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Monday, 05 February
This Is The End, My Only Friend

I knew that trouble was brewing when I turned on the TV early Sunday afternoon and saw Stevie Nicks performing for some luckless souls prior--hours prior--to the Super Bowl. I stared in stupefaction as the witchy one twirled before my bulging eyes; the wife emerged from the bedroom in wonderment as well. Feeling numb, I turned my back to the television and decided to unload the dishwasher.

"Stevie Nicks?" she cried. "I'M UNLOADING THE DISHWASHER," I screamed, trying to block out reality.

Fog began to enclose my city, as if drawing a protective cloak about itself, but nothing could stop the broadcast.

As with the past four years, a couple buddies came over to watch the show at my place. At least this year wouldn't be like the last, when we watched the Seahawks tank it against the Steelers. (I will reiterate my opinion that the Seahawks lost the game all by themselves, but that was some of the worst refereeing I've ever seen.)

This year, the boys and I regarded these two teams with something approaching a complete nullity of interest. On the one hand, there was the Colts, headed up by the supremely irritating Peyton Manning--you may have seen him in your dreams, hawking sleep aids, waking aids, Band-Aids and AIDS--and the Bears, who, apart from the terrifyingly schizophrenic Rex Grossman, weren't really that irritating, apart from the fact that they beat our team out this year. WHO TO ROOT FOR?

Obviously, the Colts. Yes, Peyton Manning is a charmless pout machine. On the other hand, the Bears beat us out. Clearly, we had to root for the Colts. Such is the pellucid mind of the everyday sports fan. The enemy of my enemy . . .

But before we could even get there, we had to suffer through the inevitable pre-game horrors. My friend C. showed up after the Stevie Nicks holocaust--"I saw that! I changed the channel," he said--but he did arrive in time to witness the mind-stopping antics of (allegedly) Cirque Du Soleil.

Just what nobody wanted. "First they ruined Vegas," moaned C., "now they're ruining football." And they sure did their level best. "One dream . . . one love . . . one passion," keened some anonymous woman looking like she got the Fruit Salad award from the Miami Chamber of Commerce, accompanied by the same tiresome fucking AOR-meets-World Beat garbage music that Cirque is so infamous for and sounds like what I imagine Peter Gabriel's toothpaste tastes like.

But there was no actual Cirque-ery in evidence. No jugglers. No contortionists. Not even a hateful sad clown out there waiting to be stoned to death by an angry audience, a la Chaplin vs. The Lottery. What did we get?

College cheerleaders tossing chicks up in the air while the cameramen scurried for beaver shots. The closest thing you got to vintage Cirque was that stupid goddamn swinging platform trapeze with Cirquers launching themselves into space, flipping around unaerodynamically, only to come down on the padded turf like so many incomplete passes. Little did we know that this was a harbinger of things to come.

There isn't much to say about the game itself (although a quick scan of would seem to refute this observation), except for the delightful comic performance of young Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. Grossman has taken a lot of heat for his startlingly inept performance in the Super Bowl, but I have another explanation. I think Grossman was genuinely moved by the luke- and heart-warm feel-good antics of Cirque. I think Grossman's performance . . . was a performance.

How else to explain the inexplicable moon-shot arcs of those long passes, which seemed to describe non-Euclidean parabolas, and were inevitably intercepted by disbelieving defensive backs? Or the Buster Keaton-inspired antics in the pocket, when, under very little pressure, Rex responded by hopping around like a duck on a hot plate? Or, my favorite, the busted snap where, when upon losing the ball immediately, Rex dropped back three steps anyway? None of it made any sense except in the context of a sophisticated comedy performance, which, I have to say, Grossman pulled off skillfully. We've been underestimating this lad.

If we are to be fair, though--which is hardly a robust suggestion, since this is, after all, sports--the game was a comedy through and through for both teams. There were--I think--six turnovers in the game, and four of those in the first half, including a really crappy interception thrown by Shovel-Face Manning that should have come with a "From Santa" message. Both teams fumbled more or less constantly, particularly in the first half, with these really bizarre non-recoveries, as if indigents had ejaculated on the ball prior to the play in question. "Uh, God, you can have it."

But in the end, the Colts took it, partially because of Grossman's pitch-perfect comedy stylings, the fact that the Bears defense succumbed to Tony Dungy's tachyon technology that kept them on the field for hours at a time, and the confusing lack of Bears tackling that I assume had to due with the prior hobo-sperm issue.

"Don't tackle me! I'm slathered in hobo come."

"You may pass."

Finally, in what must be the final irony, Peyton Manning was crowned the MVP. That wasn't the ironic part, at least for those of us who could see that coming halfway through the third quarter. The ironic part was when Peyton handed down the championship trophy to his teammates and one of them dropped it. An alert Brian Urlacher, seeing the downed item, fiercely fell on it and then stood up holding it triumphantly. Manning's face fell as the refs conferred.

"The ruling on the field is a fumble," said the ref. "It's only fair. Chicago has recovered the trophy. Chicago is the winner of this Super Bowl." The play is unreviewable by rule. Manning's lip was seen to tremble as the press gathered around a jubilant Urlacher. When asked the inevitable "What are you going to do now that you've won the Super Bowl?", Urlacher responded, "I'm going to make more soup commercials!"

Grudging congratulations to the Chicago Bears for the 2007 Super Bowl. They earned it.

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While the Bears' almost comic ineptitude was reminiscent of the "Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition" on Monty Python's Flying Circus, I still wear my Urlacher jersey proudly, because the Bears are competitive with the best teams in football (rarely the case in the past) and I have faith that the team's management will actually correctly identify the Bears' problem areas and fix them, as opposed to prior management's usual approach, which often has been to open the door of the clown car and pluck out the most unpromising of the clowns that tumble out. That one usually becomes the quarterback.

Comment number: 011787   Posted by: Andrew on February 6, 2007 09:09 PM from IP:

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