by Mike McHugh
At the time, I really meant what I wrote. But deep down in my heart, I knew I would never go through with it. So there I was last fall, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, a lone purple jersey among a sea of red-shirted Texans fans, suffering through a devastating loss. I’d never felt so humiliated since I misinterpreted the signs at the Afghan restaurant and went into the ladies’ room.
All season long, I found myself doing all of those things that die-hard fans are famous for. I spent hours each Sunday glued to the TV set, watching countless beer commercials, interrupted by the occasional football play. I cared more about linebacker Ray Lewis’ injury status that I did our nation’s fiscal crisis, which was the big concern for most other Americans, excepting those elected to Congress.
After the whooping we put on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, I adopted a strategy of not changing my socks for the entire season. In that way, I carried the Ravens into the playoffs, where quarterback Joe Flacco took over. He didn’t throw a single interception, thus assuring him a place in history right along side of the Renaissance masters. It got the Ravens a Super Bowl victory, and it got my socks added to the list of assault weapons that the president wants to ban.
A Super Bowl victory is the dream of every NFL team and its fans. It’s one of those life-changing moments, one that opens doors that you never would have dreamed possible. It gives Joe Flacco a shot at a $20 million per year contract, and it gives fans like me the chance to buy a $35 commemorative ball cap. Joe can now open a chain of restaurants. I can wear the cap to every bar in town, where surely people will line up to buy me drinks so they can hang out with a Super Bowl winner, particularly one who’s now wearing clean socks.
Now, I have something that I can talk about for the next nine months. This is important to guys, who would never have a word to say to each other if it weren’t for football. In fact, the sole reason for football’s surge in popularity among women is to enable them to engage their husbands in dinner conversation.
It’s been three weeks now since that glorious victory, and I’m now finding that there’s only so much that you can say about a game-winning goal line stand. Even Chris Berman on ESPN has trouble with that amount of sustained commentary. So, last night at dinner, my wife changed the subject to mention the Picasso exhibit at the local gallery.
“Did they say what the point spread is in that one?” I asked.