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SUPER BOWL XLIV 2010
2/10/2010 10:18:53 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

We had abandoned Ohio by the time I was seven, but for many years I secretly reveled in the fantasy I would achieve gridiron fame at Ohio State University. Upon graduation from high school, however, OSU was as alien to my future as NASA, CIA, RCA, CCC, AMA or the ACLU..

However, my 6-foot 1+¼ inch, 128-pound body notwithstanding and bearing resemblance to a strand of spaghetti, I went out for football in my high school freshman year. Straight-faced, I asked the coach if he saw me starting on Varsity or Junior Varsity?

Equally straight-faced, he said, “Get outta my sight, you Barella reject, drop and gimme twenty!”

Although I never got into a real game, it should count for something that I lasted a full week in pre-season practice.

The year was 1945, and with the war ending many young men returned to high school in search of the diploma delayed. A number of those fellows, of which several were as much as five or six years my senior, wound up on local football teams.

One such full-grown man was Frankie Siracusa, a hirsute behemoth who had survived D-Day as a U.S. Army Ranger while scaling the cliffs of Omaha Beach’s Pointe du Hoc and winning the Distinguished Service Medal, two bronze stars and a Purple Heart. He was quickly anointed our starting halfback, and the first day of practice I was sent in for fodder as a defensive end.

Siracusa was handed the ball on the first play and came directly at me. Determined to impress the coach (or anyone watching) I planted myself firmly in his path and absorbed the collision without flinching. Siracusa, to everyone’s amazement (including his and mine,) bounced backwards and sat down with a thud: he had gained less than two feet from scrimmage!

“Jeez, kid, you okay?” the coach was saying when I came to.

Against serious advice I attended practice faithfully for a week, but the time was taken up mostly just tossing the ball around and doing minor calisthenics and wind sprints. To keep myself a part of the action and to travel with the team, I applied for (and got) the job as yearbook photographer.

Frankie Siracusa never made it to pro football (he was probably too old by the time he graduated,) but he did become my friend. I remember him saying once in 1956 they should have a major World Series-type game between the two best professional teams in football.

“Whadda they gonna call it?” I wondered.

“How I know? Maybe the Super Duper Pooper Bowl,” he snarled.

Siracusa turned out to be somewhat clairvoyant. The first World Championship game was held on January 15, 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs—I was 36 and Frankie was God-only-knows how old. The extravaganza wasn’t called “Super Bowl” until Game Numero III on January 12, 1969 (that was the Joe Namath battle against the Baltimore Colts—yes, Virginia, they were in Baltimore before they went to Indian-no-place.)

Anyway, Super Bowl XLIV is now history and the New Orleans Saints embarrassed the peripatetic Colts; we can hang up our team t-shirts and jackets and put away our Mardi gras beads and tailgate equipment until the start of the SEC season in late summer of 2010.

Last Sunday’s outing in Miami may not have been the greatest football game ever played, but it was certainly one of the most exciting Super Bowls in recent memory—so much so, it was actually better than even the best commercials, which, sadly, could not be listed in such an elite category, except possibly for the Betty White/Abe Vigoda/Snickers entry. A few others, however, achieved distinction ranging from stupid and tasteless to awful. Budweiser’s human bridge, Doritos’ tumbling casket and something about pantsless men come to mind.

I have to give the Zebras the benefit of the doubt when they seemed to overlook a flagrant penalty against Peyton Manning when, while attempting to tackle Tracy Porter who ran 74 yards for a coffin-sealing touchdown after intercepting Manning’s errant pass, the Colt’s quarterback appeared to be “blocked in the back” by the Saint’s Will Smith and knocked out of the play. This possible infraction was seen by hundreds of fans and shown repeatedly on TV but ignored by officials and commentators. If it was bona fide and had it been called, it might have changed the outcome considerably—“might” being the operative word. Oh, well . . .

It was a no-brainer picking Drew Brees as the MVP, even though Archie Manning, Peyton’s dad, had once been the Saint’s star quarterback (talk about rubbing salt in the wound!). Actually, most astute sporting types in my circle favored giving the accolade to Tim Tebow—a majority leaned toward the Florida U. Heisman (2009) winner for his role in attracting TV viewers (if only out of curiosity) to their sets. Whether you are Pro-Choice or Pro-Life (and a few SEC coaches perhaps now, even if secretly, harbor thoughts,) you have to admit Tebow, with the gratitude of CBS, may have been responsible for some of the Neilsen numbers,

My mother-in-law, for example, who doesn’t know football from curling, wouldn’t have missed Super Bowl XLIV for a winning lottery ticket. “That fellow Jim Elbow is a great American,” she said, sounding suspiciously like Sean Hannity. “Why he didn’t run for president, I’ll never know!”

Wait, Doris Louise, just you wait.


Copyright©2010 by Robert A. Mills


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Galveston, 1900 Indignities, The Affirmation by N Brown

Fleeing from a scorned past,Catherine Merit struggles with her failing medical practice and a rich man's obsession of her.Book Four in the Indignities Series..  
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