Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bud Bowl III: Great Taste or Less Filling?

By: C.G. Morelli

Seems I can think back to a simpler time; a time when Super Bowl Sunday wasn’t the selfish, end of season hype generator it is today; a time when our nation’s most widely televised game could share the spotlight with another omnipotent, if ever-juvenile, contest; a time when the stop-break mayhem of a beer bottle football game played ring master to America’s most coveted day of commercial programming.

Of course, I can only be talking about Bud Bowl, the Anheuser-Busch company’s slick marketing ploy which began in 1989 and featured what was billed to be an annual gridiron slugfest between animated teams of Bud and Bud Light bottles.

But I’m not just speaking in general terms here, people. I’m dedicating this article to the genuine article: The greatest Bud Bowl of them all, Bud Bowl III.

To me, this piece of stop-break goodness outshined all other beer-related sporting contests before and after its time. Part of the charm of Bud Bowl III was dependent on the fact that it consisted of a whopping seven ads placed strategically throughout the course of the actual Super Bowl game. That meant you were bound to be treated to an all-important Bud Bowl update nearly twice a quarter on average, instead of the pitiful two or three ad performances of more recent contests.

Also, it was a matchup that set the stage for a possible King of Beers three-peat. A win by Bud would have given them an unprecedented third Bud Bowl championship and an automatic seat in history next to the other dynastic legends of the adult-beverage sporting contest world. Ok, maybe there’s not much competition in this arena. So what?

At any rate, Bud Light wasn’t about to simply crack under the pressure. They had themselves a scrappy team, and past defeats had helped them develop quite a sizable chip on their, eh, shoulders. The addition of top draft pick and star quarterback, “Bud Dry,” also didn’t hurt in the way of boosting Light’s often watered-down confidence.

Aside from all the background hoopla that built Bud Bowl III up in terms of fan excitement, the game itself did not disappoint.

From the opening kickoff, which actually tallied at least 20 seconds on the hang-time meter before ascending out of the stadium, to a big opening drive that featured Bud Light linemen busting open a huge running lane with the aid of a giant-sized can opener, to the introduction of “helmet cam” strapped to the caps of Billy and Bobby Bud (the brothers from Cerveza, TX of course) on a nifty play-action catch and run to open up the King of Beer’s scoring, to the intoxicating play-by-play of ESPN legend Chris Berman, this installment of Bud Bowl had it all.

There was even an encore touchdown plunge by larger-than-life Bud bottle “The Freezer” and a sweet Hail Mary pass to a certain “long necked” Bud receiver to give the defending champs a 21-17 lead with just seconds to go.

But the final play of Bud Bowl III is what cemented it as a commercial masterpiece.

In a play eerily reminiscent of Tennessee’s homerun throwback play (which didn’t happen for another eight years. I think Jeff Fisher may have done a little advance scouting at the Anheuser-Busch facility), surprise kick returner, Bud Dry, collected the kickoff, made a nifty move, and pitched the ball across the field to one of his teammates.

This unidentified Bud Light bottle rumbled down the sidelines, dotted with gasping Budweiser players and coaches, and directly through an over zealous Budweiser team band prepared to celebrate what seemed like a sure Budweiser victory. Then he plowed into the end zone, even with a Tuba uncomfortably clinging to his thermos-chilled body, and gave Bud Light its first ever Bud Bowl championship by a score of 23-21.

By setting up a key TD play earlier in the contest, and through his heroics on the game winning kickoff return, Bud Dry was the clear MVP. True, he may have deserved it. But tell me, folks: Where is Mr. Fancy Pants Bud Dry today?

Discontinued, that’s where.

Regardless, we still have to give Bud Bowl III some love today for being the greatest string of stop-break folly to ever grace all those wasted minutes between Super Bowl drives. Have a look for yourself:

Friday, December 24, 2010

The World's Great Animated Athletes

By: C.G. Morelli

This past Saturday morning, after tossing and turning for the better part of two hours, I decided to roll myself out of bed with the roosters. What I realized was, short of counting the snowflakes as they fluttered in front of my porch light, there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re up at the butt crack of dawn.

So, I thought back to when I was a kid and waking up that early was a birth right rather than an annoying set back. How did I keep myself busy back then? After coming to the conclusion I’m a bit past my prime to whip out the G.I. Joe battle station and figurines, I decided to do the next best thing.

I poured myself a heaping bowl of Count Chocula, headed for the couch and flipped on the tube in search of some classic Saturday morning cartoons.

But, my friends, I’m sorry to say I was gravely disappointed. Gone were the zany and satisfyingly predictable scenes of Acme safes and anvils flattening unsuspecting animated characters. Gone were the tough Brooklyn accents and the silly cat and mouse tactics set to the oddly fitting crescendos of Mozart and Bach.

In their places were sad, sappy space creatures and wimpy pseudo toddlers designed to gently caress self esteem levels and teach kids how to play with blocks as if they already didn’t know.

In a rage, I flicked off the TV and ventured online in an effort to satiate my growing appetite for some slightly less responsible cartoon entertainment. I was really looking for some of my favorites, and I soon realized this composed a short list of animated episodes which related mainly to sports.

What I eventually uncovered was my list of the greatest animated athletic performances in history. So, grab yourself a box of cereal and a gallon of milk, pull up a chair, and show America that we’re through with fuzzy, purple dinosaurs mucking up the cartoon game. Enjoy.

10. Goofy laces up the skates in “Hockey Homicide” (1945)
When it comes to cartoons, Disney tends to spend most of its time on the wimpy side of the fence. But in this rarely remembered episode starring Goofy, we see a whole new side to the bumbling bag of fleas. The NHL should take some notes as Goofy smears a few defenders up against the glass and seems to make a second home in the penalty box. Honestly, I never would have pegged Goofy as a goon. I didn’t know he had it in him.

9. Bobby Hill rallies his troops in “Powder Puff Girls” (2008)
It’s not often Hank Hill gets the chance to be proud of his son Bobby’s athletic prowess. But when he’s picked to captain the football team in the annual Powder Puff Cheerleading spoof, it’s Bobby’s turn to shine. Pay special attention as the young Hill gives birth to a bouncing baby ball and then promptly punts it through the uprights. Nothing spells class in the state of Texas like a good old fashioned baby punting.

8. Woody Woodpecker lays the groundwork for Bugs in “Screwball” (1943)
Sure, that zany, red-headed bird and his slightly maniacal laugh can grate on your nerves at times, but you have to give him a little credit in this particular clip. Notice how his single-handed heroics on the baseball diamond are eerily reminiscent of a classic Bugs episode that just so happens to grace the top spot on this list. As a bit of a cartoon connoisseur myself, I have to give a little love to the short which laid the groundwork for many of the hilarious baseball related cartoons of the future.

7. Tom and Jerry serve court in “Tennis Chumps” (1952)
When two cartoon cats square off against each other on the tennis court, it’s clear there will be only one winner. And that winner, of course, is Jerry the mouse. That’s right, the dude may only be a few inches tall, but it’s hard not to make a serious impact on a tennis match when you’re responsible for substituting the game ball with a massive bomb attached to a short fuse.

6. Fred Flintstone vs. Blowhard Sandstone in high stakes bowling (1962)
Chalk one up for the proletariat, as Fred Flintstone stuns Bedrock with his effortless upset of snooty bowling champ, Blowhard Sandstone. Of course, Fred couldn’t have done it without a little comical help from his partner in crime, a Mr. Barney Rubble. 

5. The Tune Squad Mounts a Late Comeback in Space Jam (1996)
Even pitted against 20 foot mutant Martians with attitudes, you just can’t sleep on Jordan down the stretch. But even MJ has to tip his cap to the sweet sky dunk by Elmer Fudd which helped fuel a Tune comeback in this clip.

4. A team of ringers goes wrong in “Homer at the Bat” (1991)
When Mr. Burns places a hefty wager on the outcome of his company softball team’s championship game, he decides to safe guard his investment. The result is a star-studded team of ringers boasting the likes of Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Ozzie Smith, and Darryl Strawberry. In the end, however, it’s Home Run Homer who’s the hero when he takes a fastball off his abnormally large melon to walk in the winning run. Athletic performance aside, who can forget the classic song that pulled the whole episode together? Oh, and one more thing: Mattingly, I thought I told you to shave those sideburns!!

3. Charlie Brown, place kicker (1952)
Ever have one of those days that’s best summed up as a cross between being stretched on the rack and taking a kick square in the nuts? One remedy that never gets old is repeatedly watching Old Chuck fall for the same lame pull-the-rug-out, fool-the- placekicker routine that’s had him lying flat on his back since the early 50’s.


 2. Bugs Bunny clashes with The Crusher in “Bunny Hugged” (1951)
Our first sign of real vintage Bugs Bunny comes in at number two on the list. It features all the bells and whistles of a Looney Tune wrestling match as the comically tiny rabbit goes toe to toe against a real foam-at-the-mouth maniac known as The Crusher. Bugs doesn’t throw a whole lot of regulation moves at Crusher, but it’s hard to ignore his brutal version of a clothesline using the closed door of a very large Acme safe to seal the deal against another in a long list of moronic opponents.

1. Bugs Bunny takes on the Gashouse Gorillas in “Baseball Bugs” (1946)
“In left field, Bugs Bunny. In right field, Bugs Bunny. In centerfield, Bugs Bunny. Pitching, Bugs Bunny….”

What could be more satisfying than watching the animated king of slapstick singe-handedly mop the field with the overgrown baboons of the Gashouse Gorillas? Pay special attention to that wascally wabbit’s slow ball as it sputters past the plate and manages to wiff the entire side on just a single toss.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Most Important Innovations in Sports Equipment History

By: C.G. Morelli

 I’m sure I can only speak for myself when I say that studying sports equipment is really interesting. See, I know most sports fans out there aren’t thinking about what kind of resin Roy Halladay powders on his hands before hurling a 90 mph heater. And there aren’t many fans, like me, who see a boxer laid out on the canvas and wonder what kind of mouthpiece it is laying beside him in a puddle of his own drool.

It’s this hazy attention to details that causes many of us to take these seemingly innocent innovations for granted. We fail to see the important roles they play in the lives of our athletes and rarely think about how things would be different without them

Therefore, I feel it is my duty to present to you the most important innovations in sports equipment history.

Honorable Mention – Nerf Footballs
Ok, so these flashy globes of foam rubber aren’t really pieces of equipment used by the professionals, but they sure make your Uncle Harry look like Johnny Unitas.  Maybe he was telling the truth when he told you he would have went pro if not for that damn alien abduction. Either that Nerf ball is scientifically designed to soar 90 yards with a flick of the wrist, or your Uncle Harry’s stashed some performance enhancers in that six pack of brew he’s got dangling from his belt loop.

5. Football Helmets with Facemasks
Just think, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the modern football helmet and face mask were mandated in the pros. Before that, guys pretended to be tough while wearing the same leather helmet worn by Snoopy in his exploits as the Red Baron. Could you imagine how many teeth must have littered the turf by game’s end? It must have looked like closing time at the Chic-let factory. I guess on the bright side, however, not having facemasks would have eliminated pretty-boy smile guys like Tony Romo and Tom Brady from the game. Of course, I’m sure it also eliminated any chance of having the ability to produce rational thought after an average playing career.

4. Batting Helmets
The original batting helmet, used from the mid 1800’s all the way up into the 1950’s, was portable, fit like a glove, and was incredibly inexpensive. That’s because it was the human skull. Apparently no one thought it was a priority to protect the most vital organ in the body from whizzing, rock-hard projectiles. That is until the Major League death toll from wild pitches tallied six players by 1951. Teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates took notice of this scary statistic and began wearing protective helmets. Of course, the rest of the league immediately branded them as pansies… until 1954, when Joe Adcock was knocked unconscious by a wild pitch for a full 15 minutes. After that, the league decided to mandate the helmet rule for all players. Now you couldn’t catch a ballplayer standing in the on-deck circle without a helmet.

3. Hockey Goaltender Masks
You have to be either extremely brave or extremely stupid to stand in front of a blazing slap shot and stop a puck with your face. Until Jaques Plante of the 1960 Canadiens finally donned a protective mask, hockey goalies were a little bit of both. Since then, the goalie mask has progressed from the full plastic variety, made famous by Jason Voorhees in the slasher flicks Friday the 13th, to the modern version of a helmet and a protective metal cage that we commonly see today. Both varieties have allowed goaltenders to escape their playing days without losing an entire row of teeth or winding up with a face only a mother could love. 

2. Protective Cups
There’s really not much to say here. To even provide a reminder of sports without the trusty walnut shell would be an exercise in barbarity to anyone who’s ever taken a knee to the groin during a game of rough-touch football. But, yes, the forefathers of sports didn’t think twice about leaving the little guy open to injury. Makes you wonder how we all came to be, doesn’t it? The first cup was actually just a rolled-up piece of leather. Yeah, that gives you peace of mind. Thankfully, a wide variety of lightweight and sturdy materials now exist to protect you from the ultimate manly mishap.

1. Baseball Caps
There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t sing the praises of the baseball cap. I mean, I where a cap so often it’s become my hairstyle, and that’s the way it is for millions of hat-dependent Americans each day. Don’t feel like combing your hair? Baseball cap. Don’t want your hair to get wet in the rain? Baseball cap. Don’t have hair at all? Baseball cap. It’s the answer to most head-related issues…at least in my book.

But one thing that can’t be disputed is the modern ball cap has become an American staple, like the cowboy hat or apple pie. Thankfully, the original straw hat worn by the 1860 Brooklyn Excelsiors has come a long way. It’s been updated to the modern 59-50 style worn by current major leaguers. Otherwise I’d be sitting on a porch with a goofy straw hat and a corn cob pipe trying to whittle something right now.  

 And, really, who wants that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top Dawg: Bernie Kosar

C.G. Morelli

Growing up, my friends and I spent the bulk of every summer playing sandlot baseball.  Of course, each of us would take a shot on the mound and see how accurately we could imitate the quirky wind-ups of our favorite major league pitchers.  You know the old drill: “Hey, I’m Kent Tekulve!” “Look at me, I’m Fernando Valenzuela!”

Once the weather got colder we’d trade the bats and gloves for a football.  But it was never as easy to imitate our favorite quarterbacks.  They pretty much all looked the same when they released the ball, especially in the eyes of an eleven-year-old kid.  Unless, of course, that favorite quarterback was a Cleveland legend. 

“Look, I’m Bernie,” I’d say.  Then I’d whip a sidearm bullet to an open receiver for a TD (ok, so the sidearm part is accurate even if the “bullet” remark is debatable).  What was never debatable was Bernie Kosar’s impact on the city of Cleveland during his sometimes-brilliant, sometimes-embroiled tenure as the Browns’ starting quarterback.

Kosar was a Brown in the making since his first day on Earth.  He was a fan of the team as a young boy growing up in Youngstown, Ohio.  His love for the team grew as he played football at Boardman High School and began solidifying his legacy as a brilliant quarterback. 

He earned Parade All-America honors his senior year at Boardman and then moved on to the University of Miami, where he took over as starting quarterback in 1983 after a red shirt season.  His impact on the Hurricanes offense was immediate.  He threw 15 TD passes on his way to an 11-1 season and a berth in the Orange Bowl.  Then he followed the brilliant regular season performance with a 300 yard, 2 TD shocker against top-ranked Nebraska.  He did the unthinkable in leading Miami to its first national championship in a stunning 31-30 victory over the Huskers.  The following season Kosar threw 25 more TDs and finished fourth in Heisman voting.  It seemed he was ready to join the NFL ranks. 

Rumors began to surface that Bernie would forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the draft.  Kosar denied the reports, and then rebuked his denial.  A messy draft scenario ensued.  The Cleveland Browns jockeyed for position.  The Minnesota Vikings made accusations.  Kosar stood fast by his claim that he wanted to come home to Ohio.  Cleveland fans held their breaths and crossed their fingers….Long story short, the commish at the time, Pete Rozelle, allowed Kosar to enter the 1985 supplemental draft and the Browns scooped him up with the first pick.  And, just like that, Cleveland’s love affair with an unlikely hero began.

Kosar never possessed the athletic gifts of John Elway or Dan Marino, but he did have two things going for him: accuracy and heart.

In 1986, Kosar’s first full season as the Browns’ starter, the sidearm slinger connected on 310 completions for nearly 4,000 yards in leading the team to the AFC Championship Game.  Who could forget Bernie’s 489 yard performance in a comeback win against the Jets to get them there?  It took the mighty John Elway and a certain 98-yard drive to stamp out Cleveland’s Super Bowl hopes.

Kosar dialed up 22 TD passes in 1987.  He led the AFC in QB rating, and his Browns once again rumbled into the AFC Championship Game.  But Bernie’s 356 yards and three touchdowns still could not top Elway’s Broncos.

Kosar made one more trip to the AFC Championship in 1989.  He was once again unable to slay the dragon that was John Elway.  But through all the heart-breaking defeats, Kosar embodied the never-say-die attitude that defined the Cleveland fans and complimented the hard-nose atmosphere of the vaunted Dawg Pound.

Perhaps the most telling sign of how deeply Kosar had touched the Cleveland fan base with his gritty play came in 1991.  That was when Bill Belichick took over as Browns head coach.  Belichick’s first order of business was to bench Bernie in favor of Vinny Testaverde.  Later in the season, after a bad round of backup work, Belichick ordered Kosar’s outright release.  The Cleveland fans were outraged.  Angry Dawg Pounders showed the new head coach what they thought of him by wearing Bernie Kosar masks instead of Dawg masks at the next game (by the way, I’d love to get my hands on one of those masks before Halloween). Think Cleveland fans still hold a grudge?  Let’s just say Billy boy shouldn’t throw on an old, sleeveless hoodie and take a moonlit stroll down West Third Street any time soon.

But Bernie, in classic Bernie style, kept his chin up and moved on.  All he did in 1991 was sign a million dollar contract with the Cowboys and win that elusive Super Bowl ring as Troy Aikman’s backup.  Bernie completed the final three years of a brilliant career back in Miami, playing second-fiddle to Dan Marino.  Then he faded away from the spotlight and took his rightful place as a Cleveland legend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Can Speak Pittsburghese!!

By: C.G. Morelli

Pensivanians from the Sahside to Sliberty, from Sharteers Crick on over to the Strip are prolly gearin’ up for an Arn City celebration on Sunday. I’m sure Stillers fans would love to sit on the stoop come lunch time Monday with a cold bottle of pop and a few sammitches and relive what was an 11th victory this season for Da Burg.

‘Course yunz should all know these loyal fans haven’t cried that’s it, Fort Pitt just yet. They know the black and gold has a tough one ahead of ‘em.

Now, if I didn’t know better I’d have to conclude the preceding paragraph had undergone the sloppiest editing process in journalistic history. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: this is a most ancient and revered language that is commonly used by a tribe of people known to inhabit a place called Pittsburgh.

It is a language that has both enticed and beleaguered me for years. But now, as the playoffs approach, I am ready to make amends with it. I am ready to offer you the chance to master the language of Pittsburghese right here at The Sporting Scribe.

Remember when your Spanish teacher told you back in high school the best way to learn a language is through application. I never thought I’d ever use that line. But hey, what better way to learn Pittsburghese than by studying a few of the most popular phrases you’d expect to hear from a Stiller’s fan during the big game Sunday? Therefore, I present you with:

A Stillers Fan’s Pittsburghese Pocket Dictionary: Concise Version
Arn Cityn. Iron City
            As in, “Hey Pack, you’re about to take an Arn City arse-whoopin’!”


Babushkan. a bandanna
As in, “Good thing it’s freezin’ in Dallas, so Ben can wear his ridiculous gloves and goofy babushka to represent Da Burg.

C –

Church Keyn. a bottle opener
            As in, “Give me the darn church key so I can polish off a few beers with my city chicken.”

City Chickenn. fried and skewered pork or veal

Cuttentv. could not
As in, “I cuttent believe yunz were crying about that Mike Wallace TD catch. Those refs were a couple a jags.”


Da Burgn. Pittsburgh

Dawnn. the male name Donald
            As in, “Hey Rodgers, you’re startin’ to look like a goofier version of Dawn Knotts!”


Et v. to eat
            As in, “Et ‘em up, Stillers!”


Gutchiesn. underwear
As in, “Hey Pack fans, don’t get your gutchies in a bunch just ‘cause our Stillers are about to treat your team like an old worsh rag.”


Jagn. a jerk


Kennywood’s Openadj. your fly’s down, buddy
As in, “Hey Jennings, Kennywood’s Open!” (Shouted moments before an unexpected pass bounces off the receiver’s hands in the end zone).


P’tootn. butt
            As in, “Polamalu’s prolly gonna knock Rodgers flat on his p’toot all day.”

Pensivanian. Pennsylvania

Popn. a bottle of Coke

Prollyadj. probably


Sahsiden. South Side

Sammitchesn. sandwiches

Sharteers Crickn. Chartier’s Creek

Slibertyn. East Liberty neighborhood

Stoopn. porch

Stripn. the Strip District (wholesale center near the rivers)


That’s it, Fort Pittadj. that’s all, folks
            As in, “Once Hines Ward knocked that defender on his p’toot I was like that’s it, Fort Pitt.”


Worsh Ragn. a wash rag
            As in, “I’m wavin’ this yellow worsh rag ‘cause some jag stole my Terrible Towel.”


Yaintv. you are not

Yunz n. all of you
            As in, “Yaint gonna tell me yunz’ll miss the game Sunday?!?”

Now that you know Pittsburghese, you’re free to root for Da Stillers using the proper vernacular…which, in this case, means happily leaving all the grammar rules you’ve learned since first grade at the front gate. Ah, the simple pleasures of the Steel City.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The 20 Dumbest Football Quotes

By: C.G. Morelli 

 Let’s face it, football players are measured more accurately on stop watches than on IQ tests. Don’t get me wrong. I‘m not complaining. It’s not like I tune in every Sunday for rocket science. 

Actually, I’m here to support athletic stupidity in all its forms. Without it, how would I compile a list with such absurd notions as the ones you’ll see below. Thank you, sweet football, for yet another 20 reasons to spend half my weekend drooling before you.

They may stupid. They may be childish. They may not make a shred of sense. But at least they’re something.  I give you: 

20 Really Stupid Football Quotes

George Rogers, former Saints RB
“I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first”

Bill Peterson, former Oilers Head Coach
"You guys line up alphabetically by height."

Dick Butkus, former Bears LB
"I wouldn't ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was important -- like a league game."

William “Refrigerator” Perry, former Bears DT
"I've been big ever since I was little."

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, former Cowboys LB
On Terry Bradshaw’s brain power“He couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the C and the T.”

Joe Theisman, former Redskins QB  
“Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

Jim McMahon, former Bears QB
On traveling to Europe…"The people don't take baths and they don't speak English. No golf courses, no room service. Who needs it?"

John McKay, former Bucs Head Coach
"Well, we've determined that we can't win at home and we can't win on the road. What we need is a neutral site."

Randy Moss, Titans WR
“When you're rich you don't write checks. Straight Cash, Homey!” Randy Moss

John Madden, former Raiders Head Coach
"The purpose of the center during the snap is to get the ball to the quarterback; and if that doesn't happen it usually results in a fumble."

Terry Bradshaw, former Steelers QB
“I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.”

Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, former Saints RB
“People say I’ll be drafted in the first round, maybe even higher.”

Randy Cross, former 49ers RG
“The NFL, like life, is full of idiots.”

Chuck Knox, former Rams Head Coach
“Most of my clich├ęs aren’t original.”

Gale Sayers, former Bears RB
“The only thing I got out of football was the ability to work hard, and that’s it.”

Joe Namath, former Jets QB
“I guarantee a win.”

Bum Phillips, former Cowboys Head Coach
“If I drop dead tomorrow, at least I’ll know I died in good health.”

Jim Mora, former Saints/Colts Head Coach
“What’s that? Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs?! You kidding me?! Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game!” (former Saints and Colts coach Jim Mora

Bill Cowher, former Steelers Head Coach
 “We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.”

Bruce Coslet, former Bengals Head Coach
“We can’t run. We can’t pass. We can’t stop the run. We can’t stop the pass. We can’t kick. Other than that, we’re just not a very good football team right now.”

On The 8th Day God Created...Tom Brady?!?

By: C.G. Morelli

I don’t think I’m the only one who’s getting tired of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick love fest that occurs every Sunday around noon. So far this football season, the bitter taste of Brady’s almost effortless performance has left me speechless and frustrated. But when I heard the following joke the other day in a crowded holiday checkout line, I was left slightly refreshed:

Many years into the future, God layeth down his mighty robes and strapethed on his NFL foam finger. He headed to his own personal 50-yard line seat at his own personal stadium, and readied himself for an exciting week of professional football…played to his specifications, of course. On either side of him was an empty seat for whomever he deemed worthy enough to be his guests at the game.

The Lord had just taken a rather large bite of chili dog and wiped some dribbling cheese-wiz from his chin, when the spirit of Drew Brees came walking down the concourse. 

“Do you mind if I sit with you, uhhh, God?” Brees asked sort of confused.

“Well, my son,” said God mildly, “What do you think it is that makes you worthy of such a seat?”

“Uhh…well, during my career I played football like a warrior. I ignored injuries, I lifted my teammates, and I also thanked the guys around me for allowing me to have so much success on the playing field.”

“Hmm,” God responded, “It sure seems like you’ve made your contribution. Please, have a seat on my right.”

Drew obliged and began enjoying the game from the best seats in the house…literally.  A few moments later, as God and Drew Brees shared a pile of spicy nachos, another spirit made his way down the concourse.

“Is this seat taken?” asked Peyton Manning with a smile.

“Well, my son,” said God gently, “It is not taken as of yet. However, it is reserved for someone most worthy.  Do you think you are that man?”

“I’d have to say that I am,” Manning claimed. “For one, I always made it a point to treat the game like a game and have fun with it. But, at the same time, I remembered that my teammates and my city were counting on me, and I made sure to take it seriously as well. I think I was able to find the perfect balance.”

“That is quite an accomplishment,” said God with a grin, “I believe you are the man to take the seat at my left.” Peyton took his seat and snagged a stray nacho from the plastic tray, and the three miracle men took in the sights and sounds of barbaric poetry ringing from their private playing surface.

They were silent in their observations for a long while, until something from the stands caught their attention. This time, it was the spirit of Tom Brady who was making his way down the steps. There was an awkward moment of silence as the two legendary spectators, and of course God, glanced nervously from Brady to the row of occupied seats and back at Brady again. They simply had nowhere to put him.

Of course, Tom had no intention of missing the game. Do you know what he did?

He looked God directly in the eyes, tucked his very own biblical hairstyle behind his ears, and said, “Hey, buddy, I think you’re in my seat.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Have a Brew on Me: Pilsner Urquell

By: C.G. Morelli

The same people who gave us Miller Genuine Draft and Mickey’s Malt Liquor, also bring us this often-lauded Czech beer. That’s right, Pilsner Urquell is a spawn of the SAB Miller Empire, and although it may not actually reign supreme over all Czech beers, it certainly seems to be the most widely distributed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Pilsner Urquell is a great beer. If you offered me a bottle right now, I’d be hard-pressed to turn you down. Ok, so the fact is I’d probably gnaw my own arm off before refusing your offer. Who are you to judge? Besides, Urquell offers that clean, crisp front with a hard, bitter finish that beer lovers go crazy for.

This brew has its detractors, however. It tends to be a bit thicker than a true pilsner should be, and often leaves a gritty metallic aftertaste. It also tastes better off the tap, although it’s much more difficult to find in that form. I don’t know, call me crazy, but it seems like everything loses a little punch after being forced through the rigors of mass production.

Pilsner Urquell is a good, solid beer. But there just may be better Czech alternatives out there like Czech Rebel, which is more authentic and less expensive. It may be a little bit harder to find than a SAB Miller brew, but the end result is well worth the hunt.

3 Pints out of 5