Well, it turns out that the road to Jacksonville goes through Pennsylvania. Conference Championship Week is upon us, pitting the four best records in the NFL against one another for the right to participate in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Falcons head north to Philly while the Pats head south to Pittsburgh. Break down the games any way you like but both matchups are really very simple. In Philly, it all boils down to whether the Eagles can contain Mike Vick. In Pittsburgh, it all boils down to whether the Pats can confuse Big Ben and lure him into some big mistakes. And it will all take place in the Keystone State amdist talk of a curse.
That's right, a curse.
Because the Eagles and Steelers have collectivley managed to lose the last seven conference championship games they've played in (all at home) some of their fans are pointing to the existence of a curse. It couldn't possibly be due to their teams being outplayed, outmatched, or outwitted. No, of course not, there must be a curse! Some claim it's the curse of William Penn whose ghostwas apparently angered when his building-topping statue had its' view blocked by a new high-rise. Some in Philly say it's the cure of Michael Irvin who was booed as he was carried out of Veterans Stadium on a stretcher a few years ago. And some say that the curse was placed by a half-man, half-beaver who was gang raped by a group of Steeler fans outside of Erie, PA circa 1985. Although that last theory is quite compelling, all of the theories are wrong. Any sane-minded person will tell you that it's proposterous to believe that ol' Billy Penn would curse his own state, or that Michael Irvin is smart enough to recite incantations, or that some Steeler fans would molest a half-man, half-beaver (half-man, half-donkey maybe, but not a half-man, half-beaver). Let me state this once and for all, loud and clear: There is not a William Penn Curse, there is not a Michael Irvin Curse, and there is not a Curse of the Half-Man, Half-Beaver. Well, not really. Anyone with half a brain knows that the bad luck which has befallen the Eagles and Steelers is completely due to....... The Curse of Coach Nickerson.
Allow me to set the scene: It's the fall of 1983, night of the annual rivalry game between Ampipe High and Walnut Heights High. Ampipe (blue collar sons of miners and out of work factory folk) has put together its' best team in decades & are hoping to knock off perennial powerhouse Walnut Heights (obligatory, hated rich kids) for the first time in almost forever. Ampipe is leading 14 - 10 on a muddy field with rain coming down in buckets and have just stopped Walnut Heights on a 4th & goal and take over on downs at their own one yard line. With just two seconds to go, Coach Nickerson sends in the play. Instead of a kneel-down, he calls for a halfback dive. Rifleman takes the snap from center & hands to Vinnie Salvucci who proceeds to fumble the ball. It's recovered in the end zone by Walnut Heights for the game-winning touchdown as time expires. Final score: Walnut Heights 16, Ampipe 14. Steelworkers gnash their teeth and throw their hats, women and children look away in horror, a muddy & bloody Tom Cruise looks on from the sidelines in shock, in the bleachers Lea Thompson's nipples suddenly go soft, and Salvucci lies in the mud, a broken, weeping, shell of a man.
After the game, blame gets tossed around the lockerroom like Tara Reid at an MTV Awards afterparty. The town of Ampipe decides that Coach Nickerson is to blame and they head out to his house, with torches lit and bags of poo in-hand. After having his home defiled and family threatened, Coach Nickerson packs up the wife & kids and heads for a college job at Cal Poly. The whole story ends seemingly happily as Coach forgives Tom Cruise for throwing garbage on his lawn ("You threw garbage on me, my wife, and my little girl!") and eventually offers him a scholarship to play ball for him in California. However, what we never saw, what got tossed on the cutting room floor, is what Coach Nickerson did on his way out of town.
Still quietly fuming over how he was treated after the big loss, Coach Nickerson put a curse, yes a curse, on not only the town of Ampipe but also on the whole (and I'm using his words here) "the whole dirty fucking crap hole of a state". First, he made a quick trip to the library for a book on spells and incantations. Then, after the purchase of some pigs feet, a few spices & some candles, a few minutes of chanting, and the gang-raping of a half-man, half-beaver, the curse was set. And football in the state of Pennsylvania has never been the same since.
So what effect will that have on this weekends games? Well, it's a curse, so the Eagles and Steelers will lose unless the curse is lifted in time. Duh. The question is: How can the good people of Pennsylvania lift The Curse of Coach Nickerson? Good question, and one that the experts seem divided on. Many mediums tell me that a reverse incantation and gang-rape is the only way to lift the curse. However, Craig T. Nelson says the reverse gang-rape is a terrible idea, that the curse can only be lifted by a ten-year contract by all Pennsylvania tv stations to air reruns of Coach. Fr. Thomas O'Malley of Ampipe's Our Lady of the Blessed Hymen parish says that group prayer and collection plate offerings is the answer. Local astrologist and part-time street whore Melody Lane claims that the curse can be lifted by outdoor love-making when the moon is in the house of Capricorn. Nicole Kidman says the only sure-fire cure is the slow and painful death of Tom Cruise. And the Church of Scientology says the curse can easily be lifted, just go to one of their meetings with checkbook in hand, and they will show you how.
So there you go Keystone State football fans, you now know that there is indeed a curse, where the curse comes from, why it was started, and you've been given a lot of suggestions on how to lift it. Which remedy will work? I don't know. But I do know that you've only got three days, so I suggest you hurry up and try 'em all!