CARDINALS AT PANTHERS
Here are some signs that I would rip out of a fan’s hands at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday if I were Cam Newton:
“THE CARDS ARE ALRIGHT.”
“I [HEART] CARDINALS.”
“LARRY GIVES YOU FITZ”
“SUPER BOWL 50 HERE WE COME”
“YOU WOULDN’T BE STEALING THIS IF JAY FEELY WAS STILL ON OUR TEAM.”
“IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO DRAW THIS AND NOW I’M JUST CARELESSLY WAVING IT AROUND, EVEN THOUGH WE LOST BY 16 AND I SHOULD BE ON MY WAY HOME.”
“I’M ACTUALLY A SEAHAWKS FAN. I CAME BACK BECAUSE I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE’VE CREATED SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL IN THE NORTHWEST.”
“THIS USED TO BE A BED SHEET. ONE UPON WHICH MY WIFE AND I MADE LOVE. SORRY, I’M LYING. I HAVE A WIFE BUT WE DO NOT MAKE LOVE. THAT’S ONE OF THE REASONS I AM HERE, TRYING TO TAUNT YOU WITH OLD LAUNDRY.”
“I HATE SEEING JOY ON ANYONE’S FACES. YOURS. MINE. IT DOESN’T MATTER.”
“DIDN’T THIS PLACE USED TO BE CALLED ERICSSON STADIUM? THAT WAS BEFORE YOUR TIME, NEVER MIND. I HAD AN ERICSSON PHONE ONCE. I DROPPED IT IN A JAR OF PICKLES. RUINED IT. I TRIED LETTING IT DRY OUT. BUT THAT VINEGAR REALLY DID A NUMBER ON IT.”
“THIS IS ACTUALLY THE SECOND SIGN YOU’VE STOLEN FROM ME. IF YOU READ THIS, CAN YOU LET ME KNOW IF THERE’S ANY GREAT PLACE TO GRAB RIBS AROUND HERE? NOT TOO PRICEY, BUT NOT A REAL SHITHOLE, EITHER.”
“WHEN RICK SANTORUM IS PRESIDENT, HE’LL PUT AN END TO THIS CRAP, CAM.”
“THANKS TO YOU, MY HUSBAND NOW DABS AFTER GOING TO THE BATHROOM.”
“WHY DIDN’T YOU GET THE BALL TO MIKE TOLBERT MORE?”
“CHRIS WEINKE NEVER DID THIS.”
I’m glad that if you wave a banner supporting an opposing team in his stadium and Cam’s running around slapping fans’ hands — as we all learned back in early November when that North Carolina Cheesehead dude got his banner yoinked after a Packers loss — he might grab your shit, like a pro wrestler, crumple it up and chuck it.
(Click on that link and look at that picture. The work that guy put into that sign — he’s celebrating himself more than the Packers.)
You should feel honored, not enraged, Seahawks lady.
Cam Newton specifically grabbing your banner is like going to Medieval Times and having the winning knight gallop past you and snatch the drumstick from your greasy paws. You just became part of the event. Find the footage and post it on your social channels. You won.
I’m also glad that Cam gives away game balls every time the Panthers score. Obviously, that’s not as polarizing. Everyone wants an NFL game ball. Getting a baseball at an MLB game is not difficult. But a football? Jesus. When I take my son to games, we try to get to the stadium as early as possible, hours before kickoff, when the drunk people in the parking lots are still mildly optimistic and saying “Excuse me” to grills they crash into, and there’s not much vomit to step around.
Once inside the stadium, we trawl the sidelines bothering players and random quality control coaches to throw us a ball. Gloves. Whatever. He still wears Sharrif Floyd’s Vikings stocking cap, tossed to him from the field. In a perfect scenario, once something like that happens, we’d just leave the stadium, before even one down is played. The NFL game experience is usually less than fulfilling.
This fall, we saw Washington play the Giants. We walked down to empty end zone seats and watched the teams warm up. Sometimes yelling enthusiastically to a bored-looking guy on injured reserve or the punting duffel bag attendant can at least get the, “Hey, can you throw my child a ball?” conversation happening. Sure, it’s a lot different than Cam Newton handing you a Panthers TD ball in the middle of a game, but you haven’t lived until you’ve pestered an unfamiliar coach-like human being after doing a quick image search on your phone to make sure you’ve IDed him properly, then began yelling, “Hey, Bradford! Bradford!” like he’s LeBron James.
Bradford did not toss us a ball. I’m not sure he even turned around. Then the team’s new GM Scot McCloughan walked past, looking vaguely like Will Ferrell if he had a more Shanahan-esque wind-chapped ruddiness going on. He wasn’t entertaining any commentary from fans nearby who were asking if his wife was back on Twitter.
Anyway, Washington finally ran off the field to the locker room. They left a lone kicking ball at midfield. Odell Beckham Jr. picked it up and tried to punt a field goal. He missed. The ball hit the wall near us, and a security guard picked it up, looked at my kid and tossed it to him.
Carolina will win.
PATRIOTS AT BRONCOS
I spent a few moments this week conducting Internet searches with the terms “Andy Reid” and “Great Depression.” I wanted to see if anyone had compared the Chiefs coach’s reluctance to use his time outs last Saturday with the 1930s-style hoarding of bread crusts, trouser lint, robin feathers and piles of randomly punctured tiny hoses. Was it something more? A compulsion? Mental illness? Is he some kind of savant? Did he think the time outs were physical objects, somehow taken away from him?
I wasn’t even watching the Chiefs vs. Patriots game. Not on TV, anyway. I was looking at a gamecast on my phone, just watching the little dots move around, and smiling dumbly to myself or groaning, unaware of all the Chiefs near-interceptions. The only data I had was from plays that really happened. Not things that almost happened.
When the Chiefs got the ball with 6:29 left, down 27-13, there was still a chance they could come back. That’s when you really focus, impatiently muttering swear words at your screen, waiting for it to refresh forever on 4th and 8, for: “A.Smith pass short middle to J.Avant to NE 47 for 13 yards.” to materialize. Best way to enjoy a game. A man sitting next to me was reading a hardcover book — oblivious to Andy Reid’s clock management issues — and not cursing at it.
Anyway, we all know what happened on that drive.
Chiefs WR Albert Wilson got down to the New England 1-yard line with 3:00 left, and Coach Andy would not call any time outs. Instead, he asked the referees to keep the clock moving while Alex Smith set up an old film projector and gave a short presentation about expired Estonian postage. Then Reid casually pulled a pair of pliers out of his trousers, reached inside his parka with them, pulled out a wrapped Whopper Jr., considered eating it, then discarded it. The clock kept ticking.
The Patriots advanced.
Peyton Manning moved the Broncos offense in a similar, Reid-like fashion. For much of the afternoon, he seemed like a guy just strolling unassumingly through a Home Depot, who is grabbed and forced into service as a camel doula. Over and over and over again. All his clever audibling, the gesticulating, and the shouting of “Omaha,” now just stressed me out and seemed sadly dated. I half expected him to shout, “Oppa Gangnam style,” or start singing Gotye lyrics at the line of scrimmage.
His receivers did not help. The Broncos defense is great, but I have a bad feeling that the Patriots will win on the road and go to the Super Bowl.