It was a scoreless first quarter. The Italian had run the ball well, but couldn’t get into the end zone, even with a strong American offensive line. Defensively they had been strong, though, preventing the Brazilian from scoring and even blocking a field goal attempt.
The second quarter was another stalemate, and both teams went into the locker room with nothing to show for the efforts. It had been predicted to be a high-scoring affair, but the two sides were so evenly matched that the only excitement of the whole first half was watching them trade punts.
The problem was that the Brazilian had an Italian-style defense that seemed to predict every play the Italian himself was going to run. As for the Brazilian – he was just weak. He couldn’t motivate his team and he was simply uncreative on offense.
As the second half started all either team wanted to do was avoid the dreaded overtime. Between these two squads that would have been a trench warfare deadlock. Neither the Italian nor the Brazilian had any desire for a bitter war of attrition, racking up more injured players than points.
And that’s when the unexpected struck. There’s an old joke, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Well, no one expected a Spanish-speaking Italian either. The Italian was in the Cardinal-red zone, poised to score. A faulty running play nearly led to the Brazilian recovering a fumble, and so the Italian had to take to the air. And the Jesuit knew it. The Italian dropped back too far – was he going all the way back to Milan? He hesitated too long and the Brazilian’s defense pressed for a sack. The Italian unloaded a pass. The Brazilian got a hand up and tipped it. As the ball wobbled through the air, there were two receivers open in the end zone. Score now and the Italian would win the game.
Then from nowhere, the Jesuit launched himself at the careening ball. A perfect interception. And he was still on his feet. And he was running. The Italian went down under a pile of the Brazilian’s defenders – too many defenders in fact. Because there was no one left who could catch the Jesuit. Seventy-seven yards he ran the ball back…maybe more. There was so much confusion no one could really tell. As he crossed into the end zone, he put the ball down on the ground by the goalpost. He wasn’t celebrating, and neither was anyone else. A shocked silence fell over the players and fans alike. This wasn’t how the game was supposed to end. It made no sense. Nothing like this had ever occurred before.
And that’s how a Jesuit got elected Pope.
And we will never speak of it again.