Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
13 Dec 2007
compiled by Ben Riley
"He came out and said some things to the team. It was like he was telling his side of it and I didn't want to get into it ... That was my biggest concern when he did that: I felt it was trying to undermine me with my teammates."
-- 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, speaking with a reporter from the San Jose Mercury News and criticizing [soon to be ex]-49ers head coach Mike Nolan over Nolan's decision to speak publicly about Smith's shoulder injury earlier this season
"I think if [my teammates] would have heard what I actually said out there that day, it wouldn't have been an issue. But all of a sudden Nolan spins it as if I was making excuses for an injury. What I really felt like was, 'Yeah, I tried to play on it. And that was my decision and obviously I wasn't playing well enough.'"
-- Smith, offering his (delayed) reaction to Nolan's criticism of his toughness
"But at that point my arm wasn't getting any better. In fact, it was getting worse and I was going to go get a second opinion. (Nolan) can spin it however he wants to, but the first thing Dr. Andrews told me when he saw me was 'This is much worse than I thought.'"
"You didn't ask me that question. And I'm not going to answer it. I can't answer it."
-- 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, when asked about Smith's leadership in the locker room
"Another player recently refused to discuss the extent of his injury with a reporter because, he said, "I don't want it to be like Alex's interview where I'm blaming my production on it." Another acknowledged that certain members of the team have derisively referred to Smith as "The Lion," as in the one without courage in "The Wizard of Oz."
-- Criticism of Smith by unidentified 49ers players (as reported in the Mercury News article)
"Well, no, I haven't noticed it -- especially the guys around me -- but like I said, Nolan is spinning it toward his direction."
-- Smith, when asked for his reaction to his teammates' comments (San Jose Mercury News)
"Everything we discuss is held internally. It's never to undermine anybody ... The player himself makes the final decision when he's able to do his job effectively or not. A player with a bad shoulder, it's difficult to play quarterback. Everyone who feels they have to play shouldn't feel that way. I don't believe anyone has. There are certain things you have to clarify."
-- Nolan, reacting to Smith's broadside on a local morning radio show after the Mercury News article was published
"As I was driving away from the facility after addressing the media, a reporter approached my car and informed me that he was going to write an article where my teammates commented on me in a negative way."
-- Smith's official statement regarding his attack on Nolan
"I initially reacted out of frustration based on the questions that were being asked, but the article does not reflect how I truly feel. I can see how an article like this can be very damaging, but I know my relationships with coach Nolan and my teammates are stronger than that."
"Alex and I met today and discussed today's report. I understand how he can be caught off-guard."
-- Nolan's official statement, later that same day
"It is a difficult time for Alex."
"He has not had to deal with an injury that will require surgery before. The relationship Alex and I have developed over the past three years is stronger than a negative news story."
"We're a team. We're a family."
-- 49ers running back Michael Robinson (San Francisco Chronicle)
"He shook my hand and said, 'You have a head coach.'"
-- Falcons owner Arthur Blank, describing what he was told by now ex-Falcons head coach Bobby "Brutus" Petrino after the Saints-Falcons Monday Night Football contest. Less than 24 hours later Petrino quit to become head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
"I think the best way to describe the way that we feel is betrayed and let down."
"I think the timing of Bobby's decision was wrong. It was wrong for the coaches. It was wrong for the families depending on him, that he brought here that had invested in him and invested in this team. It's also letting our players down -- the players I've heard him tell consistently to play all four quarters. All four quarters does not equal, in my opinion, 13 games."
"One of the reason I love the business is because of the people side -- the coaches, the staff who are everything that I believe in ... Obviously, you have times when you're disappointed. We've had a couple severe disappointments this year."
-- Blank, winning TWIQ's understatement of the year award
"It's amazing I could sleep well after that. I slept well because my wife called our PR folks and did the 'Sooey' thing or whatever it was. So I was laughing when I went to bed."
-- Blank, describing his feelings after watching Petrino's press conference wherein Petrino led the crowd in a chant of "Woo Pig Sooey!" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"Jerry Jones is a big Razorback [booster]. All Jerry Jones was doing was to help everybody, if he was involved. All he did was open the doors."
-- Arkansas' outgoing athletics director Frank Broyles, describing the (somewhat surprising) role Cowboys owner Jerry Jones played in Petrino's
"It wasn't by courier pigeon, but not by much."
-- Blank, describing Petrino's hurried exit from the Falcons organization (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"It was difficult to leave Atlanta, the staff, players, fans. The timing of it probably is the thing that made it most difficult. Coming to Arkansas was the easy part."
-- Bobby Petrino
"I haven't given it one bit of thought. I certainly don't want to get into any speculation and rumors and having to deal with that. I'm focused on our football team here."
-- Petrino on November 26, 2007, denying any interest in the Arkansas job
"He just said to us, 'Guys I've resigned, I'm going to Arkansas. I'm sorry. I'll be talking with you guys in the future.' And with that he turned and walked out the door."
-- Anonymous Falcons assistant coach, describing Petrino's hasty exit (Fox Sports)
"For him to quit like that, it just shows his true color, like a coward with a yellow stripe down his back. That's how I look at it.''
-- Jaguars defensive end Grady Jackson, who was cut by Petrino in October.
"This league is not for everybody. This league is for real men. I think he realized he didn't belong here."
-- Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy.
"That's what I think brought up the anger, to have him talk about family, about team and about commitment, and then to come in here and have a form letter at your locker. That's not how a man acts. That's how a coward acts."
-- Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington -- yes, that Joey Harrington -- on Petrino's carefree demeanor at Tuesday's news conference in Arkansas.
"I think it's already in the trash."
-- Falcons center Todd McClure, on Petrino's farewell letter.(ESPN.com)
"I hope they do. I haven't been getting a lot of action, so hopefully I get a chance to make some big plays, and if the receivers come after me, I welcome it."
-- Steelers safety Anthony Smith, defending his decision to "guarantee" a Steelers win against the Patriots last Sunday. The Steelers lost to the Patriots 34-13, and Tom Brady torched Smith seemingly at will. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
"Just write your own checks. Don't write checks for the whole team."
-- Smith, describing the sound advice given to him by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin prior to the game.
"I don't care to repeat it, especially if my mother reads it. She wouldn't be very happy with what I said."
-- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, refusing to divulge what he said to Smith after throwing his first touchdown to Randy Moss (Boston Herald)
"It definitely did [motivate the Patriots]. I had a couple of their guys as I was coming on the field during the TV timeout who said, 'Why are your guys opening their mouths? We're so fired up out there.' We got some young guys. Lesson learned for the young guy.''
-- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (Sports Illustrated)
"The guarantee comment, I don't have a problem with it. We didn't lose a game because he made a guarantee comment. We lost the game because they executed better than we did."
-- Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward
"When you play the best team in the NFL, you definitely don't need to give them bulletin-board stuff to feed off of."
-- Ward (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
"All filming at last year's Patriots game was done with pre-approval from the Patriots and in accordance with NFL rules."
-- Bruce Speight, Jets' senior director of media relations, reacting to media reports that the Jets were caught using a "videotaping device" during a Jets-Patriots game last year.
"Absolutely no truth to that whatsoever. Completely false."
-- Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum, denying that any illegal videotaping occurred (New York Newsday)
"We taped the game is what we taped, and we taped end-zone copy of the game, and we tape a double-end zone, which is standard operating procedure for us. We request that every single road game, and it's usually granted if physically it's possible. And when people request it from us, we do the same thing: We grant it."
-- Jets head coach Eric Mangini, explaining that what was taped was what was taped
"We do it every time we go on the road. We ask for permission to do it. It's within the league rules, and when people ask us to do it, we grant it, as well."
"I don't know. Really, it just was what it was. We had asked for permission, it was granted and then that changed, and we respect their decision. It's their stadium."
-- Mangini, when asked why the Patriots later stopped the Jets from taping if they had previously given them permission
-- Mangini, when asked if the Jets were taping the Patriots' defensive signals
"There's a lot of things that have happened in the past. Really, the past is in the past."
-- Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick, reacting to the irony of it all (ESPN.com)
"Plenty of people told me it was a coach down there telling them to go get at me."
-- Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, accusing Titans head coach Jeff Fisher of ordering a "hit" on Merriman after he knocked Vince Young out of last Sunday's Chargers-Titans game (San Diego Union-Tribune)
"I didn't order a hit."
-- Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, denying he ordered the Code Red (Tennessean.com)
"People aren't used to this in Kansas City. Get over it, it happens, it's called life.''
-- Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, responding to critics after the Chiefs were destroyed the Broncos 41-7
"What we're worrying about now is trying to figure out who to blame. But there is no blame, teams go through this.''
"That's football. That's the National Football League. It just hasn't happened here, it hasn't knocked on this door. It did when coach (Dick) Vermeil was 6-10 his first year here, but it hasn't since then. It kind of scurried away and went other places.''
"Blame me, OK? If you want to blame somebody, blame the head coach. Now you don't have to blame any more players or people in the organization, you can blame the head coach. I'm OK with that. I'm a big boy, I've been in the league a long time, and I know how it works.''
"We'll get this thing fixed, no doubt in my mind. It's already on the way to getting fixed; you just don't see it right now."
-- Herm (Topeka Capitol Journal)
"Here we are in the third grade ... So I went and grabbed them both and told them, 'Be quiet and stay behind the line.' So you can e-mail those folks back and say I've handled it, you know. No recess for the next 10 days."
-- Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, describing his efforts to intervene in a sideline squabble involving the Seahawks two strength and conditioning coaches during the Cardinals-Seahawks game (Seattle Times)
"I'd like to be back here if I'm wanted back here. We'll see what goes on ... You just look at the potential of what I can become and hopefully that's a consistent good quarterback that can make a big play here and there and still play good football without being too risky."
-- Current Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman (ESPN.com)
"I'm going to be back."
-- Optimistic Ravens head coach Brian Billick, predicting that he will not be fired in the off-season (Baltimore Sun)
"I've always been a guy that plants both feet where he is. I don't know how to do it any other way. You put your feet right where you are. You zero in on doing everything you can to help the Miami Dolphins. I think I addressed that once before, so to me it's a nonissue."
-- Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, denying rumors that he plans to flee the shipwreck in Miami to coach at the University of Michigan (Palm Beach Post)
"Bush hit with book."
-- Title of Yahoo! Sports article about a new book concerning Reggie Bush's (possible) relationship with a sports marketing firm that may jeopardize his Heisman trophy
"I don't like all the cussing and all that stuff, but I do like to just be around the guys and stuff. You can just be open and free. It's kind of a hangout place, just a cool environment. It's kind of the same as how the women go to the beauty shop and spa and do all their little gossiping and stuff. Well, dudes just like to sit down and talk about sports, business and all that type of stuff."
-- Jaguars cornerback Scott Starks, describing why he might one day want to own a barbershop and stuff (Florida Times-Union)
"Free Mike Vick."
-- Statement on t-shirt that Falcons wide receiver Roddy White exposed after scoring a touchdown on Monday Night Football. Incidentally, it was revealed this week that Vick admitted that he personally killed two dogs, by hanging them, at the world's most infamous dogfight kennel.
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152 comments, Last at 20 Dec 2007, 1:48am by Sid