Thanks for joining this special time-travel edition of Eagletarian. We're sitting in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa the evening of Feb. 1, 2009, watching Super Bowl XLIII unfold, between the AFC Champion Tennessee Titans and the NFC Champion New York Giants, the game that also has come to be known as the Kerry Collins Classic. Or we were watching it, anyway. The game was suspended with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter, after a large sinkhole opened around the 20-yard line, on the end closest to Dale Mabry Highway.
NFL commissioner Bud Selig is attempting to answer questions from reporters, his hand cupped to his ear and an expression of pained puzzlement on his face. Wait a minute ... now we're being told that Selig's expression has nothing to do with the situation, that he in fact has looked this way ever since the senior citizens' early bird special buffet at a nearby eatery ran out of rice pudding just as he completed his main course in late-afternoon.
At any rate, reporters are angry, since the first cracks in the earth appeared before the National Anthem was sung, but the NFL ignored the widening fissure and chose to kick off, though one section of grandstand collapsed and dozens of fans were injured.
Finally, matters came to a head after the Giants tied the game, 13-13, on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress. Burress leapt over the sinkhole, executing a triple somersault in midair, but Titans corner Nick Harper, backpedaling, didn't see it in time and fell in, freeing Burress for the easy TD. As Burress casually strolled into the end zone, Fox analyst Tim McCarver ignored the earth swallowing the defender and fretted about whether the fissure had unfairly dampened Burress' speed, as it had threatened to do to B.J. Upton before he scored the tying run in Game 5 of the World Series a few months earlier.
Selig suspended the Super Bowl as soon as the Giants kicked the extra point, explaining that at that exact moment, the situation had become untenable. Reporters demanded to know why it was less tenable then than 10 minutes earlier, when several players on both sides had to be treated on the sidelines after being burned by discharges of super-heated steam and sulphur. Selig shrugged and mumbled something about what a jim-dandy fellow the stadium grounds crew chief was, and how his office analyzed geological data befoere the game that indicated the fissure might not widen past three or four feet until after midnight Then, appearing disoriented, the commissioner demanded reporters "get off my lawn" and that they "remember the Maine."
Selig seems to have no idea when the game might resume. It won't be tonight, he said, even if the sinkhole is filled quickly, because it is already "way past my bedtime" and the network has begun showing "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns. Selig said he was not inclined to continue the game tomorrow, because he has invited friends over to celebrate his DVD acquisition of the entire series run of "Matlock," followed by a rousing game of whist.
Stay tuned for further developments.