Great NFL Moments of 2010
Sports illustrated lists the Saints Super Bowl championship as the number two NFL story in 2010 behind Michael Vick’s “redemption.” Vick is a huge story, but I think Don Banks is more in the present, and forgets about big February was. There were more national stories and headlines surrounding the Saints back in February than there are Vick stories of the last three months. Here is some of Banks list.
1. The redemption of Michael Vick. There are comebacks, and then there are comebacks, and Vick’s career renaissance is in a league of its own. Nothing more than a bit player for the Eagles during the 2009 season — his first season back in the league after serving almost two years in prison because of his dogfighting conviction — Vick has electrified the NFL in 2010 like no one else. Though he was a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback for Atlanta, Vick has elevated his game to a new level since he became the Philadelphia starter in Week 2. In a Week 10 Monday-night game at Washington, he put on a tour de force performance, becoming the first QB in league history to pass for 300 yards with four touchdowns and rush for at least 80 yards and two more scores in the same game. Once a pariah, he’s now an MVP candidate who has the Eagles on the cusp of a playoff berth.
2. The Saints go marching in to the Super Bowl winner’s circle. The feel-good story of the year in the NFL was the Saints’ march to the first Super Bowl title in New Orleans’ 43-year franchise history, a quest that was as old as the Super Bowl itself. It wasn’t just another championship for just another NFL city. The Saints became a living, breathing symbol of the beleaguered but indomitable city of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast region, which had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in late summer 2005. The Colts were five-point favorites, but the Saints overcame an early 10-point deficit, in part with the help of a daring onside kick to start the second half, and wound up winning 31-17 in Miami behind the MVP performance of quarterback Drew Brees. In a city where the party never ends, New Orleans threw its biggest bash ever in honor of its beloved Saints. Who dat, indeed.
3. A long and painfully slow goodbye for Brett Favre. Like a blackjack player who stays at the table too long, unable to recognize that beating the house is not a forever proposition, Favre’s return to Minnesota for a 20th NFL season played out like a doomed adventure almost from the start. Unlike his magic carpet ride of a season last year, when he took the Vikings all the way into overtime of the NFC title game, Favre’s winning touch was missing this time around, and he absorbed damaging blows both on and off the field. As Favre went, so went the Vikings’ season, and eventually Minnesota’s losing ways cost head coach Brad Childress his job. Favre finally incurred an injury he couldn’t shake off and saw his cherished starting streak snapped at 297 games. He returned unexpectedly a week later only to leave Monday’s game against Chicago with a concussion. Depending on how quickly he recovers, the 41-year-old Favre could end his NFL career watching his losing team play out the string.
4. Randy Moss can’t find a home. No one in the NFL traveled a road with more bizarre turns than Moss did in 2010. The 13-year veteran receiver kept running out patterns all season, from New England, to Minnesota, to Tennessee, trying to find both appreciation and remuneration, not to mention someone to throw him the ball. But it was not to be. The Patriots sent him packing in early October after he started spouting off about wanting a new contract, and his stay in Minnesota lasted a mere four weeks, ending after he openly pined for his days in New England. His arrival in Tennessee was much heralded, but his impact has been almost nil, and everywhere he goes, losing ensues. If Vick is the league’s comeback story of the year, Moss was just the opposite. He was the Go-Away Player of the Year.
5. The Donovan McNabb trade. When McNabb was traded from the Eagles to the Redskins on Easter night, it ended an era in Philadelphia and began one in Washington. Make that an error in Washington. Nothing about McNabb’s time in D.C. has gone as planned, and his presence under center did little to rid the Redskins of the dysfunction and losing that has plagued owner Daniel Snyder’s tenure. McNabb’s play has been mediocre for the most part, and though he did lead Washington to a vindicating win at Philadelphia in Week 4, by Week 8 new head coach Mike Shanahan had benched him for the final two minutes of a loss at Detroit, setting off a weeklong melodrama. With Washington out of playoff contention by Week 15, McNabb was benched again in favor of the non-descript Rex Grossman, signaling the end of his brief stay in D.C.
6. The Ben Roethlisberger suspension. The Steelers’ quarterback won two Super Bowl rings in his first five seasons in the NFL, but his career careened out of control after a Georgia college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub bathroom in early March after a night of heavy drinking. Roethlisberger was never charged in the incident, which took place in Milledgeville, Ga., but he suffered heavily in the court of public opinion, and the Steelers reportedly even considered parting ways with their 2004 first-round pick. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of the 2010 season, later reducing that penalty to four games after the quarterback responded to the punishment by undergoing evaluation and showing contrition for his admittedly boorish and immature behavior.
Only two of the big stories of 2010 are positive stories. I’m just glad the Saints are one of those two.