so I understand their feelings about him), he was one of the best to play his position, and to me, he was the second-best receiver of that era behind Rice. It's a shame he hasn't been inducted yet, and with the numbers he accumulated and feats he achieved during his career, the only reason I can fathom it hasn't happened so far is because of a media bias.
Of this year's class, I say Carter is the third-best player, trailing only Rice and Smith -- and that means he was better than the five other players who were selected Saturday.
For whatever reason, I haven't seen much outrage on the Internet about Carter falling short, with even Peter King attributing his omission last year to an inordinate amount of receivers with gaudy numbers who were up for election at the same time.
But, Carter was better than Art Monk, who finally was inducted after a lengthy wait last year, and until he does get into Canton, he is the best receiver eligible who is currently not in the Hall of Fame.
Again, it's a sad statement about the Hall of Fame voters that they can't recognize how great a player he was, and major ammunition for the argument that writers should not vote for player induction to the Hall.
Super Bowl pick
Now that I'm through ranting about Carter, it's time to make my Super Bowl selection.
I redeemed myself in the conference championships, going 2-0 (thank you, Brett Favre) after a winless divisional round.
I went chalk last time around, picking both favorites, but I guess I still haven't learned my lesson from the shellacking I took three weeks ago when I tried to go against the trend.
Now, Peyton Manning is playing as well as he ever has, and he was impressive in leading the Colts from behind against the Jets, but I'm not buying all the hoopla about not betting against him and that he could be the best there ever was.
And that brings me to a second rant. Why is it that every time a quarterback with a history of success reaches this game, the media decides to go out of its way to anoint them as the greatest of all-time?
I remember this starting with Troy Aikman 15 years ago, when he led his Cowboys to their third Super Bowl win.
Media types were trying to put him in the class of greats with the Montanas and Elways, when he had never shown that kind of greatness before. So, what happened? The Cowboys won just one playoff game the rest of Aikman's career, and he had two bad seasons before concussions forced him to retire in 1999. Now, you never hear his name mentioned among the top 10 to play the position.
How about two years ago, when Tom Brady rolled into the Super Bowl at 18-0 and after a 50-TD season? I remember hearing some of the geniuses in the media saying he was even better than Montana.
What happened? David Tyree foiled Brady's bid to join Montana at 4-for-4 in Super Bowls, and following Brady's knee injury and the fact his team has regressed in the two years since, you never hear that argument anymore.
No, because after this season, many in the media have shifted their fawning to Manning, saying now that he is better than Brady (when they told us for 10 years running Brady was better).
I've read many stories about how Manning could go down as the greatest ever to play if he wins this game.
But the media, of course, has overlooked a few things on the way to proclaiming Manning's greatness.
First off, he did not face a good passing team in the playoffs, which is critical because he didn't have to deal with the pressure a quarterback faces when he is in a shootout and knows he must score points every time he is on the field, or he will lose.
And I further argue that the Ravens and Jets, the two teams he vanquished on the way to the Super Bowl, were inferior to the teams Brees and the Saints eliminated on their path to Miami (particularly Minnesota).
Also, I think Brees is every bit the quarterback Manning is, and he's more accurate (a 70 percent passer) and makes fewer mistakes in big situations.
It certainly seemed like Brees didn't do much against the Vikings, but he kept his team close, and when the day was done, he had thrown three TD passes and no interceptions.
This Saints team can run the ball, which will keep Manning off the field, and it has the weapons to attack a defense I'm still not sold on.
The media makes a big fuss over this year's Colts D being better than years' past, but remember, they just played two one-dimensional teams in Baltimore and New York.
I guarantee (sorry, Joe Namath) they will not play as well against Brees and Company Sunday.
Now, Manning will make his share of plays, because the Saints defense is not very good either. But, he has no running game to speak of, and that's been New Orleans' Achilles heel defensively all year.
All that said, I think this will be one of the more entertaining Super Bowls we've seen, with Brees and Manning alternating big plays. But I see the Saints marching to a 31-27 victory -- and then we'll hear about how Brees is now the best quarterback in the NFL.