Monday, December 05, 2005


Who needs Prozac when you have the Bengals?

I should be ashamed to admit this, I suppose. But I'm not.

Normally, on a Monday morning such as this, strapped to my desk at work, with bills and holiday shopping and routine maintenance on the Wielandmobile hanging over my head, I wouldn't be so happy. But I actually feel pretty great.

And the reason? A combination of writing stuff and sports. No two ways about it.

First, I completed a major, major re-write of a script over the weekend, and I have until Wednesday afternoon to go over it with a fine tooth comb, making sure that ever i is dotted, every t crossed. But my general impression is that I like it. It actually felt good most of the time that I was writing it, which suggests either I drank too much coffee, or I actually did some decent work.

We'll see. I have a couple of days to re-read. And to check the pH balance of the coffee we have in the house.

And then there are the sports. Mercy, mercy me.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of it all, let me ask all you readers out there a question. Should I feel like a slack-jawed yokel for letting the outcomes of a few football games so drastically affect my mood? Am I the same as that tool who sits in the stadium in minus-42 degree weather cheering on a team with no chance of survival, let alone winning? Have I no sense of reality?

Nope. Probably not. And who cares, really? The bottom line is, there's something cool about seeing your teams win, and probably there's little to ashamed of. As you might recall, there are only a few reasons that grown men should cry publicly (according to the Book of Our Man in LA), and sporting events do occupy an important roost on that list.

Looking back, it's been this way for a while. Northwestern's miracle season in 1995-96 gave me a moment or two of joy during a torturous year. Ohio State's national championship a couple of years back felt pretty good.

You get the picture. So let's get to the specifics.

1) Texas beat the ever-living tar out of Colorado and will play for the national championship in a few weeks. Now we already knew that the Mighty Mighty Longhorns were better than everyone else in the Big 12, but I guess I didn't know quite how much better. 70-3! Damn. And a lot of that scoring was done with the second team, the third team, the practice squad, and then 11 fans who won the "win a chance to play in the Big 12 championship" contest sponsored by Dr. Pepper.

But the matador defense of Colorado wasn't up to the task. Nope. And while I'm at it, let me explain that doing this to the University of Colorado makes this victory particularly sweet. You see, they're coached by Gary Barnett, who engineered that miracle season at Northwestern a decade ago. I should love him, right? Yeah, except for the fact that he showed himself to be a sleazebag of the highest order in all the years that followed.

I didn't hate Barnett for leaving NU. It's not an elite college football program. I did hate him for lying to the kids in the program. And then I hated him again for running a program that hired prostitutes to "encourage" promising recruits to attend CU. And then I hated him for somehow slithering out of those charges against the program. And then there was how he responded to charges that one of his players - Katie Hnida, the only female player in Division 1-A College Football, had been raped by members of his team.

Remember that response? It was: "Well, Katie wasn't very good." In fact, I think he may have said she stunk.

Even after that kind of public egg on the face, Barnett kept his job. Now I hear that he might lose it, given that his team limped into the post-season, being throttled in the last three games, including the Texas loss and another to the really mediocre Nebraska Huskers. If this is true, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

My brother-in-law went to grad school in Colorado, and so I usually try and support teams that my family likes. He also went to UNC, and I've become a member of the family bandwagon for the Tar Heels.

But not this case. How about we run Barnett out on a rail. I'll bring the tar. You bring the feathers.

Onto the other good wins . . .

2) Not an on-field win, but the bowl matchups came out this Sunday. And my teams are well represented. Besides the Mighty Mighty Longhorns playing in the national championship at the Rose Bowl, my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are back at the Fiesta Bowl, matching up with Notre Dame. As a kid who attended Catholic high school in southern Ohio, I can only imagine the talk about this game in the hallways of Archbishop Alter High School.

Basically, it comes down to this. If Notre Dame wins, it's safe to say they're back to their traditional form. If Ohio State wins, they're going to be back in the national championship race next year. This game is a prognosticator - the Groundhog of the matchups out there.

And then the aforementioned Northwestern Wildcats travel to El Paso to take on UCLA, who were snuffed out by USC over the weekend. At Casa del Wieland, we call this the Hans Noel Memorial Bowl Game, as it features our friend's two alma maters in a winner-take-all matchup for his sports fan's soul. Is it possible that the Cats could actually win a bowl game for the first time in the modern era? We'll see.

And then finally, the sporting note of the weekend:

The Cincinnati Bengals will not have a losing season! They're going to the playoffs!

For the first time since the 1990 football season - 15 years ago - the NFL team in southern Ohio is guaranteed a winning record. They're a near lock for the playoffs. Finally, after 15 long years, it's safe to come out of hiding if your a Bengal fan.

Fifteen years!

Think that over. Fifteen years ago, the first Bush was president. Cheers and the Cosby Show were on NBC on Thursday nights. Timothy Dalton was still James Bond. The Lakers still had Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan was still one of those players about whom people said: "Yeah, he's good, but he hasn't won anything."

Fifteen years!

My wife was in junior high. I was a freshman at Northwestern. The NFL had two teams in Los Angeles, there wasn't a team in Baltimore or Carolina or Jacksonville. Or Nashville.

It wasn't even ridiculous for Chicago sports fans to talk about the '85 Bears. Some of those guys were still on the team. Ditka was the coach.

Fifteen years!

Adam Sandler and Chris Rock had just come on Saturday Night Live. Home Alone and Ghost were the two biggest movies. Will Smith was on TV. Justify My Love was on the air. We still thought U2 had broken up after "Rattle and Hum", and we hadn't even heard of Nirvana.


Congrats, Bengals! One curse is broken now. Let's keep moving forward. As my buddy Rob Schumann predicted at the beginning of the year, "Bears-Bengals Super Bowl". We laughed then.

But that sounds good to me. If not this year, how about in '06?

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?