Everything that happened in sports this weekend transcended the awesomeness scale.
That was the pretentious version. Here's the other: everything that happened in sports this weekend bridged the awesomeness scale. Every game, incident, and story touched down in two places, near the high and low ends of the spectrum. Let's brass tack it.
Colts Defeat Jets: 2 (As Awesome as Fighting a Shark in a Murky Pond) and 7 (As Awesome as Fighting a Shark on Land, with Duelling Pistols)
Why it was a 7:
New York is free from the green menace. All the Bandwagoners can stow their Jets gear back in the closet, or possibly get a refund since nothing they own is more than a month old. I get to stop being jealous. No endless debates about which Super Bowl run was more thrilling between Giants '07 and Jets '09. Jersey and Queens can resume their rightful places on the low rung of the NYC sports ladder. I don't quit trust Sanchez.
And this: Peyton Manning, Peyton Manning, Peyton Manning. There's nobody like him. The NFL is a giant mystery, and dynasties are a rare dinosaur indeed, but if you want to find a Michael Jordan equivalent in the league, it's Peyton. But then again, why even compare? Peyton excels in a highly stressful position better than anyone since Joe Montana. He overcame some early career jitters, and now he's an absolute assassin. And a genius, too, I think. His patience and wisdom yesterday were Solomon-like. There was never an ounce of anxiety on his face; just the usual Peyton annoyance, which doesn't slow him down. There was an amazing little moment during the game when Simms mentioned that during the first half of the last Jets-Colts game during week 16, the visitors became very frustrated because Peyton would call out the names of everyone who was blitzing on the play.
He would actually call out their names. He studied so much tape that he basically memorized everything the Jets were going to do. The man is a crazy wizard. He should wear a helmet shapes like a wizard's hat, and have a wand that he points at the defense before the play. Anyway, the Jets got weird enough with their schemes to puzzle him for about a quarter and a half yesterday, but that was it. Once he figures something out, it's like a chess grandmaster knowing he's fifteen moves away from winning. Though I didn't know it at the time, the last drive of the second quarter was the proverbial ballgame.
But talking about Peyton's greatness is sort of a tired thing these days, so let's move on.
Why it was a 2:
Despite my recently avowed hatred of the Jets, it only took about three minutes of spunky play before I switched my allegiances on Sunday. Then I switched back later because of Peyton, but still...it would have been a good story.
My Girlfriend's Adventures with the Possession Arrow: 3 (As Awesome as Fighting a Dude Named Shark in a Prison Yard) and 8 (As Awesome as Fighting the Sharks from West Side Story, Musical Style)
Here's what happened: the basketball league I'm running started up last Thursday with a preseason scrimmage, and she came to help out. When people started playing, she worked the electronic scoreboard. She understands the basic rules, but the possession arrow mystified her. As most of us know, that particular feature is used to determine which team gets possession in case of a held ball, which happens maybe two or three times in an average game. So the arrow only needs to change that often. Unfortunately, not being familiar with this rule, she made her best guess based on the name itself. Possession arrow.
The upshot: she spent about two and a half hours frantically changing the arrow every single time there was an actual change in possession. Which must have happened like 400 times.
PS - I'm not a total dick; I didn't realize this was happening until she told me afterward. And that's when I understood why she seemed kinda stressed, and why the ref looked so confused every time he glanced over. Boy, did I laugh! (Not a total dick, just like 50-70%)
Why it was an 8:
Why it was a 3:
Whenever I told someone the story this past weekend, their first reaction was to laugh a lot. Their second reaction, invariably, was, "awww...poor Emily."
Saints Over Vikings: 4 (As Awesome as Having to Swim Among a Group of Sharks Wearing a Really Attractive Female Shark Costume) and 9 (As Awesome as Eating Shark at a Restaurant and Thinking 'This is One for the Good Guys')
Why it was a 9:
Favre! Ha! Throwing across the body, choking NFC Championships, just like old times. Great to see you still doing your thing, Brett.
As bad and predictable as that pass was, Childress needs to be drawn and quartered in the streets of Minneapolis sometime this week. Unbelievably poor clock management lost that game, not Favre (and oh yeah, the fumbles didn't hep). You don't often see coaching that incompetent. It was like he got to the 35, which would have been a 52-yard field goal, and decided it was good enough. So 90 seconds ran off the clock, a penalty pushed them out of range (the possibility of which is why you keep driving), and then Favre was forced to be himself.
Why it was a 4:
As much as I loathe Favre, I pity the hell out of Vikings fans. There have been some tough losses in the NFL in my lifetime, but when you consider the history, context, and demoralization present in yesterday's game, this has to be one the hardest losses in history. No exaggeration. The team has never won a Super Bowl. Older fans have seen four losses. Younger fans have suffered through the heartbreak of past NFC title losses, including one where a field goal kicker who had been perfect all year missed with a chance to ice the game. And then yesterday...missed opportunities and bad luck and a deafening crowd and everything else hamstrung them, and they STILL had a chance to win at the end. And then Childress and Favre blew it, and then they lost the coin toss, and then the refs screwed them in OT...
The whole thing was like a yo-yo, with the sphere being a super bowl berth, and it keeps coming down almost to within reach. And holding the string? A vengeful God.
Seriously, though, I play football on Sundays with a few guys from Minnesota. After the game, I sent a text message to my friend Nick offering my sincere condolences. His response was so utterly poignant that I have to re-post it here:
"This one is going to take some time. Fuck."
This one is going to take some time. I honestly can't even imagine being a Vikings fan yesterday. You must feel like everything is against you. You must feel like Job (second Old Testament reference, booya!). Ugh. I can't help but feel bad for that fanbase.
Duke Beats Clemson on the Road: 5 (As Awesome as Being Nicknamed 'The Loan Shark') and 10 (As Awesome as Being Nicknamed 'The Lone Shark')
Why it was a 10:
Road win! Booya! Toughness! Credibility! The NC State loss is shown for a fluke!
Why it was a 5:
Trevor Booker is a thug and an opportunist. He's the kind of guy who pouts when things don't go well, but is the first to start screaming at an opponent after a block (Singler) even when his team's down 15. In fact, the whole team are a bunch of thugs. Athletic? Yes. Tough? Yes. Any semblance of basketball skill? No.
I hate coaches who recruit teams like that. They'll win some games, and maybe even stay in the top 25, just by being physical and mean, but they can't shoot or score or anything else. It's annoying. I'm very glad we beat that team.
However, I wish someone on Duke had stepped up and muscled up on Booker. I guess we took the high road, but is it too much to ask that for a bench player to come in and send a message with a hard foul? Or for someone to submarine him and try to break his leg?
Anyway, interesting sports weekend. And oh yeah, Rafa vs. Murray tonight in the Australian quarters! 3:30 AM eastern time! Wish I had DVR! Go Rafa.
The Land Shark