With the spotlight set on Super Bowl XLVI, who should be considered to be the faces of this year’s big game? The Wife Hates Sports has the answer – ranking this year’s most influential faces of the Super Bowl – in a three-part series. Chime in on your own personal rankings, and let’s celebrate the New England Patriots, New York Giants and Super Bowl XLVI.
46. Josh McDaniels
McDaniels has been around the block more than most of us, spending time as an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL, all by age 35. With Bill O’Brien departing for Penn State soon, McDaniels is back in New England as an offensive assistant. But as NBC sports recently reported, he’s mostly remained out of the spotlight.
45. Jim Irsay
The owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts is easily the most open and outspoken owner in the NFL today. Most of his messages are delivered via his Twitter account (@JimIrsay). Included in some of his recent tweets are ways to win Super Bowl tickets (it is his team’s stadium, after all). Irsay has also been trying to iron out all the rumors surrounding his relationship with Peyton Manning.
44. Zoltan Mesko
In a game that’s expected to be close, special teams will become a key part. Mesko had 24 of 57 regular season punts get downed inside the 20. Steve Weatherford, his Super Bowl opponent, managed just 25 inside the 20 over 82 attempts. That, plus Mesko’s unique name can easily get mistaken for Zoltar Speaks, the wishing machine from the movie Big.
43. Kelly Clarkson
The 29-year old pop star, songwriter and winner of the first season of American Idol will be singing the National Anthem during the Super Bowl. Expect a better performance than current Idol judge Steven Tyler could manage during the playoffs a few weeks back. But don’t expect Steve Carell to scream her name as an introduction…
42. Chad Ochocinco
His outlandish ways and unique personality left many fans curious to see how Ochocinco would handle playing in New England, especially if he made it to the Super Bowl. Now, here he is, but no one expects him to make any kind of an impact, especially after the regular season that he had (15 receptions, 276 yards and just 1 TD).
41. Alexa Flutie (Cheerleaders are back!)
Only a handful of NFL franchises do not have cheerleaders, and last year’s Super Bowl between the Packers and Steelers painfully featured none. This year, cheerleaders are back, at least on New England’s sideline. The name many would know is Alexa Flutie, daughter of Doug Flutie. The rest of New England’s squad won’t be anything to complain about, either.
40. Nate Solder
The Giants will send a vicious pass rush at Tom Brady and the Patriots, attempting to force mistakes. In order to fend off New York’s talented defensive front, Nate Solder – a rookie playing in his first Super Bowl – will need to avoid jitters and have a great night.
39. Roger Goodell
Last year during this time, the commissioner had to worry about finding ways to avoid a lockout. This season, he can sit back and enjoy a Super Bowl, further seeking ways to further the growth and health of the National Football League.
38. Ahmad Bradshaw
Bradshaw has battled through injuries, managing just 659 yards on the ground over 12 games during the regular season. Likely to see plenty of work in the Super Bowl, Bradshaw and the New York running game will need to be effective to keep Brady and the New England offense off the field.
37. Danny Woodhead
The 5’8” Woodhead may have seen a dropoff in production this season, but he still is easily one of the more multi-dimensional players playing in this year’s Super Bowl. Don’t be surprised to see him not just heavily involved on special teams, but also during run and pass plays, too.
36. Brandon Jacobs
Like Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs also missed time during the regular season, posting just 571 rushing yards on the season. But the 6’4”, 264-pounder is a battering ram, and not an easy man to take down, especially once he’s able to gain any momentum.
35. Aaron Hernandez
Often playing second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez has put up some gaudy numbers of his own (79 catches, 910 yards, 7 TD’s in regular season). He’s the second part of New England’s two-headed tight end monster, and one of Tom Brady’s many offensive weapons.
34. Justin Tuck
Tuck is yet another member of the Giants that missed significant time during the season. His regular season numbers (37 tackles, one forced fumble, five sacks) are half of his 2010 production, but Tuck is still a force to be reckoned with in the trenches.
33. Jerod Mayo
Just how good was Mayo on defense this season? He missed a handful of games due to injury, yet still led the Patriots in total tackles, with 95.
32. Corey Webster
Webster led the Giants in interceptions with six on the season. That tally was also good for fourth place in the NFL during the regular season.
31. Sterling Moore
Often overshadowed by others on the New England roster, Sterling Moore made a lasting impression when he knocked the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands during the waning seconds of the AFC Championship game. Moore’s heads-up play, along with Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal, led to a Patriots victory, and a trip to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
30. Tiquan Underwood
Underwood (3 catches for 30 yards during the regular season) didn’t gain any attention with his offensive numbers, but he did during Super Bowl week with his fancy Patriots themed haircut (see right), which he posted to his Twitter account. But the biggest attention getter? The Patriots cut him, just 24 hours before the big game. Brutal!
29. Archie Manning
With one son playing in the Super Bowl and another son being a main reason for the existence of the game’s location, it’s clear that Archie Manning will be heavily entrenched in the spotlight during the big game. Expect a lot of camera shots on the Manning family throughout.
28. Kyle Arrington
Arrington had a great year with the Patriots, accumulating 88 tackles (second most on the team) and seven interceptions during the regular season (tied for most in the NFL).
27. Rodney Harrison
Whether Rodney Harrison wants to talk about it or not, "The Catch" will be mentioned ad nauseum during Super Bowl XLVI.
Harrison retired from the NFL more than two years ago, and currently serves as an analyst on NBC Sports’ Football Night in America. But during this Super Bowl, Harrison will be frequently mentioned and highlighted as the player that defended David Tyree during “the catch” play in the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Giants four years ago.
26. Julian Edelman
Edelman is a multi-dimensional player who has great value for the Patriots, not just serving as a wide receiver on offense, but more so recently on special teams and on defense as a member of the secondary.
25. Dan Patrick
Formerly as an anchor on SportsCenter, Dan Patrick left ESPN years ago, and now has arguably the best sports radio show in the country. He also serves as a co-host for NBC Sports’ Football Night in America, and will be handing out the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the winner of Super Bowl XLVI.
24. Osi Umenyiora
Another of New York’s talented defensive linemen, Umenyiorawas fined $20K for bailing on the media during Super Bowl week. He later apologized. With 5 ½ sacks in four January games, don’t expect any more absences from Osi.
23. Anna Burns
Hitting headlines in recent weeks, Burns is now engaged to New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. If the former Miss Hooters (see right) is going to be present at this year’s Super Bowl, then it’s a liklihood that we’ll be seeing a lot of her on camera. At least, we hope so.
22. Hakeem Nicks
At times, Nicks (76 receptions, 1,192 yards and 7 TD’s during regular season) was second fiddle to Victor Cruz in the pass game, but he remains the deep threat in the Giants’ offense and the clear number one receiver on the team.
21. Deion Branch
Branch was targeted 90 times by Tom Brady during the regular season, which was fourth most on the team. While he hasn’t been the clear target in the pass game, Branch brings with him plenty of Super Bowl success, most notably in Super Bowl XXXIX, when he was named MVP of the game after tying a record with 11 receptions.
20. Mark Herzlich
Herzlich’s story is one of the most inspirational stories of the NFL season. After tons of success at Boston College, Herzlich was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2009, at the age of 21. Signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent, Herzlich made the team and saw some playing time during the regular season.
19. Bill O’Brien
In a few days, Bill O'Brien will be hanging out with the Nittany Lion.
O’Brien is serving as the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, and weeks back, he agreed to become Penn State’s next head football coach, replacing the late Joe Paterno. Juggling two jobs and facing an uphill climb with the Nittany Lions, O’Brien now finds himself with a chance to leave the NFL on top.
18. Antrel Rolle
Statistically, Antrel Rolle gains plenty of attention, accumulating 96 total tackles during the regular season, the most for the Giants. But he gains even more attention with his mouth, openly telling the media that “we are expecting to win” the Super Bowl. You have to love his confidence, but only as long as his teammates continue to back up his words.
17. Robert Kraft
Bob Kraft could easily be higher up this list for many reasons. By now, many are familiar with the statement made by Colts center Jeff Saturday, who credited Kraft for having a key role in getting the NFL’s CBA issues resolved. In addition, the Patriots as a franchise have clearly flourished with him as owner, winning 12 AFC East division titles, countless playoff games and three Super Bowls. As a family, the Krafts have also donated millions to numerous good causes.
The Super Bowl halftime show will be performed by Madonna this year, therefore expect plenty of wardrobe, but likely no wardrobe malfunctions. Right, Janet? Clearly, the superstar pop legend is already getting heavily involved in the game itself, most notably during a recent press conference, when she broke out some salsa dance moves, as inspired by New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Sorry, “Material Girl”, but Victor wins this round.
15. Vince Wilfork
At 6’2” and 325 pounds, Wilfork is a giant, physical presence that can – and regularly does – take over a game in the trenches. He single-handedly took over both of New England’s playoff games, posting 2 ½ sacks and causing all sorts of problems for opposing quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Joe Flacco. Expect more of the same against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
14. Jason Pierre-Paul
Pierre-Paul has been one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league this year. His 16 ½ sacks were the fourth most in the NFL and he posted six sacks over the last four regular season games. With the combination of Umenyiora, Tuck and Pierre-Paul, the New England O-line will have its hands full.
13. Wes Welker
Targeted 172 times by Tom Brady during the regular season, Welker ended the year with 122 receptions, 1,569 yards and 9 TD’s. While Gronkowski clearly got most of the pub, Welker is still the steadiest piece on offense. He’ll clearly get his targets in the Super Bowl, and new fiancé Anna Burns (listed in Part 2) will be rooting him on.
12. Victor Cruz
Cruz was one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season, sending plenty of Fantasy Football owners into a major frenzy. Cruz’s 82 catches, 1,536 yards and 9 TD’s were all team highs – and who could ignore his trademark salsa dance celebration every time he crossed the goal line? Oh, and with his acrobatic catches and similar frame to David Tyree (6’0”, 203 pounds), well, you get the idea.
11. Gisele Bundchen
Fashion model, Victoria’s Secret Angel and one of the most beautiful women on Earth, Bundchen is also married to Tom Brady. During the early portions of Super Bowl week, Gisele hit the headlines when she asked friends and family to prayfor and support her hubby. In the end, she’ll just hit the headlines regularly for the usual reasons – a.k.a. her striking beauty.
10. Chuck Noll
Noll headlines the National Football League history books with four Super Bowl rings, and that’s why he hits the list this season, as New England coach Bill Belichick can tie him with a victory in Super Bowl XLVI. If the Patriots win, a debate on best coach ever would surely follow.
9. Joe Montana
Joe Montana’s appearance on this list is for the same reason as Chuck Noll. Montana currently headlines the NFL history books as a quarterback with four Super Bowl rings. With a win in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Brady – who grew up idolizing Montana – would win a fourth ring of his own. As with the two coaches, a debate on the best quarterback ever would be next in line.
8. Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski hits the news for a variety of reasons. First, he was a history making tight end this season, racking up 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 17 TD’s during the regular season. More importantly, it’s Gronk’s ankle that is stealing the headlines during Super Bowl week. Clearly, Gronkowski is a major piece of New England’s offense, and was recently seen not limping on the eve of the Super Bowl. But cruising around for photos and sprinting on the field are two completely different things, so no one knows just how healthy he’ll be come Sunday.
7. Peyton Manning
Peyton is stealing the majority of the headlines this week, what with his health issues and future with the Colts still in question. He also has an opportunity to watch his little brother play in a Super Bowl on his home turf.
6. David Tyree
How many times will David Tyree's name be mentioned during Super Bowl XLVI?
It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that a number of Super Bowl parties were having drinking games involving the number of times that Tyree’s name gets dropped during the big game. Clearly, “The Catch” is one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history, and considering that it was the highlight of the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, the opportunity to mention it ad nauseum is warranted. Just don’t tell a Patriots fan that – and don’t tell Rodney Harrison, either.
5. Tom Coughlin
Disliked by players, too abrasive, on the hot seat year after year… Tom Coughlin has heard it all over the years. But after another challenging regular season juggling plenty of injuries and question marks on his team, the Giants head coach has found a way to push his squad to another Super Bowl. With another victory on the highest stage, people will never question him again.
4. Bill Belichick
Short answers with the media, a deadpan demeanor and a wardrobe that no one would ever find at Armani, Bill Belichick likely rubs many people the wrong way. But one thing’s clear, he’s one heck of a coach. He may be aggressive bordering on reckless at times, but you can’t argue his track record, especially with the New England Patriots. With one more Super Bowl victory, he’ll tie Chuck Noll for the most all-time.
3. Eli Manning
First, he caught criticism for referring to himself as elite, than he followed that by playing better than most quarterbacks in the league, completing numerous fourth quarter comebacks and once again leading the Giants to the Super Bowl. Now, Eli Manning finds himself with an opportunity to win his second Super Bowl, passing big brother Peyton, who for years, many thought was by far the superior Manning.
2. Tom Brady
New England fans love him while opposing fans loathe him. Women adore him, while men adore his supermodel wife. His track record speaks for itself, with division title after division title, three Super Bowl rings and so on. With a win in Super Bowl XLVI, Brady will have his fourth Super Bowl victory, which would tie him with Joe Montana for the most in NFL history.
1. The Late Myra Kraft
Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, died of cancer last July at the age of 68. The New England Patriots family has mourned her loss, honored her life and dedicated this season to her. The team has worn a patch featuring her initials (MHK) throughout the entire season.
Kraft was the glue that kept the Patriots’ family together, and it was clear that the entire group was devastated when she passed. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, as the saying goes, and the Patriots will continue to play with heavy hearts, wishing, hoping and striving to win one more for the team’s matriarch.
Enjoy Super Bowl XLVI, and as always, thanks for reading The Wife Hates Sports…
- Category: 2012 Sports Blogs of the Year