The reason we all can’t wait to see the mic’d up versions of Super Bowls is because we humans interpret things with our auditory skills.
Sunday, all we heard was the crowd, Jim Nantz, and Tony Romo. Now that NFL Films mic'd up version of the game is out, we hear the words of the players and coaches before, during and in-between moments of battle. It adds context and gives a glimpse into what people are thinking. It’s never not fascinating.
One pregame comment that stood out to me though was made by Rams assistant linebackers coach Chris Shula. Standing next to head coach Sean McVay, Shula took the measure of Brady from a distance then muttered to McVay, “Brady’s a f****** pretty boy.”
Shula smirked at McVay, apparently waiting for confirmation. McVay didn’t even look at Shula, instead saying to his assistant, “He looks like what you’re supposed to, right?” (the comment comes at the 1:50 mark).
Shula – SURPRISE! – is the grandson of Don Shula, the former Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins head coach. The grandfather, always revered by Bill Belichick, did a nifty heel-turn in 2007 when the Patriots were chasing the 1972 Dolphins perfect season. He kept it up for a decade and I wrote in 2016 how hard it will be for New Englanders – even the ones who watched him coach for years – to not first remember his pettiness.
Now the younger Shula – who played at Miami (Ohio) with McVay and is the son of former Bengals head coach David Shula – has unveiled a little of his own pettiness.
What do we learn from this, aside from Shula not really appreciating his audience when looking to McVay for confirmation that Brady is a “pretty boy”?
Maybe a little about mindset. Maybe a little about the Rams’ belief they were tougher than the Patriots or about to send some kind of message about physicality.
In the end, Shula’s charges – the Rams linebackers – were the weak link to the Rams defense. Mark Barron, a linebacker converted from safety, got himself ridden out of holes all night especially on the game’s only touchdown (1:35 mark of this clip).
Brady’s been called pretty before. Last year, it was Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson before the Super Bowl. Prior to that, it was Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs who used to refer to Brady as the “pretty boy from up north.”
By the end of the night, Brady had proven – despite being saddled with striking good looks – that he’s also pretty good at taking care of business in Super Bowls.
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