The NFL Awards were telecast on Fox the night before the Super Bowl. They’re like the Oscars only with men in suits that don’t fit. People: You’re multimillionaires. You can afford to go to a designer and have a half- dozen suits made. None of this squeezing into barely buttoned jackets as if you were sausages in casings.
Even those who looked good didn’t quite get it right. New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees was sharp in his blue suit, but the tan shoes stood out. Blue and tan is a big combo this spring – for women. Men don’t always rock it.
There were exceptions. Former San Francisco 49ers star-turned-NFL analyst Deion Sanders was elegant in a three-piece suit and scarf. Current 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was stunning in a black turtleneck and a black suit that fit perfectly, squaring those broad shoulders. He presented the Best Play award to Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers with 49ers QB great Steve Young. The ESPN analyst, whom I profiled in WAG’s January “Super” issue, was once as Kaepernick is now – a running quarterback. But he graciously told Kaepernick that he never ran as fast as Colin can. It was interesting to see how compact Young is in comparison to Kaepernick. They certainly don’t make ’em like they used to.
Kaepernick for his part deferred to Young, passing him the black touch screen with the winner’s name. (I guess “May I have the envelope please” is a thing of the past.) Say what you want about Kaepernick, but in public he is sweet, good-humored and charming.
In accepting his award from Kaepernick and Young – OK, Colin owns the Packers, so awkward – a wistful Rodgers thanked the fans for sticking with the team during an up-and-down season.
One thing about football players: They’re not afraid to let their emotions show, whatever they are or aren’t. When Denver Broncos’ exec veep and former star quarterback John Elway accepted Peyton Manning’s award for best offensive player, he commented on Peyton having the greatest season ever for a QB. The camera cut to 49ers’ demigod Joe Montana – considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time – looking at him blankly.
Peyton, no surprise, also took home MVP. Or rather his dad Archie and young son Marshall – whose bedtime it was clearly way past – took home the award, which Montana and Rodgers presented. Then Montana told the crowd that that was all she wrote and it was time to go home as host Alec Baldwin – who got in his digs about former employer MSNBC – rushed onstage to say they were out of time. We’re not talking Tonys here in terms of organization or entertainment.
But the show had its moments. Giants’ all-time sack leader Michael Strahan got the loudest ovation from the Radio City Music Hall crowd among the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. (Had Strahan been at Troy, the Greeks would’ve sacked it in one year instead of 10.)
And how moving was it to see Chicago Bears’ cornerback Charles Tillman win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his work on behalf of critically ill kids? The show included a short documentary of how he and wife Jacqueline got into the work when their daughter Tiana faced a heart transplant at 3-and-a-half months old. The film presented him as a loving husband and father of four who has just the right touch in reaching out to families going through what he and his wife did. In accepting the Walter Payton award, Tillman named the children whom his Cornerstone Foundation has lost, a tremor in his voice.
There was a tear in my eye and no, I don’t remember what he wore.