Super Bowl Winner? Go for Backup Plan Again

Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post: “The team to beat in the NFL playoffs? It has to be the Steelers or the Jets, each of whom is being led by a quarterback who began the season as backup.

“That seems to be the key to winning the Super Bowl in the crazy, mixed-up world that is today’s NFL.

“Since John Elway’s MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXIII, the list of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks includes Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer and Tom Brady, each of whom went into training camp as a backup.”

More Armstrong: “Yao Ming, on Earl Boykins, the Warriors’ 5-foot-5 guard: ‘When I looked down I couldn’t see him. He almost stole the ball from me. At the time, I thought he was someone from the audience.’ ”


Trivia time: Who holds the NBA record for points by a rookie in a game?

Bias: Tom FitzGerald in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Any day now the newly contrite NFL will apologize for the bogus interference calls on the 49ers’ Eric Wright in the NFC title game following the 1983 season.

“The call -- on a pass that Bill Walsh said ‘could not have been caught by a 10-foot Boston Celtic’ -- set up the game-winning field goal by the Redskins.

“As for apologizing for any call that has hurt the Raiders, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will say, ‘Not so fast.’ ”


Tantrum worked: Dave Hyde in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Heat Coach Pat Riley’s dividend for complaining about the officiating can be measured in whistles instead of wins. In the 16 games since his Dec. 13 tirade, the Heat has shot 22.3 free throws a game compared to 26.9 for opponents.

“That’s a 4.6 differential, but markedly better than the 9.9 more free throws opponents shot a game than the Heat when Riley grabbed the microphone.”

More Hyde: “Eddie Murray’s election into the baseball Hall of Fame shot down the notion that if you kiss the media’s notepad you’ll get preferential treatment.”

Prediction: Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune: “If the Wizards get any sniff of a playoff win this year, Michael Jordan will convince himself that his team can win it all next season and he’ll come back, making good on his retirement announcements like always.”

Looking back: On this day in 1981, Jim Plunkett completed 14 of 18 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Oakland Raiders to a 34-27 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The Raiders became the first AFC wild-card team to advance to the Super Bowl.

FYI: The Lakers hold the NBA record for the highest winning percentage in road games in a season, .816, by going 31-7 on the road in 1971-72.

The Chicago Bulls are runner-up, with an .805 percentage, after going 33-8 in 1995-96.

Trivia answer: Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 58 points against the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 25, 1960.


And finally: Houston Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, after the Rockets won a regular-season game at Orlando for the first time in 11 years Wednesday: “The last time we won here, Snoop Dogg was still a puppy.”

Mal Florence