Special to 2 At The Hangover, style points go a long way. That would be Pittsburgh at Cleveland. It was a no-brainer.
It was traditional rivals, outdoors on a grass field, great unis, it featured a pregame brawl and, likely, thousands and thousands of pounds of meat ingested in pregame tailgates, washed down by gallons and gallons of domestic lager, followed by hours and hours of unspeakable gas. Meat and beer. I love the Rust Belt.
I don't imagine a Steelers-Browns tailgate is big on crab-artichoke dip. So anyway, that was the plan: Hail Pittsburgh-Cleveland.
Then, the "late" games -- I like Ajy call them 1 o'clock kickoffs -- unfolded and -- gasp! There it was: A game even better-looking. That's right: Minnesota at Green Bay.
It's a no-brainer. It was traditional rivals, outdoors on a grass field, great unis, but no pregame brawl. I would, however, give Lambeau denizens the edge if we had to weigh pounds of meat consumed in pregame tailgates in a Green Bay-Cleveland showdown. In addition to the Packers fans getting three skme extra hours to eat, I have a feeling the good people of Wisconsin can out-meat anybody in the country.
Their team is named after a meat-packing plant, for the love of angioplasty.
The Vikes-Pack game had the added bonus points of starting in late afternoon sunlight and ending in early-evening darkness -- that meteorological happening that so accurately mirrors the human condition as winter approaches. It just feels like a football game, doesn't it? I mean, yes. I appreciate the low sun and long shadows of a day game at Cleveland, but the lights reflecting off of Brett Favre's helmet? That's America, people.
Anyway, the whole thing was clinched as the fourth quarter started. Fox was kind enough to show a tremendous slice of Americana and one of my Favorite Moments of the Year when it came out of a commercial and replayed the end-zone happenings at the end of the third quarter. The Wisconsin marching band was on hand and jacked up the stakes when it dispatched an person tuba brigade to the end zone, playing the only kind of music 18 tubas can.
Randy Moss, injured and out of the game, dissed by band geeks! By tubas, no less! The cut to Moss in the ski cap, half-enraged, half-amused by the Tuba Diss was worth it all. See, it's all about things that happen in the great outdoors. Football in the open air, with Wisconsin marching band tubas -- that's what this country was founded on. It all brought to the forefront an e-mail The Hangover received from a reader who goes by Biggie from New Hampshire, who went and watched his Patriots at St.
Louis in Week 9. What he saw in the dome displeased him.
There were several times I couldn't hear myself think, and looked around and saw only about a quarter of the fans actually getting loud. It was depressing, but also angering. Then, suddenly, something happens that causes you to rise up, like Frankenstein's monster, and groan in joy. And no, I'm not talking about those random, pleasure flashes that come during a bout of the Meat Sweats. I'm talking about seeing a play from Cleveland, where Browns RB Lee Suggs takes a handoff and then has his molars rearranged by Steelers LB James Farrior in one of those hits so pure, you're sure it was felt throughout Suggs' genealogy chart.
Ed Reed might be the most dangerous defensive player in the NFL with the ball in his hands. Now that is a Steel Curtain.
I couldn't get enough of the hit, rewinding it on TiVo a few times. Ayn can create an orgy of replays, when you rewind on TiVo while the network replays it a few times, too. It can get confusing, like girs old Baltimore Orioles hat. You know, where the grinning Oriole on the hat wore a hat with a grinning Oriole. You had to p that tiny hat had a grinning Wanf on it, too, which was also wearing a hat with a grinning Oriole, extending into perpetuity and calling into the equation Einstein's theory of relativity.
The Dolphins, I believe, smartly avoided this problem by having the Dolphin on the helmet wear the random, mysterious "M" on its helmet, thus preventing a Grinning-Oriole-Into-Forever syndrome. I better stop. Anyway: James Farrior -- that's a football tackle. Way to go.
As for No. I mean, he has a name. It's Marc Colombo. Bears fans probably even know who he is. He was a first-round pick a couple of years ago. But nobody outside meatt Chicago and Mel Kiper Jr.
So when Colombo took his grls paw, reached up and blocked the Tennessee field-goal attempt that would have won the game, he struck a blow for No. Glory, for that most obscure of jersey s! TV time for a guy who had never sniffed a network shot! And best of all, a huge play in a Chicago overtime win -- a game decided, of course, by the traditional, overtime-ending safety. A safety wrought by No. See how it all works out?
But Reed has lots of interceptions, and tends to have the not-inificant ability to run well once he has procured the pigskin. Take Sunday's Ravens-Jets game, for example.
The Jets were rolling. Had that game in the bag. Then Lamar not Lamont! Jordan meag an ill-advised pass on a halfback option into oh, say, about eight white jerseys.
Reed almost als for a fair catch in the back of the end zone, and But soft! What light at yon window breaks! He doesn't take a knee -- he girs a little skip, and motors out of the end zone for a runback that looked like, well, Ed Reed, whose name sounds suspiciously like a guy who should be your next-door neighbor, or co-worker.
Yeah, I just bought a house. It's next to Ed Reed's house. Ed does some nice work in the yard on weekends. Ed Reed: Good neighbor. If Reed's teammate hadn't interfered with Quincy Carter's attempted tacke, surely the Irine man would have taken it to the house for six. As it was, the Ravens had to settle for the momentum-turning pick that took them from a sure loss to a hell of a comeback win.
He's No. The second-best Anyy of the day I would be remiss to not acknowledge the epic theatre produced pregame in the Browns-Steelers game, and it had nothing to do with Lou Rawls singing the zome anthem. I don't think Lou Rawls sang the national anthem. I just love it when he does. It appeared a tender exchange, and somewhere, Ray Nitschke spat up his Cheerios.
Surely, Warren was in the wrong for saying what he said during the week.
But mouth-breathers like Nitschke mezt Butkus would be horrified to learn Warren gave away the psychological edge before the ball was in play. How many ways does football differ from baseball? Setting aside Nolan Ryan's jackhammering of Robin Ventura many moons ago, baseball brawls are all show, no action.
Bullpens empty, somebody shoves somebody and it's one big to-do about nothin'. Porter and Green girrls Pregame Football Brawls to a new mountaintop. Porter's roundhouses were reminiscent of an untamed George Foreman, circaor Joe Frazier at his wildest.
Best of all, they went at it sans helmets. Porter briefly lapsed into insanity when a helmeted Terrelle Smith entered the fray, and Porter went bare knuckles against Smith's covered dome, but other than that, this was 15 to 20 seconds of pure, high-quality mayhem.
Sometimes, it's nice to be reminded that, between all the slick and multi-billion-dollar TV contracts, it's just a brainstem sport, played by men whose values system dates back to the Pleistocene epoch: Punch, or be punched. Proceed with caution.
A nation rests Some readers wonder why we can't keep up with the Al Davis Wardrobe Watch, and I regret to say it proved too difficult to get a weekly report on the Evil Emperor's thre. As a result, the Hangover's focus on the Silver and Black got fuzzy. But let's use the Oakland bye week to get back on board with the Commitment to Excrement. In the chair, I queried Rocky directly: What gives with your squad, Rock?
This season's been disastrous for Warren Sapp and the Raiders. Rocky grunted. This is not to single out No.