Things to do, besides the Super Bowl
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

Consider today's column a public service.

I'm forced, almost out of moral imperative, to write on a non-Super Bowl topic. See, Page 2 QB Michael Knisley sends out to us writer schlubs the weekly budget for Page 2 on Fridays, the week prior. Thing is, the dance card for Jan. 26-30 was so Super-Bowl heavy, I almost thought Knisley was going to leave his cell phone number in Roman numerals.

In Houston, I can be reached at IX-I-IV—III-V-V-VII.

Super Bowl lists, Super Bowl diaries, Super Bowl hot/not lists, phone numbers at the ESPN Compound in Houston – you should have seen it. The only thing missing was the New England Patriots' playbook. But give Knisley time. By the end of the week, he'll have pinched it by dispatching an intern to use the old "Brady Bunch" trick of asking Bill Belichick's daughter if he can come over to the house for "something cold to drink."

So to spare you the Super Overdose, I come to you today to ponder All Things Non-Super.

Scott Norwood
Who could forget Scott Norwood's miss -- except Brian Murphy, who never saw it in the first place.
In other words, what can a God-fearing, beer-swilling American do if he or she, for whatever reason, just -- hold your breath here -- doesn't want to watch the Super Bowl?

I speak from experience.

You remember where you were on Jan. 27, 1991, don't you?

Of course you do. You were in front of the TV -- not even plasma, not even TiVo -- and you were watching Scott Norwood miss wide right.

Me? I was watching a documentary on the wildlife of the Arctic Circle.

That was a special day, Jan. 27, 1991.

It was The Day I Boycotted the Super Bowl.

How long ago was that? So long ago, Bill Parcells was only hiking his pants to his rib cage, as opposed to the near-nipple mark he hit later in the decade.

The story went like this: I was 23 years old, and a freakishly immature youth. I was a 49er fanatic. In a sure sign of mental instability, I tied my general well-being to the 49ers' drive for three consecutive Super Bowl triumphs. When Matt Bahr kicked the field goal to beat the 49ers at Candlestick, I sank into a depression so thorough that if it weren't so clinically alarming, it would have been hilarious.

My reaction was historic. After I eased my head from under a pillow at around 9 o'clock that night, I told my then-girlfriend: "Baby, next Sunday is all yours."

"What do you mean?" she said.

"Super Bowl Sunday doesn't exist for me," I said. "I cannot bear to watch a single tick of the Giants-Bills game. It's all too painful."

"And?" she said, suspicious.

Bill Parcells
The Tuna's pants just keep creeping higher, and higher and ...
"And the day is yours, kiddo," I said.

I told her I'd take her shopping. I'd take her to lunch. I'd take her anywhere there was no Super Bowl.

For me, on Jan, 27, 1991 -- the Super Bowl was dead.

It was a matter of principle. I had to show solidarity with my squad.

That's not to say it wasn't a painful decision. I still remember the day arriving, and my Chivalry Act wearing thin as kickoff approached. I remember being in the Century City mall in L.A., passing by a sports bar and hearing a huge roar. I glanced at my watch, and figured the game was in the second half. I felt a Sports Fan pang, but resisted.

"Honey, are you sure you don't want to go back to the Macy's perfume counter?" I said, spreading my coat over a puddle.

Later, back at the pad, I heard The Groan/The Yell come from several nearby apartments. I learned later that it was Norwood's miss that caused The Groan/The Yell. But don't ask me. I never saw it.

Never saw Whitney Houston's national anthem, either. People said she made a hell of a run at it. Don't ask me, though. I was buried under an avalanche of shopping bags in the Brass Rail section at Nordstrom.

Life without the Super Bowl: An actual concept.

(Of course, I've since divested myself of such puerile emotional attachments, and haven't missed a Bowl since. Who'd pass on the chance to drink all that beer and assume a serious heat before 3 p.m. -- all in a socially acceptable setting?)

But for those of you out there pondering a similar Big Plunge, I'm here to help. I know you're out there. Eagles fans, Colts fans, Indoor Lacrosse Fans -- I know you're out there. And you're lonely.

Forthwith, a Primer on Things to Do Besides Watch the Super Bowl This Sunday:

Take Your Girl Shopping

Just think: You can miss the game, and spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on shoes and cute tops! The appeal is enormous. Think of the advantages: Parking is easier. For those of you among us with a roving eye, there are tons of chicks out shopping. And, you're scoring mondo points with your babe that should last you through the spring of '04.

Check that. Points that should last through the spring of '04. In reality, you're back in the doghouse as soon as Monday night comes and you wrestle down the remote to watch "SportsCenter" instead of "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancee."

Go to a Movie

There are some quality flicks out now, to be sure.

Ashton Kutcher & Amy Smart
Ashton Kutcher, in a dramatic role? Come on now.
Go check out "The Butterfly Effect," just so you can you say you were there when Ashton Kutcher's attempt at a dramatic role was broken up, mid-film, by the director shouting to the audience: "You've been Punk'd!"

Or "The House of Sand and Fog," so you can say later to your pals: "Hey, you know that Jennifer Connelly in 'The House of Sand and Fog?' She once did a phenomenal nude scene in 'The Hot Spot'." You'll make friends. Trust me.

Or, if you're more daring, go see "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" -- and win a date with history as one of the few humans to actually see "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton"!

There's Always Golf

The PGA Tour is even more ubiquitous than NASCAR, and this week's offering is the Phoenix Open, where bacchanalia isn't just a way of life -- it's a word nobody in the stands by the 16th green can spell by noon. You haven't seen golf drunkards roar like this at the Masters -- mostly because if anybody from the Phoenix Open gallery showed up at Augusta National and blew .23 on the Breath-a-lyzer, he'd be taken outside, shot with a tranquilizer dart and stuffed into the back of a courtesy car.

As they saw down among the pines: "We do lahk our patrons to show fahn manners."

Watch C-SPAN to Follow the Democratic Primaries

Democracy, when under the scrutiny of 24-hour cable news, is a beautiful thing.

Watch as Dennis Kucinich, in a brave attempt to win mainstream voters, ditches his vegan lifestyle and begins pounding huge T-Bone steaks and shaking hands at slaughterhouses.

Dennis Kucinich
You can use Super Bowl Sunday to catch up with Dennis Kucinich and the rest of the Democratic candidates.
Watch as Wesley Clark stirs supporters by imploring them to vote "for me, the man who should be your next Republican nominee for President!" Then, watch as concerned aides whisper in Clark's ear, only to have The Little General head back to the podium and say, "I mean DEMOCRATIC nominee for President!" Listen to the stony silence that follows.

Watch as Howard Dean makes news and announces his running mate -- Bobby Knight!

Read a Book

There's a novel thought, eh? A book, on Super Bowl Sunday. Just make sure Commish Tags doesn't find out. He'll send a squad to your house to empty your shelves for an NFL-sponsored book burning.

The possibilities, though, are strong. A cursory glance at the best-seller list shows that, among the top 25 selling books in this nation are: "The South Beach Diet," "The South Beach Good Fats/Good Carbs Guide," "The Ultimate Weight Solution" and "The Ultimate Weight Solution Food Guide."

America -- the only nation where Super-Sizing is considered a patriotic act.

Look at those titles.

Now, ponder what millions of our national compadres will be doing on Sunday: Mainlining a Doritos IV, cut with a liberal dose of cheese dip.

I'd say to you: Get off your couch, man, and spend Super Bowl Sunday taking a walk, a run, a hike!

But cheese dip and Doritos? Jeez, that sounds good.

Garcon, my remote control!

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

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Murphy: Playoffs in paradise

Murphy: Profiles in courage

Murphy: Rhyme time

Murphy: College hoops pros

Murphy: Winter meeting quiz

Murphy: Inhuman nature

Murphy: Tiger's wedding plans

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