Had a dream, and it filled me with wonder; she had other plans
- Neil Diamond
And now we know why revenge is sweet: it tastes like melon. Yes, these NFL playoffs are the revenge of that guy who signed the melon for Peyton Manning.
For months on my TV while advertising something I don't remember, that grocery store guy has been signing the same (add-an-adjective) melon for Peyton, pretending to enjoy being one of the superstar's little people.
It creeped me out on too many levels to describe but I was wrong about this guy. The melon signer is a hero who saved America because Peyton finally ate that melon last week.
And I also think that the other guy, the one who directed Tom Brady's five metaphoric levels of protection as if they were the Muppets of the Midway changing tires for Joe Gibbs using plastic big wheels that only turn right in a NASCAR race finally decided that he had enough of Mister Superstar too. He also saved America.
But if last Sunday you happened to be walking down Madison Avenue and you worried as you saw people jumping from buildings like it was 1929 on Wall Street, please remember the old wisdom: It's all good if the Wheaties sell.
With no Tom Brady and no Peyton Manning, we are offered:
- A possible Jake versus Jake Super Bowl. All Jakes all the time.
- A Roethlisberger versus Plummer Super Bowl. All beards all the time.
But for two tedious weeks, this is what you'll get:
PANTHERS AT SEAHAWKS – Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Delhomme walk into a bar, and no one recognizes them. No one signs any melons and as for protection, they'll have to fight their own damn way out of this one. And it's because Jake Delhomme is so good and so gritty that the Panthers will stay in this game for a good while. But losing their running back, Deshaun Foster and having to run instead with Nick Goings will, pardon the obvious pun and - Steve Smith or not - have them going home. Matt Hasselbeck is just as good and just as gritty as Delhomme (For those draftniks out there – Delhomme wasn't drafted and Hasselbeck was picked in the sixth round. Both spent considerable time sitting behind other quarterbacks on other teams, and now look at them. I'm just saying.) And the Seahawks are playing at home with Shaun Alexander expected to be back from his concussion, which means his life in the distant future may suffer but our life in the immediate future as football fans will be more enjoyable. So let me, while wearing my Bruschi jersey, be the first football fan to thank Shaun for coming back quick from last week's concussion and enduring whatever that means in the future. You the man! Seahawks 30, Panthers 21
STEELERS AT BRONCOS – This is how God tortures Cleveland Browns fans when He isn't busy talking to Ray Nagin or Pat Robertson. The Deity sends two teams that Browns fans hate the most and lets them play for the honor of going to the Super Bowl. So after enduring an Art Modell championship and a virtual Belichick dynasty, it's clear what He has planned next: One for the thumb. That's right, the Broncos (with John Elway, no less) have already had their recent championships. A long-awaited fifth Steelers championship is the true Chinese water torture for a Browns' fan. So this Steelers team comes into the screaming madness that is Denver on a roll that looks unstoppable. Ben Roethlisberger looks like Terry Bradshaw without the early career dumbness and Jerome Bettis is running like, well, a bus. Still, the game comes down to the final play with the Steelers leading by 3 when Bettis has the ball at the Broncos one yard line and, like Ernest Byner, he fumbles and then Champ Bailey recovers and runs it 99 yards until he is shoestring-tackled by Roethlisberger just as time runs out. Yes, it will happen like that and then after the game Hines Ward announces that he is retiring (this wasn't my idea, go on Steelers fans, thank my friend, Rose) to join a fire department and catch babies being thrown from burning buildings. "God gave me this talent, I should put it to better use," he says. Steelers 33, Broncos 30
BYE AT BROWNS – The greatest team in football continues planning for a Super Bowl parade. Four decades of planning is expected to result in a swell parade someday. Team owner Randy Lerner tells the NFL Network that he hopes to hold a rope under Scooby Doo and somehow that comes across on Propaganda TV as an example of great leadership.
The Super Bowl (allegedly Roethlisberger versus Hasselbeck – the spelling bee Super Bowl) with all the attention on commercials and the halftime razzmatazz that is aimed at everyone but real football fans is more show business than sport. But this weekend, it's still about the games.
That's why for my predictions this weekend I went beyond the ordinary monkey-throwing-darts technique and I consulted a crazy woman with a mole on her chin and vodka on her breath, astrological charts that I can't read, and a mysterious shaman named Otis the hippie bass player.
I don't, in fact, remember any of the advice but I looked at the stars and listened to the blues and went through the effort to get some advice before I ignored it and then passed along my ignorance to you.
You're welcome. Want some melon?
This column is sponsored by Mayor Nuts' Candy Bars from the Chocolate City.
(Brian Tarcy lives in Falmouth, MA. www.briantarcy.com)