INDIANAPOLIS — It's cold and wet outside, but the conditions inside the big white bubble at Victory Field are ideal for the sixth annual DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl.
A large crowd has turned out to see Team Spike TV take on Team Palladia on more than 1 million pounds of freshly poured sand. I could be at Lucas Oil Stadium pounding the pavement for a fresh angle on the Super Bowl, but it just seemed like a better idea to be at a place where Joe Montana could potentially throw a touchdown pass to Neil Patrick Harris.
After the media is herded to the sideline, I'm met by the glory of SI swimsuit models Kate Upton and Chrissy Teigen embracing at midfield. That bright start is tempered a bit when Montana — the captain of Team Spike TV — is spotted wearing No. 34. Spike needs to fire its equipment manager.
As NPH warms up near the sideline, a fan calls out, “Doogie!” I'm sure he's not sick of hearing that. Meanwhile,? Maria?Menounos — the Grace Kelly of entertainment journalism — is in the house. She's the best.
As kickoff approaches, I notice the jocks and celebs have settled into separate cliques. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that Barry Sanders and the girl from “The Vampire Diaries” don't have a lot of common ground.
I should note that Cam Newton is the coach of Team Spike and Matthew Stafford is leading Team Palladia. In Newton's case, this will mean running up and down the field yelling like a madman. He's clearly enjoying himself. Stafford looks like he went out hard last night and needs a nap. Then again, that's how Stafford always kind of looks, right?
The Celebrity Beach Bowl is the type of event that invites randomness, but it's still odd to see Peyton Manning (and father Archie) come out for the coin toss. Peyton's toss was accurate but seemed to lack zip. Does this mean something?
The game is broken into two 20-minute halves. Led by Warren Moon,? Spike TV gets the ball first and marches right down the field. Snoop Dogg is lined up wide and obviously has come to win. The guy is taking this game seriously. He's also moving well for a 40-year-old. He's like a faster version of Plaxico Burress.
American Idol winner Jordin Sparks earns cheers when she makes a nifty open-field tackle of Deion Sanders. She probably learned this from her dad, former Giants CB Phillippi Sparks.
Sanders gets his revenge. He hauls in a long touchdown pass to put Palladia on the board. After Snoop makes a catch to convert the two-point conversation (worth one point here), he performs an X-rated dance with the ball, shocking the crowd and causing the big screen operator to cut away in a panic.
Later, Snoop pulls in a long touchdown pass from Moon — despite the house lights going down — to extend Palladia's lead to 21-7. In other first-half news, hulking “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello pancaked some poor sap for no reason, Upton has been been completely neutralized and David Arquette cannot catch.
After a blazing halftime set by the positively orange DJ Pauly D, Montana's struggles continue when he opens the half with an incompletion. It appears Palladia is confusing the Hall of Famer with a mix of man and zone coverage schemes. Just kidding.
Montana gets his team back in the game with a touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, who finally has a public workout that people actually attend. After scoring, T.O. takes a Sharpie out of his sock, signs the ball and tosses it to a fan. If you listen closely, you can hear Bruce Springsteen‘s “Glory Days” playing in the background.
I notice that any time one female pulls the flag of another female, they automatically hug and laugh. It's like a reverse “Mean Girls.” Meanwhile, Artie Lange replaces Montana and promptly throws an interception. Brilliant strategy by Newton. Lange isn't seen again.
Moon throws his fourth TD pass minutes later, and the rout is on. When Snoop scores his second touchdown of the game, the big screen cuts to a generic graphic for fear of another inappropriate display.
After Palladia wraps up a 34-21 win, Snoop is named MVP and receives a Gatorade shower for his efforts. I ask if his lewd TD dance was planned.
“That was on the spot,” the Doggfather says. “That one's called ‘Do It To Me.' I made that up.”
They should play this game every day.
– Dan Hanzus