HOLLYWOOD, CA – Christmas is two weeks away and the stress is starting to ratchet up. Shopping, getting the cards out, trimming the tree, wrapping up all the extra work that needs to get done before the holidays, dealing with all those surprisingly high end-of-year bills and expenses, not to mention the idea of traveling and then hanging out with crazy parents and in-laws…by the time of your office party it’s no wonder Hank from central files strips to his underwear and ruins the shrimp cocktail. By the way, when is the MTM Holiday Party?
There’s one thing you can always count on this time of year, though, and that’s football played in the snow. The normally green field turned white, the sure footed athletes slipping and sliding like Bambi on the frozen lake, dudes with shovels and Gore-tex parkas scraping off the yardage markers, and the inevitable observation of the sleeveless players acting either tough, or idiotic, or both. Hey, they’re not supposed to prove their tough-guy cred by playing through concussions anymore, withstanding the elements with minimal protection is their chance to shine. “Snow Bowl” games are instant conversation starters, the kind of games that even novice fans find themselves captivated by.
The great ones go down in history: The Ice Bowl, where the novel idea of actually heating the field with electric coils failed miserably, instead malfunctioning and turning the moisture under the tarp into a sheet of ice (and apparently was never tried again). The 1985 “Snow Bowl” between the Packers and Tampa Bay (a combined 7-17 between them) notable not just because of the two feet it was buried under during the game, but because Steve Young and the Buccaneers’ pure white uniforms made them invisible. The 1982 “snow plow” game where a New England parolee took the initiative to go out and plow off the spot from which Patriot kicker John Smith (his real name?) could kick the winning field goal (and account for all the points of 3-0 game). Leon Lett in the Thanksgiving game in 1993–his second most memorable gaffe–inexplicably trying to pick up a blocked field goal and instead booting it for a Dolphin first down and eventually winning kick. And of course there’s the “tuck rule” game, which had everything, and officially started the Patriot Dynasty of the last decade.
Funny how the Dolphins and Patriots are involved in most of those. The Dolphins were involved in another yesterday, beating Pittsburgh in the snow despite an improbable almost-miracle finish by the Steelers. This is the year of the almost-miracle for Pittsburgh, who are now officially done thanks to another miracle-miracle finish for the Ravens in another crazy snow game against a Vikings team for whom snow games were once upon a time a regular rite. In Washington, the only thing chillier than the field is Mike Shanahan’s relationship with his quarterback and owner. The snowiest of games belonged to Philadelphia, where the Lions (still somehow in first place heading into this game) learned that unless there’s an ex-con snowplow driver on the sideline, it’s better not to try to kick extra points in this.
Fun stuff, and further proof that football is the only sport where it’s better not to be at the game.
Fuming Fake Sandy Alderson, tomorrow.