- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009

If you think the outcome of Super Bowl Whatever doesn’t matter much, think again. For suffering sports fans in our town, it could be the only thing that does matter for quite a while.

You’ve heard of Titletown USA, a happy nickname that has been applied to Green Bay, Pittsburgh and other venues? Just call us Boobsville USA when it comes to having teams that know how to win.

OK, so the Capitals are skating along atop the NHL’s Southeast Division and looking like a genuine Stanley Cup contender. But even Ovechkin and Co. have found themselves on thin ice recently, losing four of seven games before the All-Star break and in overtime to the Bruins on Tuesday.

And most of our other teams need CPR.

Let’s start at the bottom, meaning the 9-36 Wizards. Too bad guys like Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler are getting it done. Otherwise, this grotesque group might have had a shot at matching the all-time worst 9-73 76ers of 1972-73.

Or the 8-67-5 inaugural Caps of 1974-75.

Athletic failure is as much a part of the D.C. scene as the White House, the U.S. Capitol and Beltway traffic. The Bullets/Wizards won their last NBA championship in 1978. The Redskins haven’t collected the Lombardi Trophy since the 1991 season. We haven’t celebrated a World Series title since 1924. And the Caps’ next grab of Lord Stanley’s cup will be their first.

This winter’s discontent seems to be affecting our college teams, too. The Maryland and Georgetown men’s teams have been pretty rotten lately.

Nor is the future promising. The Nationals have made no significant moves since last season, acting instead like a club that won instead of lost 102 games. At this point, the most interesting aspect seems to be how long Nick Johnson will play before suffering a season-ending injury.

No, I take that back. We should focus our attention on who will be the Nats’ first scapegoat among manager Manny Acta, GM Jim Bowden and club president Stan Kasten.

Or maybe on the prospect that President Obama will toss out a basketball rather than a baseball at the home opener April 13.

The operative sporting word, then, is blah! For our kicks this year, we might have to buy D.C. United tickets.

Therefore, we should approach Sunday evening’s festivities as a rare chance to watch two successful squads, even if the Cardinals did make the scene partly by topping an NFC West so weak that perhaps it should be relegated to the Canadian Football League.

The Steelers already have won five Super Bowls, although the franchise’s all-time MVP now wastes much of his time babbling sweet nothings on Fox’s weekly pregame and postgame shows. So unless you’re from Steeltown or environs, why bother cheering them on?

Heck, if the Steelers win this one, they’ll have twice as many titles as our beloved burgundy-and-gold troops, so maybe we should hate them instead. Of course, it’s hard nowadays to think of the Redskins in connection with the Super Bowl.

Same with the Cardinals, unless you grew up with their football ancestors in Chicago, St. Louis or Arizona. There is, however, an intriguing side story: Kurt Warner’s travails and travels from nothing to superstar to nothing to superstar. I haven’t seen this many jock rebirths since Sugar Ray Leonard quit fighting permanently.

So summon your pals, get out the chips and turn on your high-definition TV in time to catch some of Sunday’s pregame show. This may not be the most entrancing Super Bowl ever, but at least we shouldn’t take anybody’s loss personally. There will be plenty of time for that in coming weeks and months.

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