There are several interesting storylines for this week's Bucs vs. Colts Monday Night Football game:
1. Peyton Manning's injury leads to the slow, painful death of the 2011-12 Colts. (Sorry, Curtis Painter.)
2. Jon Gruden returns to Tampa for the first time since his firing, as he announces the game. Apparently, Gruden called his return to One Buc Place "emotional," so there's the story.
3. Bucs sell out a home game after 10 consecutive regular-season blackouts.
But there is one storyline I wish we could ignore.
It's the story of the last time these two teams met on Monday Night Football.
It is also one of this Bucs Chick's most painful football memories.
Picture it: New York City, 2003.
My roommate and I are watching the Bucs and Colts play Monday Night Football. We'd recently held an '80s prom party, so there are streamers hanging from the ceiling and on the door frames.
The Bucs had won the Super Bowl less than a year prior, so I have big hopes for the season and for the game.
And with 4 minutes left in the regulation, and a score of 35-14, these hopes seem legitimate.
And then it happens.
With 4 minutes to go, the Colts return a kickoff 90 yards and easily score a touchdown.
In my NYC apartment, I stand up from my place on the couch, walk a few steps, and sit on a different cushion. It's not a big couch, but I do what I can for the team.
Onside kick, recovered by the Colts.
The couch move isn't working, so I nervously twist my body into a pretzel-type contortion. I consider changing clothes. I moan to my roommate about how ugly this game is becoming, but she insists that she has seen worse.
The Colts march 42 yards down the field in a drive that culminates in a Marvin Harrison touchdown catch.
I attempt to angle my body so that I am sitting on my head (flip that luck!), but it's not sustainable. I decide instead to stand up and sit down. Repeatedly.
Now with 2.5 minutes left in the game, the Bucs go three-and-out and eat up a whopping 39 seconds on the clock.
Anthropologically speaking, it should be noted that in the throes of crisis the human body is capable of producing a deep, guttural cry so desperate that it will reverberate throughout a 500 square-foot apartment.
The Bucs punt to the Colts. The Colts drive 85 yards for another touchdown.
And then the streamers start coming down. I'm not proud. But when you are watching your team lose in the worst, most humiliating fashion possible, sometimes streamers bear the brunt of the punishment.
But also! The streamers are mocking me! They are festive and light, twisting about the apartment like candy-colored fun when clearly I am in pain. So I have to punish them. By ripping them off the walls and the door frames.
My roommate should be afraid, but she is a Vikings fan. So she understands.
Bucs receive the ball but cannot move it down the field. Martin Grammatica misses a 62-yard field goal attempt.
Good-bye pink streamers.
Take that, blue streamers.
Bucs receive the ball first and muster 29 yards before punting to the Colts.
Yellow streamers, you know where you can go.
The Colts drive 76 yards and Mike Vanderjagt scores the game-winning field goal.
And it is over. Mercifully, over.
Except maybe I start crying. And maybe I call my father -- the man who molded me into the football fan I am today -- to commiserate. And maybe he says when he picks up the phone, "Well, it's only a game." And maybe I hang up on him. (And, ok, maybe that isn't my proudest moment.)
Who can say, really.
What I will say is that I relish the chance for Josh Freeman and the young Bucs to put the 2003 Monday Night Football memories to rest.
The Bucs are playing against Curtis Painter, after all.
(Sorry, Curtis Painter.)
Cross-published at Chicks in the Huddle.