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.