- The Eagles did not have the best season (which is the nicest way I could possibly put their season into words).
- I got to the Championship in my Fantasy Football league, but then lost by three points to my brother-in-law.
- Every team I have rooted for in the playoffs has lost.
As a result, I am not really looking forward to the Super Bowl.
I took off of work on Super Bowl Sunday, of course. I am going to eat glorious amounts of terrible food, of course. And I bought a bunch of beer to drink. Of course.
But the Patriots (who I hate) vs. the Giants (who I REALLY hate)? Madonna? Another disappointing year of commercials?
I’m just not that excited.
The one saving grace of this Super Bowl Sunday, however, is something that I eagerly anticipate every year. It comes in the form of something magical, cute, and furry.
The Puppy Bowl.
The Eagles went to the Super Bowl back in 2004, when I was a freshman in college. We brought a TV out into the lounge of our dorm, ordered pizza, and watched the game. It was a nice way to bond with these people who were becoming some of my very best friends in a very short amount of time.
But the Eagles lost. I was sad.
Many of the others who came from the Philadelphia area were also sad. But others were joyful – either being die-hard Patriots fans or hating the Eagles and thus Patriots fans for the night.
So we sat there in the lounge for a while, some of us soaking in the reality of the defeat and others relishing in the moment.
“Change the channel,” I said, growing queasy at the sight of Tom Brady holding up one of his trophies.
Eventually, the television stopped on the Animal Planet. And that is the moment in which my mood changed significantly for the better.
On the screen were some of the cutest puppies I have ever seen.
Just running around.
They had no purpose. No goal. They were just playing in a stadium-like pen. Just being cute, as puppies are.
We all sat there, transfixed on these little puppies running around. We could see them from various angles, such as the bowl cam, which was a camera placed in the bottom of the water bowl.
The football game we had just watched – the most important game of the year – was long forgotten. The trash-talking had ceased.
More precisely, all talking had ceased.
Some puppies were taken off of the field while new ones were introduced. They fought over various bones, ropes, and squeaky toys. If there was a particularly cute interaction between the pups, a slow-motion replay was offered to the viewers from a different angle.
Occasionally, one of the puppies would poop or pee.
They could have easily edited this part out. Instead, the people at Animal Planet had a different plan. At the sight of a turd or a puddle of urine, a human referee would blow a whistle and announce, “Puppy Penalty!*” and then clean it up.
*To this day, many of my 26 year-old friends still announce that they are going to take a “puppy penalty” before they go to the bathroom, an activity which neither needs to be called such a thing nor announced in the first place.
I am not sure why they showed all this. I suppose it was shown in the spirit of being raw and uncut. Either way, it added a much-needed break in the action in which we snapped out of our trances.
By 2 AM, we began wondering if we were watching the same video footage on loop. It was fiercely debated, but we finally came to the conclusion that even if it was the same thing over and over again, we did not care, for it was soooo cute.
We finally went to bed around 4:30 AM.
* * *
The Puppy Bowl has undergone some changes over the years. There are a few new additions, the most notable being the Kitty Half Time Show. There are also new camera angles, new toys, new puppies, and new reasons for the referee to come onto the field.
All the changes are good ones. But let’s be honest: as long as there are a bunch of puppies running around, it is a winning formula no matter what is done.
Ever since I discovered the Puppy Bowl, it really makes me wonder, who needs a human football game on Super Bowl Sunday? So much drama goes into a season of football.
Die-hard fans spend countless hours worrying about the upcoming games. The injuries. The playoff picture. Their fantasy team.
The season ticket holders of 31 of the teams are going to feel as if they wasted a shit-ton of money on another Championship-less venture.
Millions of dollars are won and lost by bettors.
And for the players. The emotional highs. The devastating lows. Sacrificing their bodies from the first day of training camp until the last loss of the season. Dealing with injuries. Dealing with the press.
Getting to the Super Bowl – a lifelong dream. And then losing.
The Super Bowl is just the climax of a season of sadness – nothing like the Puppy Bowl.
Imagine a Super Bowl where the two teams just run around on the field. They discard their jerseys, having no affiliation to anyone except to the Team of Fun.
In the middle of the field, Tom Brady is chasing Eli Manning. Eli has a squeaky toy.
“Come back here, Eli!” Tom says. “You’ve had your fun, now it’s my turn to play with the toy!”
“You’ll have to catch me, Tom!” Eli giggles, squeaking the toy.
On the sideline Victor Cruz is balancing a football on his nose, while Deion Branch buries a water bottle.
In the endzone, Ochocinco is humping something. Most likely himself.
Grownkowski circles one of the goalposts a few times, pulls down his pants, and takes a massive dump.
In the stands, the fans are silent, mouths agape. Some of them throw up.
Hmm, I suppose that maybe the concept doesn’t quite translate.
But honestly, I am completely open to watching all the linebackers defecate on the field for three hours if it meant that neither team would be crowned Super Bowl Champions.
Who knows, maybe the Eagles’ recruiters could go out onto the field with shovels afterward and pick up some upgrades for next season.
* * *
Every year, my friends and I text each other in the weeks leading up to the Puppy Bowl, making sure that the others have checked out the upcoming year’s Puppy Bowl Lineup.
The texts are not so much a reminder to watch this year’s Puppy Bowl as they are a wistful tribute to that first one. A way to reminisce of the lighthearted college years. When it was okay to stay up all night watching what was essentially an adorable screen-saver. When classes and tests were secondary worries to weekend plans and girls. When the real-world problems that we face today were non-existent.
When we went about life just like the carefree puppies on the field.
Now that college is long gone, seeing each other is not as easy as simply walking down the hallway (Or screaming down the hallway, as the case may be).
Location and circumstance have separated us by great distances, but I think that we each take pride in the fact that we have remained so loyal to each other.
Because that is what good dogs are supposed to do.