The Armchair Quarterback: “Child’s Play IV: Chucky’s Revenge” by Dave Sabo

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January 28, 2003
Child’s Play IV: Chucky’s Revenge
By Dave Sabo

11:10 AM We’re off to another bad start. ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” began at 11 AM. If you recall, last year’s column was written sans queso as the greater metropolitan Frederick area had yet to discover the wonders of Ro-Tel. Well, thanks to my one man campaign, the local Giant, began stocking Ro-Tel last spring. It’s become such a runaway hit that Giant was Ro-Tel-less Sunday morning forcing me to drive to Thurmont to cop.

11:17 AM The Gruden story takes me back to last weekends championship game celebration wherein every woman in attendance swooned over Bucs’ head coach, Jon “Chucky” Gruden. Great, now the American female ideal is an NFL head coach who’s a dead ringer for a homicidal ventriloquist’s dummy from a series of bad B-movies. Thank God, I’ve snagged a good one before this turn of events.

11:20 AM One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong. The ESPN crew consists of Ron Jaworski, Tom Jackson, Sterling Sharpe and…a sunglasses wearing Stuart Scott. What a jackass.

11:27 AM Ed Werder approaches the Oakland Raiders story from an entirely unique angle. Were you aware that a goodly number of Raiders are of an advanced age?

11:36 AM The Bucs offense gets some air time. They’ve scored the quietest 6 touchdowns in NFL history over the last 2 playoff games.

11:47 AM Bill Romanowski takes over 120 different pills a day. The cameras show his nutritionist wife rummaging through a closet full of “supplements.” He started his kid on them when he was FOUR! What a dick. Face it, when Shannon Sharpe says you’re a dick, you’re a dick.

11:53 AM Jackson breaks down what he perceives as the games most important matchup, Bucs DE Simeon Rice vs Raiders LT Barry Sims. TJ predicts Rice can beat Sims outside with a speed rush and, if so, will wreak havoc. Jaworski says that Gannon can nullify Rice with movement.

11:56 AM I need to adopt Bob’s gameday strategy of unplugging the phone as the rest of the breakdown is interrupted by a phone call from my future sister-in-law.

12:04 PM Just got 5 minutes of Al Davis yammering on about the “Raider Mystique” and the “Commitment to Excellence.” Typical Davis Raider gloss. Then TJ, Sterling and Jaws basically say he’s full of BS. Funny stuff!

12:10 PM My jaw drops as I hear Warren Moon utter the words, “I would have won several Super Bowls if my teammates hadn’t sucked so bad. But, I DID win five Grey Cups!” Wow! Fortunately, it’s just a poorly done feature on Brett Carolan, the worst player to ever win a Super Bowl ring. It might have worked if they’d let those involved ad-lib, but they had everyone reading from a script. It’s only redeeming value is that it reminds me of Chris Jent form the first Rockets “Clutch City” championship video wherein, Jent, drenched in champagne in the Rockets victorious locker room after the ’94 Finals screams, “I can’t believe this! I’ve been in the league two months!”

12:15 PM My God, Tim Brown is boring. But he IS wearing one of those killer early ’80’s old school white mesh caps with the team logo on the front and the horizontal stripes in the team colors. If you’re close to my age and you saw it, you know what I mean.

12:19 PM What’s up with Nelly and the Band-Aid on his face? His whole posse is sportin’ ’em.

12:28 PM Marlon Briscoe went from Rookie of the Year runner up as a quarterback with the Broncos to having to compete for a job as a receiver to two-time Super Bowl champ with the undefeated ’72 Dolphins to homeless drug addict to, finally, recovering youth activist. He sold his Super Bowl rings for drugs. He was nicknamed “17 and 0” by his dealers. That’s cold.

12:39 PM I thought things were picking up with the Marlon Briscoe feature but, it’s official, this is the single most boring pre-game show ever. Suzy Kolber just uttered the following insight on the subject of momentum, “If one team has it, the other doesn’t.” I’m switching over to ESPN 2 and NFL Films.

12:44 PM ESPN 2 is running the NFL Films Super Bowl features back to back to back to…you get the idea. Caught the middle of the Bills four years of futility.

12:49 PM Super Bowl XXVI Bills – Redskins Jim Kelly and the Bills just closed the deficit in what’s “Page 2” judged the most nondescript Super Bowl ever to 14. It will be as close as they get.

12:56 PM Gotta love “The Hogs”.

1:02 PM Man, this ain’t much better. I love NFL Films, but it’s just not the same without John Facenda. For Super Bowl XVII, instead of Facenda’s stately baritone, we get Jimmy Johnson reading from his book, “Turning the Thing Around.” Nice monotone, JJ.

1:07 PM It’s hard to believe that Buffalo lead this game after blocking dallas’ first punt.

1:08 PM Kelly throws an interception.

1:09 PM Kelly fumbles.

1:14 PM Kelly throws a pick in the endzone.

1:15 PM The Cryboys pop Kelly’s knee. Certified “Oiler Killer,” Frank Reich, comes on in relief.

1:17 PM Thurman Thomas fumbles.

1:20 PM Brian Urlacher hawks Chunky Soup. I’m starting a pool to guess when the “Chunky Curse” catches up to him. Every guy in those commercials has suffered a horrific injury or, in Michael Strahan’s case, begun to suck royally. I betcha players start turning it down.

1:25 PM Reich is picked off.

1:26 PM Reich fumbles.

1:27 PM Reich fumbles which leads to the infamous “Leon Lett Getting Caught from Behind by Don Bebee, Who Slaps the Ball Out of His Hand, Nullifying a Record Breaking Touchdown” sequence. It’s the most embarrassing moment in Lett’s career. That is until his “Let It Be” fumble recovery attempt on the blocked field goal by Miami on Thanksgiving Day the next season.

1:30 PM Jimmah goes on for the final three minutes whining about Bebee denying them a Super Bowl record for points. Then, Jerrah and Jimmah all but French each other in celebration. Disturbing.

1:31 PM Super Bowl XXVIII: Cryboys – Bills II “Gameday” is looking better and better.

1:35 PM Thomas fumbles.

1:38 PM I flipped back over to “Gameday.” Apparently, Emmitt Smith may be a Buc next year.

1:44 PM Back to Super Bowl XXVII. Buffalo makes a game of it by picking of Troy Aikman and taking a seven-point lead.

1:47 PM Thomas fumbles. James Washington recovers and scores on the return. While the game is still tied, the Bills begin packing their bags on the sideline. Thomas flat-out quits with “cramps.” There’s speculation that they may be menstrual..

1:53 PM Kelly is intercepted.

1:57 PM Man, the Bills just rolled over in that game. I’ll eschew the celebration and head over to ABC’s pre-game show.

2:01 PM I knew it was too good to be true. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Berman all day, but here he is hosting the pre-game show with Steve Young, Michael Strahan and, ugh, Brian Billick. God, help us all.

2:07 PM ABC goes patriotic early with Mike Tirico, Bob Griese, Dan Fouts, Junior Seau and Joe Theisman on the USS Preble…wait…this just in. Raider starting Pro-Bowl C Barrett Robbins was sent home for missing the team practice and the practice itself yesterday. Whoa.

2:10 PM In three minutes, we go from the Preble to Berman to the Raiders’ training facility to Madden and Michaels, back to the Raiders’ facility to Times Square with…Penn and Teller? Sloooooooooooow down, ABC.

2:17 PM Another feature on the Raiders. Did you know that the Raiders have a number of veterans on the roster and are the oldest team in the league? No? You live under a rock. Why is ABC wasting our time with this garbage?

2:25 PM I have just seen the most insightful, well-thought out and thought-provoking series of questions ever asked in the entire history of Super Bowl media hype. They were all asked by fourteen year-old, Grant Paulson. Of course, ABC didn’t bother to let us hear a single answer.

2:35 PM I present Exhibit A as to why I don’t go to, nor do I have people over for Super Bowl parties: my future sister-in-law came over to pick up my two future nephews and in the 10 minutes that took, I completely missed everything that happened on television. Far too often there’s too much emphasis on the “party” and not enough on the Super Bowl.

2:40 PM The first musical guest of the day, Goo Goo Dolls (definitely not THE Goo Goo Dolls), play before a crowd of dozens. Goo Goo Dolls are really the first truly punk band to sell out. It was that song, “Name”, that did it. I actually saw them open for Gang Green in the late ’80’s at Power Tools. They rocked and I was a big fan until Johnny Rzezezzezeznik decided to become a pop star and transform himself into John Bon Jovi-lite and they started writing themes for movies like, “City of Angels” (the single worst movie in the history of cinema). They used to do a killer cover of “Gimmie Shelter.” By the way, can they even be considered a band? It’s really just Johnny and the bass player who’s been riding his coattails since their Buffalo days. Can anybody name the drummer?

2:47 PM I hope all you fans of taking Willis McGahee in the third round saw the feature on Terrell Davis. Seventeen games and 1,194 yards rushing over the last four seasons.

2:51 PM They just congratulated the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Way to go, Elvin! You more than earned it.

2:58 PM It seems like the feature on Flip Flippen’s leadership program could have been really informative and uplifting. Unfortunately, it seems as if ABC just threw it together and the result is a mangled debacle. Is there some sort of NFL connection?

3:05 PM The stellar Grant Paulson and Lynn Swann cover the 989 Sports’ annual “Game Before the Game.” Playing 989 Sports’ “NFL Gameday”, Keenan McCardell leads the Bucs past the Charlie Garner-coached Raiders. Tampa Bay trounces Oakland, 28 – 8. Take the Bucs and the points. Hey, don’t laugh. They’ve been doing this for seven years now and they’ve gotten it right all seven.

3:10 PM Are there two nicer guys than Tiki and Ronde Barber?

3:18 PM While breaking down the Gannon – Johnson comparison, Tirico mentions that Barrett’s been hospitalized. Have I missed something?

3:22 PM Ladies and Gentlemen! The whiningest Super Bowl champions ever! The undefeated ’72 Dolphins! Have you ever heard Csonka and Buonticonti go on about the lack of respect? Jeez, even Griese admits the ’73 team was better.

3:30 PM Bill Callahan seems like a heckuva nice guy. If he’s got a “problem”, that would be it. He’s got zero discernible personality. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

3:40 PM Back to Times Square and Penn and Teller. They’re predicting the score and the MVP. They’re storing their predictions in a jar of pickles guarded by Marines. Berman quips, “That looked like Crosby, DILLS and Nash!” Kill me. Kill me now.

3:45 PM Charles Woodson’s United Way spot is shown. Good stuff, but not as good as Aaron Glenn’s playing “Fish” with the kids. “Check your wallet, Aaron.”

3:50 PM Al Michaels just got done interviewing Gruden. I think I might have dozed off as I have no idea what was said. Really, this pre-game show is just horrible. I mean, it sucks HARD.

3:55 PM Oh, man, Bob Hope. Please, please, please, PLEASE don’t show him in his current condition.

3:56 PM Whew!

3:57 PM There’s about 20 times as many people checking out Bonnie Raitt than there were for Goo Goo Dolls. Then again, she performed in “Urban Cowboy”.

4:02 PM Flipped over to ESPNews. The Rockets lost to the Bulls by two. Just because Steve scored 44 against LA doesn’t mean they have to completely ignore Yao. He took four shots against Detroit the other night — FOUR shots.

4:07 PM That was a nice montage of the Bucs and Raiders players and coaches with the Lombardi Trophy. Nice try, guys, but the Lombardi Trophy will NEVER be the Stanley Cup, which is the coolest trophy in sports.

4:16 PM Having lived in the Baltimore vicinity over the last decade, I’ve come to really wish that I’d gotten to see Johnny Unitas play. Jim McKay’s tribute to Johnny U. has been the ONLY thing worth watching. Indianapolis just doesn’t seem to understand that Johnny Unitas belongs to Baltimore, not the Colts, and certainly not to Indianapolis. I’m glad the NFL didn’t let Manning wear the black hightops.

4:23 PM Sniff, sniff. Can you smell that? It’s the desperation absolutely radiating off of Jimmy Kimmel. His new show is going to fail miserably and he knows it. How bad will it be? So bad that he and everyone associated with the show has been hitting the talk show circuit SAYING it’s going to suck so nobody gets their hopes up. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Jimmy Kimmel is not funny. Just like this bit with him saying good-bye to cable isn’t funny. Actually, “Crank Yankers” is pretty good, but that’s it!

4:31 PM Does anybody have any idea what Carlos Santana is talking about? Any idea at all?

4:39 PM The feature on champions with Gretzky, Serena Williams, Tiger, et al is absolutely incomprehensible. What a garbled mess. Let’s just move on.

4:45 PM Hey, ABC! Could you squeeze in a few more promos for bad shows that I will never watch? And while you’re at it, could you make most of them blatant rip-offs of other, much better commercials that we all saw last weekend? Thanks.

5:00 PM What is “Alias” and why should I care what the star of it thinks of this game?

5:05 PM It’s in the ’80’s in San Diego and Melissa Stark is wearing a long-sleeved jacket. Sorry, Ric.

5:17 PM Flipped over to ESPN 2 in time to catch the “Three Touchdowns in 36 Seconds” sequence from Super Bowl XXXV. The Ravens return an interception for a touchdown followed by back to back kick returns for touchdowns. The Texans ought to see if they can sign that kick returner from the Ravens. He looks awfully good!

5:25 PM Barrett Robbins is, apparently, in a local hospital in San Diego. A Raiders source says that they’re better off without him. They need players with a “clear head”. It sounds to me like he’s got a psychological problem. Or is on drugs.

5:37 PM Santana performs “Black Magic Woman.” Cool, it’s a medley as he breaks into “Oye Como Va.” It’s really nice to see that Carlos has decided that he doesn’t need to resort to performing with contemporary “artists” in order to…oh, never mind…here comes Beyonce Knowles.

5:42 PM Wow, Michelle Branch is doing a spot on version of “Game of Love.” Of course, she’s lip-synching (badly).

5:44 PM I can’t even begin to describe how bad this is.

5:53 PM It’s finally over. As Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares over the Jack “Quualcomm” Murphy Stadium PA, the analysts give their predictions. They’re drowned out by Ozzy, and the pre-game show, mercifully, comes to an end. There’s five and a half hours of my life I’ll never have back.

5:55 PM Hank Williams, Jr. and Kid Rock. Oh, the humanity.

6:00 PM Robbins may be hospitalized. Or he may be on his way home. He won’t be playing. And Melissa’s still got that jacket on.

6:07 PM There are no individual team introductions. I wonder if the Bucs and Raiders took their cue from the Patriots last season. Regardless, it’s refreshing.

6:12 PM Who is the genius that booked a pompous Canadian prima donna to sing “God Bless America”? Didn’t Celine Dion sing this during the 9/11 telethon? Is this her new career, singing “God Bless America”?

6:15 PM Dixie Chick, Natalie Maines, is in a thin phase and has decided to forgo the “gnawed by rats” hairstyle she’s so fond of. She and the other two Chicks deliver a marvelous rendition of the Anthem.

6:17 PM There seemed to be some sort of snafu with the fly-over. The jets arrived well after the Anthem ended.

6:22 PM Tampa Bay wins the coin toss.

6:25 PM Kickoff! I wouldn’t touch this game with the 3 ½ -point spread so, I’ve got no money riding on it. For what it’s worth, if I was forced to pick, I’d take the Raiders. But I wouldn’t feel real confident about it.

6:27 PM Regan Upshaw hits Johnson as releases and Charles Woodson gets an easy pick. Oakland sets the tone early.

6:31 PM Tampa’s vaunted defense holds and forces Oakland to kick a field goal. So far Tom Jackson is looking like a genius as Simeon Rice is beating Barry Sims. Rice already has a sack.

6:35 PM No way in hell that fumble stands.

6:36 PM Told ya.

6:41 PM Johnson hits Joe Jurevicious on third and ten. Jurevicious displays that burst of speed that was unknown (to me, anyway) until last weekend against Philadelphia. He’s sneaky fast. The Raiders better realize it.

6:45 PM Martin Grammatica ties it up from 31 yards out.

6:51 PM The Raiders second drive ends as their first did with Gannon being sacked on third down.

6:55 PM The Bucs go three and out.

7:00 PM Oakland is looking to establish the run and Charlie Garner gains six on first and second down. Then, as before, Gannon is sacked on third and four. Tampa’s defense is on!

7:06 PM After a short drive, Tampa Bay punts. Punt returner Darrien Gordon puts the Raiders in business near midfield.

7:09 PM Pressured (again!) on third down, Gannon is picked off by Dexter Jackson. Simeon Rice is abusing Barry Sims. TJ is brilliant! The first quarter ends tied at three. Oh, that comment about Oakland setting the tone? Yeah, I might have been wrong on that.

7:16 PM Keyshawn snags his third reception which is about two more than I figured he’d have all game.

7:18 PM Johnson throws too long into the endzone and the Bucs settle for a 43-yarder from Grammatica to take the lead.

7:25 PM As Madden remarks that Tampa Bay’s defense looks like the number one defense in the league while Oakland’s offense doesn’t, Gannon throws a terrible pass which Jackson turns into his second interception of the game. Tampa’s defense is dominating.

7:27 PM The offense wastes the turnover going three and out.

7:31 PM Same old story for the Raiders. Gannon pressured, Gannon sacked, Raiders go three and out.

7:32 PM A marvelous punt return sets Tampa Bay up deep in Raider territory.

7:35 PM Set up by a nice run by Michael Pittman, Alstott plunges in from the two. Bucs 13, Raiders 3.

7:40 PM Gannon gets some protection and converts on third down. That’s the Raiders’ first first down in their last six possessions.

7:42 PM And then they go three and out.

7:46 PM Two minute warning. The Bucs have established the run (Pittman is having a stellar day) and are moving the ball at will.

7:53 PM Keyshawn makes a beautiful catch for his fourth reception.

7:57 PM Touchdown! Johnson to Keenan McCardell. It’s turning into a route.

8:02 PM In a stunner, Tampa Bay goes in at halftime with a 20 – 3 lead. It’s been all about the Bucs’ defense although the offense has held its own. If figured they’d be good, but I never thought they could manhandle the Raiders as they have so far.

8:04 PM The Texans get some gloss for humiliating the Cryboys during one of Don Cheadle’s Super Bowl promos.

8:06 PM How pathetic are the Deadskins? A local spot comes on for Fitzgerald Auto Mall, a local dealership. Who do they get to do the commercial, a member of the current squad? No! It’s BRAD JOHNSON! Remember him, ‘Skins fans? He’s the guy you idiots ran out of town in favor of Jeff Freakin’ George. You know, the guy that, as of this very moment, has a seventeen-point halftime lead in the Super Bowl. Even the voice-over refers to him as “Former Redskins quarterback, Brad Johnson”. What a joke.

8:07 PM Okay, forget the ABC halftime show, I’m flipping over to NBC for the SNL Weekend Update Halftime Show. Some highlights:

Chris Kattan as Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”
Lara Flynn Boyle “Triumph of Anorexia” joke
Drunk Girl (“There’s a Buffalo wing in this bra!”)
Tracy Morgan as a ridiculously sweaty Bobby Brown
“American Idol” spoof
The difference between the terms “dwarf” and “midget” joke
Horatio Sanz as Gene Shalit (too many bad puns to count!)
“Hardball with Chris Matthews” clip (although no Kattan as Paul Begala)
Don Cheadle Super Bowl promo spoof

I really could have done without “The Jimmy Fallon Situation” song at the end, but I guess a musical number does make it easier to deal with time considerations. At one point, I did flip back over to ABC in time to catch Shania Twain lip-synching. Super Bowl halftime shows always beg the question, “How does one get to be a ‘crazed fan’ goin’ buck wild on the field during the halftime show?” Do they get paid?

8:30 PM Oakland starts off at their 27-yard line to start the second half.

8:33 PM Oakland seems to have given up on the run, throwing on third and two. They go three and out for the sixth time.

8:41 PM Keyshawn Johnson. Another catch, another first down. I was soooooo set for him to disappear in this game.

8:45 PM Johnson to Jurevicious puts Tampa Bay on the Oakland fourteen.

8:49 PM Johnson hooks up with McCardell from eight yards out for their second touchdown. Folks, this one’s over.

8:55 PM If it wasn’t over before, it is now. Dwight Smith picks off Gannon and takes it to the house. Tampa Bay 34, Oakland 3

9:08 PM Jerry Porter’s man falls down, but Gannon over throws him…WHOA! The replay shows that Porter got both feet down. But, did he have possession?

9:11 PM Yep! Touchdown, Raiders!

9:12 PM Callahan outthinks himself and goes for two. Gannon is sacked. Stupid, stupid, stupid call.

9:19 PM End of the third. Tampa Bay 34, Oakland 9

9:23 PM BLOCKED PUNT!! OAKLAND SCORES! Now they HAVE to go for two. Way to go, Bill. And they fail. I am gonna laaaaaaaaaaugh if this becomes a factor.

9:29 PM Keyshawn hauls in catch number six for a big first down.

9:32 PM Oakland commits two stupid penalties, follows it up with some pathetic tackling on Pittman and now, instead of getting the ball back with good field position and momentum, the Bucs should get at least three points out of this drive.

9:35 PM Unless, of course, holder, Tom Tupa, fumbles the snap. Grammatica almost has a Garo Yepremian moment, but wisely lets himself be crushed rather than throw an ill-advised pass.

9:45 PM Gannon hits a WIDE OPEN Jerry Rice on third and thirteen. Once again, thanks to Callahan, they have to go for two.

9:46 PM Jerry Porter makes a leaping catch and is pushed out of bounds. The back judge totally blows the call, but at least he’s emphatic about it. It’s hard to get worked up about it because if Callahan had done the smart thing, this would be moot and they’d be within a touchdown and a field goal.

9:47 PM Now Callahan blows it further by basically throwing away a timeout. Good one, Bill, seeing as how you can afford to waste’em.

9:55 PM Now, Callahan calls another time out…and the Bucs get the first down anyway. What a cluster.

10:00 PM The Raiders defense holds them and Tampa Bay punts.

10:02 PM Two minute warning. Tampa Bay 34, Oakland 21

10:03 PM Okay, I’ve been avoiding commenting on commercials because there are just too many of them, but I’ve gotta give props to Mattress Mac. That’s the SECOND Houston Open promo tonight. Mac shucked out almost four and a quarter mil to promote a second-rate tennis tournament on national television during the Super Bowl.

10:05 PM No let up from the Bucs as Gannon is sacked and fumbles. The Raiders recover.

10:06 PM Well, that’s the ballgame. Derrick Brooks intercepts Gannon and returns it for a touchdown.

10:12 PM And again! This time it’s Dwight Smith making the return trip as time runs out. He scores his second defensive touchdown as they announce that Dexter Johnson is named MVP. Oooooops.

10:17 PM Well, that’s that. I wouldn’t call it a good game, but at least Oakland tried to make it interesting at the end. Like I said last year, championship celebrations are actually pretty boring if it’s not your team celebrating and post-game musical guest, Bon Jovi, sucks completely so, I’m done.

I did want to mention some favorite commercials, though. I really enjoyed:
The new Don Cheadle SB promos.
The Budweiser zebra
Pepsi Twist with the Osbournes, Osmonds and Florence Henderson
The FedEx castaway
HR Block with Willie Nelson
The Bud Light clown
Yao’s new VISA ad

Also, as far as movie promos go, I’d see both Matrices, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, T3 and Bruce Almighty. The rest looks like garbage.

See y’all next year, but I think I’ll skip the pre-game. Man, I coulda been playing SOCOM with my future nephews instead of watching that schlock. The things I do…

Dave Sabo is currently seeking a recipe for that sauce that goes real good with cocktail meatballs in the crock pot. Somebody said it was grape jelly and chili sauce, but he’s pretty sure that’s a lie. Also, does anybody know how to make those sausage rolls with the cheddar
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