Published: February 5th, 2012 | Tags: Super Bowl XLVI, Aaron Rodgers, Alec Baldwin, Alex Smith, Bill Belichick, Calvin Johnson, Clay Matthews, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Namath, Jon Hamm, Madonna, Peyton Manning, Phil Simms, Tim Tebow
INDIANAPOLIS — The inaugural NFL Honors gala offered a generous dose of memorable moments. The Tim Tebow-Katy Perry encounter is in the books, but there were plenty of gems from Saturday night’s NFL-Hollywood mashup:
- Host Alec Baldwin, sitting next to ex-Giants quarterback Phil Simms, went on a dizzy riff about the life of an NFL quarterback in New York: Staying up ’til dawn; zooming around town with a different knockout every night; then rattling off a spot-on, near-perfect performance on Sunday. Not so, said Simms, who told Baldwin he was in bed by 8 p.m. (alone) before games. Then the camera panned to reveal Hall of Fame Jets passer Joe Namath on Baldwin’s right. “What are your thoughts, sir?” Baldwin asked. Broadway Joe thought for a minute, perhaps reflecting on a colorful past. Then, total deadpan Namath: “… I can’t remember.”
- After Baldwin stepped in to accept Calvin Johnson‘s award for NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year, he referenced Megatron as “Kevin” at least 10 times during an on-the-fly acceptance speech. After being corrected, he proceeded to call the Lions star wideout “Supertron.” All in jest, but anytime you have the chance to make fun of a man much taller and stronger than you, in the company of his mammoth friends, you take it.
- Citizens of Green Bay: Do not be surprised if you discover Clay Matthews torching his once-treasured VHS copy of “Glengarry Glen Ross” this week. Matthews appeared to boil up after Baldwin mistook him for Madonna, confused by the star linebacker’s flowing mane and pronounced biceps. Matthews went ice cold. Very bad development for that subset of the population waiting for Matthews to star in some ill-advised “Desperately Seeking Susan” sequel.
- As Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper from “Mad Men”) announced the AP Offensive Player award, he praised the league’s superstar skill players, and politely asked Bill Belichick to stop throwing the ball to fat people.
- Jim Harbaugh wasn’t present to pick up his AP Coach of the Year award, but his absence generated one of the night’s genuine moments. Alex Smith took the stage for Harbaugh and delivered a stirring tribute to the man who revived the quarterback’s career in San Francisco this season. Where was ol’ Jim? Who knows, probably huddled away in some blasted-out basement analyzing the NFC championship loss for the 542nd time. The only award he cares about has “Lombardi” scrawled across it.
- Moment of the night? Peyton Manning marching out to announce the AP Most Valuable Player award, which went to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This town is on fire for Manning. As he stood at the podium, voices could be heard shouting: “We love you, Peyton!”
Award shows, too often, are a ghastly parade of ego and backslapping, but the NFL Honors rose above that Saturday night, serving as a genuine celebration of a sport that has taken Indy by storm on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI.
Far below this hotel room, the streets of Indy are in uproar. Somewhere out there, Baldwin holds court like a champion, Namath flashes his ring — and Tebow lights up the night. Next up: A Patriots-Giants mindmelt to settle all arguments before a waiting nation.
– Marc Sessler