Heavy Suds 97, Brooklyn Tuxedos 62
CHICAGO, IL (AP): The confetti was light and wet and eerily-sticky, but it fell hard and true nonetheless from the darkened rafters of Melnicks, of Snickers, of Rockit, of Stout. It fell in Echo Hill and in Medford, in The Mission and the East Bay, upon the carpet of the JCA Hebrew School and Amherst Regional High, on the Isle of Enchantment and the in City of Dreams, atop the western 'Burbs and in River North. From the shores of Lake Merritt to the Frog pond and Oak Knoll, from the mighty Atlantic to the over-sized Pacific, from the Asbury kitchen sink to the fresh and delicious winter waters of Lake Michigan.
It was a Monday eve and it was late, unseasonable warm for the Windy City but spectacularly dreary, a perfectly-miserable December night, chill breeze and all. Nearly identical to the weather in Prague the August evening after Draft Day 2014. Wet and cold, empty but alive.
For the Suds done won. In a much-hyped but unspectacular title bout, the Heavy ones held off the venerable defending champion Brooklyn Tuxedos 97-62 in Blauvelt Bowl 14, the final game of Hardcore League XVI. It was a gritty battle, ugly and dogged, lasting 3 days and 3 nights, with little scoring until a late flurry of young guns finally put some separation between the two squads for good.
The young New-York based scholar Odell the Beckham, Jr. collected the game's prestigious MVP honors and received the game-ball atop the steps of the Poetry Foundation on Dearborn street in the wee hours on Monday morning. Originally drafted by the team in the 11th round, he was cut mid-season and later reacquired by an in-division trade that brought him home to Chicago for good. The squirmy tattooed fireplug had 8 catches on 12 targets for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win, also serving as the focal point of a dazzling side-line melee in St. Louis Sunday afternoon.
"Balls," he said at the post-game podium, holding the gameball with three fingers over his head, delicately balanced against his blonde hair-piece. "Proud."
Carson Palmer, starting quarterback of the 2007 HCL IX champion Huevos Sudados, was resigned late in the week and spoke on behalf of the socially-troubled Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense. "Red-heads, curly hair, whatever," he reiterated. "We are all one here. One Suds. One HCL. One love."
(Luck was later spotted wearing a 6TH NIGHT t-shirt and drinking chilled saki from a small bottle alone by an expired parking meter.)
We want to congratulate Commissioner Allaben and Chief-of-PR Marissa for yet another phenomenal Tuxedos season, the team spelled out on post-game press release print-outs dropped from low-flying helicopters into the Chicago River early Tuesday morning. There's no team we'd rather play, on any given week, on any given year, in any given game. Jonah epitomizes the HCL and the honor and integrity, the intellect and soul and unwavering coolness of very town that berthed it, and we are grateful for all he's done. On behalf of the Suds' franchise congrats too on the birth of female child Zoe Iselle Allaben on Friday. May she have a long and prosperous reign as the C'mish's firstborn. A milestone for us all.
"We have something magnanimous and special here," said a translator for an emotional rookie wide-out Kelvin Benjamin. "Not the Suds, Elwood, but the league. Brotherhood. Transcends the bounds of time and existence as we know it. 1998."
The embattled Detriot Lions DST were up next to the podium, an anonymous member of the team mumbling something about the top safety duo in the league before being ushered off by security. Despite their mediocre Blauvelt Bowl performance the DST had played well for the Suds all season.
"[Commissioner Allaben] epitomizes the HCL and the honor and integrity, the intellect and soul and unwavering coolness of very town that berthed it, and we are grateful for all he's done."
By the end of Saturday the Tuxedos had pulled ahead of the heavily-favored Huevitos with a throw-back 2TD performance from the long-time HCL veteran Antonio Gates, keeping pace and more with the Suds' tempered firepower out of the gate. But an ugly stretch of early Sunday football across the NFL brought in uninspiring numbers to both squads. Locked low and late, the NFC-East trio of Dez-the-stipper-loving-Bryant, Shady McCoy and ODB eventually pulled away from Brooklyn, with up-and-coming rookie-phenom Jeremy Hill's 80-yard TD scamper on Monday driving the nail into the coffin against a floundering Peyton Manning.
The night was extra-special for longtime keeper LeSean McCoy, who finally fulfilled his destiny as the next in a rich lineage of Philadelphia running backs playing for the franchise. "Now I can finally run in peace... LOL! FML." he tweeted Monday night. (His Twitter account was reportedly suspended shortly-afterwards by the Sud's front office.)
Greg Olsen, Cody Parkey and Giovanni Bernard were all later seen embracing one another in silence around a small menorah in the parking lot after the game.
For years the NY-based Allaban franchise has had the Sud's proverbial-number, knocking them out of the playoffs in '02 and putting together a dastardly streak of regular-season victories year in and year out against Rudolph's teams, including one in week 4. But this year was different whence it mattered most. After a bountiful satellite draft from the Czech Republic, the Heaviness started strong out of the gate, going 5-1 before dropping their next 4 as part of their typical mid-season skid. But remaining undefeated in divisional play and winning out helped them clinch the Avocado Quesadilla pennant and the playoffs in week 12 en route to their 3rd regular-season scoring title and 2nd franchise HCL crown. It was the squads 3rd-ever Blauvelt Bowl appearance, the previous being a 2011 defeat to the Leverett-based South Side Silverbacks, a loss that still stings the franchise's symbolic nostrils.
"Ups and down, Suds and duds," back-up running back Chris Polk offered, whimsically, whipped-cream can in hand. "The great duality of life and its trials and of all things."
For now the Blauvelt Memorial Trophy will come back to Chicago and the division from which it was born, helping cement the oft-criticized AQ as the true Division of Champions of the keeper era. Said Giants safety and Suds bench-warmer Antrelle Rolle by phone Tuesday: "Best slice, lunch or dinner. People say a lot of things about us, no doubt. But we slice!"
"Ups and down, Suds and duds."
"I had no idea how to spell Leverett until just now," Rudolph admitted over Twitter Tuesday. "We always learning new things. Always striving for more."
And so ends The Modern Era. For as the curtains closed on Blauvelt Bowl 14 so did the last moments of a 4-year transition plan tick off the keeper-league-as-we-know clock. Twelve men (and women, and another guy, and some babies now) walk together in front of a very uncertain future ahead. A future full of intrigue and unknowns, and possibilities. Starting with the league's first ever Auction Draft in August of 2015.
But the show will go on. To Mr. Lacey, Mr. Segura, Mr. Tex, Mr. Irvine, Mr. Cratfs, Mr. Donoghue, Mr. Heller, Mr. Blaustein, Mr. O.D., DJ Sorcinelli, Mr. Blauvelt, Louise, and Commissioner Allaben, read (the past tense of "read" there, not the present one) the final print on the soaked post-game press-release. I may babysit it for a little while, but this trophy belongs to *all* of us, the trophy that is the very *existence* of America's Finest Fantasy Football League.
As for off-season plans, the front office covered a range of possibilities, plans baked, half-baked and still batter-moist. A prolonged trip to Central and South America "to get away from it all," an afternoon of pick-up hoops on the north side, new business cards, and a more serious look at the later life and works of Jack London. "So much, so much ahead," was said. And ultimately, going back to the drawing board. Prepping, planning, priming, chewing, sniffing, plotting, swiffering, slotting.
"I may babysit it for a while, but this trophy belongs to all of us, the trophy that is the very *existence* of America's Finest Fantasy Football League."
And as the crowds and celebration waned and gradually dispersed from the Foundation, the team's two Andre's (Williams and Johnson) offered up a final thought to the media in the closing moment's of Monday night's press conference. Dressed in blue nylons and matching black leather ascots, the two read aloud in steady and strong but contemplative tones, a passage from Franz Kafka's short story, The Stoker (1927):
Great ships crossed each other's courses in all directions, yielding to the assault of the waves only as far as their ponderous weight permitted.
"See you in HCL XVII!" Williams bellowed upon concluding the reading. "Can't believe it."
A burst of nervous applause quickly followed.
"Sweaty seventeen," Chris Polk repeated, shaking his head as he chimed in, now staring to the confetti-soaked heavens above. "The dawn of a new world is upon us all."
The Hardcore League was formed in Western Massachusetts in the fall of 1999.