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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mister Answer Man:  XLIII Edition!

Hello again sports fans!  It’s time for another visit from Mister Answer Man.  You’ve got questions, he’s got answers.  That’s among the many, many reasons his name is Mister Answer Man!

Dear Mister Answer Man: Hi!  Longtime reader, first-time writer-inner.  A couple of weeks ago, I assumed you were kidding when you said this was the Cardinals’ year.  I thought you were just trying to demonstrate the ultimate futility of it all, the way some people insisted that the University of Utah was our true national champion in collegiate football and the way the Joker insisted that chaos and destruction is at the heart of human experience and desire.  But now I’m beginning to think you were serious.  I don’t get it.  These are the frigging Cardinals we’re talking about.  So:  why so serious?  – F. Gorshin, Gotham

Mister Answer Man replies:  Thank you for that earnest question, Mr. Gorshin.  Would you like to know how I got these scars?  It all began during Super Bowl XXXIII. . . .

Dear Mister Answer Man:  I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this self-indulgent claptrap.  Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us, and the entire Internet community has long hailed you for picking winners based on your unerring assessments of the manliness of their uniforms.  Seriously, this is my only chance at breaking even this year.  Can you help a brother out?  – B. Madoff, Gotham

Mister Answer Man replies: Why, thank you, Ms. Madoff.  I do pride myself on my Super Bowl record, which far exceeds my record of prognostication in any other field of human endeavor.  Why, even before I hit upon my infallible jersey scheme, I had the point spread right on Patriots-Panthers, even though I had the final score at 13-10 instead of 32-29.  About the Patriots and Eagles, my prediction of a 27-21 Pats victory remains a blogosphere legend, and the following year’s Steelers by 7 prediction defied the pusillanimous Vegas oddsmakers who had the Steelers by a mere 4.  Unfortunately, I shut down my blog before I could make public my (ultimately accurate) prediction for the Colts-Bears snoozefest-in-the-rain, but the following year I managed to glom onto another blog in order to provide what remains to this day the definitive Wittgensteinian recap of the Giants’ world-historical victory over the Patriots.  My call that year?  Giants by three.  (My son, Mr. Answer Man Jr., can verify this.)

I’m sorry . . . your question was again?

Dear Mister Answer Man: Tell.  Us.  Who.  Is.  Going.  To.  Win.  You.  Insufferable.  Assho

Mister Answer Man replies: Ah, yes, yes, the “outcome” of the “contest.” Well, my dear man (sorry I didn’t have time to finish your letter!  got to take care of business, you know), the outcome is not really in doubt.  Even though the Steelers have abandoned the masculine block numbers that defined their great teams of the 1970s, they will endure this Super Bowl—nay, they will prevail!—even with their sleek, feline sans-serif numbers.  And they will do so for the same reason they prevailed over the silver-blue-metallic pajamas-wearing Seahawks three years ago: their opponents simply do not have a color scheme that can compete with them.

Dear Mister Answer Man: Are you saying that red is an insufficiently manly primary color for a championship team?  – S. Bowman, Montreal and Detroit

Mister Answer Man replies:  Why, yes I am, sir!  Look, it’s really nice that the Cardinals have put sixty years of severe and profound suckitude behind them.  It’s nice that Larry Fitzgerald gets his moment in the sun.  It’s even nice that Kurt Warner’s career has a third act.  But red?  Against black and gold?  Granted, the Cards’ new jerseys are almost hockeylike, and that gives them a certain je ne sais quoi, and their new bird logo seems acceptably angry, a marked improvement over the merely stern-looking bird logo they had from 1994-2004—go ahead, check out the difference.  See how much angrier and more aerodynamic and more black-bordered the new cardinal is?  So that’s positive.  In fact, that explains why the Cardinals will manage to score against a terrifying and voracious Pittsburgh defense.  But winning?  In red?  Who are you kidding?  Red can sometimes work in a sport like hockey, because, well, the national flag of Canadia and all that.  But in football, it just doesn’t cut it.

Dear Mister Answer Man: What in the world are you talking about?  I won a Super Bowl with a red-clad team. – H. Stram, Kansas City

Mister Answer Man replies: Yes, yes, you did, Mr. Stram.  But first, that was Super Bowl IV.  No one watched Super Bowl IV, and no one remembers it today.  Sorry about that!  You had the bad luck to play in the Super Bowl just after Namath’s Jets stunned Unitas’s Colts, and just before the Cowboys-Dolphins-Steelers-Raiders consortium took over the 1970s.  No one was paying attention—it’s kind of like pointing to the gold medal you won in the 1908 Olympics. Also, you beat the Minnesota Vikings, who (as advanced uniform science research has shown) wore the most beatable Super Bowl jerseys ever—just masculine enough to get there, but not nearly masculine enough to play competitively once they got there.  (Scientists are still debating how orange-draped Broncos managed to make it to four Super Bowls; but most researchers agree that a hypothetical Broncos-Vikings matchup in 1977 would have ended in a scoreless tie.)

And may I add, while I’ve got you here, that the Chiefs’ overall team design is an affront to all that is right and good?  Your helmet scheme is red-black-white, and your jersey is red-yellow-white.  That’s just sloppy, guys.  You look like the JV squad borrowing the varsity helmets.

Dear Mister Answer Man: Are you including the 1998 Atlanta Falcons in this analysis?  Because we wore black, and we still lost!  – D. Reeves, Undisclosed Location

Mister Answer Man replies: Yes, Mr. Reeves, those Falcons wore “black.” Yes, they were “tough” and had a “dirty bird.” Oooooh, scary!!  But you fooled no one.  In the end, you were a red-clad team pretending to wear black, and the Tough New Broncos—perhaps you’ve heard of the Broncos?—knew it.  Whereas the New Broncos were a truly dark-blue team with a very angry horsehead, having shed every last vestige of the orange-wearing saps who coughed up hairballs to the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and 49ers.  (See also, under this heading, the San Diego Chargers, who will remain a powder-blue team for all eternity, no matter how much “midnight blue” they don and no matter how “fierce” and “angry” their “bolt” becomes.)

Dear Mister Answer Man: Aren’t you forgetting someone?  – B. Walsh, G. Seifert, J. Montana, S. Young, San Francisco

Mister Answer Man replies: No, I don’t think so.  If you’re asking whether I’m forgetting a dynasty that defeated (1) a team with stripy orange “tiger” helmets, (2) a team wearing aquamarine and orange, (3) see (1), (4) a team wearing orange (55-10!), and (5) a powder-blue team pretending to be a midnight-blue scary-lightning team, no, no I’m not.  Now, I don’t mean to belittle your epoch-defining victories in the NFC playoffs throughout the 90s, in which you handily defeated more mightily-attired teams with your “West Coast offense” and your frosty champagne helmets.  But seriously, your Super Bowl opponents might as well have been wearing bathrobes.  And in Super Bowl XXIV, they basically were.

Besides, can we take a moment to stop and reflect on how strange and wonderful it was to have an NFL powerhouse in San Francisco for fifteen years? You guys were the exception that broke every rule about America and football and football in America. When Dwight Clark leapt 35 feet in the air to make that decisive end-zone catch in the NFC championship game against Dallas, Good defeated Evil; bicycles defeated SUVs; Lawrence Ferlinghetti defeated George Bush; and Harvey Milk defeated J. R. Ewing.  Take pride—yes, pride!—in your anomalous status, O Red-Sporting Five-Time Champions of the Left Coast.  And join with me in acknowledging that the Cardinals are not the 49ers, and that in this Super Bowl we’re looking at a 24-13 Steelers win.  Yes, that will leave the hardscrabble black-and-gold-wearing denizens of the Iron City with one more Super Bowl than the stylish beaujolais-and-prosecco-wearing partisans of the City by the Bay.  But at least there will be no Cowboys involved!

Posted by Michael on 01/28 at 06:32 AM
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