The Game? You Mean They Had a Game Too?
5 1/2 Hours to Kickoff
Frank: Hey, how'd you like that other huge game
that just finished?
Artie: Huh? The Badgers and Michigan State haven't tipped off yet.
Frank: I meant the Chelsea-Liverpool soccer showdown.
Artie: Another nil-nil earth-shaker?
Frank: Heck no! Liverpool scored a goal.
Artie: I'm thrilled. But I'm more thrilled that UW basketball will keep me from joining the Super Bowl pregame death march.
Frank: You've already missed most of ESPN's four-hour bloc of blather. You still have to avoid Channel 6 for another five hours or so.
Artie: Eight-plus hours; that's cuttin' it close. How can they be sure they'll spew out every possible word from every possible gasbag?
Frank: Maybe they're saying everything twice, just to see if anybody notices.
Artie: Of course I'd watch the Badgers anyway, but I've been desperate for something I can focus on. Last night I was in bed at 9 o'clock! I couldn't pay attention to anything in print or on TV. Cripes, if I'd started getting the Spice Channel for free, it wouldn't have mattered.
Frank: Feeling that much Super Bowl tension?
Artie: It's not that; I've been buried in hype for so long that everything's just gone blank. Maybe I got a concussion when I banged my head on the fridge door grabbing a cold one.
Frank: There'll still be three hours to go after UW finishes. Some networks have "marathons" competing with the Super Bowl lead-up. There's "Law & Order" in various forms on TNT and USA.
Artie: If I ever watch any of those, the hospice is the next stop.
Frank: MTV is giving Jets fans an afternoon of "comfort" programming—"Jersey Shore." On the ever-classy Spike channel, there's a marathon of something called "1000 Ways to Die."
Artie: For me, one way would be watching Chelsea-Liverpool.
Frank: I won't have trouble concentrating on some good reading before the kickoff, but what'll you do?
Artie: I reckon I'll give in and go to FOX, but not until about 4:45.
Frank: Let me know which studio Einstein says the game "will be won in the trenches."
Artie: That's too old school. Nowadays they say it'll be won by whoever achieves "A-gap maintenance." But after the Badgers finish I'll also have time for my usual Sunday activity.
Frank: Light housekeeping?
Artie: You betcha. Coach McCarthy wanted to make this just another game, not do anything different, so I'm keepin' it real!
Frank: Wow, 82-56 for the Badgers! An omen,
Artie: Too risky. If I start invoking omens there's a good chance that tomorrow I'll be saying, "Well, at least the Badgers won." I'll just stick to laying out the Cheetos...
Frank: Oh yeah, I was going to ask about the menu.
Artie: Cheetos and Pabst Blue Ribbon, plus a tube of summer sausage.
Frank: With my PBR I'm going with Krunchers chips, original style, and a Miles Standish from my favorite sandwich place for 40 years, Suburpia. I'm going to FOX precisely at 5:29, the alleged kickoff time, and I'll bet they won't be playing yet.
Artie: Christina Aguilera is singing the national anthem and I'm predicting she'll torture it for about 2 minutes. A nice anthem should come in at about 1:25, but she'll flog that thing to the point where I'll want to go out and buy a Koran.
Frank: Since the kickoff was five minutes late, I
assume Christina came through.
Artie: I clocked her at 1:55. It was beyond everything, so over the top and overwrought. And it could’ve helped to know all the words. Just excruciating.
Frank: What about that self-important recitation by Michael Douglas, all that malarkey about how "this is so much bigger than a football game" and these teams "give us a chance, for one night, not only to dream but to believe." Huh? "Their journey is our journey." What, the Founding Fathers were thinking of this when they wrote the Constitution?
Artie: Take that, Al Qaeda, we've got the Super Bowl!
Frank: Anyway, in between all the commercials featuring young men being idiots, they played some football. And with a 21-10 halftime lead your confidence level is…?
Artie: Not as high as it'll be if they're ahead at the end of the game. It'll be interesting to see what defensive scheme Dom Capers has in the second half. So far he's not bringing a lot of extra pressure, just making Ben Roethlisberger prove his arm against the basic stuff.
Frank: And they got a big interception for a touchdown when the basic pass rush messed up Ben's throw. Also, something happened in the first half that didn't against Philadelphia and Chicago: The Packers got a third score to go up by more than two TDs.
Artie: But the Steelers came back to make a game of it. That's the way these things go. The Pack hasn't had any turnovers and I think no penalties either, but seeing Charles Woodson leave the field, and Sam Shields, and with Donald Driver already getting hurt, I'm real worried about who can go in the second half.
Frank: The decision to defer on the opening kickoff means they get the ball to start things.
Artie: It sure would be nice to use some clock and score, too. But I heard something interesting from Mark Chmura on the radio. He said it's really tough for players to get "up" for a Super Bowl second half because the stinkin' halftime is so long. He says you lose your sweat, your edge, and you expend a lot of energy just trying to keep your energy.
Frank: At $100,000 per second for TV ads, the league and FOX ain't shortening the show. Speaking of which, go delight in the Black Eyed Peas.
Artie: I liked the way the halftime shows had been trending, with geezers like the Stones and The Who. This time I was hoping for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, or at least the Everly Brothers, ain’a?
Frank: I hope the thrill of victory doesn't have
you speaking in tongues.
Artie: Only three words ever matter—Go, Pack, Go!
Frank: Congratulations. This team played six straight "elimination" games, the last four away from home, and won them all.
Artie: And in the second half tonight they did it with two of their big engines out of commission, Woodson and Driver.
Frank: When the Steelers made it 21-17, the defense kept things together and eventually forced the fumble that led to Greg Jennings' second TD. And when the Steelers cut it to 28-25 on that gorgeous "touch" throw by Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers made the throw of his life—touch and zip—to Jennings on that huge third down. True, they only got a field goal and the lead was just six...
Artie: My tongue was paralyzed with two minutes left.
Frank: But they closed it out with defense, just like in Philly and Chicago.
Artie: When I think about all the major injuries this team had...
Frank: Maybe it was fortunate to have so many of them so early in the season. It gave them time to find the right replacements. Like that linebacker Frank Zombo, who had a sack and other big plays, and Howard Green, who got in Roethlisberger's face on Nick Collins' interception TD.
Artie: I've given Mike McCarthy grief for his "We'll get that fixed" mantra, but hell, I guess he fixed everything. You can't be more fixed than this!
Frank: Might as well do the media thing and immediately ask about their chances to repeat.
Artie: Back off! I'm gonna relax and be glad I can stop wearing nothing but green. It's time for Brewers blue; pitchers and catchers report next week!