The bridge-inhabiting trolls of Cold, Hard Football Facts.com may be fat, drunk and hideously disfigured. But let it never be said that we are not fair.
Take, for example, the case of Mr. Joe Theismann. The former Redskins quarterback turned NFL color commentator is a frequent Cold, Hard Football
Facts punching bag. First and foremast, he was a part of ESPN's Sunday Night Football broadcast troika, whose factless foibles and observations of the obvious were chronicled frequently (thought not enough) in our 2005 Troika Tracker
But our review this week of preseason predictions revealed Theismann as one of the most perceptive analysts in the vast land of Pigskin America. Yes, that's right. Theismann is a perceptive pigskin analyst, perhaps even a budding gridiron genius.
Don't believe us? Read on ... right through to the very end. You literally will not believe what you read below on this page. It is 100 percent certifiably mind-blowing.
But before blowing the lid off your cranium, we must cite ESPN the Rag's 2005 NFL preview. Ex-players are notoriously bad prognosticators. Usually, they are more interested in pleasing their friends around the league or in jumping on the latest NFL bandwagon than they are compelled to dig deep into the data and offer bold, rational analysis. But not Theismann, at least not this season.
- The Rag's overall Super Bowl prediction missed the mark: Minnesota over Indy.
- Mike Golic was also off target: Indy over Atlanta.
- Steve Young pulled his own Dick Cheney: Indy over Minnesota.
- Mark Schlereth couldn't even find the trigger: Baltimore over Minnesota.
Among the 10 projected Super Bowl champions listed above, only Lindy's and the Cold, Hard Football Facts picked as Super Bowl champion a team that would win at least one playoff game. The Vikings, Falcons, Eagles and Ravens all missed the playoffs. The Colts, of course, went down in another flaming Hindenburg of a playoff loss.
This brings us back to Theismann. Back in August, Theismann said Pittsburgh would win Super Bowl XL.
In February, Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL.
Few "pundits" even placed Pittsburgh in the playoffs. The Ravens were the overwhelming favorites in the AFC North. The Cold, Hard Football Facts
accurately called for Cincinnati to take the AFC North title. But even we failed to put Pittsburgh in the postseason.
Theismann bucked the trend and was proven correct.
It's interesting in hindsight that he was one of the few in the pigskin media to nail the Super Bowl champion. It underscores the futility of preseason predictions – the Cold, Hard Football Facts at least offered a tip of the cap to this futility by labeling our preseason picks "Fearless and perhaps quite useless predictions
In retrospect, we all look stupid. The Steelers went 15-1 in 2004 and were led by a young quarterback who, entering the 2005 season, had never lost a regular-season game. We all just ignored these rather obvious Cold, Hard Football Facts and considered Pittsburgh a playoff castoff.
But Theismann did what is almost always the right thing to do. He ignored conventional wisdom, let the bandwagon of preseason hype roll right past him and stood by some Cold, Hard Football Facts: the Steelers were a pretty damn good team in 2004. There was every reason to believe they'd have a shot in 2005.
But picking Pittsburgh as his 2005 Super Bowl champion is not what makes Theismann a genius. Any "pundit" can get lucky once in a while.
Not many "pundits" can do what Theismann did in 2001: withstand a tidal wave of hype and accurately lay out the scenario in which we would witness the greatest NFL upset of the last 35 years.
Joe the Genius stood like the Rock of Gibraltar four years ago and offered on ESPN.com what may have been the greatest and most accurate piece of pigskin analysis we have ever read. It was so accurate that, merely by replacing the future tense with the past tense, his preview piece could have quickly been turned into a Super Bowl XXXVI postgame wrap-up.
We had never heard of this article until 2:10 a.m. this past Sunday morning, when loyal Cold, Hard Football Facts.com reader and cardboard-box inhabiting troll Scott Cameron sent us the following e-mail (an e-mail which begets the question:
don't our readers have anything better to do late on a Saturday night?).
The subject line read "Theismann a genius?" The text was short but sweet, with a link to a four-year-old story penned by Theismann:
From: Scott Cameron
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 2:04 AM
Subject: Theismann a genius?
Go ahead and read it
. You will be blown away. But if you don't have time, here's an annotated version of this four-year-old article, followed by a Cold, Hard Footballl Facts summary.
Theismann: "The New England Patriots will win Super Bowl XXXVI."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: New England beat St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI, in one of the great upsets in modern NFL history.
Theismann: "The Rams have been susceptible to turnovers."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Rams blew Super Bowl XXXVI by committing three turnovers.
Theismann: "(New England running back) Antowain Smith may run for only 80 yards, but every yard he gains will be valuable toward their ability to control the football and keep it away from the Rams' offense."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Smith was the game's leading rusher with 92 yards on 18 carries and helped keep the ball away from the Rams' offense.
: New England has three playmakers on offense, David Patten, Troy
Brown and Jermaine Wiggins.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patten (pictured here) scored New England's only offensive touchdown of Super Bowl XXXVI, while Brown and Wiggins caught the last two passes on New England's final, game-winning drive.
Theismann: "(Tom) Brady was a better choice (at quarterback) than (Drew) Bledsoe."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Believe it or not, Brady vs. Bledsoe was actually a big debate in the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXVI and Theismann was not necessarily in the majority. Nobody doubts today that he was correct.
Theismann: "The most critical matchup is Marshall Faulk on the Patriots' linebackers."
Cold, Hard Football Facts
: Bill Belichick recently said
that the key to New England's Super Bowl XXXVI defensive game plan "was decided by two words: Marshall Faulk." The former NFL MVP was punished all day by New England's linebackers.
Theismann: If the Patriots "can hold Faulk to around 80 rushing yards or less, New England will have a decided advantage."
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Faulk was held to 76 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Theismann: His final Super Bowl XXXVI analysis was almost prophetic: "I look at the score as 27-24. The game will be close and decided at the end. Adam Vinatieri really got the Patriots to where they are. There is no reason why he can't get them to the top. What's so nuts about that?"
Cold, Hard Football Facts: New England won 20-17 on a last-second Vinatieri field goal. So, there's nothing nuts about that, Joe. Unless you believe those who say that there's a fine line between insanity and genius.