Bears' berth or baby's birth? Wife of Chicago fan delivers

January 22, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Every sports town brags that it has the best fans in the world (except maybe Philadelphia), but teacher Colleen Pavelka might have put Chicago over the top when she asked doctors to induce labor on Friday to assure her husband would be able to attend yesterday's NFC championship game at Soldier Field.

Obviously, Mark Pavelka is a huge Chicago Bears fan if he was grappling with the choice of watching his wife have a baby or maybe watching Rex Grossman lay a giant egg, but to hear that his wife was willing to move up the birth of the couple's second child just so he wouldn't have to face that decision, well, it almost brought tears to my eyes.

My wife would never have done that for me, not even if Southern California were playing for the national championship and Christina Aguilera was the halftime entertainment. I know this because she made me sit in a straight-back chair for 12 hours in a maternity ward one night when there was really nothing I could do for her other than utter an occasional encouraging word and then duck.

Rex redeemed

Indeed, Grossman looked like the yolk would be on him until he engineered a long drive in the fourth quarter of yesterday's 39-14 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He had completed just five of his first 20 passes for 64 yards, and the Bears' coaching staff was trying to find ways to minimize his impact on the offense. He was 4-for-4 for 78 yards to lead the Bears into the end zone and an 11-point lead.

He looked so bad up to that point that it was hard to imagine him as the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. Now that I think of it, it still is.

Still magic

The magic finally ended for the New Orleans Saints in a flurry of turnovers in the fourth quarter, but they still had a storybook season that heartened their disaster-ravaged city.

Coach Sean Payton did an outstanding job turning around a troubled franchise, and newcomers Drew Brees and Reggie Bush helped transform the Saints into one of the most exciting teams in the league. There were flashes of that brilliance yesterday, but the Saints were undone by a string of turnovers, which probably reflected the difficulty of playing in cold, wet conditions for a team that plays its home games indoors.

Official's indecision

A Saints fumble at the end of the first quarter revealed another huge flaw in the NFL's replay system, which compounded an indecisive call with a questionable replay decision.

Saints return man Michael Lewis had the ball pushed slightly loose as he was being pulled to the ground, but he appeared to have it secured against his body as his knee touched the ground. The defender then dislodged it again after Lewis appeared to be down by contact, but the officials ruled otherwise even though it was obvious by their reaction after the play that no one really saw it.

The NFL replay rules, however, force the replay official to act as if somebody actually felt pretty good about the original call, which can't be overturned without clear and convincing evidence that it was wrong. In a situation like that, the officials should be able to indicate that they didn't see the play clearly enough to make a legitimate call and allow the play to be reviewed without challenge by either team.

Not unanimous

There were a surprising number of e-mailers who wrote to tell me that I was not the only Marylander rooting for the Colts last night. Many of them were fans of the old Colts who, like me, have chosen to separate Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy from the people who stole away with this city's first NFL franchise nearly 23 years ago.

Of course, the vast majority wrote to ask where I park my car.

Impertinent question

How many still-angry Baltimore Colts fans moved out of the city over the past 25 years because the urban environment was deteriorating and the city government wasn't doing enough to address their concerns? Hmmm.

Headline hilarity

This week's funny sports headline comes from The Onion, the news satire site on the Web: Americans Wondering What They Did to Deserve This Much Joe Buck.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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