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The Hangover, Last Call: Super Bowl 50

We're about ready to shelve the Hangover for the offseason. One last round for everyone.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Hangover is a fevered attempt to collect thoughts on the NFL and anything else stuck in the craws of the brain the day after all football has burned out. All opinions belong solely to the author and all facts belong to that evil new war god of unfeeling thought.

This is it. The last shot of vodka. The last pull of the tequila. We've got the cabinet emptied and and I don't know what to do now. The haze of football will clear from my mind soon enough. What do I do now? I know I have to write about the offseason for the Lions, but I've been so wired into writing about something that actually happens. Great glorious spectacles of lights and turf whizzing by and roaring crowds. In the absence of that there's merely hope, hope and delusion and armchair business decisions.

The offseason of football is a hellish place. It killed Hunter S. Thompson, my icon and spiritual guide. Typically I bury myself in other sports; my grandfather, bless him, grows old and wary of anyone not willing to watch basketball, a sport he played in his halcyon days, and I find myself digging up stats and facts to keep his mind sharp each Saturday. I've thought about rekindling my old flame with the Tigers, baseball in general. Maybe I'll finally clear out that Netflix backlog. Start drawing again. Wait for summer, and swimming. Would be nice to earn some money, too.

Whatever. The Big One is done. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't great. It was an upset by the books, but not an upset as you might picture it in your mind, with last minute heroics and daredevil antics. But there were monsters, and what monsters; Ware and Miller were howling dervishes of flame, mirroring one another's destruction as they tore into the Panthers again and again. But even they weren't enough to keep this enthralling; while you expected these defenses to tear at each other, you also expected a level of competence from the Carolina offense, and depression followed when none was to be found.

The Super Bowl was boring.

The first half droned on; the commercials were awful and downright terrifying to the mind, Beyoncé had to salvage the halftime show. The referees were awful, the lead never changed. Beer was $13 in Santa Clara. Marshawn Lynch told the world he was getting out of football. Vegas made out like bandits, but I'll just sit happy knowing I played the under. Stay positive, Chris.

Just as I couldn't take any more, the orange confetti began to fall. The Panthers were banished back to the locker rooms and the winning quarterback shilled for beer on national television, and a single word remained for me to ponder.


It will be on the lips of the sporting world Monday, and it will be inexorably tied to Peyton Manning. Yes, the good graces of the Football Gods and their Chosen Prophets at Park Avenue got what they wanted. The fairy tale ending, they'll call it. The ending that Manning deserves.

What a funny word. We make a whole mess of it in football, and in all sports. We spend so much time talking about what team deserves this and what player deserves that and how many rings they must have to validate the numbers and sweat and morality.

Does Peyton Manning deserve to go out on top like this? Does he deserve to have an unstoppable defense carry him to a Super Bowl title not once, but now twice? Perhaps, if one assumes that such is allowed to an athlete of his caliber after so many years of regular season glory, of so many years where near misses often didn't involve him on the field. Then, one might say, he deserves to have his patience rewarded. He deserves to have his greatness validated by another ring.

But one could argue the opposite for the same principle; shouldn't he be one of the reasons his team wins? Shouldn't he be making that one last throw for glory, as Jim Nantz desperately implored him to do right before he handed it off again for a one yard play on third down? Why should anyone deserve to be carried to a title?

For that matter, what does Cam Newton deserve here? He certainly deserves better than to get put under the microscope again after a loss. But who deserved to win this game more?

And this is why it's all nonsense. We'll fashion the story and damn the rest. A story needs winners and losers and the winners must be righteous, they always are. We do this because it needs to be done; if not, then how will we teach our children that sports are a holy meritocracy where the best, the hardest working, always triumph? We need sports to be fair, we need sports to be deserving. What if the truth came out that they aren't that? Goddammit, we'd truly be good and screwed then.

So we'll forget the rest, we'll forget all those athletes we thought deserved something but never obtained it. We have a score goddammit; print the story, write the ending. Peyton Manning didn't just win; he deserved to win.

The Season's Playlist

This column came around like Week 7 or something and didn't exactly think about music until even later, but nevertheless we got a start on what I can only hope is something appreciated ever so slightly. Like many things in this column it was an evolution, but for some reason I'm proud of it, even though it required the least amount of effort. Funny, that.

  1. Melvins "Evil New War God"
  2. Baroness "Try to Disappear"
  3. Kylesa "Tired Climb"
  4. Feist "Black Tongue (Mastodon cover)"
  5. Royal Thunder "Whispering World"
  6. Death Grips "I've Seen Footage"
  7. Jello Biafra with the Melvins "Kali-Fornia Uber Alles 21st Century"
  8. Red Fang "Hank is Dead"
We'll be back to serve you next season. Hope you were happy.

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