Colts, Jets playoff game has smell of Super Bowl III fluke

January 04, 2003|By GREGORY KANE

WE CAN talk just a little bit about sports in this column, can't we?

Just a tiny bit? We metro columnists are discouraged from writing too much about sports. That's what this paper has Mike Preston and Laura Vecsey for. But on the chance that some readers of this column may be sports fans, I feel it's appropriate to vent about the state of athletics in these parts.

So here's the deal. There I was minding my own business this past Sunday figuring I'd settle in to watch the last day of the National Football League regular season. So, of course, since this was the last day, and since I was looking forward to it, I got the call, right?

Of course. And who was it from? My only daughter, seeking to take advantage of the fact that she is an only daughter, decided to call Dad for baby-sitting duty.

A little background is in order. My daughter knows not to do this. She knows that once the NFL season starts in September that, technically, I'm not supposed to hear from her until about 11 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday.

Unless, of course, there is an emergency involving death, grave illness or catastrophes both natural and unnatural.

"Gal, you don't have a daddy from September to January," is the rule, one, apparently, only daughter conveniently forgot.

But give her credit -- she'll work that "only daughter" thing on dad to the maximum. So I spent last Sunday navigating the full slate of NFL games while keeping an eye on 10-year-old Kaine, 4-year-old Spencer and 2- year-old Kaila. (Good thing, isn't it, that we football fans don't really need sound to watch a game?)

It didn't take long before the inevitable "Toons vs. Football" conflict took place.

"Granddad, I want to watch SpongeBob SquarePants."

That was Spencer talking. One thing you have to understand about this guy Spencer - a.k.a. Spence, Senor Spences and SpenceBob No-pants (from his days of gleefully running around in the buff) -- he's a smooth one. The ladies, in about 15 years, had better watch out for this operator.

Spence was the one who, when I had a cold, volunteered to bring me some toys, treats and his play stethoscope over and doctor me back to health. Spence could charm a group hug out of the Borg. I'm talking smoooooooooth here.

But smooth and charm weren't working.

"Only `Football Shortpants' will be on this TV today," I told him. That's the problem with the younger generation: Nothing's sacred anymore.

So we got through it: the kids playing various games while watching granddad react to the football scores as he turned into a raving lunatic in the process.

It wasn't the Ravens-Steelers that did it. The Ravens lost going for the win. I couldn't argue with that. It's a good thing the grand-young'uns weren't there the previous weekend, when the Ravens lost to the Browns in the final two minutes.

The Ravens led by six and Cleveland had the ball. Our heroes went into the "prevent defense," which, adage has it, prevents only victory. It seemed the Ravens were eager to prove the validity of that adage. The Browns scored and the Ravens, who already have a "prevent offense" that seems to eschew catching passes and scoring, lost.

"Are these people tormenting us on purpose?" I shouted.

No, week 17, grandkiddies and all, was much better, save for the Green Bay Packers blowing it and letting the despicable New York Jets into the playoffs. Is the columnist/granddad/baby-sitter still bitter about Jan. 12, 1969, perhaps?

Me, bitter? Just because no sportswriter, sportscaster or pundit has ever called the Jets' victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III what it was - the sports fluke of the 20th century?

Me, the guy who only recently stopped proposing we make bumper stickers that read "Honk If You Think Earl Morrall Tanked Super Bowl III"? Oh, heck no. I'm not a bitter guy.

But let's just say that one of the stories kept quiet is that, since the Jets' Super Bowl win, the Colts franchise has virtually owned them, in Baltimore and Indianapolis. The Jets won the American Football Conference's Eastern Division only because they didn't have to play the Colts twice this year.

That changes today. The Colts play the Jets in a playoff game. The Hosses have owned the Jets lately. They'll own them today. I can't wait.

I may even invite the grandkiddies over to join in the fun.

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