Peyton Manning's the Coldplay of the Super Bowl. He's sure no Wade Phillips.
Crediting Peyton Manning for the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl win is like praising your movie theater ticket taker for the success of the new Star Wars. Or giving Coldplay backslaps for making the halftime show special.
Yet, there is Peyton drawing mad love after the Super Bowl, confirming once and for all that the majority of people who watch this game know absolutely nothing about football. Manning gets the fawning postgame interview, the Jim Nantz “storybook” treatment and the over-the-top Trent Dilfer countdown of his career highlights on ESPN. Which should have been titled: When Petyon Manning used to be good.
All this fuss and Peyton Manning is as unnecessary to the proceedings as Chris Martin. Beyonce clearly didn’t need that colorfully dressed fool and the Broncos clearly didn’t need Manning to win.
Meanwhile, the Real MVP of Super Bowl 50, Wade Phillips, celebrates outside of the TV shots. No cameramen are rushing to document the 68-year-old defensive coordinator’s postgame reaction. No matter. This homespun, University of Houston product, the proud son of a football coach who inspired an opera, still won the night. Houston now gets the next Super Bowl — set for Feb. 5, 2017 — but Houstonians dominated the big game a year early.
Phillips absolutely carried not only Peyton Manning, but also former Texans coach Gary Kubiak to a championship. Kubiak, who probably deserved to be fired by the Texans years before he was, never did anything as a head coach until Wade Phillips became his defensive coordinator.
He never made the playoffs in Houston without Wade. He certainly never wins the Super Bowl if this round, white-haired wizard isn’t showing the way. It turns out that Gary Kubiak is just as much of a caretaker as Peyton Manning.
At least, everyone recognizes that Beyonce’s the real star of the Super Bowl 50 halftime. Phillips will never get his true full due.
Sure, Von Miller — a mega talent turned into a game-wreaking beast by Phillips — won the Super Bowl MVP Award easily. Sure, Phillips got a nice — albeit ultra quick — interview on ESPN while America dozed off after binging on all those $5 million commercials just dying to go viral. But Phillips’ huge imprint on Super Bowl 50 is already being reduced to footnote status.
It’s a shame, because Phillips is the best story of the big game. Fired eight times during his 40-year coaching career, Phillips almost never got back into football after the Texans let him go. Kubiak didn’t even truly want him, which says everything about Kubiak’s own football IQ. Vance Joseph was Kubiak’s first choice as his defensive leader. When Kubiak couldn’t get him, he settled on Phillips and got lifted to a championship.
Phillips is the unquestioned architect of the superb defensive game plan that left the quarterback of the future, Cam Newton, beaten, battered and baffled. He fought clear ageism to get the chance to do it, with the NFL seemingly more than ready to send him out to pasture. The fact that 21 other men were hired to be defensive coordinators by NFL teams between the time Phillips was let go and given another chance in the league is almost criminally stupid.
“I said during the week I had gone from unemployed to the Super Bowl,” Phillips says in the postgame presser. “But from unemployed to winning the Super Bowl is even better.”
Phillips is one of the best defensive coaches of all time, and he proved it against the once-seemingly unstoppable Carolina Panthers. He finally has that Super Bowl win, and the last laugh.
On the Dallas Cowboys and their fans who branded him “Coach Cupcake” and took years to reach the playoffs again after he left. On Texans owner Bob McNair, who never seriously considered Phillips for the head coaching job after he jettisoned Kubiak. On all those who think young hotspots have all the answers.
“Coach Phillips did an amazing job,” Miller said in his own postgame news conference, broadcast on the NFL Network. “He always likes to say that mistakes are on him, but the Super Bowl is on him, too.
“I really appreciate everything he’s done for the whole team. Not just the defense.”
This is your real Super Bowl MVP. Manning will steal all the credit (intentionally or not), Kubiak will suddenly have a new wave of believers. But they’re truly as nonessential as Coldplay to this supersized night.
Phillips isn’t just the real Bad Grandpa, as cool as Robert De Niro wanted to be in his forced attempt at being “dirty.” He’s the real Super Bowl 50 difference maker. Sometimes the truth’s lost in all that confetti.