Maaaaan! How about that dude?! You can’t keep a good man down. The Pittsburgh Steelers did a good job of limiting Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. for much of the first half of the game. But Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kurt Warner found a way to get the ball to him late in the game when it really mattered.
Being a track guy myself, I have to admit that I slept on how fast the young fella is. After seeing him leave the talented Pittsburgh Steelers secondary in a cloud of dust on his 64-yard 4th quarter touchdown, I started thinking I might need to take Fitzgerald, Jr. out for a good ole’ L.A. street race (after getting his hamstrings insured).
Though Fitzgerald’s team (Arizona Cardinals) lost the nail-biting game, it could not have been possible for him to represent any better than he did. Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. finished with 127 yards on seven catches. His cumulative totals for the four-game NFL playoff set records in three areas: catches (30), yards (546), and touchdowns (7). The fact that Fitzgerald’s name is now inextricably linked to Jerry Rice (Rice held all of those records), now makes him the gold standard for active players to pursue. With his amazing series of performances, along with his polished sense of professionalism, Fitzgerald, Jr. should now move to the hailed echelon of superstars that he deserves to be included in.
Though Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t hail from Minnesota, the Vikings are the platform from which he has leapt into NFL history. Tomlin, 36, is the youngest coach to win the Superbowl, and the second African American coach to do so. In 2006, Tomlin served as the defensive coordinator for the Vikings. After helping to produce the eighth-best defense in the league that year, Tomlin was selected as only the third head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise since 1969 (Chuck Knoll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin). Each of those coaches won a Super Bowl, and in the case of Knoll, he leads NFL history with four Super Bowl victories (’75, ’76, ’79 and ’80). Tomlin's stoic demeanor, intelligent leadership, and aggressive work ethic are the tools that have carried him through the NFL coaching ranks, and on to the pinnacle of the NFL coaching tree. Tomlin has remained true to that character even in ultimate victory. Following the major accomplishment, Tomlin seemed to be casting his gaze towards the future, and how he and his team can improve. Considering that Tomlin has Chuck Knoll’s record of fouir Super Bowl’s staring him in the face every day, we may need to get used to seeing Tomlin in this winning position for years to come. I will also mention that Tomlin is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated (“Yo Baby”).
The unsung hero of the Super Bowl was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. How all of the pundits seem to have mildly muted response to his amazing performance is far beyond me. Roethlisberger finished with 256 yards, and one touchdown. But it was his scrappy escapism that left Cardinal defenders grasping air, and his slippery receivers grasping fruitful passes. Roethlisberger is 26-years-old, in his fifth year in the NFL, and has now claimed his second Super Bowl victory. I think coach Tomlin is set up pretty well for the future.
And what better story than that of Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes? Since football was invented, millions of little boys have dreamed of the type of game winning touchdown that Holmes scored with 35 seconds left in the game. With three defenders draped around him, Holmes stretched his entire body to the point where he caught the ball out of bounds, while keeping his toes glued to a few blades of green grass in the corner of the endzone. It really doesn’t get any better than that until I’m proven wrong.
We watch sports because we like to see extraordinary athletic performances by extraordinary athletes, and that is what we saw in this Super Bowl. In addition to the athletic aspect, there is the respect that must be given to the many areas of intelligence and human spirit that the coaches, athletes, and team executives exemplify. Though hometown hero Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. came up on the short end of the stick, everyone must be pretty proud that his indelible mark was left on what some may consider the best Super Bowl ever.
One thing is for sure: Fitzgerald, Jr. has a strong support system and adoring fan club here in his hometown. It was great to enjoy the game with many of them.