By Chuck Klosterman
Page 2

Editor's Note: Columnist Chuck Klosterman is in Detroit to update Page 2's Super Blog multiple times each day throughout Super Bowl week.

OTHER DAYS: MONDAY | TUESDAY | WEDNESDAY | FRIDAY

Thursday, 4:07 p.m.
I just got back from a press conference featuring a popular rock 'n' roll band who are called The Rolling Stones. It is possible that you may soon see images of this conference on your television, as there were at least 44 TV cameras capturing the event (I say "at least" because there were only 44 that I could see from where I was sitting).

Don't expect to see Chuck running around Radio Row anytime soon.

The Stones (as everyone already knows) are performing at halftime of Super Bowl XL. This event obviously required a press conference; how else would the world's reporting corps have an opportunity to ask embarrassing, sycophantic questions that the band could completely ignore? The conference also gave Keith Richards a chance to make a joke about eating cockroaches. All in all, it was a stellar 20 minutes.

The Stones will perform three songs in 12 minutes on Sunday, and the NFL is being predictably tight-lipped about what those songs will be. In an alternative utopia governed by aristocratic griffons, these songs will be "Star Star," "Sister Morphine," and "Jigsaw Puzzle." In the reality in which we currently inhabit, these songs will probably be "Start Me Up," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and the second single off a 2005 album that nobody bought. Nevertheless, scenarios like today's press conference still illustrate the Stones' hydroelectric coolness with amazingly lucidity: These fellows certainly seem comfortable in their own skin. Perhaps this is because that skin is now translucent. You can literally see every ounce of bone in Charlie Watts' face; before hitting the town, I think he just wraps his skull in saran wrap and throws on a sport coat.

Watts did not speak for the duration of the press conference, and Ron Wood didn't, either (he was probably thinking about all the nights he's vomited inside Rod Stewart's Lamborghini). Mick did all the talking, except for a few non-sequitar bursts from Keef (who -- somewhat curiously -- appeared to be wearing ninja stars in his hair). They did not seem remotely drunk or high; in fact, I would classify Jagger's behavior as "uber-sober." The subsequent media queries were pretty terrible, even for a press conference (it is widely accepted that the only reporters who ask questions during press conferences are desperate weirdos, since all the answers are (A) completely dull and (B) completely nonexclusive). The dialogue went something like this …

REPORTER: "Do you guys still harbor any sympathy for the devil?"
MICK: "That's a good football question."

REPORTER: "Will you make any attempt to recognize the legacy of Detroit's music tradition during your performance?"
MICK: "Like … how? Like, are we going to perform a Marvin Gaye song?"

REPORTER: "We live in a world of one-hit wonders. Why aren't there more bands like you, who put out hit after hit after hit?"
KEITH: "Thank God."

The closest the Stones came to delivering authentic information was when someone asked Jagger if he followed American football. He said that he did during the 1970s and '80s and could remember, "Lynn Swann levitating in the air." This was (sort of) a reference to 1976's Super Bowl X, back in the era when the Stones were releasing inconsistent, druggy records like "Black and Blue." But it's really too bad the Stones didn't perform at halftime of the second Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl in '79, since they could have played all that excellent stuff off "Some Girls." Moreover, an extended version of "Before They Make Me Run" might have lengthened the game's halftime show, which might have given the aging Jackie Smith a few extra seconds of needed rest, which might have allowed him to catch Staubach's pass in the back of the end zone during the third quarter, which would have tied the game at 21 and (possibly) allowed Dallas to win (which would have made the Cowboys the Team of the '70s and probably allowed Charlie Waters and Drew Pearson to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame).

Thanks a lot, Keef. You ruined Jackie Smith's life. Go kill a pirate.

Thursday, 2:01 p.m.
Each day the Super Bowl grows closer, the city of Detroit closes down more and more streets around Ford Field; by game day, most people will probably have to park their Buicks in Flint, Mich. As one might expect, this process is making it increasing difficult to get downtown, which significantly increases a traveler's ability to see burned-out buildings. If you love burned-out brick buildings, this is the city for you; I have to believe Detroit leads the nation in low-rent housing that's been devastated by combustion. And this raises a question I had never considered until today: What (or who) is causing all of these fires?

My initial assumption was that these places were torched on purpose, probably for slumlord insurance purposes. However, a friend who lives here claims this carnage is usually caused by squatters; a building gets abandoned, it becomes occupied by rap-battling hobos, the hobos start a fire inside a garbage can for warmth, and fiery chaos eventually ensues. This makes sense (sort of), but the sheer number of these burned-out houses makes me imagine an explanation that's far more sinister. Is some supercriminal traveling around the city, randomly burning everything he sees for pleasure? This town truly needs a RoboCop.

In other non-news: Human traffic inside the Renaissance Center (which even tourists have started referring to as the "RenCen") is increasing at an exponential rate. The lower levels are filled with more and more gawkers every morning, and their presence is creating the kind of energy (I assume) usually exists on the streets of Bangkok. A skilled grifter could make a killing off these gridiron-obsessed rubes. Things are getting interesting ...

Thursday, 10:36 a.m.
This morning, I awake to a new hypothesis about human transcendence.

In order to excel at the NFL level, a man needs to possess more than just an abundance of physical gifts; physicality is not unique, and there are countless topflight athletes who never make it to the professional tier. To become a pro football player (and particularly to become a superstar), you need some inherent, ephemeral, wholly intangible quality that makes you unlike conventional civilians. And I think I have deduced what that quality is.

Sensitivity.

If you hope to separate yourself from all the other super-fast manimals within the NFL's hyper-violent bone yard, you need to be more sensitive than Chris Carrabba. You need to be emotively devastated by any sentiment that involves you or anyone you've ever met -- even if the sentiment in question seems borderline affable.

I realized this when I heard why Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is upset with Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens. Porter is angry because Stevens made this statement about Detroit native Jerome Bettis: "It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves [Michigan] without the trophy." In response, Porter has essentially declared a jihad against Stevens (while simultaneously pretending not to know whom the man is or what he does for a living).

Now, I realize Stevens was being a tad snarky, and I realize Porter was simply being Porter -- but isn't this a curious assertion to take offense with? It sounds like Stevens basically said, "Jerome Bettis is a nice guy, but his potential niceness will not impact our ability to win this game." In a sense, Stevens gave Bettis an unnecessary compliment -- he could have just as easily said, "I don't give a damn about any of their guys. I'm confident we're going to win." At his core, I'm sure Stevens probably feels that way; I'm sure every player on both rosters assumes he is going to be a Super Bowl winner by Monday morning. Confidence is a normal (and necessary) component to winning anything.

But confidence is not enough.

At the highest levels of sport, art and business, confidence merely makes you normal.

In order to be exceptionally unstoppable, you also need to be psychologically immature; you need to be like a 12-year-old girl on Myspace.com. You need fragile feelings. You need to have an ability to find motivating anger within anecdotal conversation. In all likelihood, this is that abstract quality that makes Joey Porter a difference maker, and it's the reason he'll probably shatter Matt Hasselbeck's femur on Sunday night: Joey Porter is crazy enough to care about everything.

Chuck Klosterman is the author of "Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story" and is a senior writer for Spin magazine and a columnist for Esquire. Sound off to Page 2 here.




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