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« La Vita Italiana

What happened to Mr. Italia?

By Tom Zetts (Contact)


Published August 9, 2008

PARMA, Italy — What happened to Mr. Italia?
Well, the Internet has been hard to come by.
That’s a lie. However, time has been priceless lately.
In case you were wondering, I didn’t lose myself gorged in the Italian lifestyle. Instead, the Panthers Parma eventually lost and I was shipped back home.
The last four weeks were chock full of games, trips and illegal fountain raids.
Here’s the rundown. The Week 5 game ended halfway through the second quarter. Yes, seriously.
Sharks Palermo sent 18 players and zero coaches to Parma for a game.
After throwing four touchdowns in the first quarter, the Sharks were losing interest. On top of that, their cornerback broke both bones in his left leg in a horrific collision. As the ambulance pulled away, so did their bus.
Week 6, the final week of the regular season, was equally uneventful. We defeated Doves Bologna for the second time by a pretty large margin. As the third seed in the Italian Playoffs, we were sent to Lions Bergamo: the 11-time defending Italian League Champs.
No reason to delay. The 12-time defending Italian League Champs caught the Panthers on an off day. They opened the game with a reverse pass that went for a score, but we countered with an interception return of our own. Knotted at 7, on the hottest day of football since the Angels faced the Demons on the road, shotgun and punt snaps went haywire — four of them.
The Lions jumped on top by three scores just after halftime. However, playing from behind wasn’t anything new.
Despite a series of sacks and penalties, scoring was — somehow ­— the only way to end the beating. The Lions were stuffed on three straight runs and we again fought our way to another score. Now, late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were down by only seven.
A defensive stand would give us the ball back with plenty of time. The Lions drove, taking some time off, but were faced with a fourth and 15 at the 20 yard line. Against the odds, they completed a long pass just out of the reach of our safety and scored.
With a minute remaining, we could not muster up enough for two scores and time ran out on another Panther season — once again at the hands of the Bergamo Lions.
Despite the loss, there was still life in Panther-nation.
We left the following Friday for Berlin, Germany, to play in the EFAF Finals.
More on that later.

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