An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, January 7, 1998

Favre is great, but Barry was the real MVP

THIS and that to chew on over lunch:

Sometimes two is better than one, and in the grand scheme of things, it's not the end of the world that two polls picked different national champs in college football.

But when you're charged with picking the most valuable player in the NFL, the least football writers could do is pick one guy.

Barry Sanders has the second-biggest season ever by a running back and he has to share the award with Brett Favre?

Now this is not a knock on Favre, who is, as quarterbacks go, a quality football player. He might even be willing, in a pinch, to play a position where he'd have to block or tackle. And let's face it, the most important thing in football is ending up in the end zone with the ball in your hands. The two most important things after that are blocking and tackling. Most quarterbacks do none of the three. But enough about them.

Poor Barry. All he does is rush for 100 yards or more week after week. And when he ends up in the end zone with the ball in his hands, he merely gives it to the closest referee.

He knows he's going to be there again. No need to take his helmet off or show the world a new set of earrings.

I like that in a player.

The trouble is, Sanders plays for the Lions, a team that has never figured out which end is up.

This year, Barry Sanders put on a dazzling display the likes of which probably won't be seen for a good, long while.

Favre might get another Super Bowl ring in three weeks or so, but Sanders is the real MVP.

Now, on to the NFC and AFC championships.

It's interesting that the AFC title game between the Broncos and Steelers promises to be a defensive battle and the NFC finale between the Packers and the 49ers matches two teams that can score points in a huge hurry.

That's kind of a switch from years past. Of course, with coaches like Bill Cowher and Bill Parcells winning AFC titles, I guess the juco league has finally figured it out. Defense generally wins championships.

That said, I like Pittsburgh to beat Denver, 17-13.

In the NFC, I'd really like to see Jesse Sapolu get one more ring and maybe end what has been a brilliant career in style.

But I can't get over a couple of glaring aspects of this game. Green Bay running back Dorsey Levens is a big-time, big-game player, so the Packers should have an edge running the ball. And that makes Favre even more dangerous.

Green Bay also has a superior defense. Those lads will knock the cheese out of a guy. The Niners, on the other hand, gave up 44 points in one game to the Chiefs.

End of story.

Packers 27, Niners 17.

It took Michael Jordan about 20 games to figure out how to make the Bulls a championship team without Scottie Pippen.

They're on a serious roll, and, as the NBA season winds toward the midpoint, Da Bulls are clearly the team to beat.

The Lakers are talented, but have no heart. It's tough to say that Shaq isn't worth the 120 million bucks, because he sells tickets for Jerry Buss and will take the team deep into the playoffs, the money from which goes directly into Buss' pocket.

But Shaq hasn't learned that championship rings aren't mere jewelry. Winning titles is about doing whatever it takes to get the job done on the floor. Not in the recording studio or at Taco Bell or hitting a heavy bag.

The Sonics are the best team in the West and seem to have the right mix now that Gary Payton is the man. And Vin Baker is an unselfish star on the rise.

Here's a shock: Larry Bird can coach. Seriously now, was there ever any doubt?

Those who cover the NBA who believed otherwise should be forced to give up their seats on press row forever.

Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.

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