Tuesday, September 16, 2008

There's an Underdog in us All

In my adolescence it defined a rivalry unlike any other known in the south. Whence the pillows were strewed across the room and the comforter piled in a heap by the door, the field was ready for battle. The titans who took this field did so in the name of honor, pride and dignity. Two storied programs with everything to gain and everything to lose. It was a place of reckoning. A majestic 76 x 80 inches of grit and grovel, where only men entered and legends departed. There were endless disputed calls, issues of home field advantage, bloody noses and the occasional feud that rendered the game incapable of completion, leaving the legions of fans to wonder; what if?

For all intensive purposes, it’s really nothing more than a king size bed. But the battles that unfolded atop the box springs are deeply rooted in the Pue brother lore. It was that which defined us. It was Bed Football, the most sacred of all games.

There are two topics which are but whispered by outsiders when it comes to the brotherhood of the Pue’s. The first is the widely known saga of Tecmo Super Bowl, a game that swallowed days of our lives and dictated a coming of age. Years of abuse and ridicule eventually gave way to a rising of a new power as Roger Craig, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Brent Jones and Tom Rathman paved a way for a new Pue to hold the crown, ending the war once and for all. It should be noted that after 3 consecutive losses and a thumping of my cousin, the Pue males have never played the game against or in the presence of one another; it is to this day barely even spoken of. It of course being the way I devastated the fragile worlds they knew with my two favorite words “TOUCHDOWN” and “SACK.”

The other topic, far less known is Bed Football, a time honored tradition unlike any other. There were countless games, but the Annual Christmas Bed Football game was something that was marked on the calendars weeks ahead of schedule. The training and preparation were rigorous but so very necessary. Every year the lights would dim low, the doors would be locked and the reputation of the “Greatest Bed Football Player in the World” went on the line.
It was here that I learned the might of one of the singular most important notions of the game of life, sport and otherwise: The Underdog truly does have a shot at winning, and often does just that.

Insurmountable odds? Perhaps the single greatest piece of motivation ever uttered. The very backbone of this great nation rests upon this notion.

This past weekend two teams dear to my heart did all they could to defend their honor, pride and dignity. This past weekend two teams laid it all on the line, one the underdog the other the reason for the underdog.

Tecmo Super Bowl 8; University of Georgia vs. Univeristy of South Carolina in Columbia.

The dogs were shaky at best, but as Richt put it we still received the grade of “W” on this effort and for now, that’s enough.

There is just something about the Gamecocks that the Dawgs just can’t seem to handle. Every year this game grows with intensity, I’d dare say it has become one of the premiere rivalries in the SEC, and there lies the problem. UGA is proud to admit this. This pride blinds us and allows for the role of underdog to be slapped on the Cocks every year, something that serves far more to motivate than hinder.

There is the unthinkable reality that UGA must face every season, what if we lose to USC? The SEC conference play opener for the dawgs serves to be the first stumbling block every year. Win or lose, we are never the same team afterwards. This year proved once again that you can never underestimate the runt of the East, they’ll hang around to the end and do all within their might to take hold of that age old adage; Every (under)dog has his day.

The Dawgs advance and move on to a shaken Arizona St. team that fell to the bite of the underdog via the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. We’ll have to wait and see what unfolds, as neither team is the same. I’d like to think the Dawgs open up and finally become the cohesive unit we’ll need to be for the stretch through the SEC.

Bed Football, It’s Christmas in September.

I don’t even know what to say about my Panthers, just plain awesome. Sure they have flaws aplenty and they will have certain ups and downs as the season moves on (we’ll still lose at least one game to the Dirty Birds), but damn, what a way to start the season!

Maybe Fox knew something I didn’t when he agreed to bench our star player against two of the biggest baddest teams in the NFC, not likely, but it’s still great to take part in the swelling of expectations that surround the Panthers.

Just when all seemed gloomed and doomed we had what we missed all of last season, we had a spark, a spark from a familiar yet somewhat forgotten catalyst. When Jake get pissed he gets fired up and when he gets fired up we win big games.

You wanna knock Delhomme’s helmet off? Be my guest, we’ll catch you at the post game wrap up show with that dumbfounded look upon your face.

The Cats roll to Minn to face the 0-2 Vikings, which proves to be a major test for this team on the rise. This is the NFL, rarely do teams drop 3 games in a row. Vikings are looking for answers and they hope to find it at home. Panthers love playing and winning on the road. We’ve got the advantage of our ‘star player’ returning, but the difficulty of living up to the hype of the expectant winner.I’m not convinced that the Panthers aren’t still the underdogs, but I do know this one will be a fight to the finish. Here’s to hoping the Panthers produce those two very special phrases early and often; “TOUCHDOWN” and “SACK.”

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