This month’s winner has been decided for awhile, so I have no legitimate reason for being woefully late…again. My intention is always to post the POM somewhere around the last few days of the month. I am an eternal optimist so I will almost always wait until the last possible second, especially with a month like February, which didn’t have any clear cut runaway choice. One never knows when some sort of huge news story might break in the waning hours of the last day of the month. Alas, that did not happen and the person who I had pondered honoring weeks ago ultimately ended up with the prize…such as it is.
Let us hearken way back to the first Sunday of February, which is traditionally one of the biggest Sundays of the year…Super Bowl Sunday. I am a huge football fan, and love love love Super Bowl Sunday. Even when the commercials are dull and unimaginative, the halftime show is bland and uninteresting, and yes…even when the game itself is a lopsided rout…the majesty of the event is such that it is still a grand and enduring occasion that millions look forward to every year. This year the commercials were indeed tedious and the halftime show forgettable, but atleast we were treated to a dandy of a game that darn near went into overtime. Now the “mainstream” media likes to focus on stars like Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning and DE Dwight Freeney or New Orleans QB Drew Brees and RB Reggie Bush. I don’t begrudge those gentlemen of their well deserved success and attention, but I prefer to give a nod to the little guy, the underdog, the overlooked but essential cog in the machine. Football is a team sport, and if even one player fails to execute his assigned duties it may be the difference between winning and losing. Most will say that Super Bowl XLIV was decided by Saints’ coach Sean Payton’s unorthodox yet gutsy decision to try an onside kick at the beginning of the second half, or by Peyton Manning’s interception to DB Tracey Porter that put the Saints up by 2 scores late in the 4th quarter. However, I would like to submit that the Saints would not have won the game had it not been for the three field goals successfully executed by February’s Person of the Month, kicker Garrett Hartley.
I noted elsewhere on this site recently my opinion that the worst sports journalist in America is ESPN’s Skip Bayless, a guy who apparently can’t hack it as a writer so he plies his trade as a curmudgeonly, borderline clueless, shock jock wannabe on a mostly prosaic morning TV show called First Take. There he debates a rotating roundtable of underachieving athletes and forgettable, mediocre sports commentators. Anyway, one of Skip’s ongoing themes over the years has been his honest to goodness dislike of football kickers. He genuinely believes they should be eliminated from the sport. That, of course, is asinine…and Garrett Hartley proved it in The Super Bowl.
Hartley is a product of the Oklahoma Sooners and had a productive if unremarkable career. I personally remember him kicking 3 field goals (due to Oklahoma’s inability to punch it in the end zone) against my WV Mountaineers during a momentous choke job by the Sooners in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl (By the way…completely off topic…how do assclowns like ESPN’s Lee Corso and CSTV’s Brian Jones, both of whom confidently predicted that Oklahoma would destroy West Virginia in that game, still have jobs?? I’m just sayin’…). He was undrafted and signed with the Saints as a free agent, and as a matter of fact, was not even on their active roster until ¾ of the way through the 2009 season. Then he kicked a 40 yard field goal in overtime to give New Orleans the NFC Championship and send them to The Super Bowl. The 3 field goals he kicked in the big game were all 40+ yards, which means they weren’t exactly automatic, especially on the grandest stage in football.
As soon as Super Bowl XLIV was over I said to myself that Garrett Hartley should be the MVP. The final score was 31-17, so it is true that mathematically those 9 points weren’t the final difference maker. However, on a realistic level anyone who watched that game knows that if Hartley would have missed any one of those kicks the whole dynamic of the game would have been altered and a different outcome would have been more likely. Predictably the media fell to their knees to fellatiate the golden boy quarterback instead of giving a second thought to someone as unimportant as the kicker. In this particular case I can’t honestly say that Drew Brees didn’t deserve the adoration of the masses. His performance was superb. But this is my award to give on my blog, so I choose to show some love for an underdog…a little guy…a cog in a machine that in this instance most likely would not have won The Super Bowl without him.