By James J. Hamilton (Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Beat Writer)
PITTSBURGH—Dragging themselves out of bed at the crack of noon wasn't easy, but almost thirty of Pittsburgh's most self-described "comedians" gathered at Steel Valley High School's Campbell Field on Sunday for Super Fool IV, their fourth annual flag football game.
|Showing our Bill Cosby influence by not asking for permission|
"I'm hungover," said Gio Attisano as he warmed up by drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. Matt Light's team implemented a mandatory reverse curfew: all players must stay out after 11 PM the night before the game. Brad Ryan drank from a bag of Twisted Tea on the sideline, saying he preferred his hard iced tea in a bag so it could be easily converted to an IV and fed directly into his bloodstream if necessary.
A four-team tournament-style competition was planned, but had to be scrapped because there weren't enough players due to multiple no-shows. "Their cycles must've all synced up," Mike Sasson said of the six dropouts. "That's no excuse," said Holly Price. "Just wear a different tampon. Super plus." Super Fool IV was converted on the fly to an epic two-team showdown. The remnants of Marky Naas and Ron Renwick's teams were cannibalized in a partial redraft by Zach Funk's Funkvengers and Ray Zawodni's Zawodni & Sons. Aaron Kleiber explained why the Funkvengers took Ed Bailey ahead of Curt Wootton: "You're not Pittsburgh Black Dad."
Zach Funk (Captain)
*Last name unknown/Matt Wohlfarth's nephew/ringer
ZAWODNI & SONS
Ray Zawodni (Captain)
Each half would have a 30 minute running clock, with three timeouts per team per half. The teams played 7-on-7, allowing for plenty of opportunities to sub out and stay fresh, but also turning the game into an hour of referee Brandon Johnson having to count to seven over and over as the teams struggled to keep track of their substitutions.
Matt Light hurt himself on an attempted punt in pregame warm-ups and Brad Ryan tweaked his back. "I already dislocated my finger," Dustin Dowling said before kickoff. "I got tired carrying water from my car," said Sean Collier. Jeff Konkle showed up drinking cranberry juice: "I have a urinary tract infection." Ryan Walker made a Bon Iver playlist on Spotify to get pumped up for the game. Marky Naas needed two belts to put his flags on. These guys were firing on all cylinders.
"To decide who gets the ball first, we're measuring dicks," announced Ray Zawodni. "Just give me a minute to fluff up." But cooler heads prevailed and possession was decided by laces-or-spaces, after it was explained to team captain Zach Funk what laces-or-spaces meant. The Funkvengers won and elected to take the ball in the second half.
Defending champions Zawodni & Sons hit the ground running on their first possession and marched down the field with two completions from quarterback Ray Zawodni to Derrick Knopsnyder before finishing off the drive with a TD catch by Matt Light.
The Funkvengers got off to a slow start, turning the ball over on downs after four straight incompletions by quarterback Aaron Kleiber. "I thought Ryan Leaf was in prison," Matt Light said.
Zawodni & Sons kept rolling, with catches by Light and T-Robe taking it to the goal line and Sean Collier hauling in a TD pass from Zawodni.
The Funkvengers again failed to keep pace, their drive ending when Aaron Kleiber's pass was intercepted by Curt Wootton. "I'm like Brett Favre on the Jets," said Kleiber.
Matt Light took over at quarterback for Zawodni & Sons and led his team down the field with a long pass to Zawodni and a TD pass to Ryan Garasich.
Already down 3-0, the Funkvengers needed to get things going if they were going to avoid a blowout. Ed Bailey breathed some life into his team by making perhaps the most acrobatic play in Super Fool history. Kleiber's pass seemed ready to fall incomplete after Bailey tipped it up in the air, but defender Brad Ryan made a play on the ball and tipped it again, then Bailey dove and caught it just before it hit the ground. Dustin Dowling followed up with a first down grab, then Kleiber hit Mike Sasson for the Funkvengers' first score, with Sasson making a one-handed grab while fending off Derrick Knopsnyder with the other hand in the corner of the endzone.
|Pictured: Curt Wootton & some people in the stands who are|
probably waiting for the Pittsburgh Dad autograph signing to start
Matt Light struck back for Zawodni & Sons, connecting twice with Knopsnyder then three times with T-Robe, the last for a TD.
The ensuing possession ended quickly for the Funkvengers when Kleiber threw to an open Tom Henry, who tipped the ball and allowed it to be intercepted by Ray Zawodni.
Zawodni & Sons capitalized on the interception with Ryan Garasich catching his second TD of the day from Light.
The Funkvengers' woes continued when Jeff Konkle picked off Kleiber and took it to the house for a score. With the score 6-1, the game looked to be getting out of hand.
However, things started to turn around for the Funkvengers as the first half drew to a close. For their only play of the day where Kleiber didn't play quarterback, Ron Renwick connected with Kurt Branagan for a TD. With a TD on his only pass attempt, Renwick would finish the game with a perfect passer rating.
The Funkvengers' fortunes continued to rise on the next possession by Zawodni & Sons. After picking off Matt Light's pass, Ed Bailey found himself with a wide open field and only Light to beat. Light said he felt like Ben Roethlisberger against the Colts in the 2006 playoffs when attempting to make the tackle, but unlike Big Ben he failed to get the job done and Bailey went all the way for a TD to close out the first half.
Zawodni & Sons 6
Asked what his team needed to do to turn things around in the second half, Zach Funk said "Winning isn't everything. Win or lose, no one can take away my 2012 Brad Ryan Spirit Award." Matt Light said his team's strategy for the second half was to "keep letting Aaron Kleiber throw the ball for the other team" and "double cover Ed Bailey."
The Funkvengers began the second half by continuing the momentum they picked up at the end of the first half. Their opening possession resulted in a score when Kleiber threw a TD pass to Dustin Dowling.
On the first play of the next drive, Ed Bailey intercepted Ray Zawodni and took it all the way for his second pick-6 of the day. All of a sudden the game was back on. After a dismal 6-1 start, the Funkvengers had scored four unanswered TDs to make it 6-5. Zach Funk was elated: "Do you believe in miracles? As an agnostic, I do not, but something may be happening here."
Zawodni & Sons responded by installing Jeff Konkle at quarterback. Konkle spread the ball around and hit Knopsnyder for a TD. "The Konkle Express just got here!" said Zawodni. Konkle had a chip on his shoulder going into the game because he was upset about not being drafting until the fourth round: "Ed K got drafted before me? I'm fucking bringing it!"
|Aaron Kleiber: "Jeff Konkle looks like Captain America before they did experiments on him."|
The Funkvengers' comeback was stymied on their next possession when Kleiber's errant pass was intercepted by Matt Light.
The Konkle Express kept on rolling on the next drive, which culminated in another TD pass from Konkle to Knopsnyder.
The teams then traded TDs back and forth, with Kleiber connecting with Mike Sasson and Konkle hooking up with Light. Ed Bailey followed up with a TD from Kleiber to pull the Funkvengers back to within two scores.
With time winding down, Zawodni & Sons had the ball and a 9-7 lead. On the first play of the drive, Light appeared to go down with an injury and was helped off the field. But as soon as he got to the sideline, he ran back on the field and revealed he had faked the injury to run time off the clock. Unbeknownst to Light, however, an injury timeout had been called. This type of gamesmanship is nothing new with Light. In Super Fool III, when the teams had no timeouts, he faked an injury to stop the clock and give his team time to score at the end of the first half. Matt Light fakes it almost as much as his girlfriend.
Light's shenanigans aside, Zawodni & Sons continued to run down the clock, but the Funkvengers refused to give up. When Ron Renwick dropped an interception opportunity, Kleiber said "What the fuck, Ron? What a pussy." Konkle castigated himself for his "pussy ass throw." The drive ended with Konkle's pass being intercepted by Tyler, who ran it all the way back for a TD.
Matt Wohlfarth's nephew, Tyler was a potential ringer whose eligibility was in question. When it was asked whether he was a comedian, Tyler was prompted to tell a joke, which he did: "If God never invented nipples, would titties be useless?" Not great, but pretty much on the same level as most of the actual comedians' jokes, so it was decided to let the question of Tyler's eligibility slide.
Things were coming down to the wire. Tyler's pick-6 made the score 9-8 with two minutes remaining. Zawodni & Sons had the ball though, and all they had to do was run out the clock. Matt Light stepped in as quarterback, but rather than play it safe and protect the ball, he opened the drive with a long bomb to Gio Attisano that resulted in a TD. "Is that enough time for you faggots?" Light said, putting his team up by two and icing the game.
By the time the Funkvengers got the ball back, they only had time for one play before the clock ran out. Kleiber attempted a hail mary to the end zone, but Light came down with the interception as the clock expired.
Zawodni & Sons 10
Super Fool IV ended with a second straight championship victory for Ray Zawodni's Zawodni & Sons. They came out of the box firing and didn't look back. Scoring on the first possession of the game, they remained in control throughout the afternoon and never relinquished the lead. After starting down 6-1, the Funkvengers outscored their opponent 7-4, but it wasn't enough to dig themselves out of the hole. The turning point in the game was Matt Light's interception that broke the Funkvengers' momentum when they were beginning to mount a comeback in the second half, although Light said "the turning point in the game was when Zach Funk drafted Aaron Kleiber in the first round." Kleiber's five interception performance will no doubt haunt him as he tours the country with major headliners and appears on television
. For others, Super Fool glory will be the lone bright spot in an otherwise meaningless existence: "Everyone on my team PayPal me $64," Light said, "so I can order our championship rings from Jostens."
Awards are voted on by the Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Writers Association.
Most Valuable Player
Winner - Matt Light
|Two-time MVP, all-time asshole|
Super Fool IV's MVP award goes to Matt Light, who, in addition to leading the league in taunting and gamesmanship, excelled in all phases of the game. He tied for game highs in three major statistics with 4 passing TDs, 2 receiving TDs, and 2 interceptions. He had the interception that extinguished the Funkvengers' momentum in the second half and put the final nails in their coffin with a TD pass and interception in the final minutes of the game. Light becomes the Super Fool's first two-time MVP, adding this award to the one he earned in Super Fool II. Asked to comment on his win, Light said: "FUCK HER RIGHT IN THE PUSSY!"
Honorable mention - Ed Bailey, Jeff Konkle, Derrick Knopsnyder
Brad Ryan Spirit Award
Winner - Brad Ryan
|Brad Ryan celebrates his award win by sucking down a bag of hard iced tea|
The Brad Ryan Spirit Award goes to a player who left it all on the field. The award was named in honor of Brad Ryan, who suffered a broken arm in Super Fool I. That injury was once thought to be career-ending, but in Super Fool IV Brad Ryan came out of retirement and returned to the gridiron. Even after tweaking his back in pregame warm-ups, the 47-year-old, fueled by hard iced tea, stuck it out to the end. His bravery in stepping back on the field against the odds has earned him his eponymous
award. Ryan said he was flattered and honored to receive the award, although he wished "it would've been named after somebody more significant in Pittsburgh comedy," which is tantamount to wishing someone else had broken an arm instead of him.
James J. Hamilton Award for Excellence in Journalism
Winner - James J. Hamilton
|Natalie Portman presenting James J. Hamilton with his award|
Let's face it: the best thing about this game is this article. Over the past three years, the Super Fool has received coverage on a level far greater than it deserves. It's like if William Faulkner wrote about the dump you took this morning. All of this is due solely to the ingenuity and brilliance of James J. Hamilton. Hamilton invented the job of Pittsburgh comedy intramural sports beat writer prior to Super Fool II so he could watch the game without being asked to play, but has since turned it into an institution that has garnered literally dozens of likes on Facebook. Because of his efforts, future generations will know that there was once a Pittsburgh comedy scene and that its members were mostly egotistical braggarts who sucked at football. Asked to comment on his much-deserved win, Hamilton said: "Meeting Natalie Portman at the presentation ceremony and having sex with her afterward is its own reward."
Notes on other awards
The Tombstone Badass Award was given to John Winters in 2012 for taking his pants off and sexually molesting a teammate on the field. The Tombstone had no winner in 2013 and, once again this year, no one met the requirements for this award. Winters's performance set the bar pretty high. To win, you basically need to do something so extreme that when it gets written about by award-winning sports writer James J. Hamilton* and his article pops up on a Google search of your name by potential future employers, you will be disqualified from ever holding a job.
Ray Zawodni expressed a desire that Ryan Walker be given an award for "best package exposure," but this is not an official award category. Since he will not receive a trophy, Ryan will have to be content with the knowledge that Ray loved his package and is definitely thinking about it right now.
*Winner, James J. Hamilton Award for Excellence in Journalism (2014)