Friday, January 26, 2007

A By-The-Roman Numerals Guide To Super Bowl XLI

This sports weekend is the relative calm before next week’s storm in Miami. Football fans are bursting with anticipation for the Super Bowl XLI showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears on February IV. In the spirit of the big event, here’s a by-the-Roman numerals guide to the teams.

I Player from a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP (Chuck Howley). Since he was a linebacker who lost to the Colts in Miami, Indy hopes Brian Urlacher wins it this time.

II Emmy Awards won by Brian’s Song. Only Brett Favre has made more Bears fans cry.

III Texas Class B state championships won by Bears coach Lovie Smith as a player for Big Sandy High School. Coincidentally, “Big Sandy” is Shaquille O’Neal’s beach volleyball nickname.

IV Jersey number worn by quarterback Jim Harbaugh for both franchises. As the new Stanford coach, it’s also how many touchdowns his opponents will score in an average quarter.

V Game of the MCMLXXXI NLCS in which Rick Monday hit a pennant-winning home run for the Dodgers. With a touchdown in the AFC championship game, Indy’s Jeff Saturday became the second day of the week to be a playoff hero.

VI Return touchdowns this season for Bears rookie Devin Hester. He’s the fastest thing in Chicago since the car chases in The Blues Brothers.

VII Games played in the MCMXCVIII NBA Eastern Conference finals - another high-profile Chicago-Indianapolis matchup. But this time, Indy seems to have the Air advantage.

VIII Consecutive seasons in which Indy’s Marvin Harrison has caught at least X touchdown passes. Among Marvins, only Gaye has done more scoring.

IX Danica Patrick’s standing in last year’s IRL IndyCar Series. Like Peyton Manning, she gets tons of endorsements and draws huge crowds in Indy, but still hasn’t won a title.

X Bears who performed “The Super Bowl Shuffle” in MCMLXXXV. Fortunately, these days you never see rappers who want to hurt people.

XI Seasons Mike Ditka spent as the Bears’ head coach. Like another Iron Mike, he won a title in MCMLXXXVI. But he preferred chewing out quarterbacks to chewing on opponents’ ears.

XII Seasons in which Baltimore lacked an NFL franchise between the Colts’ departure and Ravens’ arrival. Detroit is catching up to that number.

XIII NBA seasons in Larry Bird’s playing career. Like Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, he nailed lots of III-pointers in New England before heading to Indianapolis.

XIV Points scored by the Bears in the last V minutes of a miracle victory over Arizona. Soon, Dennis Green was what we thought he would be: unemployed.

XV Victories for each Super Bowl team this season, including the playoffs. With St. Louis winning the World Series, the Midwest has been the region of champions lately. Well, not so fast, Buckeyes.

XVI Victory margin for Florida in last year’s NCAA basketball championship game. Since Florida captured a title in Indianapolis, Indianapolis feels entitled to win one in Florida.

XVII Point spread favoring the Colts in Super Bowl III. Also the number of women in Joe Namath’s bed after the game.

XVIII Deficit overcome by the Colts in the AFC championship game. Afterwards, New England coach Bill Belichick was at a loss for words, as he is after every game.

XIX Jersey number of Colts legend Johnny Unitas, who threw a touchdown in a record XLVII consecutive games. Back then, only JFK made more passes.

XX Interceptions thrown by Bears QB Rex Grossman in the regular season. Since he had so many giveaways in Chicago, teammates started calling him Oprah.

XXI Points scored by the Colts in a MMI loss to San Francisco – an otherwise forgettable game worshipped by SportsCenter. Because it brought us Jim Mora’s “PLAYOFFS????”

XXII Career interceptions for Bears legend Dick Butkus, who probably sent someone to the hospital as I was typing this sentence.

XXIII Points for the Colts in the classic MCMLVIII NFL championship victory over the New York Giants, coached by Jim Lee Howell. Immediately after the game, an angry Giants fan launched

XXIV Categories in which Oscars were awarded for MMII. The Bears will draw inspiration from that event, since Chicago was the big winner.

XXV Record Super Bowl ring size for William “The Refrigerator” Perry. The Fridge plans to loan the ring to Bears kicker Robbie Gould, who will wear it as a helmet.

XXVI Combined points for the Bears in losses to Miami and New England – their only defeats until a meaningless season-ender to Green Bay. They’re still hoping to somehow avoid the AFC at the Super Bowl.

XXVII Career sacks for Alex Brown of the Bears. He hopes to do something considered impossible in Cleveland: a Brown winning a Super Bowl.

XXVIII Jersey number of Indy’s Marlin Jackson, who made the game-clinching interception against New England. He could be the first Marlin to win a title in Miami and not be traded for prospects.

XXIX Years since Affirmed won horse racing’s last triple crown. The ensuing period is familiar to Indy fans: a bunch of Colts falling just short of glory.

XXX Draft position in last year’s Ist round for standout Colts running back Joseph Addai. Three guys from NC State went before him. No, I don’t get it, either.

XXXI Touchdown passes for Peyton Manning during the regular season. He loves to be in the shotgun, unless Chicago’s Tank Johnson points one at him.

XXXII NFL teams to be defeated by Indy’s Tony Dungy – the first head coach to beat every team in the league. Surprisingly, the second was Tony D’Amato - Al Pacino’s character in Any Given Sunday.

XXXIII Age at which Chicago’s Gale Sayers became the youngest inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s so sad to be a has-been at such an early age.

XXXIV Jersey number of Bears legend Walter Payton. If Sweetness were alive today, he’d be dominating on Dancing With the Stars.

XXXV Yardage of late field goal that sealed Indy’s XV – VI playoff victory over the Ravens. To add insult to injury for Baltimore fans, the Colts left the stadium in Mayflower moving trucks.

XXXVI Victory margin for the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Patriots QB Tony Eason still screams Richard Dent’s name in his sleep.

XXXVII Jersey number of Bears fullback Jason McKie. He keeps teammates in stitches by telling them he played football at Temple.

XXXVIII Age of Colts receiver Ricky Proehl, the oldest player on either roster. For nostalgia’s sake, he plans to wear his old leather helmet on Super Sunday.

XXXIX Points for the Bears in the NFC Championship victory over New Orleans. One more score, and the Saints would have become the Martyrs.

XL Seasons in which George Halas was the Bears’ head coach. He lasted that long because he never had to coach T.O.

XLI Points for the Colts in the teams’ last meeting, a XLI - X rout in MMIV. Edgerrin James had CCIV yards rushing, but he’ll be less of a force this time.