The Sports pages

Romeo and Belichick

With Boston fans celebrating a rare championship, the pundits can’t resist invoking names like Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, or the Bambino—all demons in the Red Sox’s 83-year World Series drought. But does the Patriots’ win, no matter how thrilling, really make up for 83 years of futility?

Romeo and Belichick: How did the Pats upend the highly favored Rams? The Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock blames Rams coach Mike Martz: “Someone remind Mike Martz that Marshall Faulk is the best player in the NFL. Someone tell Martz that when [Kurt] Warner is nursing numerous injuries, including a sore thumb on his throwing hand, that he’s not nearly as effective. … Martz believed the hype. He bought into the garbage about the Rams being too fast for the Patriots. He thought Warner and his receivers would throw 30 points on New England with relative ease.” From the other sideline, the New York Times’ Mike Freeman praises Pats coach Bill Belichick. “Playing against Belichick, the New England coach, is like coming across the neighborhood tough guy in a dark alley. But the brawler doesn’t have only bulging muscles, he also has the I.Q. of a nuclear physicist.” The Boston Globe’s Will McDonough singles out Romeo Crennel, New England’s obscure defensive coordinator, who kept the Rams and Warner off balance all night.

Kurt Warner channels Jim Everett: Warner tossed two interceptions and couldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. “Sorry, but the great offenses come through in the biggest games,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz writes. “The San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and early 1990s and the Dallas Cowboys of the ‘90s went a combined 8-0 in the Super Bowl and the offense always delivered at trophy time. In their last five quarters of Super Bowl play, these Rams have scored 24 points. Too many duds. Not enough points.” By gagging, Warner missed a chance to join an elite club, the Dallas Morning NewsTim Cowlishaw suggests. Of the eight quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls, seven are enshrined in Canton or headed there on the first ballot. Warner’s constant misfires remindedLos Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers of the “Jim Everett-Dieter Brock-T.J. Rubley football that used to be played in Anaheim.”

The New York Post’s Steve Serby wrote the most unabashedly jingoistic lead: “Inside a red, white and blue fortress called the Superdome, they let freedom ring last night, and they let freedom sing, and then they played a football game that stands today as tall as the Twin Towers once did as a defiant statue of liberty. On the night they wrapped a star-spangled banner around the neck of terror and squeezed tight, they played a football game that will be remembered as Patriots’ Day.”

Rose with any other team: As the NBA’s Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches, the biggest talent on the block is shooting guard/provocateur Jalen Rose, the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith reports. The Trail Blazers have offered Scottie Pippen; the SuperSonics have dangled Vin Baker. But the Bulls might trump both by dealing Ron Artest and Brad Miller.

Smith raps Wizards coach Doug Collins for failing to develop Kwame Brown, the first overall pick in last year’s draft. Just one week earlier, the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon wrote a similar column. But “Sports Nut” had the story in October: “What should worry the Wizards is that Collins has yet to develop a big man from scratch. … This is a non-issue if you’re building the team around a 24-year-old Michael Jordan, a potentially major one if, like the Wizards, you’re building it around Kwame Brown, an 19-year-old power forward who never played a minute of college basketball.”

Elegy for Iron Mike: Last week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission denied Mike Tyson a license to box, effectively canceling his title bout with Lennox Lewis. The Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski argues that Tyson’s career hardly merits a title shot. He made his name by outpointing washed-up former champs and nobodies. “Mike Tyson has never been anything but a fraud in the ring. A no-heart slugger. Everybody talks these days about whether Mike Tyson, the man, deserves another shot at the title. Somebody, somewhere, might want to mention that Mike Tyson, the boxer, definitely does not.”