Legendary prognosticator Ernie Epps has correctly picked the last 10 Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA champions, as well as the last five Presidents and the past fifteen Oscar-winning films. Inexplicably - and unfortunately - his success at picking winning stocks is not anywhere near as good; in fact, his ability to time the market has proven time and again to be quite bad-- of late, catastrophically bad. But Ernie's staggering losses - and the rapid sell-off of his assets, including his two homes, cars and prized cuckoo clocks -- are TSD's gain, as his services would otherwise be beyond our modest means.
Two weeks ago, a barely recognizable Ernie Epps showed up at our offices, ill-kempt, unshaven and bleary-eyed, looking for work. Long story short, this is Ernie's maiden blog post - which we hope will be the first of many. We asked Ernie to pre-blog the Super Bowl, and put his legendary powers of prognostication to the test. The following are his pre-game predictions on everything from the pre-game show, to the coin toss to the game's final outcome.
1. Pre-game arrests. Tampa is home to some of the nation's finest strip clubs. There will be at least six arrests for public lewdness and gunplay...four Steelers and two Cardinals will be charged and released on their own recognizance in time for the game.
2. Hotter cheerleaders. Cardinals, easily. As a rule, warm weather teams have hotter cheerleaders, though cheerleaders with cold weather teams tend to have ampler breasts, as their heavier uniforms require more exaggerated protuberances to properly "project" in high-def.
3. 4:00 EST: NBC's Pre-game show. This will fast turn into a grisly multi-car collision, with Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Matt Millen, Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann and Peter King vying for air. There's just not enough oxygen to go around; look for the out-of-shape Holmgren to begin wheezing and gasping, requiring emergency medical attention within the first twenty minutes. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Olbermann's MSNBC colleague and nemesis, the excitable Chris Matthews, crash the set, causing Olbermann to suffer an on-air brain aneurism. Bonus prediction: Tony Dungy will get an early jump on Kurt Warner and invoke Jesus at least two times before kick-off.
4. 6:18: Coin toss. Last year, Dan Marino did the honors, and reportedly came down with a bad case of pre-game yips, which has been known to happen. I don't know who's got this year's honors, but I expect the toss to come off without a hitch - and for the commemorative coin to fetch $5,000 on Ebay. I predict the Cardinals will choose heads. The coin will come up tails.
5. 6: 45: First team to score. The Steelers. They have the better defense and will give their offense a chance to score first. Though last night I had a vivid dream of Larry Fitzgerald scoring on a 45 yard slant late in first quarter. Then again the dream was followed by another one involving me and four Cardinals cheerleaders in a hot tub filled with chocolate pudding.
6. 7:02: First ad to completely suck. The H&R Block ad featuring Abe Vigoda as the grim reaper. With the economy tanking and people suffering, do we really need to be reminded that death remains a viable option? This ad will not only be the first to suck, but will be the first to prompt a stampede to the medicine cabinet and jam suicide hotlines everywhere. Etrade will be a close second, followed by Monster and CareerBuilder. They can air the most mind-blowing ads ever, but no one - particularly me-- wants to be hanging out on Super Bowl Sunday having to think about their vanishing assets, the jobs they'll be looking for come Monday, and having to work well past 75.
7. 7:08: First turnover. A toss-up between a Kurt Warner interception and my wife fumbling the tray of cocktail franks.
8. 7:35: First injury (as well as the game's first bit of comic relief). Concussion-prone Ben Roethlisberger will get rung up, get to his feet and courageously call the next play from the middle of the Cardinals' huddle.
9. Halftime combined score: I'll go out on a limb here and predict that there will be fewer TD's (4) than players got STD's from their time spent at Tampa's aforementioned strip clubs.
10. Number of TV viewers: Last year, Super Bowl XLII recorded an average of 97.5 million viewers in the U.S., becoming the most-watched Super Bowl of all time. With two small market teams in contention, I predict more fans will be checking out "casual encounters" on Craigslist than watch the game.
11. Final score: Who am I, Kreskin? Kidding, kidding. 31-21 Steelers.
12. Kurt Warner will be abandoned in his time of need: The loss will severely test Warner's faith, particularly when he learns on Monday that Christ had to deal with an unexpected11th hour crisis on the other side of the world and had to miss the game. The fruit basket He sends will be little consolation.