On Monday night, wings are the thing

by Brian Clarey

On Monday night, wings are the thing

Ireally want to write about football right now, how the New Orleans Saints are poised to win the NFC South, what the New York Giants need to do in order to make the playoffs, why Randy Moss is better than Terrell Owens and why I hate — hate — Tom Brady.

But this is a food column, and so I grab my notebook and camera and head off to a sports bar on a Monday night to scratch my gridiron itch and celebrate the inaugural episode of Monday Night Football the way it was meant to be celebrated: with beer, spicy wings and a modest crowd of jersey-wearing fans.

I choose JP Looney’s on Spring Garden Street, one of their three Triad locations, not because it’s one of the best and oldest sports bars in Greensboro — although it is. And I’m not here because of the vast menu of bar food, which includes sandwiches, burgers, steaks, pasta dishes, and all manner of fried and spicy goodness.

I’m here for one thing: Buffalo-style chicken wings. Okay, make that two things, because I will also have a couple beers while I watch the game.

It’s halftime when I take one of two open seats at the bar, and I can see from the seven visible TV screens that the Buffalo Bills lead the New England Patriots 14-10. I place my order — 10 regular hot with bleu cheese dressing, because only a philistine puts ranch dressing on wings. They come out before the second-half kickoff.

Looney’s wings are great: crispy in all the right places, bearing just the right amount of heat and cooked properly so that there is no fatty chicken skin pulling away when I make the bite.

Oh, they serve other kinds of wings here, barbecue and teriyaki, lemon pepper and spicy Thai, a few with fancy appellations like mango haba’ero and “Bundy,” whatever that is. But I like the straight-up hot wing, an invention of the dark and smoky barrooms in frigid Buffalo, NY. And because the Bills are on TV, there is a certain kind of symmetry at work here.

The teams wear old-school jerseys tonight, the Pats in their Pat the Patriot helmets and the Bills wearing the very same style of uniform worn by Orenthal James Simpson, better know as OJ, when he became the very first to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season.

I sip my beer and trade gossip at the bar while deconstructing my wings. The drumettes I soak in bleu cheese and then strip with my teeth. I take the flats and tear off the crispy skin, then poke the meat from the center and take it down.

I watch Terrell Owens drop his first pass of the season, and then Randy Moss make three catches in a row. I become engrossed in the game as the fans drink and cheer around me, systemically devouring my wings until all that’s left are bones and gristle.

By the time I finish wiping my hands, the Bills have amassed a comfortable lead with just a few minutes left on the clock. I pay my check and head out to my car, but wild cheers coming from the barroom beckon me back inside.

The Patriots score 12 points in the final two minutes to win the game 25-24, a last-second miracle worthy of Joe Montana. And that is why I hate Tom Brady.

JP Looney’s; 3021 Spring Garden St., Greensboro; 336.852.1331 3793 Samet Drive # 165, High Point; 336.882.9812 2213 Oak Ridge Road, Oak Ridge; 336.643.1570

JPLooney’s Buffalostyle chicken wings are the perfect accompaniment to“Monday Night Football” and beer. (photos by Brian Clarey)