Happy Super Bowl Sunday to everyone. For a long time, this day meant that friends and family would get together, gorge themselves on snacks and root for the final numbers in each score at the end of each quarter to 1) stay the same or 2) change at the last moment, the goal being to win gobs of money. The Super Bowl was a party day. Until last year.
I grew up as a New Orleans Saints fan in a city of Bear-crazies. I picked the Saints up as my team for very analytical reasons. First, I liked their colors. Second, I liked that they were leading their playoff game with Randall Cunningham and the Eagles back in 1992. The Saints’ colors stayed the same. The lead did not. Philly scored 26 fourth-quarter points and the Saints were done. But, I was hooked.
As it played out, I was hooked on losing. The Saints, historically, have won 42.8% of the games they’ve ever played. That’s not so bad. It is better than the Cardinals, Falcons, Texans and Buccaneers.
I endured a coach who traded all of his draft picks to select a running back who he fake-married on a magazine cover. I endured a quarterback (Aaron Brooks) who actually threw a pass directly behind himself one day against the Chargers. I endured two Billy Joes in one season. Even the folks at Petticoat Junction wouldn’t endorse that.
So, February 7th was supposed to be an exciting, energetic and nerve-wracking day. Instead, it was a logistical nightmare.
I’ve mentioned before that I do play-by-play in the offseason for the men’s basketball team at High Point University, a small Division I school in North Carolina. On Super Bowl Saturday last year, the Panthers were scheduled to play at Radford, a school in Virginia about two hours to the north. That Friday, though, a snowstorm rocked the Southeast, forcing parts of interstate 81 to close and rendering other parts impassable. Some of the parts that were closed and impassable were the parts that High Point would take to get to the game. So, the schools talked it over and moved the game to 3 P.M. On Super Bowl Sunday. With the Super Bowl scheduled for 6. As an aside, this was only a brilliant plan if the goal was to set a record for “Smallest Sunday attendance at a Division I basketball game in Virginia.”
I had to hatch a plan. If I drove back immediately after the game, I wouldn’t have returned until 7:15 or 7:30. That would have kept me from seeing the first quarter-and-a-half or so. The good news was that I knew some people in the area. Prior to coming back to Syracuse in ’09, I was the play-by-play announcer for two seasons for the Salem Avalanche, the then-Astros Advanced-A affiliate. I called a friend of mine in the front office, Jeremy Long, to ask what his plans were for the game. He told me that he and his wife planned to watch together at home. I asked if it’d be alright if a friend of mine and I came over to watch. Being a Memphis native and, thus, full of Southern hospitality, Jeremy invited us over. I told him we’d grab a few pizzas postgame and head over.
That’s what we did. High Point lost 77-63, I completed a rather brief postgame report, we jetted 45 minutes to Pizza Hut in Roanoke and made it to the Long house with 15 minutes to spare. We climbed the small staircase, rang the bell and were greeted by Jeremy…..
….wearing a Colts jersey. We walked in to say hi to his wife who was….also wearing Colts jersey. As I took off my coat, their dog jumped on me. In order to get him down, they yelled his name. Harrison. After Marvin Harrison. Here I am in a Saints tie (purchased a decade ago, never worn) on the happiest day of a Saints fan’s life, and now I’m forced to be a quiet, unfeeling fan. Disaster. Jeremy had never mentioned he was a Colts fan. Ever. And now, I was stuck in Roanoke’s version of the Circle City. I kept my composure for most of the game–even through the onside kick–but couldn’t fight the huge grin & fist pump combination that came out when Tracy Porter finished the thing.
So, Packer fans: Make sure the house where you’re going for the party today does not have as residents two cats named Ward and Wallace.
11 days until pitchers and catchers report.