DALLAS -- So here it is, almost zero hour for Super Bowl XLV. The game plan is finished. The practicing, at least the sweaty part, is done.
All that is left now is final geeking-up of the Green Bay Packers.
And remember, you have as much experience at this as Mike McCarthy. The Packers coach has done the rah-rah thing before 80 regular-season games and six in the playoffs, but you have been in charge of exactly as many Super Bowls as McCarthy.Being fully aware that the highly paid professional football player who needs motivating before a Super Bowl probably needs to be in another line of work, what would you do to put just the right touch, that perfectly tied bow, on the end of the week?
Here's what McCarthy is doing:
He'll speak at some point, but he's keeping the message between himself and the team. Then he'll allow the playoff captains to do most of the talking. Aaron Rodgers gets the prayer. Charles Woodson gets the last word before the Packers take a field obscured by fireworks, smoke bombs and a sonic wall of questionable musical taste.
But there is way more to it than that. After all, this is the Super Bowl being held in a great, big state and a great, big stadium, next door to a great, big Walmart. Such an occasion calls for a great, big plan to ensure the proper sendoff.
So, Thursday night, McCarthy screened "Hoosiers" for his guys. OK, you can see that. The parallels are there to reduce such an occasion to a human scale.
You could almost see McCarthy taking a tape measure to humongous Cowboys Stadium as Gene Hackman did to the massive Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The lane is 12 feet wide and the basket is 10 feet high -- check and check -- just as the football field is 100 yards long, no matter if 110,000 seats and an Ashwaubenon-size scoreboard surround the joint.
"When we cross those white lines, it's going to be about Packers football," McCarthy said Friday.
But what movie would you have selected? "North Dallas Forty" is magnificent and setting-appropriate, but (spoiler warning) the Bulls lose on a special-teams meltdown as time expires. Not exactly the right message. A hockey flick like "Slap Shot" would've been in keeping with the icy weather that has kept a Clay Matthews death-grip on the area all week, but McCarthy might have lost the Packers by the time the Hanson brothers began playing with their slot cars.
So here's where you and me get to make Prince Fielder money for the appropriate executive decision.
On Saturday night, McCarthy will bring in a super-secret special speaker to inspire his players. Already, speculation on his or her identity is running amok like a Cowboys cheerleader being chased around radio row in the media center.
Bart Starr? Jerry Kramer? Perhaps the only quarterback other than Starr to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl championship?
This is just a hunch, but Kim Jong-il might have a better chance rallying the National Assembly of South Korea than Brett Favre would in rousing the Packers at this particular moment.
How about Joe Montana? Who could be better at relaxation techniques than Joe Cool, winner of four Super Bowls? Like McCarthy, Montana is a Pittsburgher. Besides, the two worked together in Kansas City.
This is a stretch because the guy is probably a Bears fan, but I'd bring in Bill Murray. I saw him work a Sweet 16 crowd before UW-Milwaukee played Illinois. About 18,000 people were ready to run through the Allstate Arena walls for him.
In the greatest pre-game speech given in cinema or life, I watched Murray fire up the North Star campers in "Meatballs." He could do his Carl Spackler bit -- true story, the Oakland Raiders watched it every day before training camp in the '80s -- and sing a few bars from "Star Wars," and the Pittsburgh Steelers would have no chance.
"We have pride in bringing that (Lombardi) trophy back home where it belongs," McCarthy said.
The hard part is done. Now the important stuff begins.