Super Bowl Decided, Thoughts Turn to NBA All Stars

New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden recaps the Colts' win in the Super Bowl and looks ahead to the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas.

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TONY COX, host:

I'm Tony Cox and this is NEWS & NOTES.

It's Monday, not our usual day to talk sports with our resident guru William C. Rhoden, sports columnist for The New York Times and author of "Third and a Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of the Black Quarterback." But since the Super Bowl was yesterday, we thought we'd talk about the big game after the big game instead. Bill joins us now from Miami. Hello, Bill.

Mr. WILLIAM RHODEN (Sports Columnist, New York Times): The great Tony Cox. How are you doing?

COX: I'm doing great. Listen, so did the game turned out like you thought it was going to turn out?

Mr. RHODEN: Well, you know, as we said the last time we talked, you know, a black coach won.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RHODEN: So that storyline was complete. And it was rainy and I think that this was more a sort of personal affirmation for, you know, Peyton Manning, because people go to, you know, they were still all the way up to the very day of the game. You know, people say, well, you know, he plays in the dome, the weather is not perfect. You know, if the weather is not sunny and there's no rain, you know, it's just one thing after another.

And so, yeah, I mean, I think he did what he had to do to win. It wasn't by far was his greatest game. But, you know, he did some things that a great quarterback does. And the running game was great that, you know, a running back could have easily gotten the MVP but, you know, I think that the better team won. And Rex Grossman was…

COX: Man, what a day he had.

Mr. RHODEN: …who Rex Grossman is.

COX: What a day he had. I wouldn't want to have to come back to Chicago today and be Rex Grossman.

Mr. RHODEN: Or Lovie Smith so descending (unintelligible)

COX: You know, let me ask you this because the NFC now has lost - if I'm counting this correctly, and I think I am - they have lost the last five straight Super Bowls to the AFC. What's wrong with the NFC?

Mr. RHODEN: You know, everybody has been trying to put their fingers - well, maybe the AFC has got better quarterbacks. You know, Roethlisberger last year, Tom Brady, you know, the year that St. Louis won, you had a hot Kurt Warner.

But I don't know, Tony, you know, I just think it's one of those cyclical things like they always say, you know. It wasn't like, yeah, I guess if this was like 40 years ago or something, when you had the old AFL and the NFL, where you could talk about, well, the AFL hasn't caught up and they still got young talent.

You know, I just think that it is one of those things that is cyclical, and there will be a point probably in a couple of years, you know, particularly when you look at young Reggie Bush now, who's going to be outstanding, and Matt Leinart over in Arizona - I think that there will be a time about, you know, two, three, or four years that the NFC comes back. But, you know, these things, like everything else in sports, just goes on cycle.

COX: They are cyclical. Well, you know, let me ask you this because I know you were down in Miami covering the game and I was at somebody's house having a Super Bowl party like the rest of America.

And I want to ask you this about the game itself because the networks have done a big job of turning Super Bowl into an event, into something more than just a game itself. And at this party where I was the biggest cheers were for Prince at halftime. And I don't know if that's really saying a statement about how the Super Bowl has evolved or maybe devolved, you know.

Mr. RHODEN: Well, maybe this game, I always say that the last game of real football are the conference championships. You know, that's when - after that, it becomes strictly entertainment.

You know, here you've got a football game that kind of gets in the way of a concert and hype. I mean, everyday there's parties and, I mean, you know, it's just everything else but football. Football is not really the major, you know, focus here. The focus is…

COX: (unintelligible). It really didn't seem that way.

Mr. RHODEN: No, no, it's not - you're right. My wife said, oh yeah. Did you see Prince? What about Prince? You know, because people, you know, and remember what was the big story a couple of years ago? It was Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

COX: And Janet Jackson. That's true.

Mr. RHODEN: It was halftime. So yeah, Tony, I think that you're absolutely right. I mean, the biggest thing about this - this is a culmination of everything that football has come to represent, which is high-level commercialism and, you know, and collision and bright colors, you know. That's kind of what it is.

COX: Final thing I want to ask you before we get away is I noticed in listening to Robert Irsay as well as Coach Dungy talking about the historic event of, you know, the black head coaches getting to the Super Bowl in one winning. But they also talked about it was the first time that Christian athletes had been - they thought that that was as big a deal as being black. Did you hear that?

Mr. RHODEN: You know, I heard that and I heard what Dungy said about the two Christian men, you know, did it the right way. And I think, you know, when you get to that point, I mean, everybody has got a different spin.

COX: Right.

Mr. RHODEN: On religion. And I'm sure that there have been Christian people who have won championships before.

COX: But not - they have not talked about it quite that way.

Mr. RHODEN: Yeah, I mean, because, yeah. This is - yeah, it's a different, and Tony is very different. Remember, man, this time last year, Tony Dungy was mourning the death of his son.

COX: That's true.

Mr. RHODEN: And is still mourning. So I think that that maybe, Tony, why there's also more somber reaction to the Colts. Because they remember this time last year that that franchise was draped in tragedy. And I think - that I think tends to give you a sense of humility when you approach these kinds of victories, to put it all into perspective.

COX: Well, Super Bowl XLI is in the books. We'll have to wait to see what's going to happen for Super Bowl XLII.

William C. Rhoden is a sports columnist for the New York Times and author of "Third and a Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of the Black Quarterback," which comes out today, by the way. He joined us from Miami. Bill, nice to talk you. We'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Mr. RHODEN: Tony, it's always a pleasure, man.

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