This being the sports section and all, and today being the day after the Super Bowl, I guess it's all but a prerequisite that I write about Sunday's game, including talking about its various accompaniments and accouterments — the pomp and circumstance, and bread and circuses, that lead up to, accompany, and/or sometimes overshadow the NFL's championship game.
While it is often of no moment when I remind you that I write these columns on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, it seems not only fair, but also necessary to make clear that point today.
No. I'm not writing this with the acuity that hindsight affords. Rather, I'm likely about to fumble through the sort of filibustering necessary to overcome my two-days too-soon submission — talking about the game, or anything but, without actually knowing what happened Sunday night.
Come on clairvoyance, don't fail me now.
I kid. I'm not Jimmy the Greek, nor Beano Cook. Besides, any post-game prognostications, particularly if proven to be accurate, would call into question when I actually pressed send on this week's submission. And, one of the promises I made in my first column, knowing these would run on Monday mornings, was that I'd never play the proverbial Monday Morning Quarterback.
When people ask, "Who's your [NFL] team?" insisting that I pick one, when pressed, I often say the Bears. (There go all those friends I made last week.)
Because, well, when I was a kid, the Colts had skipped town, literally in the middle of the night, sometime before I can remember. There were no Ravens. There also wasn't yet "Thursday Night Football," "Sunday Night Football," ESPN's countless "Countdowns," an NFL Network, no Sunday Ticket, or a RedZone. We were out of market for my dad's Eagles. And, so ... sometimes I say things that make me feel old(er) — and the following is one such statement.
My first football-related memory was of a Super Bowl party (complete with the then oh-so-popular six-foot sub, served atop a six-foot long 2x4) to watch a game featuring the 1985 Super Bowl shuffling Chicago Bears.
And those Bears with their iconic player, Walter Payton, flamboyant, headband-wearing quarterback, Jim McMahon, stout defense, caricature, William "the Refrigerator" Perry, and sweater-vest-clad throwback-of-a-coach, Mike Ditka, were both fun to watch and a juggernaut on the field.
I didn't learn about the "Shuffle" until later.
Imagine 1985 Jim McMahon with a Twitter account. (Though, imagine 1990s Michael Irvin with a camera phone and/or an Instagram account.)
I have no idea who won Sunday night — likely whichever team committed fewer turnovers, and probably hinged at least in part on whether or not Carolina got out to an early lead and/or if Denver was able to limit the Panthers' running game, including Cam Newton's rushing yards.
But, I can tell you this — if Newton and the Panthers scored, some lucky kid sitting in the first row is going to be a Cam Newton and a Panthers fan for life, having been gifted a Super Bowl game ball.
Newton may be a polarizing figure, but you can't argue with his celebratory giving-away of footballs to young Panthers fans. It's a classy move, and the pure joy in the reactions and on the faces of the kids that receive those balls really represents the positive power and impact big-time sports and big-time athletes can have on their young fans.
Look at that, 575 words about the Super Bowl without mention of Bey, Cold Play, any of the $5 million-per-30-second Super Bowl commercials or the brands behind them, the NFL's unabashed self-promotion in the week, days and hours leading up to the game, or of the literal bacchanalia begotten by those taking in the festivities, live in game's host city.
If, by the time you read this, all went according to plan (e.g. I didn't wake up to a work-related to-do list needing to be tended to on Sunday morning), my hope is to watch the ESPN "30 for 30" released last week about the 1985 Super Bowl shuffling Chicago Bears sometime Sunday.
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Thirty years is a long time. Memories fade. According to Google and/or Wikipedia, a band called Up with People performed at halftime of Super Bowl XX, a character named Herb was the focus of Burger King's in-game commercials, and a jingle about "cheese, glorious cheese" also made its debut.
I vaguely remember the Fridge going over-the-top to score a touchdown in Super Bowl XX, adding an emphatic spike in celebration of his somewhat gimmicky play. I wasn't old enough to understand the negative implications and/or ramifications of that play then, or how or that it could be interpreted to be and/or that it was a bit of a slap-in-the-face to Payton, the Bears' consummate pro. (Why didn't Ditka reward Payton with the chance to score in the Super Bowl in that situation?)
Again, with the game a day away, I can't know who will win, or, reading this the day after, who has won, either way. My hope — for a well-played, close, exciting game, preferably one that ends before 10 p.m. so I can stay awake for the whole thing, especially if it is a close game in the fourth quarter.
And, my hope, not having a particular dog in this fight, is that Cam and the Panthers scored at least once, so some young fan experienced the kind of unbridled youthful exuberance only afforded by such a sports-based situation. But, being honest, that the Broncos won, so that Peyton Manning was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates, writing and/or playing out the sort of storybook ending to the career of someone, Manning, who epitomizes what it is and means to be a consummate professional, in the sort of story-book style that, again, only sports afford.
But, by now, you'll know better than I did/do.