1) Super Bowl 50 is in the books. Although I haven’t heard a logical explanation from the NFL why this landmark game wasn’t assigned a Roman numeral logo like its predecessors, it turned out to be a wise decision. Many football fans would have said the L in Super Bowl L stood for loser. With the highlight being the performance of Stefani Germanotta, it couldn’t really be called a great game by most standards. However, watching that arrogant jerk Cam Newton being completely humiliated by the Bronco defense made it all worthwhile for me. Any of you who doubt this characterization of Newton need only watch his post-game press conference. I’m wondering how Newton’s teammates feel about his cowardly act of peeling off rather than trying to recover his fumble. Quarterbacks are known for leadership; this guy showed none, neither during the game nor after it. As great as it was to see so many former MVPs, it was sad to see how beaten up they are. Many, and not just the older guys, moved with difficulty. On the positive side, it was nice to see Peyton Manning get his two hundredth win. Although I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t go out on this high note by announcing his retirement some time before the summer, the fact that he wouldn’t discuss it in the post-game scrums is an indication of what a classy person he is. Unlike his Panther counterpart, Manning knew this night was about the team, not about himself. Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Germanotta; and her performance really was a highlight.
2) Two things puzzle me about Mark Shapiro’s handling of the Josh Donaldson situation. First is why he ever indicated that the Jays were prepared to go to arbitration over $450,000, which was less than five percent of Donaldson’s asking price. The second is why he’s now agreed to pay Donaldson over twenty-five percent more than he was asking for without getting anything in return. Donaldson will still be eligible for free agency in three years. For that kind of raise the Blue Jays should have gotten at least a couple of free-agency years. I guess that’s the way they do it in Cleveland. And speaking of Cleveland, former Indians manager Eric Wedge has been hired by Shapiro as some kind of front office consultant. Next thing you know there’ll be some idiot in the center field bleachers at Rogers Center pounding on a stupid drum.
3) The Dion Phaneuf trade to the Ottawa Senators surprised me for two reasons: I didn’t think the Leafs would be able to unload his contract; and, it’s highly unusual to trade a good player to a divisional rival. (Despite the criticisms levelled at him in some quarters, Phaneuf is a solid defenseman. It wasn’t his fault that Brian Burke set the bar way too high for him.) Phaneuf will be joining his first cousin, Clarke MacArthur, in Ottawa. Their grandfather is Summerside, P.E.I. native Ron MacArthur, who was also a pretty good defenseman. I played senior hockey against Ron for four years back in the early 60s. I last heard from him about thirty years ago when he tried to sell me a racehorse. When I was about eight years old I overheard my father tell a neighbour, who at the time was trying to sell him a racehorse, “I never invest in anything that’s eating while I’m sleeping.” I probably used the same line in turning down Ron’s offer.
4) The Ghomeshi trial is mercifully over. I admit to being a trial junkie; I love following legal proceedings, and this one was particularly engrossing. I can’t recall ever seeing a witness, let alone three witnesses, being as completely demolished as were the three complainants. They may well have been abused by Ghomeshi, just as they said. But their shredded credibility is going to make Ontario Court Judge Bill Horkins’ task very difficult, which is evidenced by the fact he’s going to take six weeks to reach a verdict. Lead defense counsel Marie Henein, and her associate Danielle Robitaille, did a masterful job. I was particularly struck by their professionalism: no badgering, no gloating, no mouthing off to the media, and no mugging for the cameras. Hard to believe that Henein cut her legal teeth working with the late Eddie Greenspan, who loved to badger, revelled in gloating, and who never met a reporter or camera that he didn’t love.