Is a Ravens Win “But A Dream Within A Dream”?

The Big Game is finally here. After months of weekly fashion shows by all of the teams in the league (and maybe a bit of ball running/throwing/kicking to make the NFL look like something other than a club for boys with cute outfits vying for rings each winter), it has come down to two options for Mr. NFL. We’ve got the 49ers who will be sporting red and gold ensembles tomorrow morning (game time is 7:30AM for those of us residing in the Middle Kingdom) and the Ravens who will wear a darker scheme of purple and black.

(Looking back over the season, the regular game day uniforms were pretty similar to last year, but when it came time for throwbacks, there were some major missteps! I still can’t believe the Steelers took the field looking like giant bumblebees this fall.  Horizontal stripes aren’t easy for most people to pull off, but put them on a 300 pound linebacker and the results aren’t pretty. Give them some antennae and a few Spanish phrases and they could be stand-ins for Bumblebee Man from the Simpsons. And don’t even get me started on the throwbacks donned by the Buccaneers this season. Just a hint boys: Sherbet-hued outfits will intimidate no one. And regardless of how you feel about the breast cancer awareness pink requirement during October, I would officially like to excuse the Redskins and the Chiefs from next year’s forced “we heart boobies” trend. There is just no way the red/yellow of their normal uniforms can come anywhere near looking good with a splash of bright pink. Let them off the hook, for the sake of all of our eyes.)

While my Idaho roots may make readers think I would lean towards supporting the 49ers, I can’t do that, for several reasons. First, those outfits are hideous. They look like they are stuck in the 80s. If the Super Bowl was based purely on uniform design (which I wish it were), they’d lose before the coin was even tossed.

But, their terrible threads are not the only reason they aren’t getting my vote. How can I not tell the tale of my heart and root on the Ravens? You’d have to chain me to a catacomb’s wall to keep me from cheering on Baltimore’s team tomorrow morning. The wings seraphs of heaven covet the playing abilities of Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco.  Will San Francisco take home the Lombardi trophy tomorrow morning? “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’”

He was a literary master and he has an NFL team named after him. There is no other team to root for. Evermore!

To prepare for the early morning match-up, my day has been spent getting ready for the Super Bowl party I will host at the consulate. With freshly painted purple and black fingernails, I’ve peeled about a million mandarin oranges, which are a perfect for the continental breakfast spread I have ready to go in the morning. (Rather than noshing on nachos, pizza, chicken wings and beer, we’ll be celebrating with muffins, cinnamon rolls, fruit and coffee. That’s what happens when kickoff is before the opening of business on a work day.) I ran to the store to get extra juice, worried that the four boxes I schlepped back to the compound after lunch on Friday would not be enough, and got some baby bananas to supplement the peeled miniature oranges.

Sadly, we won’t get to watch the overpriced Super Bowl commercials, as we’ll be watching the game live on an AFN (Armed Forces Network) feed, which doesn’t allow for commercials.  While all of America is watching a baby Clydesdale grow up and make his owner proud (and getting to take a shot at naming him) and a confusing VW commercial that implies driving one will give you a carefree Caribbean outlook and a stereotypical Jamaican accent (neither of which I got in the several years I drove a VW Bug), we’ll be sipping coffee as the military reminds us about such uplifting topics as PTSD, suicide and the pitfalls of only paying the minimum balance on our credit cards.

Knowing that winter is going to be cut short thanks to Punxsutawney not seeing his shadow this weekend, those of us in Chengdu will be enjoying some early morning pigskin play action and hoping for a bit of sunshine to break through the haze. Oh yeah, and rooting on an American literary legend’s team.


A Little Super Bowl Halftime Reading

The big day has arrived. It is Super Bowl Sunday. (Or Super Bowl Monday for our soon-to-be-colleagues in Chengdu. I hear there is a pre-work party with bagels and muffins!) After a crushing season in the Fantasy Football league, losing a playoff spot for Playing in Stilettos by just one game, I am ready to wrap this season up.

The Super Bowl is a fascinating slice of Americana pie. A section of our pop culture is put on display for the world to see, from the massive build-up to a game that never seems to live up to its hype to the obsession over commercials hawking everything from beer and pizza to luxury cars and stock portfolios to the constant complaints about how bad the halftime show is/was/will be. (Who could the league hire that wouldn’t draw endless complaints? I mean really.  When you’ve got half of the American population watching the same concert, how will you ever come up with an artist that satisfies all of them? You won’t!)

I, too, will be watching the match-up between the teams today. (Who are they again? Seriously. That is the level of attention I pay. This may be why the lovely Stilettos didn’t make the playoffs, yet again, this year.) While I don’t follow the NFL closely, I do have a few suggestions for ways to improve this end-of-season party.

My proposal takes the end reward for winning the game and works backwards to reach a better form of entertainment, leading to that prize.  What coveted award is given out to the victorious team? Rings. Big, expensive, diamond-laden, sparkly baubles to adorn the giant sausage-like fingers of the players who propelled their team to the number one spot in the NFL.  We are talking jewelry here people.

I propose, if jewelry is what is at stake, we come up with a contest more fitted to that trophy. Much like the Miss America candidates who vie for a tiara, I think the professional football players should also show us their jewelry-worthy skills.  So, with that in mind, here is what I propose:

Super Bowl Sunday still exists, but rather than settling the dispute with sweaty piles of gigantic dudes fighting over a piece of animal hide, they give us a fashion show.  That’s right. A fashion show.  It is a fitting way to earn their rings.

I suggest the teams go head to head in four categories- home, away, wild card and mascot.  Each round will serve as a quarter, so the Super Bowl maintains its roots in football. The home outfits will be modeled by the offensive players, while the away outfits are donned by the defensive players. (On a personal level, I would suggest teams shy away from the white pants. Something metallic or dark does a much better job of hiding that embarrassing jock-strap line.) Those quarters are pretty easy to picture, and possibly pretty easy on the eye, depending on who the reigning quarterbacks are. The wild card round will be shown on the special teams players. These outfits are determined individually by each team. They could be throw-back uniforms or ones worn during October’s profusion of pink games or they could be something more creative, like futuristic uniforms. Of course, the fourth and final round goes to the mascots. These guys will take to the runway to demonstrate not only their level of team spirit, but also the type of mascot will be judged. (Personally, I am a fan of the weird balloon ones that can jiggle and bounce around, but as I am not an NFL sanctioned referee, I don’t get a vote.)

Obviously, the team which scores the most points overall, after the completion of all four quarters, will be declared the winner and be presented with the coveted Super Bowl rings. They will be bling-tastic, just as they are now. The winning team can still choose an MVP who will announce they are going to Disney World and could be featured not only on the front of the Wheaties box, but his face could also shine on the cover of Glamour.

The rest of the NFL season will stay the same, with kick-offs and run-backs and field goals and sacks and interceptions and all the other football-y stuff that makes up each game. The only change to the league’s procedure would be to the season finale and how those players earn the most sought-after prize in American sports- the Super Bowl ring.

Think about it. We are an hour away from watching dozens of grown men battle one another for a diamond encrusted bit of beautiful glory. Runway show- it could work!