What They’re Really Thinking: Blackout Edition

What part of any of that game made any damn sense?


I turned on my television at around 8:30 to find football commentators speaking with all the gravity of major news outlets reporting on an attempted assassination of the US President.

Furrowed brows.

Words like “remain calm” and “we’re going to get through this” and “have you prepared your End of Days kit?”

Chris Berman is channeling Peter Jennings.

The three on-site commentators, including Steve Young, are sitting in pitch blackness:

George Clooney, somewhere, is organizing a telethon to raise money for the victims. Sandra Bullock donates one million dollars.

The Red Cross flashes a number you can text to donate $10 to the victims of the disaster.

A great wall along Candlestick Park becomes a makeshift “Lost Persons” board as frantic relatives tack up pictures of the loved ones they lost sight of for the 30 minutes of horrifying darkness.

Grown men curse Apple and sob as their cell phones run out of juice, robbing them of the last vestiges of waning light.

Growing pandemonium. Fathers consider eating their young. Martial law is declared. The Terror Watch Threat Level is raised to red. The FAA grounds all flights.

Then, slowly, a flicker. A warmth. A glow. The lights are returning.

The commentators start giving their accounts on how they survived.

Steve Young admits he shit his pants as he was sprinting toward the middle of the field to protect himself from whatever impending disaster had been about to strike.

All of the world mocks the sissified Americans.

This is why the terrorists hate us.

Let’s talk football.

1. If the blackout didn’t tip you off that this was going to be a surreal game, maybe this did!

ESPN, for some reason we will never ever ever know, brought in ESPN Deportes reporter John Sutcliffe to serve as the sideline reporter for the game. That face right there is the same expression he would have if he won a trillion dollars in the lottery. That is the farthest reaches of his emotions. Of course, this could be because he was exerting so much effort to speak English.

Luckily for us, in such a horrifying tragedy of a game, John would be there to provide the Shakespearean comic relief.

His ESPN bio:

John Sutcliffe es reportero de SportsCenter, colaborador en ESPN Radio Fórmula y columnista de golf de ESPNdeportes.com.


John Sutcliffe is a SportsCenter reporter, an ESPN Radio collaborator, and a golf columnist for ESPNDeportes.com. He also has an amazing head of luscious hair unseen since Jeff Jimerson started using volume-boosting shampoo.

That’s verbatim.

2. If Ben was walking like Thelma from Mama’s Family last week, this week he was walking like he had just been named the new Minister of Silly Walks.

He can’t take two steps with any semblance of normalcy and it reflected in his performance with three interceptions and two fumbles.

He never should have played. He was barely mobile and was risking much more serious injury. We lost with him; we probably would have lost without him. I thought they should have put Charlie in about midway through the third when we still had hope.

3. Speaking of hope. All is lost because suddenly, the lights are out again.

Steve Young is on his third pair of pants.

Somewhere in the dark, Charlie Batch fumes.

John Sutcliffe is stunned.

*I’ve seen Mexican hovels with better electricity.

Mike Tomlin tries to light the place with his badassitude alone:

Hines Ward stealthily reaches for his Life Alert:



They cut to the studio where Chris Berman is on the phone telling his wife to find a way to go on without him.

Then the lights come back on and shine their harshness on the suck that is this game.

Can we turn them off again?

4. I can sum up the remainder of the game in perfect fashion. Ready?

This is a game in which everyone did something, but no one did anything.

Lots of receivers catching balls, but no touchdowns.

Lots of yards thrown, but no touchdowns.

Lots of rushing, but no touchdowns.

Lots of tackles, but no takeaways.

Sean Suisham was good from 51, but bad from 48.

Excellent plays were made, but ridiculous penalties negated them.

John Sutcliffe tries to sum up the suck:

Um. Okay.

Anything else, John?

Can we keep this guy forever?

He is a great mind erase after so much Steelers suck.



  1. bucdaddy
    December 20, 2011 10:37 am

    Heh. I like the blackouts best.

  2. JoggingJeans
    December 20, 2011 10:44 am

    The black photos with captions = Brilliant!

  3. Chris
    December 20, 2011 10:48 am

    All that was missing was the scrolling ticker of death across the bottom of the screen providing us with updates on the crisis :-)

  4. David
    December 20, 2011 10:57 am

    They should have just played in the dark. Maybe Ben could have made some touchdown completions then. Seems when the lights are on he gets confused what color jersey they are wearing that game. Who knew Red and Gold was a Steelers color.

  5. Magus Patris
    December 20, 2011 11:06 am

    Now I see the problem. Look behind John Sutcliffe (and by the way, what the hell kind of name is that for a Mexican sportscaster? He sounds like he should be a character in a Merchant-Ivory film). Anyway, it says the stadium is sponsored by “ACME”. You know, the suppliers to Wile E. Coyote. No wonder the lights went out. Beep, Beep! Zing!

  6. facie
    December 20, 2011 11:09 am

    At least we can laugh about, so thanks for that. If I had a dollar for every Facebook post I read last night with a joke about Candlestick Park, I could have helped to pay the electricity bill. :-)

    Ginny, you are right that we probably would have lost with Batch, but it might have helped save Ben’s ankle. And to think the Steelers have to play again in four days. Yikes!

  7. Jim W.
    December 20, 2011 11:34 am

    I’d already heard his first sideline report before I saw him on screen, so I was better prepared. My wife was out of the room. When he popped on, like a little mexican football elf, she barked a laugh and said, “what the hell is THAT about?”

  8. Monty
    December 20, 2011 11:37 am

    @ Magus — I totally agree. I haven’t been that surprised about someone’s name since I was in 7th grade and found out the Asian foreign exchange student’s name was Larry.

  9. KC
    December 20, 2011 11:53 am

    Good Grief!! They were talking earthquakes! Seriously! Loved this column.

  10. rickh
    December 20, 2011 12:39 pm

    I nearly spit out my Mad Elf when Sutcliffe said they were “running like hell trying to fix it”. Tirico replied “Great hustle John, thank you”. MNF gold right there.

    And Steve Young really did sound like he shat his pants.

  11. Butcher's Dog
    December 20, 2011 1:05 pm

    Personally, I’m hoping Ben doesn’t play again until that first-round playoff game on the road. And forget Batch: I wanted to see what the “vaunted 49er rush defense” would have done if Dixon had gotten out to run around a bit, scrambling ‘n ‘at. Bet the coordinator didn’t have any film on that to show his guys this week.

    Also, if the Steelers never play another night game ever again it’ll be fine with me. They’ve sucked after sundown all year, including that game in Texas last February.

    Anyone else think “Suck After Sundown” would make a great indie band name? Just curious.

  12. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    December 20, 2011 1:11 pm

    I was at the game and was spared Berman’s histrionics. For the first power outage, we just thought it was initially part of some pre-game performance. That park is a dump. In addition, while you could make calls ok, absolutely zero texting or Internet signals. And the crazy parking lot rules and every single person entering the game got wanded front and back. Took forever to get in and out of the place.

    Beautiful city, crappy stadium and some of the worst fans I’ve experienced during my travels to see the Steelers. Eagles and Ravens fans showed more class than most of the people we encountered. I expect good natured ribbing and teasing but this was just sad. One group of 9ers fans started throwing trash at a bunch of kids in Steelers shirts. Luckily the cops hauled them off.

  13. Down Goes Staalsy
    December 20, 2011 2:03 pm

    Love the blackout jokes, especially “They chose a cripple over me.” My thoughts exactly. *sigh* Thanks for bringing some much-needed laughs after a miserable loss. :D Really got a kick out of this one.

  14. MissChris
    December 20, 2011 2:16 pm

    “John Sutcliffe is a SportsCenter reporter, an ESPN Radio collaborator, and a golf columnist for ESPNDeportes.com. He also has an amazing head of luscious hair unseen since Jeff Jimerson started using volume-boosting shampoo.”

    Upon reading this I spit Diet Coke all over my computer screen.

    Well done, my friend.

  15. Cassie
    December 20, 2011 2:38 pm

    James Harrison’s tweet made me giggle:

    If I cant play then can’t nobody play… Lights out!

  16. Niki
    December 20, 2011 4:37 pm

    I love the black photos with captions also. Can your next post have more of those and more of Steve Young crapping his pants and then running to the middle of the field?

    If they make Ben play on Saturday I think I’m going to turn the lights out at Heinz field.

  17. Pensgirl
    December 20, 2011 4:45 pm

    My favorite blackout reaction was the Pittsburgh FB page: “Is this why they call it Candlestick Park?” The game…meh, it isn’t worthy of the effort I would expend to type a comment.

  18. WIMom
    December 20, 2011 5:51 pm

    I loved the “Beep”. Laughed out loud at that one! Thanks Ginny

  19. ali
    December 21, 2011 3:18 am

    Thanks Ginny, one of the best yet.

    Did anyone else notice the INSANELY biased commentators on ESPN? The one that shat his pants and the other two as well… Holy moly, by the 3rd quarter, when we had some decent plays but the announcers could still only drool over the 49ers’ guy named Grant, their play calling, Grant again, other big play makers, and Grant, in that order – all while mistaking the Steelers players that were actually on the field – well, lets just say some objects got thrown at the TV screen while expletives were screamed at the morons from ESPN.

    I embarrassed to say that both my husband and I wrote furious emails to ESPN. Then laughed at ourselves while we put the TV on mute and prepared to mourn.

  20. LaReina
    December 21, 2011 11:01 am

    Steve Young was glad he’d obeyed his church leaders and filled his basement with two years’ worth of food. The end of days, indeed.

  21. Chris
    December 21, 2011 2:00 pm

    Interesting comment about the 49ers fans. I went to San Fran in 2003 for the game and it was the rudest group of people I’ve ever encountered at an away Steelers game.

  22. red pen mama
    December 22, 2011 12:31 pm

    My analysis of the game pretty much started and ended with Ben moving around like a wounded water buffalo in the backfield. He never should’ve played that game. I heard they are playing him again Saturday, so look for more crappy throws. Nothing against Ben — in general, he is a good quarterback. But if he can’t scramble, he can’t play for sh!t.