ATLANTA - It was this week 30 years ago when Boomer Esiason first proved he could inform, incite, engage and entertain from a national podium.
He arrived at Super Bowl XXIII the brash and bold as they say quarterback of the Bengals fresh off an MVP season. And here he is at Super Bowl LIII as, well, the bold and brash radio voice of his native New York fresh off his popular morning talk show on WFAN, while still surviving as one of the faces of the NFL during his two-decade run in the CBS studio.
What better way to celebrate the 30th than pure uncut and unplugged Boomer while he doesn't wonder what if the Bengals had stopped Joe Montana and the 49ers on that last drive and he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as a 16-13 winner rather than 20-16 trivia question?
"Maybe I wouldn't be doing this," he mused this week, but of course he would.
Forgive him. He just can't remember all that much about it. Remember, this was before camera phones and spur-of-the-moment tweets preserved it all for a self-glorified posterity.
"It was a great experience, but it was 30 years ago. It feels like it was a different lifetime," he said.
But he remembers enough that he finds himself feeling a pang of sympathy for two current teammates broadcasting their first Super Bowl. Tony Romo and Nate Burleson never made it to the big game.
"I feel bad that they never did because there's nothing like walking out of that tunnel," he said. "You grow up your whole life wanting to be the quarterback of a Super Bowl team and you finally get out there."
If he sounds at home for this one, he is. Rams quarterback Jared Goff's play-action passes and the mental telepathy between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels conjure up images of Esiason's Super Bowl offense.
ON CHANGES IN BENGALDOM:
"I've been advocating for that the last few years that they need a fresh set of eyes. It had gotten stale in Cincy, now it's going to become fresh. It's good because they cleaned everybody out and they're going to bring in a whole new staff. I think that's exactly what the Bengals need."
ON THE SIMILARITIES OF THE WEST COAST OFFENSES FOR THE '88 BENGALS AND '18 RAMS:
"I don't think it's all that much different. A lot of their running game is off tackle, outside zone. Then there's play-action off of that. It does remind me of our offense in the 80s. It's not like they're unveiling new techniques, new formations. The rules are different to get the ball down field. Jared Goff does a lot of play action. They run off tackle. There's a lot of misdirection in the secondary with different routes. Very similar to what (Washington) used to do with the deep over (routes), and certainly what we did with play action.
"Now everybody has the no huddle, the quick huddle. We ran the no huddle at the line of scrimmage, wait until the defense moves to call the play."
ON MORE '88 COMPARISONS:
Brady is ahead of everyone (mentally) and Josh McDaniels is a play ahead of everybody. Those two guys are so in sync with one another. (Rams head coach) Sean (McVay) and Jared will get there one day. They're not there yet. Very few have that combination. If there are any I can't think of them. Very few have that communication in the league. Maybe Drew (Brees) and Sean (Payton) are the only other ones in the league that have that same level of communication and understanding and trust in one another. I had that with (Former Bengals head coach) Sam (Wyche).
ON THE PATRIOTS RUN OF NINE SUPER BOWLS IN 18 SEASONS:
Unbelievable. Given free agency, salary cap, impact of social media, the selfishness of athletes. What they've done over the last (18) years is the greatest single run any franchise has ever had given all the outside influences. Their legacy was cemented five years ago. I don't ever see it happening (again). Especially in the NFL. Look at the Warriors, maybe, but they've got five guys, not 46 guys every year having to deal with injuries, salary cap, a 41-year old quarterback playing like he's 30. Incredible.
ON WHY TOM BRADY IS THE GREATEST QUARTERBACK OF ALL-TIME:
I said four or five years ago he was the greatest quarterback of all time. Then I got the blow-back. People are asking me, 'What about Montana? He won four Super Bowls.' That's not why. He plays well in almost every single big game. Look at his numbers in (39) playoff games. They're incredible numbers. He deserves all the accolades.
Everything slows down for him (in the two-minute drill) and he's got guys around him that he trusts. He trusts (Chris) Hogan. He trusts James White. He trusts (Julian) Edelman. He's got (Rob) Gronkowski. All those guys have played a lot of football and the way they communicate…. On second-and-nine most teams in the league throw it. The Patriots run it. Third-and-four they run it again. They're a running team first … If you need to pass, that's when Tom takes over and he can do that.
ON HOW BRADY IS PLAYING HEADING INTO SUNDAY:
I think he was hurt (early in the season). The bye week really helped him. He's throwing the ball well. Exceptionally against the Chargers and Chiefs. His completion percentage of 58 of 64 in the post season (on throws) averaging 10 yards or less, he's been on the money. He looks strong, health. His accuracy is right there.
ON THE PATS' BIGGEST SUPER CHALLENGE:
The Patriots offensive line has allowed pressure up the middle. It hurt them against Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee (all losses). Now there's (Rams Pro Bowl tackle) Aaron Donald against your weak spot. That's why they spent money on guards and center. Interior pressure is quicker (for the quarterback). You have to move to the edge (and not step up). That leaves (Rams end) Dante Fowler on an island. They can handle one-on-one. I'm not worried about their tackles. But can they slow down Aaron Donald? Even when (the Rams) gave up 51 points, they scored two touchdowns because of Aaron Donald.
ON THIS GAME'S COACHING I.Q.:
(Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick has been texting with Sean McVay. You know what? You're a good coach. I know who you are … Both coaching staffs are going to come up with something. A Philly Special. A Cleveland Special. A Halle Berry. Whatever it is. One of the coaching staffs is going to come up with something on special teams or offense and they've probably been holding it for this moment.
ON WHY QUARTERBACKS NEED TO BE PROTECTED:
"It's more dangerous for quarterbacks now than when I played. We had Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Lawrence Taylor. Now every team has that guy going 110 miles per hour. That's why they built the rules. If you could stand behind a quarterback and feel what it feels like, you'd realize why they changed the rules like that because defensive players could kill somebody."