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Frizzi: Visits from the ghosts of Super Bowls past

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No more hustle. No more bustle. No more travel. The last bit of egg nog has been drained from the Wally World souvenir mug. The holiday set has been struck and the tree has been shoved back into the attic. Many are starting to eat solid food again after their New Years Hangover. The holiday season is over.

Or is it?

The holiday season, which started right after the last pitch of the World Series, will officially cease when the whole world gathers together as one to celebrate the final resounding spectacle of joy that is...

...The Super Bowl!

You'll also hear it called by its generic name, "The Big Game". This is because the phrase "The Super Bowl "cannot be used in advertising without the express written consent of the National Football League.

Just as well. Besides, we all know what is meant by "The Big Game".

Many feel that the Monday after The Super Bowl should be a national holiday with the day off and I couldn't agree more. Nobody really works that Monday anyway. You heard right, pointy-headed managers. Workplace productivity goes straight out the window.

Now, "I don't have a dog in this hunt," as the late Texas Governor Ann Richards would say. My Pittsburgh Steelers finished 8-8 and will not be appearing in the playoffs. Neither will Dallas or Chicago or St. Louis (for you five or six Ram fans that live in the area). I would've liked to have seen the Green Bay Packers win. I like Packer fans. They're knowledgeable and are very congenial, much like Cardinal fans. I say this even though the Packers took the Steelers to task in Super Bowl XLV, played in Dallas' new Cowboy Stadium, or as the Dallasites call it, "Jerry World". I have to. My in-laws are both Packers and Cardinals fans.

During the Pittsburgh-Green Bay game, Heddy (my wife) and I were invited by my in-laws to their Super Bowl party. We were also invited to a party thrown by my friends, fellow Steelers fans (from Latrobe, PA) for us several displaced Pittsburgh fans.

Of course, we went to the Steelers party.

Packers and Steelers fans (both surprisingly more plentiful in this area than Ram fans) still remember the Packers defeating the Steelers, 31-25. Packers fans were celebrating with whatever beer made Milwaukee famous while we Steelers fans were crying in our Iron City Beers.

I'm still amazed that there are so many Steelers fans in Central Illinois. I understand that there's even a "Steelers Bar" in the area. In the Super Bowl XL of 2006, the Steelers "won one for the thumb" by beating the Seattle 21-10. I had never seen so many Steelers jerseys out here. I asked why they were Steelers fans instead of rooting of the "local" teams. They told me their dads were fans of those Super Steelers teams of the '70s.

Their dads! I myself was a mere stripling back in those days!

I've seen viewers come early to a party so that they can get the best seat in the house. I've seen them place their own personal cooler by their side, so that they won't miss a play. People have been known to load up on adult diapers for this event as not to miss a single second. And that includes the commercials, which, by law, are required to contain at least one of the following:

1) A cute animal acting like a human

2) A cute child acting like an adult

3) A grown adult acting like child

4) A tear-jerking beer commercial

5) Some poor schnook getting "punted" below the belt

6) Breasts (not necessarily female)

The Super Bowl commercial itself has been known to bring people of polar opposites together. Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, Beatles fans and Stones fans, farmers and name it! After all, it was a Super Bowl commercial that reunited Leno and Letterman (with the help of Oprah, of course!)

It's also a time when common sense consumption also goes out the window. After all, it's still the holidays and, as we all know, food and beverages during the holiday season do not contain calories, fat or carbohydrates. Each sloppy dropping of cheesy bean laced goo, scooped up with a deep fried and crispy chunk of chip goes down extra specially good when washed down with some concoction that contains booze. Buffalo wings, so hot they'll sear and singe the human lip, will be gobbled up by the dozen. Raw vegetable platters with hummus dip are widely ignored. These three items, however, are on everybody's Monday morning "wish list" of "snacks we should've eaten instead of the stuff that has been curdling overnight in a gassy painful belly".

It will be days before anybody can eat solid food again after their Super Hangover. But many will find themselves sufficiently healed just in time for that expensive romantic Valentine's Day dinner out.

Ahhh, the memories of past Super Bowl parties...

I was living in Terre Haute, Ind. in 1986 during Super Bowl XX between the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots. This was just one season after owner Bob Ursay smuggled the Colts out of Baltimore. The team snuck out of town in Mayflower moving vans in the dead of night. With the Colts being newcomers, most Terre Haute football fans were still rooting for the Bears.

I wasn't one of them. I was being bombarded by Bears-mania, not to mention being unable to go anywhere without seeing "The Super Bowl Shuffle" every five minutes. This was a rap video performed by Bears' players, such as Walter Peyton, Jim McMahon and rookie defensive lineman, William "The Refrigerator" Perry. Perry was called "The Refrigerator" because he was big and reputably had eaten one. My ears bled and eyes watered every time I saw this video, which, incidentally, reached number 41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

So, in fervent protest of all things "Da Bears", I joined a couple of pals in being Patriotic, wearing red, white and blue.

With the Bears leading 23-3 at the half, I and two other Patriot rooters pulled up kitchen chairs beside the keg and stayed there while the Bears tacked on 21 points in the 3rd quarter, one of which included a touchdown by "The Refrigerator", who was put into the lopsided game to play fullback.

By 2007, Terre Haute Bears fans had since converted to Terre Haute Colts fans when Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI at Miami's Dolphin Stadium.

The Colts would return to the "Big Game" in 2010's Super Bowl XLIV, also played in Miami at "The Stadium Now Known as Sun Life Stadium". I wasn't too interested as my defending Super Bowl champion Steelers limped to a 9-7 season and didn't make the playoffs. But because of a death in the family, Heddy and I ended up in Indiana during the Super Bowl.

Heddy's uncle had passed away after a long illness. My wife's aunt and cousins are not sports fans. Having far more important things on their minds, they scheduled Uncle's visitation for Super Bowl Sunday night. In Indiana. When the Colts were in the Super Bowl. Heddy's uncle was truly a very nice guy; a pastor, in fact. He had made an incredible difference in many people's lives during his ministry.

Even he couldn't outdraw Super Bowl Sunday!

Attendance to the visitation was very light. Occasionally, I would excuse myself, go out to the car and catch the score. Just out of curiosity, you understand.

Later in the evening I noticed a few family members were drifting away. I ran into them in the mortuary's office where they joined the staff, all of which were Colts fans, to watch the Big Game.

Heddy's aunt understood and decided to end the visitation early. We all went back to her house, just in time to see the Saints go marching in with a 31-17 victory.

In 1996, my Steelers would face the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX. I had moved to Peoria from Dallas in 1992. Back then I would hang out with my fellow bachelors to catch the Cowboys game. We had the sound down on the TV and listened to the Cowboys local broadcast. We also had "The Madden Phone". These were headphones plugged into the TV for those who absolutely, positively had to listen to John Madden.

The "girl next door" would stop by with a platter of fried chicken, gizzards, liver and other assorted football treats. "It was no trouble," she said as she smiled quite the fetching smile. A year later, she took her next door neighbor off the bachelor list.

My friends, I'll call them "Rob and Laura," were having a Super Bowl party in Dallas in 1996. "Laura" was pregnant with their first child and was due any time. "You and Heddy c'mon down," they said. "You can wear your Steelers jersey and bring down some of that Iron City Beer you used to bring down here from Pittsburgh."

My Steelers were 2-0 against the Cowboys in Super Bowl action, having beaten them in 1976 and 1979. I would've loved to have seen a rematch....even in Dallas!

And we almost did!

But I was working the night shift and couldn't get off work. As it was, I watched the Steelers lose the game to the Cowboys on a Sony Watchman mini black and white TV that I smuggled into work. As I said, it was 1996.

I got a call a couple of days later. I asked how the party went. That's when I learned that "Laura" did the worst thing a Texan could do... in Texas, in Dallas, when the Cowboys were playing in The Super Bowl!

She went into labor.

Hank Hill's propane tank would've exploded.

Now I'm not sure, and I can only imagine. But I'm guessing there was a TV in the delivery room and nobody missed a snap. I believe the baby was born during one of Neil O'Donnell's three interceptions.

Odds are that the obstetrician neither shouted out signals nor spiked the ball during the procedure.

As I say, with the Steelers having tanked this year, I don't have a team in the playoffs. I found a Seattle Seahawks shirt at Goodwill, so I'll probably throw my support to them. Also, Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson is a second baseman in the Texas Rangers' organization, although I don't see him suiting up in the "Big D". Wilson was acquired from the Colorado Rockies in the Triple-A Rule 5 draft.

Or, maybe I'll root for Denver's "grizzled veteran" Peyton Manning. I like Peyton. I don't see enough of him on TV.

Heddy, known far and wide as "The girl who hates football," will probably watch the inaugural "Kitten Bowl" on the Hallmark Channel. We'll load up on cheesy goopy foods and ice cold brews like the rest of the world. Then, we'll detox just in time for that expensive romantic Valentine's Day dinner out.

And that will be that for the holiday season.

That is, until it starts all over again, right after the last pitch of the World Series.

About the Author
Donn Frizzi is a well-traveled man, if you consider Pennsylvania to southern Indiana to Texas and finally Peoria to be the definition of well traveled. But in each of his stops he gained certain insights that make him who he is — including a Pirates and Rangers fan who must travel to St. Louis to watch quality baseball without buying a plane ticket. Poetic justice, perhaps? A talented writer, Donn also can make a good point by putting pencil to paper and drawing with satirical splendor. We’re hoping to persuade him to grace our website with an occasional toon, as well.