Bernie Bytes: Ex-Patriot fires back at Faulk

2013-02-01T00:30:00Z 2013-02-01T13:59:07Z Bernie Bytes: Ex-Patriot fires back at FaulkBY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist

Greetings from New Orleans:

• Retired New England offensive tackle Matt Light has responded to Marshall Faulk’s opinion that the Rams were “cheated” in their 20-17 loss to New England in Super Bowl 36.

As he made the rounds on Radio Row at Super Bowl 47, Light mostly took a  diplomatic approach in responding to Faulk’s claims. But on my 101.1 ESPN radio show, he said Faulk's remarks show "a lot of disrespect." 

"We lost two games horribly," Light said. referring to the Patriots' Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants. "And I wouldn’t look at those games and say anything other than we missed our opportunity. We didn’t get it done. And it didn’t have anything to do with anyone else.

"Honestly to hear a comment like (Faulk's), it’s disappointing to me, that a guy like Marshall — who has had such an incredible career and what he’s done post-football and all of the things that he stands for — would continue to go back to something like this. It shows a lot of disrespect from a guy that I’ve had a lot of respect for. And an organization that has dome as much to promote this game, and this league, as anybody else. From that standpoint, it’s disappointing.

“I understand what it’s like to lose a Super Bowl, and how you can have some ideas in your mind and other people can say things and you can get caught up in those. But ultimately when you look at it there’s no mistaking the dedication, the time, and all the effort that’s put into it by Bill (Belichick) and his staff and organization — what we did, we’re very proud of.”

• My favorite Super Bowl player for media interviews is 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss. He continues to get everyone stirred up by saying he’s the best receiver to play in the NFL. The Moss bragging has irritated Jerry Rice, who is widely regarded as the best WR in NFL history. But the more that agitated reporters press Moss, the more he digs in. It’s hysterical.

Moss conceded that he doesn’t have Rice’s career numbers, and that other esteemed wideouts have put up better stats. But he doesn’t care.

“I do believe in my heart and my mind I am the greatest to ever do it,” Moss said again Wednesday.

“Everybody is going to have their opinion,” Moss said. “I do not live on numbers. I really do not. If you sit here and just said, ‘Who is the greatest running back?’ Statistically it’s Emmitt Smith. But if you ask a lot of people if Emmitt was the best, they would say Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers or Jim Brown. Their numbers do not match Emmitt Smith, but that doesn’t mean he was better.”

Moss challenged the doubters.

“You make your own judgment,” he said. “I know what I think. I am not going to sit up here and tell you how to look at it and how to judge it. I think when it comes to going out there, making plays and helping the team do the things that they are able to do to win the game, I think I am the greatest receiver ever. Point blank. Next question.”

• OK, here’s what I think of Moss and his claims: Moss may have been the most talented, naturally gifted receiver to play in the NFL. He had freakish ability. At 6-5, Moss used his length to outmaneuver smaller defenders. He had tremendous leaping ability, and top-end speed. There is nothing he couldn’t do athletically.

Well, there’s one thing he couldn’t do: consistently give an effort. Moss loafed on too many plays. Took too many plays off. If he wasn’t getting the ball, he’d check out mentally, emotionally, and would cruise through the motions. Moss wasn’t keen on going across the middle and exposing himself to hits. But if you’re looking for an electric presence on deep routes, someone that was a threat to rip the top off of a defense by streaking downfield to haul in long passes — no one did that any better than Moss.

Moss had the most talent, but he wasn’t the best receiver, because he didn’t want to take full advantage of that talent. He wasted plays, wasted opportunities, and didn’t do the maximum to help his team win.

And Moss is still looking for his first Super Bowl championship. Moss could have won a Super Bowl ring with the 2007 Patriots but only has himself to blame. He could have made a tough but doable catch by laying out on a late Tom Brady deep pass, but Moss didn’t exert the effort and the pass went off his fingers for an incompletion. If Moss competed at 100 percent on the play, New England probably comes back to beat the NY Giants.

The point was emphasized by Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin. Speaking on Dan Patrick’s national radio show, Irvin jumped into the debate and ridiculed Moss.

“Randy knows,” Irvin said. “There's no possible way we can make you top dog. You have not a ring upon your finger. The receptions you have caught — and you have caught many — have went for nada. Jerry Rice's receptions have gone for the end game, which is Super Bowls. (Rice) has more (numbers) in every category than anybody that ever lived, plus he has the Super Bowl rings.”

• Rice is No. 1. Rice was exceptionally skilled, but he was also tough, and relentless, and never betrayed his God-given ability or his obligation to his team.

• It’s official, so to speak: St. Louisan Joe Larrew has been named to the crew that will work Sunday’s Super Bowl. This is the first Super Bowl for Larrew, who is completing his 11th season as a side judge. Joe is one of the best and deserves this honor.

• The officiating announcement has, however, generated controversy. The NFL is being questioned on the selection of head official Jerome Boger, a nine-year veteran. He’ll be the the referee Sunday.

The appointment was met with some ugly accusations by former NFL official Jim Daopoulos. In an interview with the New York Times,  Daopoulous alleged that the league altered officiating grades to elevate Boger into the Super Bowl. Postseason assignments are based on merit, and Daopoulous doesn’t believe Boger earned the gig in Super Bowl 47.

“I'm looking at the seven guys who are working in the Super Bowl, and to be quite honest, several of them should not be on the field,” Daopoulos told the NY Times.

Boger has worked four postseason games in his career. He was a line judge until being promoted to referee in 2006. He’ll become the second African American referee to lead a Super Bowl crew; Mike Carey was the first.

Some pushback is coming from Ray Anderson, the NFL executive vice president of football operations. According to media reports Anderson called the grade-doctoring allegations “patently false and insulting to Jerome Boger.”

• My personal opinion on Boger: I don’t think he’s the best ref in the league, but no one has to apologize for having him work the Super Bowl. Boger is fine. I believe he’s improved over the last few seasons as he’s gained experience. I know he works hard, and is an honest and fair-minded man. I watch Boger a lot because Larrew is on his regular-season crew, and I always try to watch Larrew’s games. Boger has gotten better.

• I also know there have been much worse refs to work the Super Bowl, and after watching clown shows turned in by previous Super Bowl officiating crews, I think it’s preposterous to isolate Boger and hurl garbage at him. I don’t believe, for a moment, that the NFL always puts the best ref in the Super Bowl, and so the attacks on Boger are bogus.

I don’t recall any sniping in past years when the NFL assigned so-so refs to do the Super Bowl. Gee, race wouldn’t have anything to do with this, would it?

• The Grumpy Award goes to Baltimore offensive tackle Michael Oher. He became famous through the book “The Blind Side” and the popular movie that followed.

Asked about what it was like to have his life story turned into a successful film, Oher said, “I’m tired of the movie. I’m here to play football.”

But the Blind Side questions kept coming.

“I'm not in the movies, man. I play football,” an exasperated Oher said. "I work hard on the field. That's why I don't like talking about the movie because it kind of takes away from my hard work on the field. I kind of feel a little bit under-appreciated, but as long as my team and the guys in the locker room know what I bring to the table, it's all good.'”

Oher wasn’t happy over his portrayal in the film.

“Football is what got me here and the movie — it wasn’t me,” he said. “I always knew how to play football growing up. Playing football is what got me to this point.”

Oher did say that the Tuohy family (of Memphis) that adopted him as a teenager will be at Sunday’s game. “They’re still my family,” he said.

As for his life story and the lesson that it offers for kids, Oher’s personality warmed as he said, “Get your grades, put academics first. Work hard enough and everything else will take care of itself. Hard work does pay off. If you’re not working hard, you’re not going to get too far. That’s in everything that you do.”

Thanks for reading …

— Bernie

Bernie Miklasz is a columnist at the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on twitter @miklasz.

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Bernie Miklasz

You've read Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch since 1989. Now check out a new video "Breakfast with Bernie" every weekday morning. You'll also see more "Bernie Bytes" around the clock as he posts quick-hit commentaries on a variety of topics.

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