In a way, I'm almost surprised the Arizona Cardinals held off the Green Bay Packers. With Aaron Rodgers throwing yet another successful Hail Mary at the end of regulation time to tie the score, yours truly was resigned to seeing another of his "picks" crash and burn.
I thought KC would upset New England. We know how that worked out.
But that's the way it goes -- and always has. The easiest way to get rich is notice who I pick to win games -- and bet the other way. I suspect getting it wrong was a trait I inherited from my late father. If he picked them -- they were going down. Even in death, Murphy's Law haunted him. After he had taken his last breath at home, the "body snatchers" originally took him to the wrong funeral parlor. A few days later, after the ceremony had been concluded, the hearse started off going to the wrong cemetery. Don't get me wrong. My dad was a very smart man in a lot of ways and was highly respected as such -- but when it came to sports -- he was jinxed. Like father, like son, I suppose.
Thing is, yours truly really didn't care who won those games. Nor do I give a rat's behind who prevails when the Steelers tangle with the Broncos on Sunday. Predicting the winners of those contests was done all in fun.
But the remaining game is personal. That's because of a certain gentleman I'll refer to as Biker George. He rides a Harley Sportster through rain, sleet, freezing temps, and even a moderate amount of snow. BG could hardly be referred to as a "fair weather rider". The man's serious about riding that damn motorcycle, and kudos to him.
Another thing is -- George is a good ole boy from North Carolina, with serious family roots not far from Charlotte where the Carolina Panthers play.
One day not long ago in a local watering hole, BG was ranting and raving about how his beloved Carolina Panthers were going to open up a good old fashioned can of whup-ass when the Seattle Seahawks come to his former town for a playoff game. They're 15-1, have the best record in the entire NFL, and Cam Newton's a freak of nature, he said. All certainly true.
I knew I probably shouldn't do it -- most times it's best to keep quiet in such situations -- but eventually I gave into temptation. In other words, I couldn't stand to hear any more ranting coming from BG about Carolina this, and Carolina that.
So I looked at him and said, "I've got 20 bucks that says Seattle is going to beat Carolina". At the time, the S-Hawks were a 3 point underdog. (It has since come down to 1.5).
In his drawl, BG shouted, "You're crazy, John. Any idiot knows the Panthers are going to win the Super Bowl".
"Maybe so", I countered, "and perhaps a couple more wagers will come about at a later date. But for now, I've got a Jackson's worth of confidence that your boys are playing their last game this year. And forget the 3 points. Seattle's going to beat them straight up. Bet or no bet?".
Needless to say, Biker George was all over it. The bet was on, and everybody in the room knew it.
Personally, I'd rather see Carolina win the game. Not because I root for them, but because I root against Seattle. For the most part this is because of their head coach Pete Carroll. When he was running the football program at Southern Cal, all kinds of NCAA violations were beginning to come to light. The university would eventually be hammered with various sanctions. But Pete had merrily bailed to go to Seattle for millions of dollars. In his mind, what happened at USC under his watch was now somebody's else's problem to clean up.
On top of that, just watching him turns my stomach. He's got those small little teeth like a rodent, chews gum rapid-fire like a used-car salesman shyster, and loves to run up the score when his team is facing a clearly inferior opponent. To boot, every time his team catches a break -- and last week's failed chip shot field goal attempt by the Minnesota Vikings' kicker was a huge one -- he acts like that was his plan all along. The man has a sense of self-entitlement second to none. The words "shame" and "humility" don't exist in his world.
Nevertheless, Biker George's ranting had become unbearable as well. I've been all over North Carolina in years past and it truly is God's country, as they say. And I like George, always have, but enough is enough.
I'll be rooting for the Panthers to win, and even told George so. He thought that rooting against my own bet made me even crazier. Point noted. But I look at it this way:
If the Panthers win, it costs me 20 bucks and I'll have to listen to Biker George crowing for a while. But at least the rodent and his team will have been dispatched. A Jackson is a small price to pay for some inner satisfaction on the professional level.
But if the Seahawks win, I'd consider the 20 bucks from George as a consolation prize. Plus, being able to call him the same "crazy" in the near future for making such a bet on his wannabe homies could have its upside on the personal level.
Nah, I wouldn't do that. Just take the Jackson, shake hands, and order up a burger, fries, and another beer. But I reserve the right to look him in the eyes and smile.
Besides, any biker that's been around as long as George should have upgraded from a Sportster a long time ago.