ESPN sideline reporters have been keeping up this level of desperate hypitude amid the Martian temperatures at Lambeau Field since 10 am, God bless 'em. This particular hypothermia victim is demonstrating the type of head sock that may be worn by players, and perhaps even some fans. Riveting television.
However, ESPN also has Ray-Ray as one of the Sunday NFL Countdown commentators, which is a point very much in their favor. Who doesn't love watching Ray-Ray ad-lib on, well, pretty much anything? He's already discussed how he would, if his team were playing in this extremely cold game, get his teammates fired up to play by wearing a half-shirt to demonstrate his imperviousness to the elements. And the pep talk for the Chargers? Simply epic. Everything is better with Ray-Ray on the mic.
As for the Pats. I had a scare this week that our #1 offensive weapon was going to become persona non grata in the football world once again, but further information revealed allegations against Randy Moss leveled by a Florida woman to be spurious. And so I've since found his sheepishly grinning attempts to hold his own against a cavalcade of mic and tape recorder wielding reporters, well, oddly adorable.
I acknowledge that Randy Moss has, at times in the past, been a complete shithead, and I make no attempts to defend any of his previous behavior, with the exception of the 'mooning incident'. That was just downright funny, even though Joe Buck, anticipating the ire of the same uptight schoolmarms in the national audience who would later make Janet Jackson's partially-uncovered boob a nightmare for CBS, called it like the crash of the Hindenburg.
But really, I see the humor in Randy Moss. In fact, it's getting to the point where I kind of love him a little. He can be flippant, and irreverent, but he's not without intelligence, and has a certain carefree appreciation for the absurdity of his own most outrageous moments that I can't help but find charming.
Or maybe it's the way he catches 65-yard touchdown passes from Tom Brady. You know, either or. But let's just say the Moss has grown on me (yuk! yuk!) this season, and it was to my great relief that I heard what had first been characterized as a "domestic violence incident" turned out to be an accidentally sprained finger and a demand for $500,000. Pfft.
In retrospect, Moss notified Patriots management and ownership promptly, addressed the issue proactively in the press, and in general handled this latest 'scrape' with more aplomb than he's mustered in the past. Some light bulb, somewhere, has gone on since the Randy Moss of Minnesota. He still relishes the appearance of the outlaw, but it now seems he was also in earnest about wanting to do right this time around.
Meanwhile, one of the highlights of my week has been the outpouring of Patriots hype I've heard and seen while traveling around the northern-Massachusetts / southern-New Hampshire area. I've seen mailboxes shaped like Patriots helmets, elaborately decorated GO PATRIOTS homemade banners hung up on fences and trees and the sides of houses, innumerable flags and stickers and expressions of support on dozens of vehicles, inflatable yard decorations, a sea of Welker and Moss and Brady and Bruschi jerseys. I've heard constant chatter and conversation about "The Game." As in, "What are your plans for The Game?" "I'm gonna watch The Game with my buddies down the bar." "Dood, you psyched for The Game?"
I've seen a statistically significant drop in productivity across the state due to the time people are spending either creating or watching things like this:
It doesn't jibe with what I've seen this week, but for whatever reason, the Boston fan doesn't have a much better reputation than Moss in many circles now that our teams are winning; in many parts of the country, we're in the same vilified boat as our top-flight wide receiver. Yet, as with Moss's legal struggles this week, the scolding voices are fading mercifully into the background more and more the closer kickoff gets.
It really can't get here soon enough. And when it does, we in New England are all hoping for the same thing from the opening series: the deepest of passes down the sideline, hitting No. 81 in stride.