Perhaps members of the Chicago Bears brought their very own French Quarter voodoo doll into the Superdome today, and sometime before the opening kickoff, engaged a number of perfectly straight, straight pins into the heart of the New England Patriots.
The truth be told, there was not a single, solitary thing gris-gris or mystical about it. The only magic came in the third quarter, when a refrigerator in a Bears jersey -- one who sometimes goes by the name William Perry -- rambled off left guard for a one-yard touchdown.
Chicago played as it had all year long, with the unwavering conviction that no team in professional football did it better and with more fun. Super Bowl XX was a rout, the worst ever, as the Bears beat the Patriots, 46-10, before a sellout crowd of 73,818 and a worldwide television audience.
Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon helped perpetuate his image as the National Football League's best bad boy, rushing for two touchdowns and capitalizing on almost every opportunity his defense gave him. Richard Dent (the game's most valuable player), Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary performed brilliantly for the Bears' defense. Fittingly, that defense provided the day's final points -- a safety -- late in the fourth quarter, when reserve defensive tackle Henry Waechter sacked New England quarterback Steve Grogan, who replaced starter Tony Eason.
The Bears won their first NFL championship in 1933, slipping by the New York Giants, 23-21, in the first NFL championship decided by a playoff. This year's NFL title is Chicago's first since 1963.
Today, the Bears opened a 13-3 lead after the first quarter and a 23-3 lead at the half and were never threatened, unless you count New England's 3-0 lead at the start after Bears running back Walter Payton fumbled deep in Chicago territory early in the first quarter.
But that hardly fazed this Chicago team, which finished its season at 18-1 and has many glorious years ahead, considering that it has one of the youngest teams in the National Football League.
Today, the Bears scored more points than any team in Super Bowl history, and their margin of victory was the most lopsided, surpassing the Los Angeles Raiders' 38-9 drubbing of the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.
Long before the kickoff, thousands of impatient fans flooded the streets surrounding the Superdome, more than a little ready for the season's last good game of rough-and-tumble.
At a temporary barrier set up to restrain the crowd, a Bourbon Street preacher, Jonas Robertson, was handing out religious pamphlets and lifting his lungs to the man he called "the team captain of our salvation." Robertson said he planned to climb into his best friend's foreign sports car after the game, take off the T-top and give his lungs a break by speaking his mind into a megaphone turned up full blast. Unlike those who arrived dressed as bears and ducks and revolutionary war heroes, Robertson had stuffed his body into a polyester three-piece suit.
"Win, friend!" he said to a man from Boston. "Win in this big game called life!"
Said the man, "You tell me, friend, who's going to win in today's Super Bowl called life?"
"You can win, friend."
And the man: "If the Patriots don't win, friend, I lose all the way around. I lose up and down and all over. You hear me, friend."
"The world's confused," Robertson said a few minutes later. "These fans are going overboard. Their priorities are wrong."
An hour before the start of the game, New England Patriots fans packed the ramps leading up to the Superdome, trailing the all-brass Pin Stripe Jazz Band blowing hard on some hot freestyle number. It was like a little bit of Mardi Gras played out two weeks too early.
The band came to a halt halfway up the ramp, and the dancing commenced. A big unshaven fellow in colonial dress posed for pictures, then kicked the stuffing out of a toy bear. The alto sax man dropped his horn and did a Cajun two-step. Another man, this one in a soiled black tuxedo with the velveteen bow tie clipped to his lapel, stood under a parasol and seemed oblivious to it all.
"The sky is blue," a woman said. "You waiting for rain?"
"What the hay," he said and looked at the heavens. "Let's dance."
Not long before the game, scalpers were asking for $500 a ticket, but as one said in frustration: "Everybody's looking, but nobody wants to spend."
John Schneider of Chicago was one of hundreds who stood with two fingers held high above his head, hoping to deal and earn a civil compromise. Schneider said he held Bears season tickets for seven years but had been unlucky in the lottery that dispensed the 11,000 available Chicago tickets. He put a small advertisement in a Chicago paper on Tuesday, he said, but most of the callers were asking for $800 or $1,000 a ticket.
Unwilling to surrender the chance to participate in the pregame partying, Schneider came to New Orleans on a super-saver flight, stayed in an inexpensive hotel 45 miles away and rented a wreck. "This city got a grand out of me," he said. "And I came cheap."
Casey Kahler of Rockford, Ill., arrived at the stadium four hours early, wearing a greasy mask of midnight blue paint on his handsome face. His lips and ears and whiskers were blue. He also wore a distressed head of plastic hair -- two orange and black pompons glued together and crammed under a Bears cap. He said he and his best buddy, Steve Morgan, had driven all the way down to be close to the team they loved.
"You gotta understand," he said. "It takes a lot to sit through December days at Soldier Field, especially with losing seasons. This team won for us, for me and for Steve here and for my father, who's had season tickets for all of 25 years. I had to be here.
"I can pay as high as $200. If that won't do it, me and Steve here, we storm the gate."