Super Sunday in the High Country
i?1/2i?1/2By Lauren K. Ohnesorge & John Krauchak
Steel vs. cheese. Roethlisberger vs. Rodgers.
What started as 12 teams heading off the 2011 NFL playoffs is now a duet, thanks to a Green Bay Packers declawing of the Chicago Bears (21-14) and a Pittsburgh Steelers slam against the New York Jets (24-19).
With nearby teams like the Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons out of the Dallas match up, iti?1/2s not an ideal situation for many High Country fans. Take WATA sportscaster and Bears faithful Mike Kelly.
i?1/2I doni?1/2t really care because the Bears areni?1/2t in it,i?1/2 he laughed. i?1/2Ii?1/2m not being funny. I cani?1/2t root for the Packers and I doni?1/2t care about the Steelers.i?1/2
i?1/2I might watch the i?1/2Three Stoogesi?1/2 marathon,i?1/2 Watauga Democrat sports editor and Colorado native Steve Behr joked. i?1/2No, Ii?1/2ll probably watch the Puppy Bowl.i?1/2
But theyi?1/2re kidding.
Like everyone else, the High Country sports gurus have strong opinions about Sundayi?1/2s highly anticipated match-up, and theyi?1/2ll share if youi?1/2ve got an hour. Or two.
i?1/2Really, Ii?1/2ll tell you the truth,i?1/2 Kelly said. i?1/2I really like Pittsburgh. I think theyi?1/2re a better football team. I think the Packers are hot right now. Theyi?1/2re favored by two and a half, but I think the Steelers have a chance to beat them i?1/2 I think it will be a better game than people think.i?1/2
i?1/2Ii?1/2ll take the Steelers,i?1/2 Behr said. i?1/2Because they have a player that played for Northern Colorado on their roster (Aaron Smith).i?1/2
As for veteran Mountain Times Publications sports photographer Rob Moore?
i?1/2I got the Packers,i?1/2 he said, i?1/2because Aaron Rodgers has a hot hand, and hei?1/2ll pick the secondary apart.i?1/2
But he wouldni?1/2t call himself a Cheesehead.
i?1/2I wasni?1/2t rooting for Pittsburgh to be there, but I was glad to see Green Bay there since i?1/298, but every season Ii?1/2m hoping for a different team to get in.i?1/2
Both Kelly and Behr anticipate defense to be the star of the game.
i?1/2Defenses are outstanding,i?1/2 Kelly said.
And, if things turn sour?
i?1/2Therei?1/2s always the Puppy Bowl,i?1/2 Behr said.
i?1/2Will you stop?i?1/2 Kelly laughed.
After an undeniably depressing season for Panthers fans at home, the pair looked back at the 2010 football season as a whole.
i?1/2Iti?1/2s been close this year,i?1/2 Behr said. i?1/2I doni?1/2t think therei?1/2s really been a dominant team.i?1/2
i?1/2John Foxx got a raw deal,i?1/2 Kelly said. i?1/2He really did. He came into the season with a half-baked team, and he never had a chance and he knew it. He knew it would be his last season.i?1/2
This yeari?1/2s big story?
i?1/2The biggest story is going to be the day after the Super Bowl,i?1/2 Behr said.
And thati?1/2s what all the sports commentators have been talking about.
i?1/2The players did very well in the previous collective bargaining agreement,i?1/2 he said.
And now the owners are hoping to collect, instilling the fear of a lockout in the minds of fans and analysts.
i?1/2That could put the 2012 season in jeopardy,i?1/2 Behr said.
i?1/2This may be the last game in a year,i?1/2 Kelly agreed.
So, provided there is a 2012, where do the homegrown Panthers go from here?
i?1/2They will have to find a better quarterback,i?1/2 Behr said. i?1/2They will, hopefully, for their sake, get their Pro Bowl offensive tack back.i?1/2
What do you think? Let us know at http://www.facebook.com/mountaintimes.
Where to Watch
Boonei?1/2s pumping up for some gridiron action and, while you might not be in Dallas, several venues are offering you the opportunity to catch the action. Always have your ID ready, and, if youi?1/2re 21+ and drinking, always drink responsibly.
Applebeei?1/2s Neighborhood Grill (2036 Blowing Rock Road) boasts four TVs to watch the Steel Curtain face off against the Cheeseheads. For more information, call (828) 262-1136.
Beef i?1/2Oi?1/2 Bradyi?1/2s (276 Watauga Village Dr., No. G) boasts the most televisions with 35. Expect food and drink specials but, unlike last year, youi?1/2ll have to come early. Wei?1/2re told they are not accepting reservations for Sunday. For more information, call (828) 265-8585
The Boone Saloon (489 W. King St.): Iti?1/2s where Cheeseheads and Steelers alike can watch the action on the two flat screens and i?1/2sweeti?1/2 projector Sunday. Not a football person? Watch the commercials and, during the game, hit the pool cues. For more information, call (828) 264-1811.
Cafe Portofino (970 Rivers St.), or, as its faithful call it, i?1/2The Port,i?1/2 is the place to be for pitcher specials. Expect drink and food specials and, according to the bartenders, iti?1/2s going to fill up, so get here early. There are plenty of televisions in the bar, pool room and restaurant. For more information, call (828) 264-7772.
Caponei?1/2s Pizza (454 W. King St.) wants you to chow down on pizza while watching two TVs and a large screen. And, for the purposes of your Super Bowl party, remember they deliver via Boone Takeout Express. For more information, call (828) 265-1886.
Char (179 W. Howard St.) invites you to check out its projector screen and billiards while youi?1/2re watching the game. Expect food specials like $1 pork sliders, 45 cent wings, $4 Super Bowl nachos and $4 loaded fries. Youi?1/2ll also find specials on domestic and draft beer. For more information, call (828) 266-2179.
Chilii?1/2s Grill and Bar (1934 Blowing Rock Road) invites you to come enjoy its six televisions. For more information, call (828) 266-9626.
Macadoi?1/2s Restaurant and Bar (539 W. King St.): Wings are the watchword at Macadoi?1/2s Sunday. Think 50-cent wings (100 orders) for takeout and 25-cent boneless wings in house and beer and liquor specials. Watch the game on two projectors, six televisions at the bar or other televisions scattered throughout the restaurant. For more information, call (828) 264-1375.
Murphyi?1/2s (747 W. King St.) boasts 12 televisions and plenty of specials. For more information, call (828) 264-5117.
Paoluccii?1/2s (783 W. King St.) is celebrating the big day with buy one get one half off on its bar menu. Get there early. Expect an overdose of steel and cheese. For more information, call (828) 268-7525.
Parthenon (455 Blowing Rock Road): Fans going Greek will notice four televisions and drink specials. For more information, call (828) 263-0900.
Ruby Tuesday (1822 Blowing Rock Road) Watch the game on four televisions (including two in high definition). Attendees will get half-price wings and beer specials. For more information, call (828) 268-9810.
The Town Tavern (208 Faculty St.) has free gifts like necklaces and shirts to commemorate the occasion. Expect beer specials. With 9 televisions, the Tavern is expecting a crowd and says to get there early. For more information, call (828) 264-2226.
Canyons of the Blue Ridge (8960 U.S. 321, Blowing Rock) says to expect regular dinner specials and a crowd enjoying the three televisions. For more information, call (828) 295-7661.
Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub (8180 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock) fits the Bowl bill with its free nacho bar Sunday. Expect a 96-inch projector in the restaurant along with the six bar televisions. Add in select pitchers for $7, and youi?1/2ve got the makings of a super time. For more information, call (828) 295-7262.
Green Park Inn (9239 Valley Blvd. Blowing Rock) is newly renovated, with three televisions, beer specials and halftime supper treats. With new owners, iti?1/2s ready to kick-start the Super Bowl, starting at 5 p.m. For more information, call (828) 414-9230.
Six Pence Pub (1121 Main St., Blowing Rock) boasts 49-cent wings and $4.95 burger-fries specials (dine-in only). Expect lots of drink specials to heighten the suspense as you watch the game on the two televisions at the bar. For more information, call (828) 295-3155.
Twigs Restaurant & Bar (7956 U.S. 321, Blowing Rock) has three televisions cued to on-field action.
Check out the free pizza and drink specials as you cozy up to the fireplace. 828-295-5050.
Black Jacki?1/2s Pub and Grill (18 N. Jefferson Ave., West Jefferson) hosts 50-cent wing specials to scarf down while youi?1/2re watching one of the eight televisions. Expect $2 off Black Jacki?1/2s famed loaded cheese fries and nachos (dine-in only). Iti?1/2s located conveniently in the historic downtown district of West Jefferson, complete with food and drink options. For more information, call (336) 246-3295.
Bayou Smokehouse and Grill (130 Main St. East, Banner Elk) promises Super Bowl action with a Cajun spin. Expect $2 off all nachos, $1 off all appetizers and i?1/2festivei?1/2 adult beverage specials. Watch the game on 12 televisions (one big screen). For more information, call (828) 898-8952.
Nicki?1/2s Restaurant & Pub (4501 Tynecastle Highway, Banner Elk) will be open Sunday with beer specials, a free taco bar and seven televisions cued to gridiron action. For more information, call (828) 898-9613.