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The Baltimore Sun

PHOENIX-- --Tom Brady yesterday spoke to fans at the New England Patriots' stadium in Foxborough, Mass., before the team headed to the airport for its trip to Arizona and the Super Bowl. But was anybody in the crowd of 15,000 even looking at his mouth? Or were their eyes drawn down to his feet?

Brown wingtips, according to eyewitnesses on the scene. On both feet. Not a protective walking boot in sight.

That is what Super Bowl Week will be all about. It's what last week was all about, not as much about the quest for perfection as about the quest for morsels of news about what the Patriots are calling Brady's high right ankle sprain. (We've all learned, of course, that just because the Patriots say something is so doesn't mean it is.) First, the picture. Then the no-shows at practice all week. Then the public sighting yesterday.

Throughout the week, paparazzi scrambled for position to capture Brady walking around the way they used to when Britney Spears climbed out of limos.

Given that Super Week is only occasionally about football anyway, none of this is a surprise. It makes it easy to pick one topic to head a list of 10 that will be beaten straight into the ground (including on these very pages, to be honest) by kickoff Sunday. You could make a case that the last time No. 1 was so undisputed was when Ray Lewis and the Ravens were there.

Without further ado:

1. The Boot. Hourly updates to come.

2. The Restraining Order. A hearing on the battery complaint against Randy Moss, filed by a Florida woman who has a temporary restraining order against him, is today, but Moss will remain with the team. Media day is tomorrow, though, and given that this is also his Super Bowl debut, expect fireworks at the Moss podium. Or at least spirited discourse.

3. Cheaters. The New York Post is running a Super Bowl banner across the tops of its sports pages: "Giants vs. *." Any chance that Spygate was going to be a lesser issue evaporated as soon as a New York team made the game; the violations, remember, took place against the Jets on opening day.

4. Yankees-Sawx. The Boston and New York media have dusted off the rivalry chestnuts usually reserved for the decades-long baseball feud. Granted, there's no history to speak of between the Patriots and Giants to lend this a real spark, but bet on it: A fire will be lit anyway.

5. The '72 Grouches ... er, Miami Dolphins. Over-under on the day you'll be tired of hearing from or about the previous perfect NFL team: last Oct. 15. That ship sailed long ago, but it's sailing back full-steam this week.

6. Peyton's Brother. And father. And, thanks to the new cookie commercial, Mom, too. Actually, the Mannings are a legitimately fascinating story, not unlike the rise of the Williams sisters in tennis, except without the catsuits. We hope.

7. Tiki Barber. Hey, the team he retired from just a year ago made the Super Bowl! Any chance we can catch up to him and get a comment from him?

8. Sit 'em or start 'em? By the end of the week, every member of the Giants' traveling party will be asked some version of this question: Does your being here prove that playing your starters and playing hard in the finale against the Patriots, instead of resting everybody and protecting against injuries, was the right move? The correct answer, of course, is: "I have no idea whatsoever." Nobody will give that answer, though.

9. Pronounced like Mexico. It's possible Plaxico Burress is bothered by having left the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Giants right before the Steelers won the Super Bowl two years ago. So he got a jump on slinging outrageous statements last week by claiming the Giants' receiving corps is better than the Patriots'. He might prove to be another Ali. Or this year's Freddie Mitchell.

10. Paris. Super Week is fertile ground for an embarrassing public incident involving a player or coach, police, alcohol, nudity or all of the above. It doesn't always happen, and these are both pretty focused, borderline-boring teams. On the other hand, Paris Hilton will be in town no later than Thursday.

If nothing else, her presence will draw a portion of the photogs away from Tom Brady and his foot. Presuming they're not at the same place at the same time. Or climbing out of the same limo.

david.steele@baltsun.com

Listen to David Steele on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).

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