I wouldn’t even watch it except for this feeling I get that if I change the channel, Mike Shanahan will say something like, “I felt like we had some trouble running the ball, but instead of making a few adjustments to give ourselves a chance in the second half, we’re just going to quit. Well, the team will probably keep trying to win, but I know our goose is cooked, so I’m clocking out for the day. And by the way, where’s the closest deli to the south parking lot? I could really go for a reuben.”
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Of course, Shanahan would never retire after the second quarter of a game, and of course the Broncos wouldn’t implode because I didn’t pay enough attention to whatever Pam Oliver had to say.
But this much I know: Even if CBS made a concerted effort to hire the most annoying unemployed actor they could find to do the job, I’d still end up watching the interview.
Call it a superstition if you like. Superstitions and sports go hand-in-hand. But this insane hope that a sideline reporter will finally get an NFL coach to speak his mind with candor in plain English words rather than jargon and streams of clichés goes way beyond the time-honored quirks.
* * *
Playoff beards? Sure, why not? A mediocre relief pitcher with a fu-man-chu is actually three to four times more likely to have an announcer call his curve ball “nasty” or “filthy” than when he was clean-shaven.
And those guys who dress up like Darth Vader before Raider games always make enough of an impact on the game to get some time on camera.
But there’s a line somewhere—I’ve given it some thought, and I still don’t know where exactly the line is—where these curious behaviors cross into pointless anti-social territory. Like those die-hard hockey fans who have sets of game-day clothing that never get washed during a winning streak.
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I was trying to think of a few non-annoying unemployed actors that might be able to make sideline interviews more fun for everyone, but I got distracted when I typed Burt Reynolds into Google images.
I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, Reynolds must have stolen the “Magnum P.I.” moustache from Tom Selleck for “Cannonball Run.” Wouldn’t there have to have been some kind of a distortion in the space/time continuum for that moustache to somehow appear in two places at the same time?
* * *
It was great to see Tabor pick up its first win of the season, but I might have accidentally picked up another silly superstition. Saturday marked the first time all season that I haven’t talked to my brother on game day.
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I was also glad to see that the Chargers lost again. I was slightly less excited to see the Chiefs win and the Broncos lose. It means that, for as terrible as Kansas City looked in the first two weeks, they’re still very much in contention in the AFC West. Then again, they might not win a game in October if they don’t start getting some yards out of Larry Johnson.
Either way, I’m going to need a friend to start tivo-ing all of Herm Edwards’ sideline interviews.
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Two quick notes that have nothing to do with the rest of this column:
One, I really, really need to set aside some time to do my laundry before hockey season starts. Two, I’d have called the relationship between sports and superstitions a “hand-in-glove fit” if I could have figured out how to force it in there.
But I think it’s probably better that it didn’t work out that way, because it would have been a natural segue into a joke about O.J. Simpson that might have been funny in 1995.