One could make a strong argument for Garrett Hartley as Super Bowl 44 MVP.
OK, maybe not 'strong.' Hartley isn't a quarterback and did not complete 80% of his passes in the biggest game of his life, as Saints quarterback Drew Brees did. But, Hartley did execute a near-flawless onside kick after halftime in Super Bowl 44, and hit field goals from 46, 47, and 44 yards away. His clutch field goal in overtime against the Vikings two weeks prior to the Saints victory in Miami will likely go down as the greatest kick in New Orleans sports history.
Contrast this with Matt Stover. For many Colts fans, Stover was the GOAT for Super Bowl 44. His
48-yard 50-yard miss in the fourth quarter sparked the Saints game winning drive on offense. Despite Stover's excellent play all throughout the 2009 season, I still talk to Colts fans who have nothing but burning hate for the veteran kicker.
Hartley hero. Stover GOAT. All that was just eight months ago.
Today, Garrett Hartley is fighting for his job in New Orleans, and the guy who might take it from him is none other than Matt Stover.
Obviously, all this frustrates me a bit. Hartley has been horrible to start the 2010 season. He missed a 29-yard chip shot in overtime yesterday that would have beaten the Falcons. Why Hartley has chosen this particular time to show his true kicking colors, I don't know. It would have been far more convenient for us Colts fans if this kid had choked this bad in the Super Bowl. Now, eight months later, Sean Payton is bringing in Stover as a possible replacement.
I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry at this irony. To quote Agnes Reppilier (because her feelings on irony seem appropriate here):
"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding."
I guess this means I should be crying. In fact, if I see Matt Stover replacing Garrett Hartley as the Saints field goal kicker, I probably will.
All that said, I'm glad Adam Vinatieri is back. Like all kickers, he has struggled at times. Unlike all kickers, Vinatieri has a strong track record of overcoming his struggles. Oh, and he's 2-2 this year.