I blame my dietary excesses on the lead-up to the Superbowl.
I’m a terrible football watcher.
I read incessantly about the upcoming game, obsess and fret the details before the game, and then become increasingly nervous as Game Day approaches. To combat the stress, I fill my mind — and gut– with food that’s so delicious, but let’s be honest, not great for the expanding waistline.
Case in point.
It was finally time to re-connect with Aika and Rio, the two Japanese exchange students from Lewis and Clark. They were finally back from a six week break and we had lots to catch up on.
My friend Mary Ann and I took them out for burgers; these gals may be tiny but they’ve told us they are crazy for any kind of meat. They’d been hearing about Killer Burger and were eager to give it a go.
Only if you insist, ladies.
Wow — and these are all the “girlie” (smaller) versions of various burger combinations they offer.
Great beef, juicy and cooked perfectly– and bottomless fries.
Pinch me (just not my muffin top, please).
Killer Burger, you’re making some seriously good grub.
Ladies, it’s great to have you back.
You’d think I’d give it a rest for a day or so after that meal before returning to the well, but no.
That’s just not how I roll.
I made bacon both breakfast mornings — one day with biscuits, the other day on an egg sandwich on a soft potato roll.
Can you blame me for indulging when Fletcher’s Bacon comes out looking like this?
C’mon — I’m only human.
And then there was the planning for the Big Game Day.
What to make?
I saw a commercial that helped me decide.
Supposedly that’s how many chicken wings were eaten last year on Super Bowl.
Think about that for a second: one billion chicken wings eaten on one day.
Suddenly, the choice was clear.
I bought five pounds of the wonderful wings from New Seasons and started out giving them a rub down with a flavorful dry mixture: dried garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, celery salt and pepper.
Next up came the wet marinade.
I like a 1 part hot sauce to 2 parts buttermilk mixture — and then I add lots of fresh garlic to it.
And then I let my little buddies chill out in the refrigerator for a day so that the dried spices and wet mixture could do their magic.
And I like a two part cooking method for the wings — a grill char to get that smoke and crunch and then an oven finish until they are fall-off-the-bone tender.
I like both the smoky crunch — and then the surrender of tender flesh.
Game time — in more ways than one.
Readers know that I’m a new football fan but ardent about my Seahawks — but when it came to the Superbowl, we were rooting for The Broncos.
We have lots of friends in Colorado, but more importantly, I love underdogs.
Peyton Manning has had a really tough year– dealing with injuries and giving up his position while Brock lead them to play-offs. He’s coming off a string of disappointments of late (including losing to the Seahawks in a SB rout two years ago) and we all thought that it would be nice if he had a chance to redeem himself one last time.
And frankly, Cam Newton’s showboating and braggadocio had become just too much for me. We were all Dabbed out — and the thought of him and his boastful antics for SB 50 seemed wrong.
Thing is, I’ve spent some time with truly outstanding individuals, true pioneers in their field, and I’ve often noticed that these individuals are often so modest and so eager to give others a moment in the spotlight.
I worked with Chuck Williams at Williams-Sonoma and I never failed to be amazed at his quiet wisdom, his generous nature, his curiosity about others.
Same so for Julia Child.
I once got to spend a few hours with her and she could not have been more gracious to me and self-deflective.
When I asked her what she wished her last meal on earth would be, she took about 10 minutes to answer my question.
I will never forget how she invited me into the discussion as she thought through every possible configuration.
She was magic — and she treated me, a nobody, like her equal and she invited me into her thinking, her world.
When prodigious talent and vision is accompanied by kindness, modesty and generosity, that’s class.
That’s grace— and it speaks volume about a person’s character.
So yes, Cam Newton might have been the best quarterback this year and his season’s stats are mind-blowing — but his behavior when the tables had turned last night shocked me.
And I know I’m not alone.
No, I’m not talking about the sub-par playing or the missed opportunities. Or the fumble and Cam’s reticence to go after the ball.
I’m talking about the popping of the gum during the Pledge of Allegiance, the pouting, the temper tantrums, the eye-rolling — and then when the game ended, the abysmal press conference afterwards.
I’ve watched that three minute press conference twenty times since last night.
I get that he was frustrated. I understand that he was tired of the media, and his loss was an emotional and deeply painful one — and the idea of hashing it out publicly was unspeakably difficult.
Cam is a ground-breaking athlete but what we saw about his character last night was so telling.
Failure to make eye contact. Belligerence and peevishness radiating off him. Mono-syllabic answers. Failure to give gracious credit to the opposing team. Just anger — and then he stormed off.
When you are the face of the league, and voted MVP just the night before, you need to man up.
You need to do what Russell Wilson did when he had to face up to the scrutiny last year, as when his intercepted throw lost his team the Superbowl. He was hurting but he was respectful, introspective, grateful and looking ahead for the next year.
Russell knew that his teammates and his fans (many which are children) were all in a bad spot and looking to him for a reaction. He’s paid about twenty million dollars a year to be the face of that team, and as tough as it was, he knew that it was time to be a leader.
And that’s what Wilson did. He stepped up.
“I put the blame on me — I’m the one who threw the ball.” He then proceeded to credit his teammates (“I’m proud of them”), singled out Tom Brady for his incredible win, and said that the Seahawks need to “keep learning, keep growing.”
And in last night’s press-conference, we were given a glimpse into what Cam’s character was all about.
When the times get tough, do you act like a role model, a soldier, a leader like Wilson? Or do you pout, act sullenly, and storm off like a spoiled sport?
No Dab will erase the memory of that embarrassing display — and I’ve watched even the most pro-Cam commentators call him out on it.
Deion Sanders, (the only man to win both the Superbowl and a World Series) shook his head sadly when he talked about his behavior.
To paraphrase: “Cam is the face of our brand. He was voted MVP. You can’t do that. I understand the emotion of losing, but you can’t do that. A Manning, a Brady, a prototypical quarterback wouldn’t do that. C’mon, would Drew Brees ever? No. It ain’t right.”
I’m no Cam-hater, but enough of him and his poor form, his class-less antics.
Instead I’m going to remember his incredible Panthers teammates, their spectacular season (15-1!) and their moving and heartfelt responses to the loss.
There was the outstanding Josh Norman, crying and talking about how hard it was to take this loss.
When he said during the post-game interview he was devastated, it felt real — and heart-breaking.
Or how about the Panther’s Luke Kuechly?
There he was, one of the best players in the entire league, in a coat and tie (unlike Cam’s hoody), talking about how good Denver was that night, and that the loss was going to sting — but they needed that loss to sting so that they could learn from it — and come back strong.
And Peyton Manning, instead of mugging, dabbing or doing the high five all over the place, threw praise all around and insisted rightly that it was his teammates– and their ferocious defense– that won them the game.
So it was a hell of a weekend.
Burgers and pals.
Wings, snacks and bonding with family over an emotional game.
And lessons on how to — and more importantly how not to — handle adversity.
I’m so glad my kids saw this game and I know that it will fuel a lot of conversations in the future — about winning, losing, and leadership.
Manning. Norman. Kuechly. DeMarcus Ware. Von Miller. Greg Olson.
Only some of them took home the ring last night, but each acted like a man. Vulnerable. Introspective. Gracious. Generous. Brave.
Leaders all — and each showed us what real winners do when their moment comes.