NEW ORLEANS — Ah, Curt. My friend. My old friend. My very, very old friend. Just how old are you, anyhow? Well, never mind. Obviously a few of those funny pink drinks you’ve become so fond of down here are still in your system. That must be why you’re under the bed there with only your feet sticking out.

Or maybe it’s your prediction. The Patriots? Winning the Super Bowl? They have as much of a chance as a marshmallow in a blast furnace — or, looking at you right now, about as much chance as you have of reciting the alphabet. Curt, buddy, you look bad.

Sober up. What the Bears will do to New England today should be banned in Boston, and probably will be, given the history of that place. You want to see annihilation? Watch today. We are talking ugly. We are talking brutal. A team

is only as good as its parts, and what kind of junk heap is New England?

Take their quarterback. Tony Eason? Yeah. Right. How many Super Bowls have been won by a guy carrying Kleenex?

Their running game? You call those guys runners? Dudley Do- Right at halfback and some tropical plant life at fullback. Mosi Tatupu? What is that? A vine?

Curt, my friend, if you’ll stop counting those purple elephants for a second, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Patriots are here by the good graces of a dozen butterfingered men who play for the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins. Any of those fumbling teams could make as strong a case for being in the Super Bowl as the Pats. Can any team make a similar claim about the Bears? Who? The Rams? The Giants? Come on.

The Bears are simply the finest assemblage of meanness to come down the NFL pike since Pittsburgh — which, you might recall, won a Super Bowl or two along the way. Do you remember that, Curt? How many fingers, Curt?

Jim McMahon has done what Joe Namath did before his Super Bowl — divert the pressure through pre-game antics. And no jokes about his butt, lest he kick a few today. Walter Payton? You think that guy has waited 11 years to have a mediocre game? Richard Dent? He’s only got about a million dollars in contract money riding on this. Fencik, Singletary, Wilson? Hey, these guys have families watching.

They will deliver. Besides, the reason defensive teams win the big football games is because you can still play defense if you’re nervous. Usually you play harder. The Bears are a great defensive team. I would not want to be wearing red out there today.

But you insist on siding with New England. Well. What can you expect from a man who is climbing the drapes and making monkey sounds? Come down, will you? Act your age. If you can still count that high.

Tell you what — if the Pats win, I’ll buy the aspirin you’ll so direly need tomorrow morning. Until then, make it 31-10, Bears.

OK, Curt? Curt? Uh, wake up, Curt.

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