Football and Me Part XIV
December 5, 2011 1 Comment
This is the fourteenth post in a series in which I will document this football season. It will broadly be about the Badgers and Packers but will more specifically be about myself in it. Football season does not just happen on the field. It is about great friends, foods, drinks, and merriment. My hope is that it will be interesting for readers but at the very least it will serve as a journal to look back on. I wish I had done this last year.
What a weekend for the Badgers and Packers! What a weekend for me! Time to re-count the weekend in Bill Simmons running diary format. Times are approximate to the best of my hazy memory.
12:30 PM – On the outskirts of Indianapolis, we see a billboard for Flap Jacks Pancake House and, as badly as we want to start the Badger pre-game festivities, it calls us in like a siren. Turns out to be a great decision. The only problem was that there were too many types of pancakes on the menu that I wanted. Luckily, they let me mix and match on a single stack of pancakes so I got apple cinnamon, strawberry, and banana nut. And a side of bacon.
1:30 – We arrive at the Hotel Motel Quality Inn, have a Spotted Cow and a couple JagerMonsters, and wait outside the lobby for a cab. While we are waiting, two Indiana Hoosier fans, Charlie and Dan, offer us a ride downtown in their Escalade. Charlie and Dan are AWESOME. They deftly guide us through the back roads and by the time we are parking across the street from Lucas Oil, we realize that we didn’t encounter any traffic. We were impressed:
Me: Charlie, has anyone ever referred to you as a boss?
Charlie: Well, the people that work for me do.
This response made complete sense.
3:00 – We head to Scotty’s Brewhouse to catch the Wisconsin-Marquette basketball game. Big Badger contingent. I run into my friend Fred, the only other person my age that I know that I can talk about the Lombardi-Packers with (he is Fuzzy Thurston’s grandson). Saying that we are smitten with this Packers team wouldn’t be too different from mentioning that Warren Buffett is wealthy. Some things are so obvious that they can go unsaid.
Mario, Habib, and I meet Brandon who writes the Badger Preview, for the first time. For the first time all season, he picked against the Badgers and we call him out. “I have my reasons,” he laughs, implying a reverse jinx. This goes unmentioned, though, because any reference to a reverse jinx undoes all its power. To a non-sports fan, that would sound childish and even delusional but as I’ve said before, what point would there be to watch sports if you didn’t feel like you had some control over the outcome?
We order boneless wings and blue cheese macaroni and cheese and spicy boneless wings. The waitress strongly admonished against ordering the wings extra spicy, saying that last week they made a customer cry. They were pretty spicy but not unbearable. My eyes watered but I could have kept eating them. Finally, we ordered a brownie ice cream sundae. It was decadent.
When the dessert is finished, Mario lifts the bowl over his head and sips the remaining melted ice cream like one would do with the leftover milk in a bowl of cereal. Let’s just say that there’s video evidence of this and if Mario is ever famous or runs for office, Habib would be able to make some money selling it to TMZ.
8:00 – We get into Lucas Oil and our seats are just unreal. Like, 30-yard line, 3rd row behind the Badgers bench. It should go without saying that these aren’t the seats we paid for. We’re in the section of Lucas Oil that is segregated from the commoners by glass in the corridor and railings in the seating area. Our buddy G pulled some Catch Me if you Can type s— to get us into these seats. I don’t want to elaborate too much here but talk to me if you want details.
Both bands come together on the field to play the National Anthem. The National Anthem at sporting events is an underratedly awesome tradition–it leads us to reflect on how lucky we are to live our lives and how they would not be the same outside America.
The game was unreal. Instead of summarizing the plays, I’m going to embed the highlights and just write about broad takeaways. This is better right?
- Keyshawn Martin was an absolute beast. To my untrained eye, he looks like a starting NFL receiver. I spent the whole game wondering what Mike Mayock thinks of him.
- The 4th-and-7 play to Duckworth was the coolest play I’ve ever seen live. The ball hung up in the air FOREVER. It doesn’t fully make up for the hail mary at Michigan State, but it’s close.
- I’m going to miss Russell Wilson. I wish Wisconsin could sign him to a contract extension.
- Oregon is a great Rose Bowl match-up for Wisconsin. They have national cache with Nike, are very fun to watch, and are the opposite stylistically of Wisconsin. A win would be nice and would be a great talking point for recruiting.
12:15 AM – Joined by Mario’s friends Kristen and Jessie, who snuck down to sit with us for the second half, we get to prance around Indianapolis! Winning is so much better than losing! We end up at a bar called the Ugly Monkey and dance around for the next few hours until it closes. CHEERS TO RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW!
3:30 – Night’s not quite over. In fact, it’s only just begun. We get a cab back to our hotel and realize that there is Waffle House, White Castle, and Denny’s all within striking distance. Instead of having to choose one (for the record, Waffle House would have won in a landslide), we decide to hit all three.
First stop: Waffle House. I try to order a stack of waffles, hash browns, a T-Bone steak, and five chocolate milks for the table but get overruled on the T-Bone and three of the chocolate milks because we need to pace ourselves. The hash browns, which we ordered smothered and covered (with cheese and sautéed onions), arrive plain so we send them back. They come back like 30 seconds later with a single piece of non-melted cheese on them and like four half-sautéed onion pieces. This was a glaring act of passive agression, perhaps stemming from the amount of times we changed our order (I didn’t relinquish the T-Bone without a fight).
Anyways, I mixed it together so the cheese would melt and, in doing so, had the genius idea to mix the waffles in with it too and add syrup and Tabasco. It doesn’t look that tasty in this picture but believe me, it was.
Next stop was White Castle. I didn’t realize that a) White Castle is terrible, and b) everyone else only wanted one slider. So, after I made Habib order 10, I ended up getting stuck eating four. My stomach disagreed with this decision (perhaps amongst others?) and at Denny’s I just wanted to be asleep.
10:00 – I wake up on the floor, with my shoes on, a headache, and perhaps a little less self esteem than 24 hours earlier. But, the Badgers are Big Ten champs and it’s a Packers Sunday! If there is such a thing, this is the good type of hangover.
3:00 – At Will’s Northwoods Inn for the Packers game! It is packed shoulder-to-shoulder, to the extent that it is a little bit uncomfortable. There’s also way too many Bears fans, which makes no sense because there are any number of other bars (like, all of them) they should be at in Chicago. One of them has had like 25 beers and no matter where or how I position myself, he keeps bumping into me. I can’t figure out whether it’s on purpose or not but throughout the game it messes with my mojo.
I’m still feeling like a zombie but put down 64 oz. of Diet Coke to try to alleviate my fatigue. It kind of works but I have the feeling that there will be a piece of me missing until I have three days of rest, exercise, and nutrition. The wait for kickoff, as always, is interminable.
- Another great win for the Packers. They are playing with a confident swagger right now and it just feels like no matter how much adversity they face, they will overcome it and win. There’s a fine line between that and being overconfident but they appear sufficiently motivated to keep up their high level.
- While everyone else is playing checkers, Aaron Rodgers is playing chess. Was there ANY doubt he was going to lead a scoring drive in the final minute?
- On a related note, I love the move by Mike McCarthy to tell Cobb to take a touchback on that kickoff. It is unlikely that the yards Cobb gained past the 20 would have been worth the time that the kickoff return took off the clock.
- Drops continue to be an issue for the whole offense but especially for Jermichael Finley. Finley had at least two brutal drops yesterday and needs to get this issue in order before the playoffs. Perhaps the optimal strategy with Finley might be not to throw him perfect passes? He seems to have the most trouble with those.
- Mason Crosby had another tackle saving a long kick return yesterday. How many of those do he and Masthay have over the past few years? How awesome is it that the Packers have the best tackling kicker AND punter in the league?
- So awesome and classy to see Charles Woodson give Hakeem Nicks dap.
- Nerdy NFL stat time: When the Packers scored a touchdown to go up 8 with 3:30 to go, Bill Barnwell tweeted that they should go for 2 to try to make it a two-possession game. His logic was that if you convert it, you force the Giants to score, recover an onside kick, and score again–virtually impossible in the given time frame and way more difficult than executing a two-point conversion. He said something similar about a month ago and at the time I dismissed it as unrealistic but the more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense. The first coach that tries it, though, better hope and prey it works out. If it doesn’t, that coach will get crucified for thinking outside the box.
Overall, a GREAT weekend. I feel truly blessed to have such wonderful family, friends, and football in my life.