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Originally published Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Jerry Brewer

Will it be Sexy Rexy or Gross Rexman in today's game?

The thought rumbled through the media workroom. Did Rex Grossman call his critics ignorant? Reporters kept roaming the room, asking the...

Seattle Times staff columnist

MIAMI -- The thought rumbled through the media workroom.

Did Rex Grossman call his critics ignorant?

Reporters kept roaming the room, asking the question, wondering where to find this mystery insult. Who heard it? In what context did Grossman say it? Was this the little snot's fatal mistake of Super Bowl week?

Soon, televisions set to the NFL Network flashed the headline: "Grossman Calls Media Ignorant."

Even his own league is against him.

Replays of the comment proved the remark was rather harmless, just a swipe at the media, but given Grossman's enigmatic status, it was overplayed nonetheless.

In response to a question about how he handles intense scrutiny, the Chicago Bears quarterback said: "Saying the right thing goes a long way. Just handling yourself in the right way, no matter how wrong or, you know, critical you guys are. Whether you're right or wrong, you're just, you know, for me, you're just trying to sell papers.

"It's frustrating when you don't put much thought into it. You're just trying to go off of the fans' reactions. You just don't know much about what we're doing on offense. Just realizing that, realizing how, you know, you know, ignorant some of you guys are. I don't mean that necessarily in a bad way."

No big deal, really. Unless you're Grossman, who's constantly on trial.

In one wild season, he went from Sexy Rexy to Gross Rexman. Or simply, Gross Man. Or Wreckx Grossman.

Five bad games did this, but oh, what bad games they were. There was his flat-line performance against Green Bay, in which he had a 0.0 passer rating. And the 1.3 rating against Minnesota. And the 10.2 against Arizona. And the 23.7 against New England. And the 36.8 against Miami.

In the 13 other games, Grossman has been almost Pro Bowl-worthy. In the playoffs, he has a higher QB rating than his esteemed counterpart, Peyton Manning (75.4 to 66.8).

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Of course, Manning has performed as badly as he can this postseason, while Grossman merely has impressed because the expectations for him are so low.

Which begs the question that has harassed the Bears all season: Could Grossman be pulled for backup Brian Griese?

In the Super Bowl?

Yes, it was brought up.

It made Bears coach Lovie Smith turn into Hatie Smith.

"I'm just wondering, will Peyton Manning be asked that?" Smith grumbled. "Probably not. Rex Grossman should not be asked that question. I shouldn't be asked that question. Rex is our quarterback. I shouldn't have to continue to go over that. I am not planning on pulling Brian Urlacher or Olin Kreutz, either."

Urlacher and Kreutz are perennial All-Pros. Grossman is, well, breathing. He is a former first-round pick, and offensive mastermind Steve Spurrier tutored him for three years at the University of Florida, but few want to talk about Grossman's potential.

He had seven games with quarterback ratings better than 100, but most chalk that up to poor competition. He's a 26-year-old who just played his first complete, injury-free season, but who wants to be compassionate?

"This is his first year playing, and he's in the Super Bowl," receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "So how bad could he really be?"

Put Muhammad's last sentence with the Super Bowl relics, please. Never again will you hear an answer about a quarterback one victory from a championship end with, "So how bad could he really be?"

Make the Grossman-Trent Dilfer comparison all you want, but Dilfer didn't endure this kind of negativity during his Super Bowl season with Baltimore. Dilfer's role was minimized, and so were his mistakes. Though the Bears are a run-first team like those Ravens, Grossman has more freedom, more responsibilities, and, as a younger quarterback, he makes more mistakes.

Grossman threw 20 interceptions during the regular season, nearly offsetting his 23 touchdowns. He had seven games with multiple TDs and six with multiple interceptions. He also lost six fumbles.

"I threw 16 of my interceptions in five games," Grossman said. "If you take away those five games... "

It was a good idea for him to stop there. You can't erase those five games. And a quarterback can't be so erratic. Nevertheless, Grossman is in the Super Bowl. So how bad could he really be?

Better question: What if he beats the wonder boy today?

"Maybe they'll stop asking questions about him for a little while," Kreutz said.

Not for too long, though. We are ignorant, you know.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com.

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About Jerry Brewer

Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
jbrewer@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2277

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