- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - We already know why they play the game.

The real question is why they still talk about it all week, since the last time a player or coach said anything memorable during the run-up to the Super Bowl was 1999. That’s when Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan and Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe had this exchange:

Shannon looks like a horse,” Buchanan fired first, quickly warming to the task. “I’ll tell you, that’s an ugly dude. You can’t tell me he doesn’t look like Mr. Ed.”

Like those who live in glass houses, people who wear dog collars as a fashion accessory _ Buchanan did _ probably should not be throwing stones.

“Tell Ray to put the eyeliner, the lipstick and the high heels away,” Sharpe shot back. “I’m not saying he’s a cross-dresser, but that’s just what I heard.”

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Seriously, any list of the greatest Super Bowl quotes starts with Joe Namath’s guarantee in 1969, continues on through John Matuszak’s classic 1981 explanation after getting caught partying on Bourbon Street all night _ “To make sure no one else was” _ and ends abruptly with that war of words from 13 years ago.

If Namath were playing for any of the coaches since, let alone New England’s Bill Belichick or New York’s Tom Coughlin this year, his mouth would have been duct-taped before his foot touched the tarmac at the airport. That, or Namath would pull off the tape knowing full well he would also guarantee himself two-a-days for the rest of his career.

Or worse.

Asked on media day what Belichick would do to a player who said the wrong thing, Pats rookie Sterling Moore didn’t have to think long.

“I don’t know,” he replied straight-faced. “And I don’t want to find out.”

But the rest of us do.

Desperately.

We’ve already seen a much more outgoing and media-friendly Ol’ Stoneface this week, not to mention much more expansive. But more forgiving? Who knows?

Tight end Rob Gronkowski is the Patriots’ free-est spirit, so maybe in was just coincidence that the transcript of his remarks from media day arrived five hours or so after those of his teammates were stacked on a table for consumption. Either way, there are hints that Belichick has softened a few of his edges because of the latest woman by his side.

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