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The NFL Conference Championship Mailbag

Are the Packers overrated? Just how good are the Pats? Is the Rodgers family full of desperate attention-seekers? And what’s the Sports Drought Tax?

(AP Images/Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(AP Images/Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

If you missed my Thursday column about picking NBA All-Star Game starters, click here. If you want to send a question for the next mailbag, email us at As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

Q: Given the ‘Hail Mary’ the week before and ‘The Throw’ this week, you’ve probably got a stack of mailbag responses the size of puffy Brendan Fraser about Aaron Rodgers. But here is one more. Has he entered the ‘Curry Zone’? For example, you’re not near a TV and get a text from Sal that simply reads, “AARON FUCKING RODGERS!” Is there anything that doesn’t enter your mind? Did he throw another Hail Mary? Did he make a roll out throw, running full speed to avoid a defender and place it on a dime to his receiver 54-yards away? Did he trip over the guard at the snap and throw a touchdown while sitting on his ass? It’s all in play until Twitter can give you the answer to what just happened!
— Kelly, Louisville

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

BS: Great point and that’s actually a fun list — football stars who would have inspired an all-caps text with an F-bomb as their middle name, followed by the recipient juggling about 20 different possible scenarios. Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Gronk, Odell Beckham (it’s true), Lawrence Taylor (on and off the field), maybe that one crazy Devin Hester year … it’s not a long list. Rodgers and Michael Vick are the only two quarterbacks on it. (Unless you want to count every Cleveland QB since 1999, for different reasons.)

Since we’re here: Only Rodgers and John Elway could have completed that running-to-his-left, flinging it across his body throw to Jared Cook, but two plays earlier, how many QBs wouldn’t have fumbled one-handed if they got creamed on their blind side on a sack? Is that a shorter list? Have there ever been two greater plays on the same game-winning playoff drive? Things that keep me awake all night if I’m a Cowboys fan: Rodgers not fumbling on that sack; not giving Zeke 40 carries when Green Bay played nickel all game; Prescott’s indefensible spike; and everything about the Cook play. In that order.

Q: I just heard something that I can’t put my finger on……………Not quite sure……..Can’t put my finger on it………………………..OH YEAH, THAT MUST BE THE SOUND OF YOUR ASS PUCKERING UP AT THE THOUGHT OF SEEING AARON RODGERS IN THE SUPER BOWL! Everywhere you go for the next few weeks, every time you see replays of that throw to Cook on the sideline, every highlight clip, every American Family commercial, your bunghole is going to pucker up like a snare drum, Simmons!!!! Don’t get comfortable because it is going to be a long few weeks, OK?
— Ryan M, Darlington, Wisc.

BS: “Your bunghole is going to pucker up like a snare drum” = THE MAILBAG IS BACK!

Q: When Dallas nailed the field goal to tie the game at 31, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Oh boy, they left Aaron Rodgers too much time.” Who are your top-five all-time “left too much time” QBs?
— Benjamin, Hong Kong

BS: Wouldn’t that be every all-timer QB? A more interesting list: QBs who weren’t great but somehow always made you say, “Oh boy, they left him too much time,” anyway. Or as it’s better known, “The Matt Stafford List.” I think it’s Stafford, Jake “The Snake” Plummer (30 game-winning drives!!!!!), Drew Bledsoe, and Ken “Snake” Stabler. Two snakes! Is that a coincidence? Should we start calling Matt Stafford “The Snake?”

Q: Isn’t it time we finally got a QB matchup for the ages with Brady vs. Rodgers in the Super Bowl? With apologies to Brees vs. Manning, this would be the best Super Bowl QB matchup since Elway vs. Favre in Super Bowl 32. Rodgers and Brady are all-timers. If the Packers pull off the upset, I’m going to be pissed if the Patriots don’t win. We’ve already beaten Big Ben and Pittsburgh. I want Brady.
— Charlie B, Green Bay, Wisc.

BS: Boy, those Wisconsin fans are feeling frisky this week! The answer to Charlie’s question can’t be a name-only thing — for instance, Tom Brady–Kurt Warner looks fantastic on paper, but Brady was a Great QB Fetus back then. And Joe Montana–Elway looks stupendous on paper, but poor Elway was Westbrooking a mediocre Broncos team (their best skill guys: Bobby Humphrey, Vance Johnson, and Mark Jackson!) and snuck into the Super Bowl only because of Earnest Byner’s tragic last-minute fumble in Cleveland. They couldn’t make that Niners-Broncos spread high enough; it settled at 13 and Montana still covered it with 32 points to spare.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

My honorable mentions: Montana-Elway (1990); Roger Staubach–Terry Bradshaw (1976, 1979); Drew Brees–Peyton Manning (2010). Then it dips to honorable honorable mention: Tom Brady–Russell Wilson (2015); Bradshaw–Fran Tarkenton (1975); Ben Roethlisberger–Aaron Rodgers (2011); and Troy Aikman–Jim Kelly (1993, 1994). And then, it keeps going and going until you hit rock bottom: Trent Dilfer–Kerry Collins (2001), the game that made everyone mistakenly think for the next few seasons, “You don’t REALLY need a good quarterback to make the Super Bowl!” Whoops.

In my opinion, we’ve had only one truly great matchup between all-timers at the peak of their powers. Montana (in his prime, right before Jerry Rice showed up) versus Apex Dan Marino. A 15–1 Niners team that outscored opponents 475–227 (!!!!!!) against the most devastating passing offense we’d ever seen (5,018 yards, 49 touchdowns, 513 points total). Marino threw 20 more touchdowns than anyone else that season. So that’s a pretty high bar. But Mega-Apex Rodgers trying to steal Brady’s fifth Super Bowl has to be pretty damned close, right?

Q: Please make the mailbags a weekly Friday thing again. For 21 months I missed you and talked about the good old days. You are the longest breakup I have ever had where I have accepted someone back with open arms. Please don’t break my heart twice.
— Derek, New York

BS: Don’t worry, Derek — we’re back. Let’s work on us.

Q: Let’s play a game called “CAN YOU IMAGINE?” Can you imagine the media, league and fan outrage if Bill Belichick had been PROVED (key word is PROVED) to have called the Steelers “assholes,” or attempted to trip a player running down the field, or accused a franchise of screwing with their headsets and NOT apologized after the league took responsibility, or hadn’t reported a player’s injury for an entire regular season, or circumvented the salary cap to sign players, or hid cases of domestic abuse by one of his players, or had a player who admitted that he liked his footballs overinflated past league specifications, or piped noise into a stadium, or tampered with another team’s player while under contract then signed said player as soon as he was available, or violated offseason practice rules, or signed a player with a history of domestic abuse against a pregnant woman? No wonder Pats fans think there’s a double-standard in the NFL. Your thoughts?
— B. Williams, Grand Rapids, Mich.

BS: I mean, imagine if the Patriots failed to disclose an injury to their best cornerback for a good chunk of the season and had to potentially lose a second-round pick! (Sorry, B. Williams roped me into that one.)

Q: Read this sentence out loud: Marvin Lewis has been an NFL head coach for the same franchise for 14 years and has ZERO playoff wins. You forgot to mention the Bengals on your top-five tortured fan base list, right?
— Steven M., Cincinnati

BS: Also salty about not being mentioned: Chiefs fans, Cardinals fans, Jaguars fans, and especially Eagles fans, who made a collectively compelling “We haven’t won since 1960; the Steelers won six times; everyone else in the NFC East has won at least three times; Dick Vermeil won without us; our signature 21st-century moment is Donovan McNabb puking in the Super Bowl; and when they make movies about us, either we’re getting shot by a Giants fan or being portrayed as losers with a gambling problem … Oh, and I hope you choke to death” case. You guys were right. I should have nudged you ahead of the Jets for the no. 5 spot. Don’t hurt me.

Meanwhile, Lions fans deserve kudos for being the only top-five team who complained their ranking wasn’t high enough. Their collective case: “We won only one playoff game since 1957; our 0–16 team is the Bizarro ’72 Dolphins; our two greatest players since 1960 both retired early; we ruined at least 25 of your Thanksgivings; we employed the worst GM of the past 35 years; we’re staring at three solid decades of Favre and Rodgers in our division; and every season until 2026, we’ll have to endure a three-week talking head debate about whether or not Matt ‘The Snake’ Stafford is an elite QB.”

Q: Do we need to assign a new nickname to the new LA football team, similar to the Zombie Sonics moniker of old? I refuse to call this team the Chargers purely out of respect for San Diego fans.
— Alex, Cleveland

BS: What about the Dodge Chargers? Watch how seamlessly I work it into this next answer …

Q: People in San Diego HATE LA, and vice versa. There are ZERO Charger fans in LA, they are all either Rams or Raiders fans. San Diego fans hate their owner too, so why in the world would they continue to support a team where they hate the owner AND the relocation? It would be similar to the Patriots moving to New York. Would you honestly still be a fan?
— Sam Miller

BS: Who knew people from the Whale’s Vagina absolutely HATE Los Angeles? I have lived in Southern California since 2002 and knew San Diego only for its perfect weather and seemingly mellow residents who made a blood pact to never reveal how marvelous San Diego is. (Know this: Nobody moves to San Diego and leaves. It’s like Scientology, only you never try to convert anyone.) The revelation that San Diego hated anyone or anything, much less the entirety of Los Angeles, was relatively stunning for me — especially because L.A. saved them from 33 years and counting of a legitimate Clippers curse. You’d think they would be more grateful. Anyway, I now understand why San Diego fans dumped the Dodge Chargers.

Q: Who is the Aaron Rodgers of the NBA?
— Bert, Manila, Philippines

BS: Kevin Durant. Right down to the self-manufactured chip on their shoulders. But here’s a better NBA-NFL comparison…

Q: Le’Veon Bell compared himself to Steph Curry, but isn’t James Harden the perfect basketball comp for him? Incredible shiftiness and masterful secondary skills (Harden’s passing and Bell’s receiving) that make them virtually unstoppable. Get Bell some facial hair and it’ll be complete. I feel like the only way the Steelers win is if Bell has like 200 total yards. Unlikely, but then again, Harden did have a 53–17–16 this year. FEAR THE BEARD, SIMMONS!
— Taylor, Patchogue, N.Y.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

BS: Phenomenal. I love it. The Belichick-Brady Patriots have never faced a scarier playoff running back — and yeah, I’m including LaDainian Tomlinson, who put up 123 yards and two scores against the depleted-but-frisky 2006 Pats, only he never dominated that game like everyone expected. (Full confession: I never totally feared Tomlinson unless I was going against him in fantasy in weeks 14, 15, or 16.) But the Belichick-Brady Pats have consistently defanged good running backs, gang-tackled them, throttled them and forced other players to beat them. Only Ray Rice ever torched a Belichick playoff team — with a 159-yard performance in 2010, more than half coming on a backbreaking 83-yard touchdown run that I blocked out of my mind until Ravens fan Mallory Rubin reminded me of it.

Other than that? In 32 Brady-Belichick games, not much. Except for Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 102 yards against Belichick in Super Bowl 49 … and fortunately not 103. Belichick’s defenses neutralized everyone from Edge James to Eddie George, Brian Westbrook to Jerome Bettis to Marshall Faulk, whom they knocked around like a rag doll in Super Bowl 36, leaving him bitter to this day. (You’ll see Roger Goodell attend a home Patriots game before you see Faulk ever say anything nice about the Patriots. I can’t believe ESPN hasn’t hired Faulk, Bill Polian, and Tony Dungy for a new afternoon talking-head show called F the Patriots.) Bet on Belichick doubling Antonio Brown, ganging up on Bell’s runs, stifling his shimmy-shakes and Eurosteps, and forcing Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jesse James, and Sammie Coates to beat him. But if the Steelers throw to Bell out of the backfield? That worries me.

Q: We just had a playoff game take a dramatic turn on a holding call on a man born the year Annie Hall won Best Picture, who regularly physically dominates freaks of nature in their athletic prime. This same man “spends $350,000 per year maintaining his body” and one of the things he does is “strange acupuncture.”
— Jeffrey Abell

BS: I had to delete the last two sentences of Jeffrey’s email.

Q: Up here in Canada the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes were struggling to survive until they got bumped to a small university stadium to make way for a U2 concert. (True story.) Turns out that watching football in a small but packed stadium is much more fun than watching it in a half-full mausoleum, and Percival-Molson Stadium became their new permanent regular-season home. Mark my words: After the Chargers become the hottest ticket in town, Jacksonville will start working on their 30,000-seat facility.
— Damian Penny

BS: That’s the one silver lining with the Dodge Chargers — what if they make everyone realize that football stadiums should be smaller? Less traffic, fewer bathroom lines, more demand for tickets, more intimate … why not? Wouldn’t it inspire more creativity for building new stadiums? For instance, ranked the best 100 soccer stadiums and picked Argentina’s La Bombonera first — 49,000 seats total, built to shake when fans jump up and down, unconventionally shaped, totally distinct. Couldn’t an NFL team steal that idea, cram more luxury suites in there and create football’s La Bombonera? Why wouldn’t Jacksonville make it their calling card? You know what Jacksonville’s calling card is right now? Losing! I’d rather have the stadium. Ask Jerry Jones if a state-of-the-art football stadium can rejuvenate a struggling franchise. And then ask him if he’s ready to fire Jason Garrett and trade for Sean Payton (because my colleague Mike Lombardi thinks he might).

Q: You’re a Raiders fan and you stumble upon a hot tub time machine in Vegas that can be used only once. Do you go back in time and change the Immaculate Reception or the Tuck Rule? Do you possibly stop the Steelers dynasty of the ’70s before it starts, or do you potentially erase Tom F-ing Brady from the history books? (In my best Keanu voice) “What do you do, Bill, what do you do?!”
— Lucas, Evansville, Ind.

BS: You flip the Snow Game, your best chance to win a Super Bowl with those Rich Gannon teams. The Immaculate Reception happened during that ’72 Dolphins season (nobody was beating them, anyway) and had little effect on Pittsburgh’s dynasty. Besides, the Football Gods paid you back with 1974’s Sea of Hands Game and 1976’s Sugar Bear Hamilton/Highway Robbery Game, two ridiculous wins that John Madden pulled out of the deep recesses of his colon. Nobody ever paid Oakland back for the Snow Game. You got paid back with Al Davis’s coal.

(Hey, did you read The Ringer’s 12,000-word oral history of that game? It’s right here!)

Q: So me and my buddy Sam have had a seven-year wager on who would appear in the Simmons mailbag first. Last week I was ecstatic to see one of my Knicks points made the bag! But then he said, “Hey, this isn’t like the ESPN bag. For all we know, Simmons maybe got a total of like 100 emails for this one. This would be like you scoring with a once-hot actress who’s now in her late 60s.”
— Morris

BS: That hurt my feelings. I’m more like Jennifer Aniston — I’m in my mid-40s and I peaked last decade, but it’s still an absolute honor to be with me.

Q: So, a buddy of mine has a theory that deserves more airtime. 2016 by all accounts was a relentless disaster: Unless you were a diehard Republican, pretty much the only positive thing was the Cubbies finally winning the World Series. What if 108 years of collective angst, despair, and soul bartering finally … worked? For as long as I’ve known them, all my friends who are Cubs fans have prattled on about “Man, I would give ANYTHING to see the boys win one!” What if 2016 was the universe finally cashing that ticket?
— Joe, Boston

BS: You can’t rule this out. It’s the Sports Drought Tax — end a ballyhooed title drought and you invariably get stuck with a tax (just to keep you in check). For Red Sox fans, it was Curt Schilling. For Saints fans, it was Bountygate. For Braves fans, it was the strike asterisk. For Phillies fans, it was Ryan Howard’s Achilles. For Warriors fans, it was The Nut Punch and The Block. For San Francisco Giants fans … wait, why haven’t they paid the tax yet? Someone forgot to bill these guys!

Q: Since the Falcons had Future and Bow Wow (Ciara’s exes) as sideline guests when they played the Seahawks, what’s the worst possible guest that a remaining QB would not want to see on game day?
— Alex T.

BS: Jordan Rodgers. Which reminds me — the media has done a particularly dreadful job of “covering” this Aaron Rodgers/family story. What IS the story? That he distanced himself from his family? So what? Who cares? What does that have to do with anything? Rodgers’s resolute refusal to discuss it makes me believe that he’s actually embarrassed by his family, which gives him something in common with, oh, I don’t know, hundreds of athletes who’ve passed through our lives these past few years? But thanks to The Bachelorette (the most contrived reality show ever, and that’s saying something) and The New York Times (the newspaper of record), we’re supposed to believe that Rodgers shunned his family and (maybe) let fame go to his head? An excerpt from that Times piece:

It has been easier in some ways, [Rodgers’s father] said, since “The Bachelorette,” which included a scene at the Rodgers home in Chico of Jordan and Fletcher dining at a table with Ed, Darla and their oldest son, Luke, and two empty chairs reserved for Rodgers and Munn.

Are you kidding me? Wow, I can’t believe a famous QB and his actress girlfriend didn’t want to make that Bachelorette cameo to help out his obviously jealous brother with his ratings. What a dick Aaron Rodgers is! He didn’t want to be filmed eating and awkwardly interacting on a reality show! So that story comes out and snowballs into Us Weekly’s “Aaron Rodgers’ Family Doesn’t ‘Trust’ Olivia Munn” story — according to “a source,” because I wonder who has anything to anonymously gain from this story! — and meanwhile, nobody seems to be wondering, “How would you feel if your resentful brother leveraged your fame for himself to try to become famous on The Bachelorette?”, or, “Could it be possible that Rodgers’s relationship with his family fell apart because they tried to turn him into a one-man ATM and kept trying to take advantage of him?” Because that’s happened, I don’t know, only like 10 kajillion times in celebrity history? Let’s never talk about this story again — it’s the fucking worst. My worst-case scenario this weekend? A Steelers-Packers Super Bowl followed by two weeks of stories about Aaron Rodgers’s family. Please no.

Q: If the Patriots win this weekend, what are the chances that (a) Trump has the NSA/CIA/FBI dig up dirt to blackmail the Super Bowl officials or Falcons/Packers players/coaches and cause an “accident” or arrest of players/coaches (something to help the Pats win), and (b) that some combination of Brady/Belichick/Kraft put Trump up to it? I have a feeling Trump’s going to end up with a Super Bowl 51 ring and then give it to Putin. That’s the reason Russia interfered with the election: Putin wants another Pats SB ring.
— Abbet, San Bernardino, Calif.

BS: That email is really the perfect blend of how Patriots haters and Trump haters feel about everything right now.

Q: Let’s say Larry Bird and Tom Brady show up at your front door at 4 a.m. and give you something like, “Bill, we got in big trouble in L.A. and need a place to crash.” Who gets the guest room and who gets the couch?
— Pedro, Brazil

BS: This sounds like the plot of Knock Knock 2 — hopefully with less sex. But the Legend gets the guest room. Come on. The guy has a bad back!

Q: The list of QBs that New England has faced this season: Palmer, Tannehill, Taylor, Whitehurst, Dalton, Jones, Wilson, Kaepernick, Fitzpatrick, Goff, Flacco, Siemian, Moore and Lossweiler. The Patriots played ONE top 15 QB all season, at home, and lost. Do we really even know how good this Pats team is? Does reading that list at least put doubts in your mind about the validity of the 14–2 regular-season record?
— John Iezzi

BS: What? Of course! It’s a classic Belichick/Brady January team — just enough weapons to make you feel overconfident, just enough smoke-and-mirrors to make you think you’re screwed. Remember, Houston’s front seven banged Brady around for most of that game. And remember, Osweiler had receivers open — what about Will Fuller dropping the ball on what would’ve been a touchdown to make it 24–20 Pats with a little over two minutes left in the third? Only silver lining: always bet on Belichick and Brady after a shitty win. They’re like 87–2 the following week (all numbers approximate).

And look, there are lots of reasons to pick the Patriots, including some fun ones: Brown’s Facebook Fiasco (DISTRACTION!); Pittsburgh’s flu bug; even Tomlin calling the Patriots “Assholes” (hey, at least he didn’t try to trip them). But one reason towers over everything else: Brady owns Pittsburgh. His past six Steelers games: 19 touchdowns, zero picks, and a QB rating in the 120s. He’s 9–2 against them (with a little help from Drew Bledsoe). Every elite athlete has opponents they love playing against, whether it’s LeBron, Brady, Kershaw, Rodgers or whomever. Brady dislikes playing in Denver or Miami, but he loves playing the Steelers and Bills. It’s true.

My pick: New England prevails but doesn’t cover that minus-6, either because it’s a back-and-forth nailbiter (a la Ravens-Pats two years ago) or because Pittsburgh gets a garbage-time TD. Something like Pats 29, Pittsburgh 25. Your heroes: Brady, Dion Lewis, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Roger Goodell (for not coming).

Q: You wrote: “Last note: Celtics radio voice Sean Grande recently compared Thomas’s offensive leap to that of Roy Hobbs in The Natural. For me, it feels more like David Ortiz’s unexpected leap as a cleanup hitter, when Boston fans kept saying to each other, ‘I can’t tell if this is a fluke or something more legitimate … but it’s starting to feel legitimate … right???’” So … steroids?
— TJ Olszweski

BS: Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! HEY! Hey. Not funny.

Q: Now that we’ve lost half of the Manning Face tag-team and Playoff Eli is dead, is the Andy Reid Face the best Face in the National Football League? The Manning Face always looks like they smelled a rank fart in an elevator. The Andy Reid Face looks like a guy waking up from a coma, having no idea where he’s at and REALLY wanting a Double-Double Animal Style. Or will this argument be made moot by Roger Goodell Face if/when the Pats beat the Pack in the highest-rated Super Bowl ever?
— Cameron K, Austin, Texas

BS: I’d rank them like this …

1. The Andy Reid Face — Always the same whether he just blew a fourth-and-2 call, gave up a two-point reversion, suffered a killer holding penalty, lost a challenge or belatedly realized that he’s out of timeouts. A facial masterpiece.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

2. Angry Bill Belichick Face — Time out! Time out! Time the fuck out!

3. The Antonio Brown I Need to Get Off Social Media Face — An unexpected delight when he spoke with the press on Wednesday. Sorry I Facebook Live’d your entire speech, Coach. My bad. How was that not worse, by the way? For all the terrible ways Tomlin could have gotten into trouble speaking candidly to his team after a big win, wasn’t that a 1.5 out of 10 on the Damage Scale?

4. Angry Dan Quinn Face — Truly scary. The way he reacted after the no-PI call on Julio Jones in the Seahawks game made me wonder if he was going to be Seattle’s next serial killer.

5. The Joey Porter Reining-Himself-In Face — Translated as “I’d be celebrating way more right now, but I’m lucky I didn’t get fired and there are still two criminal charges pending against me, so I’m going to be a little more low-key and pump my fist and that’s really it.”

Q: Is there a better hypothetical argument starter than “The Raiders Should Have Always Been in Vegas?” Al Davis (R.I.P.) wore white jumpsuits, always told the league to go screw itself, and made draft decisions like he was hitting on 17 with a 2 showing. Now we have Mark Davis, a man who looks like he just came out of a casino after 14 straight hours of losing his shirt gambling, tipping waitresses with $1 chips, and offering I.O.U. payments to hookers. You thought there were some scary characters in the black hole for Oakland; what type of shenanigans will happen in Vegas? How many “muffed punts” and “missed field goals” will happen? I can’t wait to see what happens.
— Andrew G.

BS: Is it just me, or should they drop the “Las” and just call themselves the Vegas Raiders? Vegas Raiders sounds like a rapper, a WWE star, a porn star, a Ben Affleck movie, a VC fund … It could really be anything. You know what else we’re getting with the Vegas Raiders? A Vegas Super Bowl! That’s right, we’re headed for the biggest gambling scandal of all time and I couldn’t be more excited.

Q: The story line of the NFL rescheduling the Steelers-Chiefs game for safety reasons was hilarious. The Sunday night playoff game had way bigger ratings than a 1 p.m. game. When has Goodell ever done the right thing based on safety???
— Ryan, Denver

BS: That’s a great point. The NFL *cares* about safety, yet offers up Thursday Night Football, lazy PED testing, no painkiller-abuse guidelines, and a concussion protocol that comes and goes in the playoffs (and that’s being generous). They clearly wanted to test out a Sunday Night Football game just like they wanted to test out Tuesday Night Football when they moved that that Philly-Minnesota game during a blizzard in the Northeast back in 2010 (right when they were figuring out their next labor deal). Pull this leg and it plays jingle bells.

Q: Roger Staubach should have made your “Greatest QB” list somewhere, right? Whether it’s in the “What if?” category since he served four years in the Navy (before his Cowboys career started), or on the actual list itself, I would put him ahead of Aikman and Bradshaw even though Staubach did have good weapons. Plus, he invented the Hail Mary even if it was a clear push-off by Drew Pearson. Glad to have you back writing again.
— Adam N., Orlando, Fla.

BS: Thank you. And you’re right — Staubach’s career started when he was 27 and that stint in the Navy earned him the nickname “Captain Comeback.” Five Super Bowls, two rings, one Heisman trophy, six Pro Bowls, 20 concussions — wait, 20 concussions? How did I not know this? From a 2014 Kevin Sherrington piece: “Staubach was one of the first to acknowledge concussions as a reason for quitting. Still, nearly 30 years would pass before the NFL would get around to studying the long-term effects.” That can’t be true! The NFL cares! They were so worried about that ice storm in Kansas City last weekend!

Q: Does it strike you at all odd that we have an NFC championship favorite trotting out a likely MVP QB, guiding an offense that just tied the freaking Greatest Show on Turf for total points in a season, and is playing at home where they’re historically a much tougher team, and yet all the conversation has consisted of the entire media world collectively jerking off to the other team’s QB? (And rightfully so, Aaron Rodgers is an alien, I’m convinced.) actually ran an article calling Aaron Rodgers the Michael Jordan of football for freak’s sake. Do you get the same feeling I do that there’s huge potential for a great Matty Ice/Falcons FU game here? I mean aren’t we really one non-superhuman Aaron Rodgers performance away from the Packers’ one-man band getting shit on in a 20-point laugher Sunday?
— Daniel G

BS: I’m right there with you. The spread should be reversed: New England should be favored by 4, and Atlanta should be favored by 6. Here’s a good formula …

(“Nobody believed in us!” + the FU Game) x (the neverending Rodgers lovefest + an unquestionably overvalued Packers team) x (a banged-up secondary going against a world-class offense with a shitload of speed) x (the Last Georgia Dome Game + the city of Atlanta’s sneaky-good hot streak) x (Atlanta’s defense is a little faster and a little better than people think + dome noise) = Atlanta 40, Green Bay 32. I just think Atlanta is better.

Q: Love your website and your articles. Just asking for a quick favor. In your Jan. 13 mailbag there is a question posted from someone by the name of Mike Piekarski, with no specification of where the reader is from. That just so happens to be my name as well. Is there any way you can either change the name, or put in some clarification of where the reader is writing from? It’s not a very common name, and I don’t want people thinking that I’m asking questions about actors ejaculating.
— Mike Piekarski

BS: So if you’re keeping score, this isn’t the Ejaculate-Curious Mike Piekarski, it’s the OTHER Mike Piekarski. By the way, I think we’re in range.

Q: When I first heard you throw out the idea that every Leo movie would be better with Matt Damon as the lead, I thought it’s just Bill being Bill. There was just no possible way for me to wrap my head around the concept that there was anything Leo couldn’t do as an actor. And then one awful, sleepless Wednesday night at about 2 in the morning while watching one of the 30 HBO channels, a gift presented itself to me. The gift of clarity.

This brief cameo was proof to me and all others that there is nothing Matt Damon can’t do. For all the nonbelievers go ahead and try to picture Leo ever doing something like this … you couldn’t do it, could you? Game. Set. Match. DAMON.
— Matthew Rosati

BS: Yup, we’re in range.

Q: Is there a better back-to-back-to-back stretch of performances/movies than Rob Lowe in ’85-’86 … St. Elmo’s Fire-Youngblood-About Last Night…? He’s the legitimate star in all three (even though Emilio Estevez was first billed in St. Elmo’s!) and all three were released between June 1985 and July 1986. So, let’s call this stretch Rob’s best “season.” Think Yaz in ’67, when the Triple Crown was legitimate (sorry Miggy in 2012). Is there another actor’s season that stacks up against Rob Lowe’s Triple Crown–winning performance of ’85-’86?
— Corey Leiseth

BS: Getting closer.

Q: I have a theory: for TV shows where nudity is in play, the nudity-independent quality of a particular season is directly proportional to the quality of nudity in that season. The two most obvious examples are Homeland and True Detective — both had amazing first seasons with A+ nudity, and both fell off a cliff in subsequent seasons (in both respects). Thrones, on the other hand, has maintained consistency in both areas over the years. I can’t think of any counter examples, can you?
— Mike G

BS: Closer …

Q: It is like the girl you had one amazing sexually charged night with, who leaves in the morning and you don’t know her name or contact info. The mailbag returning is like that girl walking back into your life and saying ‘Want to date?’ Yes, yes, yes it is back. My question as a huge Patriots fan and knowing how crazy Bills Mafia is — if the Bills ever won the Super Bowl, wouldn’t that be the most insane SB parade in history? Think about it, they would slam themselves into tables, have dildos everywhere and the town would run out of alcohol and City Hall would be burned down. Glad to have the mailbag back.
— Fuck ESPN, Kendall

BS: Yup, these are my readers.

(Photo courtesy Bill Simmons)
(Photo courtesy Bill Simmons)

And yup, that was my president. So long, 44.