Super Bowl LV, among other things, confirmed a couple of indisputable truths:
No. 1, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game.
And No. 2, NFL officiating remains inconsistent at best and arbitrary at worst.
Both of those absolutes were addressed this week on the DVE Morning Show by our friend and colleague Gene Steratore.
“It did feel in the Super Bowl that there were calls that technically, by the letter of the law, yeah, there’s some holding there,” Steratore maintained in the NFL season’s final weekly installment of “Zebra Talk.”
“Is that what we called all season? Is that foul big enough to throw in this game today? There’s some questionable things in that regard. They called that Super Bowl tighter than they refereed and made calls in the regular season and the postseason in some plays. It was a much tighter called ballgame than what we had been used to and for a lot of us what we would want to see in a game of that magnitude.”
The stats relative to number of penalties called in the regular season and the playoffs vs. the Flag Fest the first half of Tampa Bay’s 31-9 victory over Kansas City became back up Steratore’s critique.
The snapshot moment in that regard was the interception Brady threw in the second quarter that was nullified by a defensive holding penalty.
Such calls didn’t decide the game in the Buccaneers’ favor, but they made things a whole lot more difficult on the Chiefs, as they seemingly have historically for Brady opponents.
“We’re looking for some reason to say he isn’t the greatest quarterback of all time, right?” Steratore said. “That he gets special favors or things like that?”
We’ll have to keep looking.
As Steratore has at times throughout the season on “Zebra Talk,” he talked not just about officiating nuances but also about the playing of the game, individually and collectively.
In talking about Brady, Steratore came up with a perspective that resonates.
It took him a while to get there, and he started on the golf course.
But eventually Steratore’s comparison holds up as well if not better than any, despite all that has been said, written, opined or observed about The G.O.A.T., and all that will continue to be:
“When you really love the game of golf, you understand these tiny, little intangibles about your feet placement, the wind direction, where the ball is, all these tiny, little things that a (professional) golfer goes through before he or she hits a ball like that, so perfect every time. And it drives all of us hackers crazy because there’s too many things to digest.
“Tom Brady is not the most athletic individual in the NFL, by far, right? He doesn’t win games on his pure athleticism. But his ability to put that golfing meticulous and technical emphasis on every little thing that he does as he gets in and prepares and is so calm in that moment and these things are all happening.
“I equate it to him being the most precise golfer in the world, being in a pocket surrounded by sheer madness and people trying to tear your head off and he remains that precise, with that same motion, every, single time, over and over. And that just makes him what he is.
“I think golf would be great if you had guys lining up over the ball like that and then put about 2,000 pounds of humanity within arm’s length of them and said, ‘Hit that wedge, here we come.’ To me, that’s what it is.
“He has mixed both of those unbelievable abilities in this game. Everyone talks about size and speed and all these big, huge athletic things. And then you see this occur in the midst of that, and it just keeps happening over and over and over.
“As we’ve all seen, that’s why he’s got seven (Vince Lombardi trophies). I think there’s a reason for that and that’s why he is who he is and we have to be straight up about it.”
See you for March Madness, Gene.
And again next season, when Brady begins his quest for No. 8 (fore times two, for those who haven’t already done the math).
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