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Editor’s Note: here at DFO, many of us are not satisfied with the Super Bowl matchup. For some of us, this is because we hate both teams at a level that rivals God’s apparent hatred for the Cleveland Browns. For others, our seething hatred of one team is more than enough to overwhelm our relative indifference for the other, leading to a Super Bowl we simply have no interest in watching. As such, we’ve been fantasizing about scenarios that might take place that would prevent the game from being played at all. These are our stories.
INT. U.S. BANK STADIUM – EVENING (TEN MINUTES TO KICKOFF)
We open with an establishing shot of the field and the Super Bowl crowd. The stadium is packed to the brim, with the predominant colors of purple and yellow only slightly offset by red, white, blue, and silver. The camera pans down to the field, and focuses on STEFON DIGGS, who bounces and stretches as he goes through a pre-game warmup.
NARRATOR: Only the most exceptional people become aware of The Matrix. Those that learn it exists must possess a rare degree of intuition, sensitivity, and a questioning nature. However, very rarely, some gain this wisdom through wholly different means. This man is one of those few.
The camera pans away from DIGGS and back to the stands. It settles on a luxury box, then zooms in to focus on a nattily dressed SUPERVISING AGENT. The agent watches casually, clearly disinterested in anything that is happening on the field.
SUPERVISING AGENT: The signal is stable. This frequency will continue to remain open.
INT. NFL MEDIA ROOM – DAY (FOUR DAYS EARLIER)
STEFON DIGGS sits behind a table, taking questions from a group of reporters.
DIGGS: …breakaway speed? Well, I don’t know about that. Some of their guys are pretty quick. And it’s not always just about speed. Sometimes it’s a matter of angles. It’s football, you know? You get the right block, someone slips…there’s all kinds of crazy stuff that can happen to spring you.
REPORTER: Stefon, what do you think about Devin McCourty’s comments that Case Keenum hasn’t really been tested yet these playoffs?
DIGGS: [smiles] You trying to manufacture a beef? Case has played as well as anyone could ask for so far, but Devin’s not wrong. Our defense has made Case’s job very, very easy through the playoffs.
REPORTER: An NFL record five first-half defensive touchdowns in just two games.
DIGGS: That’s right. It’s pretty easy to play with confidence when your defense is already scoring all the points you need. We all know it won’t be like that against the Patriots. Case, in particular, knows that. He’s ready. We’re all ready.
INT. U.S. BANK STADIUM – EVENING (TEN SECONDS REMAINING)
The Vikings offense is on the field, in a last gasp effort to retake the lead after Tom Brady and the Patriots offense benefited from an extremely questionable pass interference penalty on fourth down that put them into range for a go-ahead field goal. The camera follows the action on the field, while overlaid with an audio stream of the familiar Vikings hometown announcer PAUL ALLEN, who sounds defeated.
PAUL ALLEN: …ten seconds to go. Twenty-four – twenty-three Patriots, Vikings at their own thirty-nine, it’s third down. Three receivers right, Thielen left. Marshawn Lattimore twelve yards from Adam. Case on a deep drop, steps up in the pocket, he’ll fire to the right SIDE…
CASE KEENUM steps up in the pocket and hurls the ball towards the right sideline, where DIGGS run a deep out pattern. As DIGGS leaps to catch the ball, Patriots safety BRANDON KING inexplicably jumps in front of DIGGS to attempt the interception. KING mistimes his leap and the ball sails past him to DIGGS, who catches it and pivots, touching a hand to the ground to keep his balance. KING bumps into teammate STEPHON GILMORE, who was only a few steps upfield, slowing him down.
AUL ALLEN: …CAUGHT BY DIGGS! HE GETS LOOSE!!!
Cut to: An AGENT on the sideline, who speaks into microphone in his sleeve.
AGENT: I have an unstable signal.
SUPERVISING AGENT: He can not score that touchdown do not let him score that touchdown.
A series of cuts as we see the Patriots players chasing DIGGS flash and morph into AGENTS. In super-slow motion they race after him and collectively lunge but he’s already too far out in front of them, and seems to be accelerating to speeds even they cannot match.
ALLEN: …AT THE THIRTY…TEN…TOUCHDOWN!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IT’S A MINNEAPOLIS MIRACLE!
DIGGS reaches the end zone, slowing and coming to a stop just before the end of the field. He holds his arms outstretched, and as the ball tumbles from his fingers everything stops. The ball, the crowd, his pursuers, everything freezes in time and stops moving. Silence falls. DIGGS himself stands frozen, only his eyes still active as they glance around frantically. Reality glitches, somehow, and everything fades into a series of numeric patterns. Then suddenly, there is a flash, and DIGGS finds himself inside a gigantic tank of liquid. He is connected to his surroundings by a series of cables connected to subdermal units in his flesh. As he thrashes helplessly, a mechanical creature with squidlike tentacles approaches him and peers at him with a single red eye.
DIGGS is dragged backwards by the cables, and then clamped into place with a set of bolts. A series of electrical currents jolt his brain as he screams in agony, and then he loses consciousness and everything goes black.
INT. HOSPITAL – DAY
STEFON DIGGS sits in a wheelchair, restraints holding his arms down. He is being pushed down a hallway by a nurse, who prattles on about her aunt’s cooking.
NURSE: …it may sound like I’m bragging, but it really is the best tater tot hotdish in the whole world…
The SUPERVISING AGENT and another AGENT step into view behind them.
SUPERVISING AGENT: An interesting case, but no longer anything to be concerned about. His memory of the anomaly was expunged with no residual effects.
AGENT: And the result of the game?
SUPERVISING AGENT: It interferes with the darkest timeline protocol, so we’ve had to recast the memory of the touchdown for the entire population.
AGENT: It can’t just be removed?
SUPERVISING AGENT: No, the memory is too powerful. The reality distortion would cause too many units of this crop to fail. The memory can only be edited, not erased.
AGENT: That’s quite an endeavor.
SUPERVISING AGENT: Indeed. To match the crowd reaction we had to move it back two weeks so it could take place in the same stadium. Changing the silver helmets to gold made things easier. A convenient coincidence.
AGENT: And so what becomes of the Super Bowl?
SUPERVISING AGENT: We’re running a simulation as we speak, using the Philadelphia Eagles instead of the Vikings. Once the simulation is complete we’ll implant the new memory of the game, and the timeline will be restored to its original state.
AGENT: And Stefon Diggs?
SUPERVISING AGENT: We’ve modified his cerebral cortex to mimic the effects of advanced CTE. He will never play again. He will never walk again for that matter. We’ll continue monitoring him for a while but anticipate no problems.
AGENT: A play that will live on in the fans’ memories for years to come. What more could anyone ask for?
As though he has heard them, DIGGS stirs in his chair.
NURSE: Did you say something?
SUPERVISING AGENT: Sit down.
DIGGS leans forward. He pushes with his legs begins to lift up out of the chair. His arms strain against the restraints. A bolt snaps, and makes a “tink” noise as it falls to the floor. The restraints fall free. DIGGS stands fully, and takes a hesitant step forward.
DIGGS takes two more steps forward, seeming to gain strength. The lights in the hallway appear to grow brighter. He thrusts his hands forward, as though reaching to catch a football.
SUPERVISING AGENT: Sit down.
DIGGS takes another step, then stumbles and falls to his knees. The lights dim to their original hue. The nurse steps forward, and gently puts a hand on his shoulder. Fade to black.