Sunday, February 01, 2004

Adam Bomb Strikes Super Bowl Again

Tonight's developments have settled it for me. It's time to repeal the Patriot Act. Or at least that one little-known provision that says no matter how many yards or how many big plays or how many fortuitous calls (or non-calls) they need, the New England Patriots will get every one until the Lombardi Trophy rests safely in their collective clutches.

I have the exact same feeling watching the Pats as I do when the Yankees play postseason baseball, which is deliciously ironic considering how often New Englanders have been on the business end of the Pinstripes' penchant for last-minute miracles. Even when Adam Vinatieri failed to convert either first-half field goal, there was an eerie sense that it would only make a game-winner that much more melodramatic. Done.

No sooner does Carolina march deliberately downfield against the once-impregnable Patriot defense than Panthers' kicker John Kasay - the second most notorious boob of the night behind Janet Jackson's unexpectedly unprotected right breast during the halftime show - inexcusably duck hooks his kickoff out of bounds, allowing a team that needs no help in engineering fantastic finishes the opportunity to set up shop at the 40-yard line with 68 seconds and all three timeouts. Which brings to me to my next tangent. Where are the Patriots' naughty pictures of the football gods? I want an investigation immediately. How else could you explain the breaks this incipient dynasty gets when it needs it most? And to think it all started on a snowy night two years ago when referee Walt Coleman - who could win the race for John Kerry's vacated seat in a landslide if he ever wants to be a senator from Massachusetts - handed down a questionable application of a ridiculous rule in the infamous "Tuck Rule" imbroglio, gift-wrapping an opportunity for New England to beat Oakland in the 2002 divisional playoffs. Had that play been ruled a fumble, as it clearly was, the Patriots aren't sitting on two trophies in the last three years as they are tonight.

It was not a good week for John Kasay. Besides handing the ball and in some ways the game to New England Sunday night, he was respsonsible for yet another PR hit for Christians in the public eye, to wit:

(The following is an excerpt from a column written by the very funny Bill Simmons, a sports/comedy writer for ESPN and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC who's been keeping a blog this week at the Super Bowl)

"So, we came up with this big plan for Media Day: Jimmy's cousin going to pretend he's one of the players. And with the staggering number of foreign journalists and non-sports fans running around at Media Day, we think it just might work.

Now we need to decide on a player. Sal has to pretend he's a kicker, since he's barely 5-foot-9. And everyone knows what Adam Vinatieri looks like, given that he's made two of the most memorable kicks in the history of football and all. That leaves Panthers kicker John Kasay. Who the heck knows what John Kasay looks like?...

Over the next 45 minutes, we end up roping in a handful of people, with Sal giving crazy answers like, "I'll let you in on a little secret: I have a metal left foot, the league has no idea," and "I don't care about the game, I'm just here for the strippers." And since we have something already pre-arranged for a beginning and ending with ESPN's NFL set and Trey Wingo, all we need is some sort of interaction with Kasay for a button in the middle, to show this was obviously a prank.

Poor Kasay has his own interview spot in the stands; he's talking to reporters with no idea what's happening on the field. Sal sneaks up there, barges into the pack and screams, "Guys, this man is an impostor! I'm the real John Kasay!"

Initially, Kasay seems fairly amused by the whole thing -- after all, Sal's wearing a different colored jersey, his pants are too small, and he doesn't look anything like him. Then they have this exchange:

Kasay (smiling): "Yeah, yeah, you can tell by his build, he's a real athlete."

Sal: "I'll tell you one thing, I would never wear my socks like that."

For some reason, this sets Kasay off. Why? I don't know. For God's sake, it's Media Day! There were people dressed like superheroes, child reporters, dimwits, bimbos ... this isn't exactly one of those days you mail right to the Pulitzer Committee. But this joke about his socks just rocked Kasay's world. He excuses himself and heads off to find the Panthers PR person. Meanwhile, some big reporter with one of those Penn and Teller ponytails looks like he's ready to fight Sal -- before Kasay bolted, he pushed Sal aside and stood defiantly between them.

Kasay returns with the Panthers PR guy, a redhead who's beyond furious; he's was angrier than the entire group of guests at La Quinta. He bitches us out -- Why? What did we do? -- and demands the tape from Wayne. You really have to know Wayne to know how funny that request was. He's the kind of guy who would have chopped off his own arm and eaten it before giving up a solid comedy piece.

Needless to say, within minutes, we were escorted up the stairs by security. And we're totally confused. Frat talks to the PR guy, who says something about Kasay being a devout born-again Christian and being uncomfortable with the whole thing. I'm not even sure what that means.

"What if we tell him that Jesus told us to do the bit?" Paul offers. We're just miffed and even a little angry, but we don't want to burn any bridges with the NFL, either. We decide to apologize, but we can't get back down to see Kasay before he leaves the premises....

And if the brief commotion inadvertently affected Kasay's preparation for Sunday's game in any way, shape or form ... well, as a diehard Pats fan, I feel just horrible about this whole thing."

The way Christian athletes/entertainers/public figures share their faith in the media is fodder for its own column if not entire blog. And while I'm sure Bill Simmons and the Jimmy Kimmel Live show were the last thing on John Kasay's mind when he kicked Carolina's best chance (to date and maybe ever) to win the World Championship out of bounds, I guarantee you it's the first thing Simmons thought of when the refs threw the flag.

The point is, I'm sick of the Patriots winning but don't have any other reasonable, well, reason for it. They play hard, they don't trash talk, they get breaks but they also make a lot for themselves and take advantage when they don't deserve it. Basically, the exact opposite of the Silver and Black buffoons I can't seem to quit rooting for. So far, the best thing I've come up with to justify my absence of "Patriot-ism" is that the guy on their helmets looks like Teddy Kennedy.

I'll keep looking for legitimate reasons while all of New England orders up another round. But if Walt Coleman ends up in John Kerry's cabinet, I'll make sure Boston's next tea party consists of taking those two Lombardi trophies off the Patriots' mantle and dropping them into Davy Jones' locker.

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