So I'm watching the end of the Bears-Ravens yesterday, and suddenly it occurs to me I'm seeing something you hardly ever see these days in the antiseptic, lace-doily, how-dare-you-touch-Tom-Brady NFL.
Or, to be more specific, mud, glorious mud, slathering arms and legs and obscuring uniform numbers, just as in the days of yore. There the Ravens and Bears were, after a two-hour Apocalyptic Rainstorm Delay (speaking of "Bear weather"), mucking around on Soldier Field turf that had been churned into a glorious hog wallow by the downpour. Took me right back to one lovely Thanksgiving Day game in the 1960s, when the Lions and Eagles gradually turned earth-toned from head to toe on a field reduced to the consistency of lasagna.
By the end of the game (or, actually, long before that) you couldn't read a number on either side. It was magnificent.
Well, that was, too. Watching Ray Rice climb to his feet after a short gnawing run, his arms and jersey and even helmet slimed with mud, was a revelation. And football the way some of us remember it.
"Wow, they're actually getting dirty," the guy watching the game next to me said. "You hardly ever see these guys get dirty any more."
True. But, of course, the NFL being the NFL, Sunday's game will probably begin the discussion of whether or not it might be time to introduce all-weather turf to Soldier Field, as it's been introduced in so many of the dwindling number of outdoor NFL stadiums. And there will go another element of the game that made it great.