Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Great Finds of the Past, Part II: Monday Night Football

In the first installment of this series (otherwise known as things I quickly scribbled down while failing a sportswriting class a year ago) we examined Erick Dampier. Today, we watch as your bitter, possibly drunken writer watches Monday Night Football, and desperately tries to be Hunter S. Thompson. I hope I don't always sound like this much of an asshole. Pictures added after the fact.

I turn on my television to watch Brett Favre get sacked. Well, that’s kind of what I was expecting. I don’t follow football much, but I do follow sports, and I know enough to remember that the old man’s team is struggling this year. A quick look at the standings shows the Packers at 2-7, and their opponents, the ready made villains of the old-man-against-it-all story line, to be the Minnesota Vikings, an uninspiring 4-5.

But hey, he throws a touchdown, which proves to be a hard-to-explain catch. Donald Driver has his back to Favre as the ball is thrown. A stride or two ahead of his defender, Driver sees the incoming pass over his shoulder and leaves the ground, spinning like some sort of man-ballerina so that the pass hits him square in the chest. ABC then shows ten replays and a graphic with the ‘pass speed’, after which Madden compares it to the speed of a baseball pitch in a way I can’t understand. Driver leaps into the first row of stands where he is repeatedly slapped on the back and ass by screaming fans that appear to be clad entirely in replicas of his uniform and gesture ridiculously at the camera. Forms of lower primate come immediately to mind. Not like I know anything about monkeys – good for them, they’re passionate fans, I’ve heard the stories of the long year’s wait for tickets, I think they won a super bowl recently, I remember watching some half-hour rousing deep-voiced documentation of the legend of the Ice Bowl one boring winter afternoon, bodies flying everywhere in sub-zero temperatures – this is devotion, 2-7 though they may be.

ABC’s next segment is ‘Mic’d Up’, featuring a Viking player named Sharper yelling repeatedly at his teammates, “It gonna be a long day. It gonna be a long day.” It takes me a quarter and a half to realize that Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings franchise player of their own (Daunte Culpepper was Donovan McNabb, i.e., a running quarterback, before Mike Vick was Donovan McNabb, see, I know just enough about this sport to hold my own in casual conversation) is not Daunte Culpepper at all, but someone named Johnson. Apparently Culpepper is injured. Well what do I know, they all look the same in their purple infused white uniforms and shiny purple helmets. With purple socks, purple sleeves, purple numbers, and what looks like a purple fanny-pack/muff hanging from Culpepper neé Johnson’s torso/abdomen/crotch region. Yes, purple. And the Packers wear green and yellow. What a joke.

There comes a point in every football game where you get tired of John Madden. With 3:07 left in the first half, I have reached that point. Screw this, it’s going on mute, I’m worshipping at the feet of the great goddess shuffle for at least a few minutes. With a minute plus left, there’s a Viking interception at midfield returned for a touchdown. But then, and I had to turn the sound back up for this, there occurs that most frustrating element of a football game - a disputed call. We get to see the play another few load of times, and a split screen showing both coaches looking worried (hilariously, the shaved head of Tice, the Viking coach, features a pencil behind his ear. I think he was hired for his resemblance to James Gandolfini more than anything.), before the official in his clown suit dourly addresses the booing crowd. Number Four lives up to the legend I’ve heard of and snaps a long touchdown through the middle to Driver again, who jumps back into the stands again as Madden enthusiastically fellates Favre. “At some point Brett Favre says, I don’t need patience, I need touchdowns,” slobbers Madden. “You can guess against Brett Favre but you better be right, or you’re going to get burned!” he exhorts further. The Vikings interrupt the flowing praise, which makes me imagine Madden and his bouncing, drooling jowls doing things I’d rather not describe, by trying to get to field goal range, even though Al Michaels and a colorful graphic tell us that the last field goal of this length at Lambeau Field came back in 1965. Improbably, the game got interesting as soon as I turned the sound off.

At halftime, Tim McGraw sings a country song with rhyming lyrics about this week’s football highlights. I would relate some of the lyrics but I was too busy slitting my wrists and expiring all-too-slowly in a tortured heap on the floor. As they say where I come from, what a fucking disaster. It makes me wish that Darryl Strawberry had cut off Tug McGraw’s penis and sold it to an underground organ dealer to feed his crack habit back in the depths of the eighties. It makes me wish that Tim had contracted double-syphillis leprous AIDS while experimenting with designer cowboy hats and was hit by a bus, then kept alive intravenously until a hideous slow aching demise after being unplugged. It makes me wish that I was born deaf, mute, and in Pakistan. By the time they play The Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’ over purple and yellow highlights, I’ve had enough. Is nothing sacred anymore? Have even Iggy Pop and the insane Asheton brothers sold out in this dark and ugly age? What was, in 1972, too loud, confrontational, and chaotic to sell at all, when Bart Starr watching brew guzzling reactionaries gave their state to Nixon by 150,000 votes, is now being nodded along to by their drunken, Tim McGraw supporting descendants. Iggy Pop lived on heroin and used to cut himself on stage, and now he is the soundtrack to Middle America’s weekly men-in-tights festival?

“Everybody’s always tryin to tell me what to do
Don’t you try
Don’t you try to tell me what to do,”

he urgently howls, but the song fades out after thirty seconds and Madden welcomes us back to the second half. Which will have to go on without me. One has been quite enough.




1 Comments:

Blogger Anthrax Johnson said...

I can't believe you managed to fail a class that you seem to have enjoyed so much. I mean, the pleasure you derive from exercising your elitist streak must have outweighed whatever pain you experienced from watching a football game. Then again...

Thu Dec 14, 10:18:00 PM EST  

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