Watching Paul Allen on the Seattle Seahawk sideline Sunday basking in the glory of his athletic ownership life (well, he did spot the field a few laps with Bob Whitsitt, after all) reminds us that, yes, these past couple of years have provided good times for the earnest underdog.
The Tampa Bay Lightning. The Boston Red Sox. The Chicago White Sox. The Chelsea English Premiership team. And now the Seahawks, going to their first Super Bowl ever.
Truly, the meek are inheriting the earth, if one of the co-founders of Microsoft can have a sign-on at we'rethemeek.com.
So the next question to ask, as we all whittle, quilt and crochet our way through the two-week wait before The Big 4-0, is, "What about the uber-meek?"
Yes, we're down to a precious few towns and teams that haven't at least been invited to a Super Bowl, now that Seattle's off the schneid, and we are saddened yet amused to report that the last few turkeys in the shop remain dusty and untouched by the right hand of glory.
Arizona: It's been 57 years and two full generations since the Cardinals knew anything but trophy scorn, and Bill Bidwill is no closer to a Super Bowl than he is to American Idol. His years in the saddle have produced a solid .400 football team, and with one postseason win since 1948, they remain a consistent non-achiever (underachieving, of course, implies that they occasionally do achieve, which we know to be false). Don Coryell is the last coach they had with a winning record, and he left in 1977, and they have had only one plus-.500 season since the second Reagan Administration. Chances Of Standing On A Podium In Glory Receiving A Trophy From The Perpetually Bored Paul Tagliabue: .2825509 percent.
Cleveland: Technically, the Browns have never gone to a Super Bowl. In a practical matter, the Browns went to Baltimore and won a Super Bowl. Factually, the Browns are an expansion team in their seventh year of not doing very much. Delusionally, Browns fans staunchly maintain that because the league allowed them to keep their old records that they really belong on this list. Then again, the old Browns would make you plenty delusional. So, while the old Browns eventually made it (and their avuncular owner/Ohio Public Enemy No. 1 Art Modell got a trophy from the PBPT), the old fans know nothing of this. In other words, it's a bizarro world split decision, and the new Browns have been in a slow decline since their last brief playoff appearance. COSOAPIGRATFTPBPT: 8.9 percent.
Detroit: The other long-haul failure in the field, the Lions haven't won a title since 1957, have one NFC title game appearance in the Super Bowl era (a 41-10 loss), and are 1-8 in playoff games since that proud moment 48 seasons ago. Billy Ford has brought in coaches and sent them back out with no appreciable change in fortune (their last coach with a winning record was Joe Schmidt, who finished in 1972), and they have done remarkably little with a series of promising draft choices. The uniforms look nice, but it's the stuffing that kills them. And the "Fire Matt Millen" chant has taken on an almost-Christmas-vigil-like solemnity. COSOAPIGRATFTPBPT: 2.661 percent.
Houston: They're 4 years old, for God's sake. Other than Tiger Woods, Mozart and the Olsen twins, you can't name another big hitter at 4. Not knowing whether to take Reggie Bush or Vince Young is their toughest decision to date. They don't even merit inclusion here. COSOAPIGRATFTPBPT: 14.38 percent.
Jacksonville: Older (the Jags are 11) and more promising, plus they haven't started that annoying "long-suffering Jacksonville fans" pity party that sucks the fun out of any room. If the Jags get in any time soon, it will neither be a testament to forbearance or the alleviation of suffering. You don't even get to bring up the topic until you're 35. COSOAPIGRATFTPBPT: 29.41 percent.
New Orleans: At least for the time being, anyway. The Saints' history is so glorious that the media guide only goes back to 1985, when the team was sold to local car dealer/parasol twirler/borderline weirdo Tom Benson. One playoff win in 39 years is almost Bidwillian, and now with the desolate uncertainty of the team's future, it certainly can't get better. COSOAPIGRATFTPBPT: 1.884 percent.
So there you have it. Three teams with a legitimate claim on torture, a fourth playing at it, and two newbies hardly worth noting. Just something to keep in mind while Paul Allen is leaning back with a satisfied smile, acting like the new item on the menu. Instant success takes time. .. in some cases, geologic time.