Weekly Whack: Big Tuna Vs. The Cheeseheads
Big Tuna Vs. The Cheeseheads
January 26, 1997

For some reason there is not a single thing that unites this country more than watching the Superbowl. It's quite unbelievable if you think of it. In a country with a citizenry as large and as diverse as ours, there will always be a time when you'll be able to know, without much doubt, what a good majority of them are doing, and that is when the Superbowl is on. It's almost scary. People can go all year without watching a single professional football game, but they will watch the Superbowl. And it is not so much that they watch it because the want to, but they watch it because they feel they have to. There are definitely symptoms of brainwash present. Maybe I'm brainwashed too, because I plan on writing this Whack on the Superbowl. The way I figure, it's a can't miss since nearly everybody, even those people living in caves and boxes, can relate to the Superbowl. But enough with all this pregame crap, let's get right to the kickoff.

Talking about kickoff, that is usually the one facet of a football game that is generally taken for granted. I rarely pay much attention to the kickoffs, they're too predictable. Some little foreign guy kicks the ball, another guy downfield catches the ball, he runs about five yard, he gets tackled by about ten people, and then everybody leaves the field and the real players come on. However this past Superbowl definitely did a lot to change that norm. In fact, the entire outcome of the game was decided on a kickoff. In the third quarter, right after the Patriots scored a touchdown to close the lead to six points, and gained a firm control over the momentum of the game, they lined up to what everybody expected to be just a normal kickoff. It even started out normal, some little foreign guy kicked the ball. But then Desmond Howard of the Packers caught it on the one yard line and did something extraordinary; he ran ninety-nine yards for a touchdown. This single play was so devastating that Howard was ultimately selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Superbowl. Now I found this to be quite amazing for two main reasons. First of all, Howard is a kickoff returner. It is very rare for a kick returner to be the MVP of any game, let alone the biggest game of the season. It is kind of like having a pinch runner being selected MVP of the World Series. You just don't see it happen everyday. And second of all, it was amazing because Desmond Howard was a Heisman Trophy winner. When was the last time you saw a Heisman Trophy winner have any success in the NFL? You figure the scoring leader among active Heisman Trophy winners is Charlie Ward, and he hasn't step foot on a football field in years. Now that's just strange.

Strange would definitely be a good word to describe Superbowl XXXI, just ask all the people in Las Vegas. The saying goes that a tie is kind of like kissing your sister, well there were definitely a lot of people kissing their sisters in Vegas after this year's Superbowl. Sure to the players, coaches, and fans, the Packers won the game, but to anybody who put some money on it, nobody won. The single most bet on game in all of sports, and it ends up a push, and nobody collects anything. The Packers were giving up fourteen points to the Patriots, and they consequently won by fourteen points, so therefore the game ended as a tie. In fact, this was probably one of the most exciting Superbowls in years if you had money on it. Think about it, the Patriots were winning the game the entire time until the Packers came back and tied it in the third quarter, and then it remained tied for the rest of third quarter, and the remainder of the game as well. Now that's excitement. If the Packers didn't get that two-point conversion after Howard's touchdown, the Patriots would have won. And although it really was meaningless, the most significant play for people who had money on the game was Chris Jackee's missed field goal for the Packers late in the game. If he only kicked it straight, then the Packers would have won. But I guess the moral of the story is that when you bet on professional sports, nobody wins.

Talking about nobody winning, it's a no-win situation working at a supermarket deli right before the Superbowl. I mean you people really are savages. God forbid, a Superbowl party is just not a Superbowl party if there aren't any cold cuts involved. I thought I would be prepared for anything after working Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, but Superbowl Sunday definitely topped them both. But I guess when you're dealing with football fans, you're dealing with some serious eaters. However, then again, not all the people were typical football fans. For example, I had to take a sandwich order from an Asian lady who barely spoke a word of English. She was like, "I just came to America yesterday, and now all I want to do is watch the Superbowl, eat a three-foot Italian hoagie, and whistle `I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy'." And she even had to ask me what went into an Italian hoagie. Kind of like, "Yes, I would like to order a three-foot Italian hoagie, but can you first tell me what the hell that is?" But customers are crazy. Like the other day there was this old guy in his eighties who kept telling my friend who works in produce, and everyone around him, that he went to school with him. But the joke was on my friend, he went to school the next day, and the old guy was sitting behind him in chemistry class. He said he must not of noticed him there before then.

Well I'm beginning to wander off subject, so I guess now is a good time to dump the Gatorade on this Whack. So to conclude for this week, this year's Superbowl was definitely not a super bore; Desmond Howard has brought a new level of respect to special team players everywhere; and since I forgot to mention it during the Whack: Packers' quarterback Brett Farve can pick up a baseball with his toes.

Now for this week's special feature, Feff's top ten favorite Heisman Trophy winners of all time:

10. O.J. Simpson
9. Steve Spurrier
8. Charles White
7. Ty Detmer
6. Rashaan Salaam
5. Vinnie Testeverde
4. Bo Jackson
3. Gino Torretta
2. Doak Walker
1. Doug Flutie