There are several interesting storylines for this week’s Bucs vs. Colts Monday Night Football game:
1. Peyton’s injury leads to the slow, painful death of the 2011-12 Colts. (Sorry, Curtis Painter.)
2. Jon Gruden returns to Tampa for the first time since his firing, as he announces the game. Apparently, Gruden called his return to One Buc Place “emotional,” so there’s the story.
3. Bucs sell out a home game after 10 consecutive regular season blackouts.
But there is one storyline I wish we could ignore.
It’s the story of the last time these two teams met on Monday Night Football.
It is also one of Bucs Chick’s most upsetting football memories.
Picture it: New York City, 2003.
My roommate and I were watching the Bucs and Colts play Monday Night Football. We’d recently held an ’80s prom party, and so there were streamers hanging from the ceiling and on the door frames.
The Bucs had won the Super Bowl less than a year prior, so I’d had big hopes for the season and for the game.
And with 4 minutes left in the regulation, and a score of 35-14, the hopes seemed legitimate.
And then it happened.
With 4 minutes to go, the Colts returned a kickoff 90 yards and easily scored a touchdown.
In NYC, I stand up, walks a few steps, and sit on a different part of the couch. It’s not a big couch, but I do what I can for the team.
Onside kick, recovered by the Colts.
Couch move isn’t working, so I nervously twist my body into a pretzel-type contortion. I consider changing clothes. I moan to my roommate a lot about how bad this looks, but she insists that she has seen worse.
A short 42 yards later, Marvin Harrison catches a touchdown pass.
I attempt to angle my body so that I am sitting on my head (flip that luck!), but it’s not sustainable. I decide instead to stand up and sit down. Repeatedly.
Now with 2.5 minutes left in the game, the Bucs go three-and-out and eat up a whopping 39 seconds on the clock.
Anthropologically speaking, it should be noted that in the throes of crisis the human body is capable of producing a deep, guttural cry so desperate that it will reverberate throughout a 500 square-foot apartment.
They punt to the Colts. The Colts drive 85 yards for another touchdown.
And then the streamers started coming down. I’m not proud. But when you are watching your team lose in the worst, most humiliating fashion possible, sometimes it’s the streamers that bear the punishment.
But also! The streamers were mocking me! They were festive and light, twisting about the apartment like candy-colored fun when clearly I was in pain. So I had to punish them. By ripping them off the walls and the doorframes.
My roommate should have been afraid, but she was a Vikings fan. So she understood.
Bucs receive the ball but cannot move it down the field. Martin Grammatica misses a 62-yard field goal attempt.
Good-bye pink streamers.
Take that, blue streamers.
Bucs receive the ball first and muster 29 yards before punting to the Colts.
Yellow streamers, you know where you can go.
The Colts drive 76 yards and Mike Vanderjagt scores the game-winning field goal.
And then it was over. Mercifully, over.
Except maybe I was crying. And maybe I called my father–the man who turned me into a football fan in the first place–to commiserate. And maybe he said when he picked up, “Well, it’s only a game.” And maybe I hung up on him for that. (And maybe that wasn’t my proudest moment.)
Who can say, really.
What I will say is that I relish the chance for Josh Freeman and the young Bucs to put the 2003 Monday Night Football memories to rest. It is Curtis Painter, after all.
(Sorry, Curtis Painter.)
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