The AT&T: A Sanctuary for Super Bowl Losers
Feb. 7, 2014
All the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am needs is a commercial that runs right after the Super Bowl:
Voice over: Peyton Manning, you and the Denver Broncos just lost the Super Bowl in traumatic fashion. What are you going to do next?
Peyton (in Eeyore voice with head down): I’m going to Pebble Beach.
In what is developing into a peculiar trend, losers from the last three Super Bowls have teed it up just four days later at the AT&T: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in 2012, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in 2013, and Manning this week.
Seems like a strange move, right? It’s much easier to imagine these hyper-competitive football types sulking in a dark film room replaying what-ifs obsessively. What makes them want to jet out to Pebble Beach to ham it up with celebrities and autograph-hungry fans while trotting out a rusty golf game?
Here is the picture Washington Gov. Jay Inslee painted after seeing Manning in the bowels of MetLife Satdium after Sunday’s loss:
“I wish I had a camera. It was like the picture of defeat — head down, slow. I felt bad for the guy.
“He gave it his all and he’s obviously a tremendous competitor, and I’ve lost a few in my life, too. So I just went up to him and introduced myself as the governor of the state of Washington and I shook his hand. And I said ‘I know this is a really tough game for you, but there will be others and hang in there’ because I kind of wanted to console him.
“He looked down at me like he was going to break me in half. It was sort of like ‘whatever, dude’ and he walked away. My therapy didn’t work too well.”
But even though we will eventually hear how the bitterness of this Super Bowl loss will fuel him throughout the offseason (just like how last year’s early playoff exit inspired his record-breaking rampage this season), Manning was playing a practice round at Pebble Beach on Wednesday with none other than his NFL arch-nemesis Bill Belichick.
We really don’t understand these guys, do we?
How did this intriguing pairing arise? Belichick guarded that secret like it was an injury update about Tom Brady. Here was the San Francisco Chronicle’s encounter with Belichick:
Me: Bill, how did you wind up playing with Peyton?
Bill: (Dirty Harry look) What’s this for?
Me: San Francisco Chronicle.
Bill: (Shakes head, turns away.)
Me: What’s the problem?
Bill: (Mumbling) I’m not doing any of them.
Doesn’t exactly sound relaxing.
But that’s the reason everyone gives for escaping to the AT&T, fresh off such a raw loss. (Even though it is almost always their first round since the previous summer.)
“I’m just out here having fun,” said Belichick in 2012.
“It was a real treat to play Pebble Beach, and to be in this tournament is a great honor,” offered a rah-rah Harbaugh in 2013. “Everything is just A-plus-plus.”
“For me it’s a good getaway,” was all Manning would share. “That’s why I’m here this weekend. For a few hours you can get away from your current job.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban opened up slightly more:
“I think when the season’s over we all need a little solitude of doing something different,” said Saban. “Just psychologically, you got to get sort of mentally flushed out so you’re ready for the next thing.”
And while Aaron Rodgers hasn’t faced the same situation, he says it makes sense:
“It might be therapeutic,” Rodgers said, “as long as there are no Seahawks fans around here hassling him.”
Does rain that would remind Manning of the Northwest count?