10 Pounds of Blue Horseshoes in an 8-Pound Game, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving 'the Best of You'

A fist full of blood thinners, a gallon of bluegrass bourbon, and a room full of physicians is how I witnessed Super Bowl XLI – although one of the doctors is a New England Patriots fan, the hated nemeses of my Colts, and I would never allow such villainy to touch my flesh in a time of need. Of course, I do believe that Dr. Patriot might be a dermatologist which is Latin for “sham-doctor” but I wouldn’t know as I tend to scream the lyrics “this is what it sounds like, when doves cry” to drown out the sound of his Tom Brady-lovin’ pie hole. None of this mattered. My Colts had smacked his squad two weeks back, and we’re now sitting pretty in the middle of a Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears with the musical genius Prince as the halftime act.

I had been waiting 31 years to watch the Colts play in the big, big game. I was a Baltimore Colts fan before then owner Bob Irsay relocated the storied franchise to the heartland of Indianapolis, a mere 50 minute drive from my boyhood backyard in Bloomington. For the past 10 years, I have carried a Colts bumper sticker in my wallet, with the idea that in the event of a Super Bowl win I would have the team’s logo, a blue horseshoe, tattooed to my heart, or my left butt cheek depending on my level of intoxication. I almost caved one night a few years back on the Southside of Chicago, offering an ink slinger 100 bucks to do the tattoo right then and there, but he refused, informing that he didn’t need my money, and I would regret the act when I was older.

Regardless of my football team, I don’t look at my time in Indiana with kind eyes. My childhood was testing. I often felt lonely, especially when surrounded by people. I escaped into football fantasies while listening to music. One of my favorites was “When You Were Mine.”

I left the Hoosier state as soon as I had the will. In the past few years I’ve moved around a lot. New Mexico, Northern Ireland, New York, Maine, Wyoming, and Seattle for drops at a time. I often bounce from place to place. Now I’m in Austin, Texas, land of the Cowboys, the team Baltimore trounced in Super Bowl V. But that was before my time. This was my first Super Bowl. I was nervous. I was panicked. Had we peaked by beating the Patriots? I had been waiting for this day as long as I could remember.

I identify with the Colts, a franchise of good and bad times. We’ve both had failed relationships and broken bones, got into our share of fights and failed more than we should’ve. And I’ve been arrogant, always look toward tomorrow anticipating a big win. I knew the hours and minutes leading up to this Super Bowl would be a kick to the heart. I asked the managers at Barnes and Noble on the fancy side of Austin if they could put me to brainless work before kickoff to keep my mind busy. They were kind enough to let me reshelve the entire science fiction section. Ray Bradbury. Orson Scott Card. H.G. Wells. It all kept my mind from thoughts of Peyton Manning and Brian Urlacher.

I keep football magazines by my bed, under my alarm clock, along with an Anthony Bourdain book, so I can make kind dreams when I sleep. On good nights, I design blitzes before I click the light off. On bad nights, I look at the process of the college draft and marvel over what players the Colts might fetch, what players might take my team to promised games. It keeps my mind steady when my life is less than simple.

Before the game, everything is on sale at the local grocer, Albertson’s is circling the drain. I snagged bags upon bags of yogurt and sour cream flavored Kettle potato chips for a bash hosted by military medics on the north side of San Antonio. I wanted to appease the doctors in case I needed them. The Colts played for more than pride or money. They where playing for my hopes and dreams.

We dominated the game, and when I say “We” I mean my side. The Bears never had a chance. We were physical and surgeon strategic. We came to play regardless of the weather. We came to win. We gave ‘em 10 pounds of blue horseshoes, when the Bears came ready for 8. It was pleasant. I guess.

Into the fourth quarter, the Patriot fan sat cold and quiet on the sofa next to his wife. I felt sorry for the Bears. I went to school with their punter, and then graduate school with their star linebacker. And the father of the Bears quarterback is my grandfather’s eye doctor. Watching my team on the big screen, on our big day really wasn’t that joyful. My favorite cut of the evening was watching my fiancée smile at a Taco Bell commercial, then pounding fists with my doctor friends after the first Colts score, and watching Prince put on a blistering halftime show. It’s not the game I will recall, and I can’t remember how we got here to begin with.

The Colts in my time have come to characterize me, and the way I see myself. A twisted, transient underdog that was always good, but never good enough, standing in a room with blood thinners and booze, hoping to make it through the night. For once, I was content, my team was good and my childhood pop-legend played “The Best of You.” No one can ever take that night away from me. Not even a Patriots fan.

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