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Get your head in the game

The Baltimore Sun

Are you ready for the Super Bowl? Well, you'll just have to wait; the game isn't until tomorrow, and like recent Super Bowls, not till dinnertime. So, what's there to do until then?

You could prepare for the battle between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts by immersing yourself in all things football, such as brushing up on your knowledge of the game if you aren't a diehard fan (so you'll know what's going on when everyone in the room starts yelling "Flea Flicker" in urgent tones).

You could also take in a movie, read a book or listen to music associated with the sport. Football, you see, isn't all about Xs and O's. Here are a few songs, books, movies and Web sites - some obvious, some obscure - to stoke your passion for the big game:

Football songs

"All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over for Monday Night Football," by Hank Williams Jr.

This is a remake of Williams' All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight and the theme song for the past 16 years for the Monday Night Football telecast during the regular season. Includes the popular gridiron cry, "Are you ready for some football? " "We Will Rock You," by Queen

Practically an NFL stadium anthem, though most venues cut the song short about midway through, after Queen's foot-stomping chant, "We will, we will rock you." "Heart of a Champion," by Nelly

In this song, off his 2004 Sweat album, the rapper mentions several pro stars, including Ray Lewis and a prominent player in tomorrow's championship: "The M-V-P of the game, intensity still the same I'm shootin' out from my reign, with Peyton Manning-type aim." "Rock N' Roll, Part 2," by Gary Glitter

Also known as the "Hey Song." It's a 1972 glam-rock tune played at venues around North America: You clap and bob your head as the guitars riff and, at the right moment, yell, "Hey!" It is believed that the craze began in Denver, first with the then-National Hockey League's Colorado Rockies, followed by the NFL's Denver Broncos. "Who Let The Dogs Out," by the Baha Men

Includes the "woof, woof," chants that conjure up images of a fired-up stadium crowd. Not as popular as it once was, but the Ravens' faithful had so embraced the song during the team's 2000-2001 title run that the band appeared at City Hall to play the hit at a post-Super Bowl rally.

Football books

Paper Lion, by George Plimpton

The renowned author joins the 1963 Detroit Lions' training camp and tries to become their third-string quarterback. The book puts you in his shoes when he finally goes into an intra-squad game: The action races at Plimpton so fast it's a virtual blur. He desperately tries to gather his bearings while scrambling to avoid being tackled by oversized athletes. A good read for any armchair quarterback who has occasionally, if not irrationally, wondered, "What if ... " When the Grass Was Real: Unitas, Brown, Lombardi, Sayers, Butkus, Namath, and All the Rest: The Best Ten Years of Pro Football, by Bob Carroll

The book relives the 1960s, when the game took root to become the spectacle it is today. It also showcases some of the sport's most renowned players. When the television announcers tomorrow say that a particular linebacker is a throwback to Dick Butkus, you'll know what they mean. Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game!: A Woman's Guide to Loving Pro Football, by Holly Robinson Peete and Daniel Paisner.

The actress and wife of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete explains the game's nuances and invites women to make watching a husband-wife affair. Gentlemen, This Is a Football: Football's Best Quotes and Quips, by Eric Zweig

Leading to the Super Bowl, you'll hear players make some of the most banal and colorless statements imaginable. So here's to players who speak their mind, even if they don't make sense. To wit: When former Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh was asked to describe an opposing linebacker who was devoutly religious, Baugh said, "He knocks the hell out of people, but in a Christian way." Then there's former Dallas Cowboys' combative running back Duane Thomas, commenting on the importance of the Super Bowl: "If it's the ultimate game, then how come they're playing it again next year?" When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore: A Father and a Son, a Team and a Time, by William Gildea

We're not suggesting this one to reopen old wounds over the relocated Colts, who are about to play in their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984. No, a better reason to read this one would be to understand why the city's love for the team, and for football, is so deeply ingrained.

Web sites

rexgrossman.com

Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Super Bowl's lesser-known quarterback, Chicago's Rex Grossman, whose grandfather played for the Baltimore Colts. The site even allows you to e-mail Grossman. Think he'll have his BlackBerry on during the game? superbowl.com/history

Impress your friends with boundless knowledge of Super Bowl trivia. Probe this site and you'll know who performed the National Anthem at the first Super Bowl (bands from the universities of Arizona and Michigan); at which Super Bowl Ella Fitzgerald performed at halftime (Super Bowl VI) and which team that has been to more than one Super Bowl has never lost (the San Francisco 49ers, which have won five). ehow.com/how_ 11145_ throw-super-bowl.html

Throwing a Super Bowl party this weekend? This how-to site suggests ways to make your fest a success. Tips include: Invest in a few foam "bad-call bricks" that your guests can throw at the TV to express their feelings about the refs - without doing damage to your house. krazygeorge.com

Dedicated to "Krazy" George Henderson, the self-proclaimed "world's sexiest professional cheerleader," who is credited with inventing the "wave" cheer at a Major League Baseball game on Oct. 15, 1981. superbowl-ads.com

Watch your favorite Super Bowl ads from yesteryear. Includes the 1998 Doritos' 3-D ad, where a sexy model loads a clothes dryer with the snack chips, turns it on, then stands across the room and catches the flying morsels with her mouth as they explode out of the dryer.

Football movies

The Longest Yard (1974)

Starring Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert, the film pits a collection of inmates against a prison-guard football team. Convicts set aside their differences and form a bond as they try to show up the authoritarian guards. One of the more popular films that illustrates how society's wretched unite with a spirited sense of purpose when presented with a pigskin. Brian's Song (1971)

Starring James Caan and Billie Dee Williams, the made-for-television tearjerker chronicles the life of Chicago Bears player Brian Piccolo, who was stricken with terminal cancer, and his friendship with the great Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers. It was so popular as a television film that it was eventually shown in theaters. North Dallas 40 (1979)

For those who can't get enough of the behind-the-scenes view of the game. This film offers a fictional account of drug abuse in football - well before the problem made national headlines in reality. Starring Mac Davis and Nick Nolte, it's purported to be loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Jamie Foxx and Al Pacino star in this Oliver Stone film that explores the relationship between a temperamental third-string quarterback who exploits the limelight after suddenly vaulting into stardom and an aging, old-school coach concerned that the game is passing him by. It's about ambition and clashes of wills and shows that behind every helmet and jersey lies a compelling story. The Replacements (2000)

Based loosely on the 1987 NFL Players' strike, the film starring Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves is about an uncanny group of football players hired to fill in for striking regulars. The movie was shot at Baltimore's football stadium, then named PSINet, although Baltimore - once again - is cast as the nation's capital down the road. Like nearly all sports-related movies, this one reminds us how much we all root for the underdog.

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

Readers can offer their own suggestions for football movies, books, songs and Web sites on baltimoresun.com.

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