Cardinals-Steelers Super Bowl Pick: Princess Bride Style

robert aSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2009

I think that I have logged enough hours here at the Bleacher Report that it is time for everyone to get to know a little bit more about me.

What is my favorite color? Blue

What is my favorite kind of food?

What is my favorite movie?

Ah-ha, the ever-so-popular movie question. One of my favorites. Every time that I am asked this question, I give the exact same answer, only different. This is my canned response:

“Well I have so many favorite movies, really. If I was going to say what my favorite movie is right now, I would probably have to go with (insert whatever my favorite new movie is at the time, e.g. Dark Knight?), but if you are talking about favorite movie of all time? It’s got to be either Top Gun or The Princess Bride.”

This is where I get one of two reactions regarding my selection of The Princess Bride:

Reaction 1 (People who have not seen the movie): “The Princess Bride?!?! Haha what are you? A GIRL?!?!"

Reaction 2 (People who have seen the movie): “Oh man, I LOVE The Princess Bride!”

Yes, the word “Princess” is in the title, but regardless of that, this is anything but a girl’s movie. I would try and explain why, but I don’t think I can do so better than the character “Grandpa” in the movie does when attempting to dispel his grandson’s homophobic resentment towards having a “Princess book” read to him.

When asked if there are any sports in the book, Grandpa responds simply: “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...”

Now really, what is there not to love about this kind of story!

But I digress.

I bring up The Princess Bride because recently, I have had a constant nagging inside me about how a certain interaction in the movie between Vizzini and “The Man in Black” would play out in today’s world.

Maybe, just maybe, their “Battle of Wits” would revolve around everyone’s favorite sport, football (OK, so football may not be everyone’s favorite, but is at least mine).

I mean, let’s face it, Vizzini does look like a dude that would finish No. 1 in his fantasy league every year, doesn’t he?

For those of you that have seen the movie, you know all about the scene of which I speak. For those who (sadly) have not seen the movie or just need a refresher course, you can find help here.
Below, you will find how the “Battle of Wits” would play out if this scene were to take place in the modern age of the NFL. More specifically, this is how things would go down if the battle to the death between the two was based on who won this year’s Super Bowl:

"The Battle of Super Bowl Picks”

(In the beginning of the scene, “The Man in Black (TMIB)" comes over a hill to find Vizzini, the self-proclaimed Sicilian football genius, sitting at a table while holding a knife to a blindfolded Princess Buttercup’s throat.

TMIB has already conquered a sword wielding Spaniard and a real live Giant, not those posers from New York. The Sicilian is the last roadblock standing between TMIB and his goal: to rescue the Princess.

After the Sicilian points out that there can be no arrangement made to save the Princess and that any further action by TMIB will cost the Princess her life, the following conversation ensues...)

TMIB: Well if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.

Vizzini: I’m afraid so. I cannot compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains. I went undefeated in my NFL picks all year this year...

TMIB: You’re that smart?

Vizzini: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Madden? Michaels? Berman?

TMIB: Yes...

Vizzini: Morons.

TMIB: Really? In that case, I challenge you to a Battle of Picks.

For the Princess?

(TMIB nods.)

Vizzini: To the death?

(TMIB nods again.)

Vizzini: I accept.

(Vizzini lowers and holsters his knife.)

Good! Then pull up that TV cart, there.

(TMIB points to a TV cart that is conveniently sitting directly behind Vizzini. Vizzini does as requested while TMIB pulls himself a seat at the table. After a slight pause and some ominous music, TMIB removes a video tape and hands it to Vizzini.)

TMIB: Look at this and tell me what you see.

(Vizzini studies the tape but sees nothing of significance.)
Vizzini: I see nothing. There is no label.

What you do not see is a complete copy of Super Bowl XLIII. It was played yesterday, and thanks to the cable satellite on my ship out there (TMIB gestures toward the Cliffs of Insanity), I was able to watch and record it.

Vizzini: (Vizzini’s face lights up) You can get satellite for your vessel?! I didn’t even know that was possible! Do you get the NFL package? Who won the Supe…

(TMIB interrupts Vizzini)

You’re getting off topic. Can I finish?

(Vizzini sheepishly nods. TMIB pulls out two coasters: one with a Cardinals logo, and the other with a Steelers logo. He shows them both to Vizzini and places the Cardinals coaster face-down in front of Vizzini and the Steelers coaster face-down in front of himself.)

TMIB: Alright, who won the Super Bowl? The Battle of Picks has begun. It ends when you decide who won and we watch the game. Whoever’s team does not win will take their own life. Oh, and if this is of any help to you, I already know the outcome, and I have no problem telling you that my pick did not lose the game.

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: Are you the sort of man who would put the losing team’s coaster in front of himself or his enemy? Now, a clever man would put the losing coaster in front of himself, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given.

I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the coaster in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the coaster in front of me.

TMIB: So you have made your decision then?

Vizzini: Not remotely! You see, Ken Whisenhunt coached for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2001-2006 and was almost certain to be the next head coach after Cowher retired, but NO! Mike Tomlin, who had only been a defensive coordinator for one year, got the head coaching job over Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt would love nothing more than to get his revenge, so I can clearly not choose the coaster in front of you.

TMIB: Truly, your football knowledge is astounding.

Vizzini: Wait 'til I get going! Now, where was I?

TMIB: Revenge...

Vizzini: Ah, yes. But even more important than petty revenge in sports is history! The Arizona Cardinals have not won a championship since 1947, as anyone who has watched ESPN will tell you. Before this year, they hadn’t even won a playoff game since 1998, when they beat the Cowboys for their first playoff win since ’47.

Obviously, the Cardinals are a fluke this year, so I can clearly not pick the coaster in front of me!

TMIB: You’re just stalling now.

Vizzini: You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? You made a huge mistake when you told me you picked the winner! You’ve bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you would have learned that the Cardinals have significantly improved their defense in the postseason while maintaining their offensive excellence, so I clearly cannot choose the coaster in front of you.

But, you’ve also beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so naturally you would have a huge affection for the Pittsburgh Steelers' bruising style of defense, so I can clearly not choose the coaster in front of me!

You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work.


TMIB: Then make your choice.

Vizzini: I will, and I choose...Oh look, its Terrell Owens complaining about not getting the ball!

(Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. TMIB looks behind his back to see the latest “TO drama” and Vizzini switches the coasters.)

TMIB: What? Where? I didn’t see him.

Oh, no matter. I thought I saw him, but I must have been mistaken. Oh well, let’s watch the game. I have chosen the coaster in front of me.

(TMIB pops in the video tape and they begin to watch the Super Bowl in what may quite possibly be the three tensest hours of existence. Because they both made the mistake of leaving their Crock Pots in their boats, there was not even queso to break the tension.

After a late Arizona field goal forced overtime, the teams continued to trade defensive blows. With three seconds left in the overtime period, Pittsburgh lined up to kick what would be the winning field goal from a mere 25 yards out.)

TMIB: You picked wrong.

Vizzini: You only think I picked wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched coasters when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...

(As Donovan McNabb’s worst dream comes true and the Steelers’ field goal sails wide right, resulting in the first-ever Super Bowl tie, Vizzini’s laughter comes to a halt. At the realization that his pick, the Steelers, did not win the game, he takes his own life and collapses to the ground. TMIB picks up the Princess and removes her blindfold.)

Princess: Oh thank God, your team won!

TMIB: No, it was a tie.

Princess: I don’t understand. If there was a tie, shouldn’t you have both taken your lives?

TMIB: (Laughs) I am a lifelong Cardinals fan, Princess. Believe me when I say that any time the Cardinals DON’T lose, they have won.

(And they all live happily ever after...except Vizzini. He’s dead.)



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