Yes, But by How Many?
By Tony Kornheiser
MINNEAPOLIS -- You could have knocked me over with a feather early this morning when the telephone rang, and there on the other end was Coach "Joe" Gibbs.
"Hi, this is Coach Gibbs." (He sounded just like he does on his radio show. For a second, I thought I was in my car.)
I checked my watch. "It's five in the morning, 'Joe,' " I said. "What happened? Did the projector break down with only six reels to go?"
"Tony, I've been thinking about how much this game means to both of us. I mean like if the Redskins win, you've got The Bandwagon book and movie deals, and I've got a chance to expand my endorsements from batteries to oil filters, piston grease and gas treatments. I could become the next Andy Granatelli."
"I get it," I said. "You mean: 'Hey, Coach "Joe" Gibbs, now that you've won the Super Bowl, where ya gonna go?' And you'll say, 'Daytona 500.' "
"Well, I was hoping for Talladega, but yeah. Anyway, you know me. I'm scared to death to play Buffalo. They have all those great athletes. Then again, I'd be scared to death to play Baraboo Clown College -- how do you defend against a halfback being shot from a cannon? But you hopped on us early, and you were right. So I was wondering, do you think we'll beat Buffalo?"
Ah, predictions. Every geek in a pair of Zubaz zebra pants has one. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a whole page of them the other day, soliciting picks from such hard-core X and O guys as Mario Cuomo, Marvin Mitchelson, Fulbright scholar Downtown Julie Brown, sex vixen Dr. Ruth, The San Diego Chicken, Gene Siskel and that zany Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander. What do they have in common? They were all stupid enough to pick Buffalo. Cuomo had the nerve to insist he wasn't doing it just because he was governor of New York. Oh, please. How does Cuomo know who'll win? He hasn't picked his head up from "Hamlet" since 1984.
Being a media megastar, I am constantly mobbed in restaurants and hotels by people who wish to touch the hem of my cloak and ask me who will win today's Super Bowl, and by how many points. (I would be stopped on the streets too, but who goes outside in this weather?) At last count, I had given 378 predictions to various newspapers, radio and TV stations -- all of them different.
The range on my Buffalo score goes from 0 to 2 (there's always the possibility that Kelly Goodburn will field that tricky four-hopper and scoot back through the end zone to step on second for the force play, or that the game will be moved to Winnipeg to take advantage of those mild Chinook winds, and Buffalo will get a couple of gimme rouges), and the range on my Washington score goes from 17 to 96.
I always pick Washington to win, because let's face it, even if I didn't think the Redskins would win, there's the miniseries to consider. Coach "Joe" Gibbs and I both agree that for "The Bandwagon: Part One, The Formative Years" Fred Savage should play the young Anthony I. Kornheiser; then, in "The Bandwagon: Part Five, There's No Place Like Dome," Willard Scott.
(This just in: Riggo has asked Sandra Day O'Connor to present him for induction at the Hall of Fame. "I promise not to fall asleep under the table until after the ceremony," he said.)
I was tempted to pick Buffalo, because on a dry track their speed could be the difference. But they're such a bunch of babies. Bruce Smith wants out because he gets 10 nasty letters after 1,500 adoring ones. Let him become a sportswriter; it's a good day if we get only 10 threatening letters. Jim Kelly's whining about the $36,000 share to each player on the winning team. "It bothers me," Kelly said. "We feel it should be tripled." Here's a guy making $3 million a year already -- a guy who thinks a wind sprint is manual labor -- playing in a blue-collar city, and this guy is carrying on about $36,000 for three hours work like it's an insult.
But the biggest baby is Thurman Thomas, who blew off a news conference because he stacked up all the newspaper stories written about him, and found they didn't reach the moon. This is the same Thurman Thomas whose reaction to being called the best all-around back in football was, "That's a title I'll have to live with," like they nailed him on income tax evasion. Thomas is pouting because Buffalo's offensive coordinator dared to say, "Jim Kelly is our Michael Jordan." Thomas, who thinks he should have been the MVP of last year's Super Bowl even though Buffalo lost -- and probably thinks Canton should have a sculptor on call -- slapped the coach by saying, "I guess we have two Michael Jordans." Personally, I went into the hotel kitchen this morning, and crossed out Michael Jordan's signature on all the Wheaties boxes, and wrote in, "Thurman Thomas."
(This just in: Legendary wide receiver Russ "The Flea" Grimm awarded Quote of the Day status in Minneapolis newspaper for, "Do I watch what I eat? Yeah, when I pick it up.")
I don't want to give you the wrong impression about Buffalo. Not everybody is grouchy. Chuck Dickerson, the Bills' defensive line coach, is working on material he can use to land the coveted Don Rickles Fellowship. Dickerson was quoted calling Joe Jacoby, "a Neanderthal. He slobbers a lot. He probably kicks dogs in his neighborhood."
And here's Dickerson's take on Jim Lachey: "Players will fall down without him even touching them, so he has to have bad breath." Don't bother tacking that stuff on to the locker room wall. Get a blowtorch and burn it in.
In closing, let me leave you with what dead poet e.e. cummings said on the subject of this very Super Bowl:
"Buffalo Bill's defunct."
You could look it up.