Spiffy Talks Super Bowl XLIII and Beer

by

  kurtwarner

 

          

        This night, as many do, begins with beer. Like a trumpet sounding for war, the beginning of Super Bowl XLIII is signaled by an onslaught of foam and the unmistakable aroma and sound of lukewarm Keystone Light being released from its dented aluminum prison. While Al Michaels and John Madden talk about the same things that have been talked about ad nausea for the past two weeks (or in the case of Kurt Warner’s rags to riches story, for ten years), the group of friends are, for what would be the only time in the next four plus hours, sublimely quiet, indulging in the Slumdog Millionaire of beers (or at least, beer flavored water).

            Yet, the story begins, as some do, before beer. It begins with the end of sleep, the rubbing of the eyes and the collective “Holy shit” that practically reverberates throughout the two stories of rickety, smelly, sticky college debauchery. This thought, the “Holy shit the Super Bowl is on in less than 6 hours and the house is a rickety, smelly, sticky college induced nightmare”, plops firmly in each housemate’s consciousness, satisfying the prerequisites for the rude awakening expected every day of the weekend….(to be continued after the bounce)

 

            Fast forward a few hours later. After a half ass attempt to make the house look presentable (which amounts to picking up the aforementioned Keystone Light’s from the weekend strewn about like garbage in alleyways, and scrubbing tables and sweeping floors), the unfortunate two roommates that have to actually leave the semi warm confines of the house find themselves, as many in Ithaca find themselves, at Wegman’s. As they expected, the place is bustling with activity: families, friends and the unwashed (the latter of which you both, pathetically, satisfy this day) are frantic to find chips, dip, hamburgers, hot dogs, 3-D glasses and…Oh, that. “We can’t forget the fucking beer, honey!”

            After the requisite purchases are made, there are less than two hours before people will arrive and ruin any chance at concentration on pursuits of the academic variety, including this very essay. Even before then, your mind drifts; your thoughts float and gather themselves elsewhere, as restless as you are. That’s when it becomes obvious: you’re ready for the game to start, foreplay be damned. This realization is coupled with the intense grumbling of your stomach, which, depending on the caliber of football fan could be indicative of a far more serious situation than the opening kickoff.

            You turn on the Emeril licensed deep fryer. You welcome the guests glibly yet focus on the all-important task at hand. Dunk the curly fries in the oil, watch your hands, then repeat with the steak fries, onion rings and boneless buffalo wings. Then, you eat. You gorge, for after all, it’s the Super BowlÔ. At least that’s what you tell yourself as you watch two bags of frozen wings go into the gullets of the masses, mildly impressed and horrified all the same.

            Every few minutes you check your phone for the time and the downstairs TV to make sure you aren’t missing anything. For once, you’re thankful of all the bullshit and masturbation that comes before the actual game. For once, you appreciate that NBC hired Matt Millen and Jerome Bettis (who’s about as unbiased for today’s game as Troy Aikman is every Sunday on FOX covering the Cowboys with America’s preeminent example of nepotism, Joe Buck).

            After stocking up another plate of boneless wings (the myriad of fries and onion rings have long since been pilfered from the table o’ food thoughtfully provided), you hurry up the stairs, delighted to find that no one has taken your preordained seat. Because you’ll be damned if anyone’s going to sit in your spot on the couch that’s best situated to view the high definition broadcast of America’s new favorite past time on your SANYO, shamelessly purchased at Wal-Mart.

            Thus, the story has come full circle. The 30 rack of beer has been opened and subsequently distributed. And now, both upstairs and downstairs, some of your best friends and some of those people that your best friends bring, enjoy the “Always smooth” taste of Keystone LightÔ. Others, believing themselves “above” Keystone Light, share a 12 pack of Blue Moon. For a moment, you consider the irony: you’ve seen this commercial a thousand times, and are about to be watching more en masse tonight, but now, it’s your life. That thought, which threatens your peace of mind and the moment, is quickly thrown back into the recesses of your subconscious, where everything except the almighty pigskin will remain until the hour-long episode of The Office (starring Jack Black, Cloris Leachman and Jessica Alba!) follows the game.

You’re rooting for the Cardinals, despite being the NFC West rivals of your Seattle Seahawks (but let’s be honest, the NFC West isn’t the best place to develop rivalries). Why? It could be your hatred of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that, with the help of the referees, robbed you, your city and your team of the only title in Seattle sports since 1979 (held by a team that no longer exists, having been exiled to hell, or rather, Oklahoma City). It could be your respect for Kurt Warner, “The Bearded One”, who had the audacity to shave before the game (around this time you receive a text from your friend Kate saying the guy’s “very good looking, even for an old man”). Yes, this “old man”, who makes the Super Bowl look like a game of Madden (the guy now holds the top three yardage totals in the Super Bowl in his only three appearances), is a big part of your fleeting Cardinal fandom. It could be because you had Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald on your fantasy team. It could be because you find yourself inextricably linked with the underdog, like most of America (aside from those morally bankrupt people, with even less imagination, who always root for the favorites or join the bandwagon; these are the type of people who believe a movie or TV show’s success is defined solely by money and ratings). You’ve always liked the underdog, because, you’ve never been predictable and never found the fun in dynasties (of course, you’ve never had the opportunity to have one in your city). You enjoy the teams, exemplifying the lower class, that beat the favorites, especially if it’s the media’s favorite, upsetting the balance of power and rendering glad-handed assumptions obsolete, while all the while pissing off the establishment (in this case, the NFL). Yes, you like that. A lot. You’re rooting for the Cardinals for all these reasons, rational or irrational (but when has sport ever been rational?).

            The crowded room features a multitude of personalities. There are a couple girls, who say nary a word except when commercials are on. Then there are a bunch of guys, a few having little to no knowledge of football. Some have the decency to keep this secret to themselves; others pay little heed, and show it when predicting an interception on a kickoff return or when they repeat what others have to say like clockwork. Then there are those that know what’s going on, have watched all season, and care about the result. And, of course, in the corner off to the side, is the lone real Steeler fan, wearing the number 43 proudly, who’s emotions run from announcements that “this is the best weekend of my life” to leaving the room, in anger and bewilderment, for a friendlier environment downstairs.

            After the fourth time that Al Michaels mentions the last place rushing offense for the Cardinals, the group before the TV, that glowing orb of sport, begins to make its own commentary, culminating in the all too predictable roundtable John Madden impersonations.

You need another beer. The Steelers lead 10-0 and the Cardinals have done nothing to this point, save play incredible red zone defense, which has kept them in the game. It could be the flat beer speaking, but you had a feeling: “the awesome begins now”. And, so it did, as Warner calmly led the first Cardinal touchdown drive of the game, narrowing the margin to 3. Of course, after that, rarely were your constant predictions of Roethlisberger turnovers on target, or even close. Around the third time that Roethlisberger twists and turns avoiding the rush and completing a rather annoying pass, the crowd expresses the certain familiarity about his slippery nature, and compares him to Brett Favre. Well, without the necessary four or five throws a game that may as well be gift wrapped to the secondary.

You certainly didn’t see the last second interception thrown by Warner in the red zone right before half coming (who had been perfect in the red zone all postseason), and certainly didn’t predict (or fathom) Harrison’s Super Bowl record 100 yard interception return for a touchdown that made the entire audience exhausted just by watching.

            Then it was “Boss Time”. Then, it was over.

Contrary to what Kurt Warner might tell you (even in defeat), the only thing that was a gift of God that night was the chili. Man, that chili. Meat, beans, corn and spices ground into a sensational medley of awesome that was then marinated in beer. A few friends, having had chili every Super Bowl since they could remember, made culinary magic in that awful, smelly kitchen. The results were delicious, spicy, about as filling as you could imagine, and went terrific with a beer. And, as an added bonus, you will have the evidence of the meal on your sweatshirt for years to come.

Then you remember there’s a game going on. You open another beer, gulping its contents greedily. The third quarter goes by with little interest, but the hope of a big finish remains, even as the score remained 20-7 for far too long. This is when you predicted a flurry of Cardinal fury, and in turn, your friend with little sport acumen foresaw a 21-20 Cards victory. Little did we know how close that was to happening, thanks to the Arizona no huddle offense. Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator and future Kansas City Chief head coach, perhaps sat on his ass too long before going with the no huddle (it seems, at least to this humble narrator, that the no huddle offense almost always opens up the offense and puts the opposition in disarray, yet is always implemented too late in games). With the Cardinals finally playing with a purpose, Larry Fitzgerald, perhaps the star of this year’s playoffs, erupted, proving unstoppable even against the #1 ranked defense in the NFL, constant double teams, gravity and common sense. It was stupid what this tall, lanky receiver from Pitt could do; so stupid, in fact, that one of the members in the audience posited that “Fitzgerald can catch anything thrown to him within a 75 yard radius”, and it didn’t sound impossible. It should be hard to overshadow Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, but when a guy has hands stickier than the downstairs kitchen floor it becomes a no brainer to throw a fade from the 1-yard line in double coverage instead of a simple run (of course, as Al Michaels reminds us again, the Cardinals were the least proficient running team in the NFL), you realize nothing is hard for this man.

Sometime during this unlikely Cardinal rally, one of your friends nearly “jinxed” it all. Of course, it’s completely ridiculous (and again, irrational), but when he ran up the stairs announcing his certainty that the Cards would score on this drive, the Cards immediately stalled and were forced to punt. This ethos of superstition is ingrained in sport and its fans to the very core. You wonder why a bunch of people who certainly don’t believe in a higher power in all other walks of life all of a sudden get in a tizzy about one’s facial hair, socks or in this case, premature predictions. Even as you know how dumb it all is, you still were the loudest during the screams of protest at the would be “jinx-er”. But, whew, what a punt, and the game was back, the jinx avoided.

Something nobody thought would be uttered was yelled late in the fourth quarter: “Safety shotgun time!” Only two of your friends did it (the Steeler fan responded by a loud “Fuck you” to the offer), but the jubilance of the room was palpable, as grown men hugged and clapped for far too long. The Cardinals were only down 20-16 now, and the ball was coming their way. Another beer was a necessity at this point, and that was when you sensed that there was no way the Steelers could stop them on this drive, which rather than settling your stomach full of chili, worried you, because, as you made mention of numerous times, there was “too much time left”. Sure enough, as Fitzgerald cantered through the open field with ease on a 64 yard score, your only thoughts were on the clock: 2:37. Way too much time.

Sure enough, the Steelers, with Roethlisberger relying almost solely on future Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, scored with 35 seconds remaining. Sure, the Cardinals had two timeouts, but the sinking feeling in your stomach had nothing to do with the chili this time.

Your idiot friend then announces: “This is what the Hail Mary was invented for”, which ushers in a discussion of Doug Flutie, Flutie Flakes™ and autism, giving everyone a mental break and a tiny bit of optimism for the next couple minutes. Alas, our optimism was squashed, characterized by the Steeler fan running up the stairs yelling “FUCK YOU” at all of us (but he’s looking at you, kid). Now dejected, you grab another beer.

As typical of a Kurt Warner helmed loss, the game ends with a turnover. Only this time, the fumble occurring before his last ditch Hail Mary toss was questionable, yet not reviewed, no matter what the NFL argues later. This was a fitting end to a game dominated by stupid penalties, providing more evidence that referees have far too much control, and don’t know what to do with it. Or rather, maybe they do: maybe they decided to be friendly to the Steelers to placate the masses and the NFL, and in so doing, found it necessary to call idiotic personal fouls every other play in the fourth quarter to secure a win for the favored team. You think aloud that you’d like to see the Steelers win a Super Bowl without the clear assistance of the zebra skinned judge and jury of football. You’d like to see football avoid becoming like the NBA, where the games’ final two minutes are ALWAYS decided by fouls. You’d like to see a Super Bowl remembered for the game, and just for the game. You’d like to see a lot of things. And that’s why, in spite of it all, you’ll always tune in again next year. Maybe the hapless team that shouldn’t have been there will win next time. You can always hope. Of course, there’s a better chance of your house being cleaned by your guests, but like you’ve discovered, nothing about sports and fandom is rational.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Spiffy Talks Super Bowl XLIII and Beer”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    Epic.

    This was my favorite part:

    The crowded room features a multitude of personalities. There are a couple girls, who say nary a word except when commercials are on. Then there are a bunch of guys, a few having little to no knowledge of football. Some have the decency to keep this secret to themselves; others pay little heed, and show it when predicting an interception on a kickoff return or when they repeat what others have to say like clockwork. Then there are those that know what’s going on, have watched all season, and care about the result. And, of course, in the corner off to the side, is the lone real Steeler fan, wearing the number 43 proudly, who’s emotions run from announcements that “this is the best weekend of my life” to leaving the room, in anger and bewilderment, for a friendlier environment downstairs.

    Ah, takes me back to the days of watching World Cup ’02 in high school.

    I had to Google “Flutie Flakes” to figure out how autism got in there.

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    Yeah it was like 8 pages doublespaced. I went overboard with it, but it was kind of for a class. This was my rough draft.

    Glad you took the time to read it Goki-O! And yeah, the environment of sports sometimes makes the event, especially with the Super Bowl, but I’m happy you could relate to the World Cup through it.

  3. gokitalo Says:

    It’s all football anyway, right? 😉

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