U.S. troops in Iraq tuned out of the war and tuned in to the Super Bowl staying up late to watch the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears and for just a few moments remind themselves of home.
Football fans of all ranks said they didn't mind staying up all night to watch the game as it was broadcast live at 2:30 a.m. Monday in Iraq.
The U.S. military went all out to make sure the troops could watch the game in style, putting up a big screen surrounded by three smaller TVs while paper footballs and cheerleaders hung from the ceiling and the walls.
Army Pfc. Scelester Purvis, 19, of Virginia Beach, Va., with the 16th military police brigade, said he expected nothing less.
"The Super Bowl is an unofficial holiday," said Purvis, who has been in Iraq since Sept. 1 and was already counting the days until he can go home. "We're putting our lives on the line. It's the least they can do."
Others said the 3 1/2-hour game offered a welcome respite from the monotony of life on the sprawling U.S. base on the edge of Baghdad.
"They know that everybody's a sports fan. It helps boost the morale," said Air Force technical Sgt. John Garcia, a 33-year-old from Miami who is with the 260th MI Battalion.
Instead of promos for Doritos and Coca-Cola, the troops watched ads produced by the U.S. Air Force Network promoting the military and discouraging smoking, along with previews for American TV shows such as "Ugly Betty" and "24." Several players also made special taped appearances to thank the troops.
Many of the troops were wearing civilian clothing, some in shorts, while others were in uniform, donning fluorescent yellow night strips. Half the room emptied out at halftime as troops had to start their shifts, but they were quickly replaced, the AP reports.
The decisive play of last night's NFL showpiece came near the start of the fourth quarter. Until then, the Chicago Bears had somehow stayed within one score of the Indianapolis Colts despite every other statistic showing they had been completely outplayed. But when Bears quarterback Rex Grossman inexcusably lobbed the ball into the hands of Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden, it not only ensured the Colts would win their first Super Bowl since moving to Indy, but also that Peyton Manning would be named the Most Valuable Player.
Up until that point, Colts running backs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes were vying for the award with Manning. Rhodes powered his way through 113 yards in 21 carries, while Joseph Addai had 143 total yards; but Grossman's ineptitude when under pressure - he was intercepted again on his next appearance, and also fumbled twice during the game - only served to highlight just how brilliant Manning had been in immense adversity, guardian.co.uk reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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