(This story was published in 2005).
“He had my testicles in his hand, and he was squeezing them.”
Now that I have your attention, some may be wondering what piece of erotica this quote came from. Try Sports Illustrated online, in an article about what goes on at the bottom of a football pile, when athletic men grab, hold, punch, embrace and bite each other (cold shower break!). Don’t you wish you followed the NFL more closely?
Feb. 6 is Super Bowl Sunday, the 39th edition of America’s unofficial national holiday. For those of you who think an “Eagle” is only a bird and want to know who is squeezing whose testicles (it involves two players who will be in the game), we present our annual Super Bowl for the Clueless. It’s all you need to know about the game.
WHAT: Super Bowl XXXIX pits the New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, following a 4 1/2-hour Fox pregame show. The Patriots (16-2) are the defending champions and are trying to win their third title in four years. The Eagles (15-3) are in their first Super Bowl since 1981. Their last visit was overshadowed that day by Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural and the release of 53 American hostages held for 444 days in Iran (and you thought you wouldn’t learn anything from this).
WHERE: The game will be played in Jacksonville, Fla., not exactly a garden spot. “Have you ever been to Tampa? It's heaven, if you like Waffle Houses,” Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser wrote. “Jacksonville makes Tampa look like Paris!”
People are already complaining about the hotels, restaurants and other amenities, and some say the place has an odd smell. As one Outsports reader said, “We called it back in my undergrad days - J-no action-ville.”
FASHION NOTE: The Eagles will wear their home midnight green uniforms (with silver, black and white), the Patriots their away white jerseys (accented with red, blue and silver). Both meet our exacting standards for proper color coordination.
THE COACHES: The Eagles are led by Andy Reid, who would be considered a huge (in more ways than one) catch at a bear convention. Reid is a terrific coach and seldom betrays a hint of emotion on the sideline. He is also the most boring interview in sports.
He frightened the greater Philadelphia metro area by threatening to wear spandex tights if receiver Terrell Owens caught 15 touchdown passes. Fortunately, Owens was hurt and his season total was stuck at 14.
The Patriots are coached by Bill Belichick, the greatest mind in the game, who always comes up with a new wrinkle for each opponent. It’s a shame he doesn’t put as much thought into his wardrobe. As we wrote last year: “Belichick’s preferred choice of sideline attire is an oversized gray hooded sweatshirt that makes him look like he sleeps under the Charles River Bridge.” He’s still wearing the damn thing and we can only hope it’s seen the inside of a washing machine.
THE TEAMS: Let’s put this in terms you can understand. You’re in a gay bar and you’re the Eagles. There is this really hot guy staring your way and you finally screw up the courage to say hello. Much to your chagrin, you realize he was eyeing the guy behind you. This pretty much has been the Eagles in 2001-03. Three times they reached the conference title game and three times they were rejected. But this season the hot guy said hello in return; the only question is will they go all the way?
The Patriots are like your friend who can pick up someone just taking out the trash, with a three-day beard and wearing pink slippers. In the past two seasons they have won 33 of 37 games. Just like you and your friend, other NFL teams respect the Patriots’ abilities but are jealous as hell.
THE PLAYERS: New England quarterback Tom Brady (pictured) is 8-0 in the playoffs. Twice he has been the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player. He makes millions. He’s 27. He’s, in the words of a teammate, a good-looking stud. And he’s a great quarterback—poised, accurate and a team leader. His only flaw was a beard he had been growing that I said made him look like a Serbian rock star. Now, even that's gone (see the before and after pics) and he looks terrific.
Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb is best known for those Chunky Soup ads with his mom. He is only the third African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. Rush Limbaugh lost his gig at ESPN last year when he (wrongly) said sportswriters went easy on McNabb because he is black. McNabb is the heart and soul of the Eagles, very mobile and a terrific passer.
We have no idea who the gay players are, but we do know the one who “appears” the most gay. That would be Terrell Owens. He is obsessed with his body (for good reason; check out this pic from his website) and wears skin-tight, full-body lycra during pregame warmups. He shook his booty with pom-poms after one touchdown while with San Francisco (tres gay!) and his dancing on top of the bench during the NFC championship game is the kind we see at Rage every weekend. T.O. is the guy who last summer suggested ex-teammate Jeff Garcia is gay; maybe he was trying to divert attention.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: After last year’s Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction,” the NFL is not taking any chances. The halftime “star” will be Paul McCartney (how 1975 of them!). Don’t expect to see Sir Paul’s nipple; he’s more likely to have a Depends malfunction.
"America the Beautiful" will be sung by Alica Keys, while a joint service choir made up of cadets from the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, West Point, and the Coast Guard Academy will sing the national anthem. This shows once again that no sport wraps itself more tightly in Old Glory than the NFL.
THE COMMERCIALS: News reports say the ads will be "tamer" this year, called a response to the Nipplegate backlash. We're still not sure if we'll see Cialis take on Levitra for a second year in the Hardon Bowl. The ultra-homophobic "Concerned Women for America" is hailing the trend. “It looks like the NFL got the message,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture & Family Institute. “McCartney’s arrival indicates that perhaps they fired the 14-year-old, overheated boy who many of us suspected was hidden away somewhere, booking the previous acts. Now the NFL needs to tackle Fox Network’s more decadent promos and to nip those erectile drug ad embarrassments so that families can watch again without lurching for the remote.” What will CWA do if we see some on-field testicle squeezing? Sue the NFL for indecency?
THE GAME: If history holds this game will be a blowout. Going back to the 1994 season, Super Bowls following even-numbered seasons have been one-sided, with an average margin of victory of 21 points. Those following odd-numbered seasons have been exciting, with several coming down to the final play. Uh, oh--this game follows the 2004 season, so eat that guacamole dip early.
New England has been made a 7-point favorite by the oddsmakers. This is based on the fact that they are defending champions and a team that has won its last eight playoff games. The Patriots are solid on both offense and defense. Their best players are Brady, running back Corey Dillion, wide receiver Deion Branch, kicker Adam Vinatieri, linebackers Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest and safety Rodney Harrison.
The Eagles’ offense suffered a blow late in the season when Owens was hurt; he says he’s is going to play but I would be surprised if he makes more than a token appearance. Without Owens, the Eagles offense is much easier to stop -- contain McNabb and it’s all over. The Eagles marquee players are McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook, lineman Jevon Kearse, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter (who solidified their run defense) and defensive back Brian Dawkins.
FACTS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS: The game features teams that tied for allowing the second-fewest points (260) during the regular season. ... The team to score first has won 26 of 38 Super Bowls. ... Teams leading after three periods are 33-5, including 15 in a row. ... The Patriots scored first in 17 of their 18 games this season. ... There is a huge discrepancies among the top runners for each team. Corey Dillon led New England with 1,635 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. In contrast, Brian Westbrook led the Eagles with 812 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but he had only half as many carries as did Dillon. On the other hand, Westbrook is a much more dangerous receiver, with 73 catches to Dillon's 15.
MONEY SHOT: For those who have read this far, we will now reveal the source of the opening paragraph. It was by Philadelphia’s Ike Reese, and here is what he saidto SI.com:
"When we played the Patriots last year [Eagles running back] Brian Westbrook fumbled a punt, and we were all down there scrambling for it. [Patriots linebacker] Mike Vrabel had my testicles in his hand, and he was squeezing them. Where the football ends up depends on who has the strongest will or the strongest hands. Guys reach inside the face mask to gouge your eyes. But the biggest thing is the grabbing of the testicles. It is crazy."
Vrabel seemed offended in a confusing way by Reese's comments. He first said the incident "never happened," but then added this: "It's the NFL and there's a lot of stuff that happens on the field. As NFL players you don't come into the locker room and start talking to the media about it. I've had everything -- you name it -- done to me out there. But you don't start saying this guy did this or did that." Mike, fill us in; we promise we won't tell a soul.
PICK: We doubt Fox will show what goes on inside the pile, but tune in to the game nonetheless. As for a prediction, I think the Patriots are too tough and experienced in the big game. New England 31, Philadelphia 13.