Moral Satisfactions of the 2009 NFL Playoffs
It's probably no surprise to regular AIS readers (the few, the proud!) that I was emotionally crushed and spiritually appalled by the Eagles' pair of season-ending blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys, an organization I'd rank near the Club for Growth, if not NAMBLA and al Qaeda, in terms of pure evil. If it weren't for the company and comfort of friends, and some high quality musical entertainment enjoyed with vodka and beer immediately after the second of those losses, the aftereffects might have lingered much longer. (I guess it's arguable too that I've grown up some since my late teenage years, when an Eagles loss on Sunday would weigh on my spirits till about Thursday. Though my wife might argue that one.)
But while nothing can totally remove the sting of my beloved Eagles getting waxed by those bastards--and the shot of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and George W. Bush high-fiving in a skybox after the game-sealing touchdown in the third quarter was one of the most horrifying images I've ever had to endure--the way the NFL postseason subsequently played out was pretty gratifying. First, the Cowboys themselves got embarrassed by the Minnesota Vikings eight days later, losing 34-3, with the last Vikings touchdown coming on a fourth-down attempt with under two minutes left. It might have been the most beautifully vicious fuck-you gesture in pro football since former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan called a fake kneeldown against the Cowboys that led to a touchdown in the final seconds of a 1987 game the Birds won 37-20. That Vikings coach Brad Childress was a longtime Eagles assistant, and surely had been talking to former boss and good friend Andy Reid during the week, added an extra dose of zing.
After the Vikings performed that socially useful fumigation purpose, they went on to face the New Orleans Saints for the NFC title last week. From a narrative standpoint, that game saw the perfect end of the Brett Favre story, which has agitated football fans for years. If you don't know, it goes something like this: Favre, the object of more sports-yak fellatio than anyone this side of Derek Jeter, publicly vacillates on the subject of whether or not he'll retire at the end of each football season--then comes back, basks in adulation, plays well for awhile and then fucks up in some highly consequential moment, killing his team. In the morally absolute football universe dreamt of by ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook, Favre is undone by his hamartia, or tragic flaw--in this case, the same need to be the star and hero of the story that drives his annual offseason Hamlet routine. All I know is that after a season in which he was uncharacteristically careful with the football, the "ol' gunslinger" threw just about the most damning interception possible at the last and worst moment, with his team on the cusp of victory... and now he and his team will watch the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us. This is beyond perfect:
(But the vexing thing about Favre is that, like Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers, however many times you seem to kill him, he keeps coming back! His last pass could have been the interception he threw against the Eagles in overtime of the NFC Divisional Round in January 2004, leading to a 20-17 loss for his Green Bay Packers. Or, more plausibly, his last pass for the Packers four years later: another overtime interception, against the Giants, to set up the game-ending field goal that gave New York a 23-20 win in one of the most exciting games I've ever seen. Or in the season-ending 24-17 loss to the Dolphins in 2008 while with the New York Jets that finished a 1-4 tailspin after an 8-3 start to miss the playoffs. But the guy simply doesn't fucking go away. I guess it's almost as admirable as it is pathetic.)
The Super Bowl matchup of Saints vs. Colts next weekend is the one a lot of us were hoping for as far back as three months ago, when both teams looked like they might get there undefeated. While that didn't happen, there's no villain that I see; it should be nice to enjoy the game without hoping someone will get a comeuppance and fearing that they won't.