The Chamber of Commerce here likes to call this place "Hot-lanta," like it's always sizzling.
Hot-lanta, my big behind.
As I write this I am looking out my window, and it is snowing.
Yes, snowing. When the St. Louis Rams arrived at the airport, they were met by a Zamboni. (Dick Vermeil cried, of course. Vermeil always cries at Zambonis--and at everything else. Vermeil gets teary-eyed at the wake-up call by the hotel operator. Vermeil is so in touch with his sensitive side that instead of watching game film, he watches "Terms of Endearment.")
I know it's early in the week, but the day of the Super Bowl, should I take a cab or a dog sled?
I probably shouldn't complain because the snow is an improvement over what happened on Sunday, when there was an ice storm that paralyzed the area. More than 350,000 homes in metropolitan Atlanta were without power, and 10,000 traffic lights were out, making driving more like Russian Roulette. All day long the local TV stations covered the weather event like it was The Storm of the Century, which, of course, it was. Until tomorrow. (A freak ice storm like this often results in freak injuries. I noticed the Wizards played in Atlanta over the weekend. I'm surprised Lorenzo Williams wasn't injured for the rest of the season just reading about it.)
Tree limbs were snapping like pick-up sticks. Power lines were flying around like licorice whips. Huge oak trees crashed into cars and through roofs of houses. My cousin's wife was awakened Sunday morning by the sound of a tree slamming through her skylight. Schools were closed Monday and may not open again until the Masters.
The most common sound being heard around Atlanta (besides John Rocker apologizing) is the sound of chain saws cutting through the fallen trees. Close your eyes and you think you're in "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Clears the Surface Streets."
Hello? I thought this was supposed to be a warm-weather site.
I'm sorry, but you can't have a Super Bowl unless you can take your shirt off and sit by the pool--and in Miami that goes for men, too.
The five-day weather forecast calls for lows in the twenties every night, and highs in the lower forties. (True story: When I checked into the hotel I ran into Sterling Sharpe and Tommy Jackson of ESPN. They were carrying their golf clubs. Sharpe said to me, "We're playing on Wednesday. Wanna play?" I asked him, "What are you going to use to get out of a trap, a snow blower?") Normally, the lobby of the media hotel has giant TV screens continuously tuned to sports channels. The weather is such an issue here that the TVs are all on the Weather Channel. So far Jim Cantore is a much bigger star than Kurt Warner.
What possible good can all this snow and ice do for Atlanta's image as a sports town? They can't try for the Winter Olympics--they just held the Summer Olympics. I suppose they could use this as bait to attract any of the six Canadian NHL franchises that will soon be relocating in the United States now that the Canadian government reneged on its subsidy plan--but Atlanta just got the Thrashers. How much hockey can you stand? Maybe they could hold a "Chisel John Rocker's Head in Ice" contest, using Rocker's actual head.
Writing about the weather is much more fun than writing about the Super Bowl. What can you say about this Super Bowl? Tennessee against St. Louis wouldn't appear to be a box office bonanza, would it? Who's going to watch that one, besides Davy Crockett's descendants and the Budweiser lizards? Personally, I'd rather watch Michael Jordan raining jumpers over Chris Whitney or Ray Rhodes yelling at Dana Stubblefield. If I were ABC, I'd put "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" on live Sunday night, and use taped highlights of the game during the 11 o'clock news.
The NFL has to be dying with this matchup. According to the 1998 national census, St. Louis was the 18th biggest market in the country, and Nashville was 37th--below Salt Lake City and Greensboro, N.C.! It's only six years ago that the Rams played in Los Angeles, and the Titans, as the Oilers, played in Houston. L.A. is the number two market, and Houston is number 10. You don't have to be a math major to see what a bad trade that was for the NFL.
How do you sell the Titans and St. Louis? The Titans are nomads. They've played in more places in Tennessee than Dolly Parton. Nobody can name five players on the team. All people know is that the Tennessee uniforms are the pug-ugliest in football. The coach, Jeff Fisher, was on such shaky ground at the beginning of this season that his friends were calling him "Norv." The quarterback, Steve McNair, gains more yards running than he does passing; that hasn't happened since Knute Rockne. To call him "Air" McNair is silly. He ought to be "Ground" McNair, or "Can We Please Get Containment On Him Because He's Running Up Through There" McNair. And the owner, well, that just can't be Bud Adams's real hair. That looks like something he won at a carnival.
St. Louis was lucky to beat Tampa Bay to get here. It was supposed to be a walkover, but the Rams offense evaporated. It was 5-3 at the half. How'd St. Louis get five, McGwire homered twice? The Rams finished with 11. That's a joke. They usually have 20 points before the game starts. What happened to their offensive coordinator genius Mike Martz? Did he think this was the bye week? Poor Shaun King. The zebras took away his pass to Bert Emmanuel, and set Tampa Bay back 12 yards. What angle did they get that from, the Hubble Telescope? That's a tough spot for a rookie, playing on the road, in a dome so loud it sounds like last call at a Busch Family Picnic. King complained he couldn't hear the signals called from the sideline. But if he'd had any more batteries in his helmet, legally he'd have to come with a warranty.
Give St. Louis credit: That was a great pass from Kurt Warner to Ricky Proehl. But in hindsight, can you believe how close the Redskins came to the Super Bowl? They're one botched Dan Turk snap away. The Danny must be off the charts on the Dan-O-Meter. Is there a setting for "Stark Raving Mad"?
I guess it's better this way.
Why come all this distance to freeze, when you can walk out your front door in Washington and feel just like you're at the Super Bowl?