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Colin Kaepernick is a man's man. ~Bill Simmons on the 2014 NFL playoffs


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Bill Simmons nails it:

Lesson No. 1: Colin Kaepernick is a man's man.

Like everyone else with an IQ over 70, I watched that Niners-Packers game wondering, Why in God's name would Kaepernick NOT wear sleeves in zero-degree weather? It was like watching one of those drunken maniacs in the stands who goes shirtless just to impress a bunch of strangers. The Wall Street Journal reports that, in the five coldest-weather playoff games of the last 10 years, Kaepernick was the only QB reckless enough to go sleeveless. You know who did opt for sleeves? Bart Starr and Don Meredith during the Ice Bowl! Exactly who were you trying to impress, Colin Kaepernick? But after seeing Kaep generate some monster plays down the stretch, avoid a double amputation and officially apply for "Packer Killer" status, I came to appreciate the no-sleeves idea. How could any Niners teammate let the windchill affect him when his lunatic QB wasn't wearing sleeves???

In general, Kaepernick has to be considered our 2014 playoff wild card. He's not as famous as Manning and Brady, as familiar as Brees and Rivers, as respected as Wilson and Luck, or even as hyped as Newton. In 23 regular-season starts, he's thrown for 300-plus yards only two times, landed under 210 yards 13 times and rushed for more than 70 yards only twice. But he's been better in his four playoff games — 256.3 passing YPG, 90.5 rushing YPG, three different come-from-behind fourth-quarter drives (none at home) — and along with Wilson and Rodgers, Kaepernick has to be considered a cocaptain of the "We're Gonna Sack — Wait, How Did He Just Pull Off That 3rd-And-12?????" Club.

What makes him stand out other than the no-sleeves move? No QB vacillates between "Holy shit, that was amazing!" and "Oh god no, that's getting picked!" quite like Kaep. You're terrified when you wager against him … only you never feel comfortable if you wager ON him, either. That makes him this year's winner of the Brett Favre Award for "Playoff QB Who Makes You Uneasy At All Times No Matter How You Wagered," a trophy that has been hoisted by the likes of Jake Delhomme, Jim Kelly, Jake Plummer, Ken Stabler, Eli Manning, Aging Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason. I don't know if I am taking Carolina or San Francisco in Round 2 yet; just know that I'm scared of Kaepernick either way.

I also love this paragraph:

Possible Omen That Can't Be Discounted: Remember when we said good-bye to Candlestick Park for a solid week, highlighted by an emotional Chris Berman showing the footage of himself right after "The Catch" for the 977th and final time? Well, if New Orleans defeats Seattle (as predicted earlier), then a Niners victory would mean San Francisco reopens Candlestick for one more Niners game! It's so ridiculous that it almost has to happen. Candlestick Park is such a hellhole that, literally, we can't get rid of it.

happy to see you reading Grantland!

You inspired me. I love his rant on Andrew Luck, too:

Lesson No. 5: There's a chance that "Don't Bet Against Andrew Luck" could end up in Playoff Gambling Manifesto 5.0 soon.

Like, very soon. Maybe even next week. You know what I loved about Luck's performance last Saturday? He didn't play well for two solid hours, only it never felt like his confidence wavered. He always seemed like HE thought they were coming back. As I've written a million times, for me, the NFL quarterback position is 25 percent talent and 75 percent attitude/charisma/personality/intelligence/confidence. You have to be the coolest guy on your team, basically. You have to own the room. You have to be a leader of men. Both Luck and Wilson nail that 75 percent; that's what makes them special. Say what you want about Phil Rivers, but he's had three games this season — at Kansas City, at Denver, Cincy at home — that displayed that 75 percent. He believed, and he played like it … and eventually, his teammates followed him. Even Kaepernick playing without sleeves — maybe that was partly about earning the 75 percent. I'm as tough as you guys. I'm not afraid of cold weather — you shouldn't be, either.

On a personal note, my single favorite thing about watching football over the past four decades — well, other than rooting for the Patriots, gambling, Madden & Summerall, and gambling on Patriots games that were announced by Madden & Summerall — has probably been watching certain QBs "own the room." It's the reason every Manning-Brady battle mattered, it's the reason I have Elway and Montana ranked over everyone else, it's the reason I still have flashbacks to Dan Marino terrorizing the Pats, and it's the reason I love watching Paul Creweupend the Citrus State Prison guards so much. There isn't a more difficult job in sports than playing quarterback, so if someone thrives while also capturing that 75 percent to its fullest, as a sports fan, I marvel at that more than anything else. Knowing that we're almost definitely getting 12 to 15 more years of those moments from Luck, and maybe Wilson, too, is pretty thrilling.4 Shit, that's taking me into my late fifties.

Anyway, Luck made two insane plays that made Pats Fan Bill say to himself, "Let's hope Kansas City wins because I'd love to avoid Andrew the Giant in Round 2." I already mentioned the first one — Luck's game-winning laser to Hilton (60-plus yards in the air!) was ridiculously clutch and even included a bonus underlying Eff You for Phil Simms.5 But the other play was better — that crazy fumble-recovery touchdown, which stood out immediately because of how quickly Luck decided "I'm plowing into the end zone." He didn't pause for a nanosecond. He just went for it. Like one of those old-school heady Derek Jeter moments when he finished off some unorthodox defensive play before you could even process it.

An Atlanta reader named Andrew wondered later, "How would the other playoff quarterbacks have handled that exact moment?," eventually deciding that only Wilson would have plowed ahead that quickly and that fearlessly. I think Elway and Young Favre could have made that play. Rodgers and Much Younger Bradymight have done it. That's about it. I am absolutely frightened of you in Round 2, Andrew Luck.

"I'm plowing into the end zone": 

http://pandawhale.com/post/34977/andrew-luck-donald-brown-fumble-recovery-touchdown-gif

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