I would like to apologize in advance. The end of the world is coming in two days, Dec. 21, 2012, according to that damn Mayan calendar. I am afraid I will be watching the Beef 'O’ Brady’s Bowl from St. Petersburg, Fla., on television when the asteroid hits or the giant earthquake swallows us whole or whatever is supposed to happen really happens.
I am truly sorry for this. I am.
I know I should be gathered together with loved ones, maybe all of us huddled in the basement with some spring water and a bunch of AAA batteries, ready for whatever comes next, but I also know myself. What are the chances, really, the world is going to end? I will be watching the Beef 'O’ Brady’s Bowl and my loved ones will be scattered as usual.
The last words I hear probably will be from either ESPN sportscaster Dave Neal or ESPN analysts Desmond Howard or Andre Ware or from Cara Capuano, the ESPN sideline reporter. They will be describing some important moment in the game. Probably watching a replay.
Neal: It’s a great catch, but was his foot in-bounds?
Howard: It’s only one foot that has to be in-bounds in college, remember. It’s TWO feet in the pros.
Ware: It looks like he has the foot down, but he’s awfully close to that sideline. I’d like to see it again. And does he have full control of the ball? What do you think?
I will be straining, looking at that crucial second replay angle. Dave and Desmond and Andre will be straining along with me. Cara, on the field, might not have a monitor. The slo-mo will show the ball arriving at the receiver’s hands, his long fingers wrapping around it. His right foot will come down…
Last thing I ever see. (I think the foot was in-bounds, too.) Last words I ever hear.
See you later.
The game, of course, will be between the 9-3 Ball State Cardinals from the Mid-American Conference and the 9-4 Central Florida Knights from Conference USA. I have to admit that I do not know much about either of these schools except that David Letterman went to Ball State, which I think is in Indiana somewhere, and George O’Leary, the Central Florida coach, was the coach of Notre Dame for about five minutes before someone finally looked at his resume and found some fiction in the middle of the requisite nonfiction. Central Florida, I am pretty sure, is in central Florida.
The site will be that dreadful Tropicana Field, the phony-turf warehouse location where the Tampa Bay Rays play good baseball in front of many empty seats. I do not know the names of any of the players for either of the bowl teams. I suppose there are some good players, two teams with winning records, but I don’t know who they are. I didn’t know exactly what Beef ‘O’ Brady’s was until I consulted the internet. I thought it maybe was a brand of beef stew. It’s actually a sports bar/restaurant franchise in 22 states. None of them are located near where I live.
This game is the type of trash football matchup that I often watch at this time of the year, mostly because it comes onto the screen. OK, only because it comes onto the screen. I wade into the action because it’s there. I pick a side, usually the underdog or the school attached to some trivia fact I might know -- Ball State, in this case, is a seven-point dog and, yes, is David Letterman’s alma mater -- and root to the end or until I fall asleep. Whichever comes first.
If the world were to end a night early, Thursday night, say, I probably would be watching that Poinsettia Bowl between BYU and San Diego State from San Diego. Go Aztecs. If the world were to end a day later, Saturday, I guess I’m either watching the New Orleans Bowl (Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina) or the Las Vegas Bowl (Boise State vs. Washington.) I would like to say that I would be watching "Masterpiece Theatre" or maybe, God forbid, be reading a book, but I know myself.
I will admit that I never thought the world would end during any games like these. If it were to come during the middle of a sports moment -- and of course it will, because we now have sports moments 24 hours per day -- the moment should have some pizzazz, some zip to it. Manny Pacquiao is down and he’s not getting up! OK, there’s end of the world material. The (San Francisco) Giants win the World Series! The (New York) Giants win the Super Bowl! The Miami Heat ... ,
Ah, the Mayans, what did they know?
I will grab my chips. I will pour out a beverage of my choice. I will settle in with Ball State and Central Florida straight from Tropicana Field. The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. I will take my chances.
Neal: He’s checking off at the line of scrimmage.
Howard: They’re all coming.
Ware: That’s going to leave a lot of one-on-one coverage if he can get the ball off. Here we go.
I will hope for the best.