The wall-to-wall political news has been occasionally interrupted by Super Bowl coverage. Switching radio stations the last two days, I was struck by the different standards that govern our politicians and football stars.
I know the Patriots and Giants are playing, Brady and Manning are the quarterbacks and that the game is Sunday. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of Super Bowl details until I heard some of the controversy and started to research it.
It's clearly a game of strategy and tactics, with coaches acting like consultants, just like politics. Surprisingly, though, the football players seem to be more careful about what they say than those running for president.
The politicians apparently get to say anything they want, make whatever claims and predictions they want and even change the definition of "never." ("I'll never drop out.") The athletes, however, have to act like statesmen and be careful about what they say, or they become the subject of serious verbal and written attacks.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick knows this rule. He says, "We just try to go out there and do the best we can, take each game a day at a time and try to find a way to win."
Politicians, are you listening?
Listen to Eli Manning: "Our purpose is playing the game on Sunday. That's what we have to get focused for, that's what we have to get ready for."
Tom Brady said, "We're here to win a football game."
New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin has a T-shirt that says, "Talk is cheap. Play the game."
Looks like the NFL may have a political candidate in the making, however. One player, Plaxico Burress, seems to have crossed the line, sounding more like a politician than football player. He has not only predicted a victory for his Giants, but even said the score would be 23-17.
Whoa. He broke a rule (although I don't think it has a name or a number). It was reported widely, "war broke out," and that even his coach was not pleased with him.
"It's O.K. to want to win, think big and dream," Burress said. "We're going to take this thing back to New York City."
Burress may have written himself a ticket to infamy on sports talk radio and blogs if his team loses, as, unlike the words of those running for office, people will remember.
"We do things differently," Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said when asked about Burress. "I'm from the school of do more and say less."
"I don't understand what the problem is," Burress said. "The goal is to come here and win, not just to step out here on Sunday and say, 'Yeah, I'm playing in the Super Bowl.' "
Only Brady seemed to excuse the big claims. "We're only going to score 17 points? OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for more points."
Brady added, "We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody."
Note to those running for office. These coaches and players have accomplished great things in their world this year. Maybe "say less and do more" is the ticket.