SUPER BOWL PREVIEW

Mahomes vs. Brady: It all comes down to this

Take KC minus the three. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tom Brady has indisputably had the greatest career of any quarterback in NFL history. He goes for Super Bowl win number seven Sunday. If Kansas City wins to repeat as champs, Patrick Mahomes will have indisputably the greatest first three seasons as a starter in NFL history. Really, Mahomes has that sewn up already. So who are you taking as Brady's Buccaneers become the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium?

The health questions favor the Bucs. Their pass rush didn't need much blitzing to give Aaron Rodgers a tough time in the NFC Championship Game. The Chiefs are playing two backup offensive tackles. The Bucs get back wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. who both missed the Green Bay game. The Chiefs could get back wideout Sammy Watkins and running back Le'Veon Bell but neither is as significant as Brown or Winfield.

Brady was atrocious in the second half against the Packers. It's hard to envision Mahomes having an atrocious half. Brady is remarkable and then some for 43 years old but not at the peak of his abilities. Brady's Patriots of the 2003 and 2004 seasons are the last back-to-back NFL champs. Until Sunday. A prediction made with little conviction: Chiefs 27 Bucs 24. If forced to bet using the point spread, KC minus the three. It'll be something if the Bucs win three road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl, then lose on their home turf in the Super Bowl.

Consider this with regard to the Texans. If every NFL franchise was run smartly and made all solid moves, from Monday forward at least one franchise cannot possibly win a Super Bowl any earlier than SB LXXXVII. That's 87. 32 seasons from now. Think the Texans win a Super Bowl sooner than SB 87?

Still not buying the Rockets

It was a fun couple of weeks for the Rockets as they won six in a row, but that did nothing in terms of establishing them as a good team. Apart from their no-show face plant at Oklahoma City Wednesday the Rockets post-James Harden trade have been spunky and fun to watch. That's different from being good. The smartest kid in a class of dumb students isn't smart, he or she is the least dumb. After a good bounce back win in Memphis Thursday night, the Rockets sit with 11 wins 10 losses. Nothing wrong with that given where the Rockets are right now, but exactly zero of their 11 wins have come over a good team.

The Rockets' 11 wins: Kings twice, Magic, Spurs, Pistons, Mavericks, Wizards, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Thunder, Grizzlies. Marshmallow-y soft schedule. Portland when healthy may be quite good, but the Blazers played their loss to the Rockets minus their second and third best players. The Rockets' first half schedule includes zero games against the Jazz, Clippers, Bucks, and Celtics. Their second half schedule has 10 of them. Maybe the Rockets can grow into a good team, but that right now they're a good team? Nah.

But they're a lot better off presently than the 9-14 Dallas Mavericks. No D up I-45 where Golden State dropped 147 points on them Thursday. Owner Cuban can't even pitch a TV show about his team called, say, "Mark Tank." The Knicks own the Mavs unprotected first round pick from the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

Baseball is right around the corner

The Astros' equipment truck rolls into West Palm Beach Friday. Spring training on a "normal" calendar and a 162 game regular season schedule is the plan after the players and owners could not reach agreement on adjustments. That also means no designated hitter in the National League this year, and no expanded playoffs with the format returning to the three division winners and two wild cards in each league. The expanded postseason field of the short 2020 season was the sole reason the Astros were able to make a run almost back to the World Series. To get in this year reclaiming the American League West title from Oakland looks a better (and much more desired) path than a Wild Card. Good news, the A's look markedly worse. The AL West is clearly the weakest division in the AL, which also helps the Astros since 76 of their 162 scheduled games are intradivision.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Super Bowl LV is of course the biggest event of the weekend. Does The Weeknd think he's the biggest part of Super Bowl LV? Did The Weeknd fail spelling in elementary school?

2. A whole week without any new Deshaun Watson/Texans drama/silliness? How did we all survive?

3. Worst Super Bowl winning quarterbacks: Bronze-Doug Williams Silver-Trent Dilfer Gold-Nick Foles

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome