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Furniture May Get Sacked, Too : Behavior: Armchair quarterbacks sometimes abuse tables and sofas in the heat of Super Bowl battles. But most won't admit to wrecking a rocker over a team's loss.

January 28, 1994|GAILE ROBINSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ready for your Super Bowl XXVIII party? Have you stocked up on chips 'n' dip and the sheet-metal slipcovers? Better pick up some cast-iron shin guards for the table legs as well.

If your furniture survived the earthquake, it might need some extra protection on Sunday, when armchair quarterbacks take sides in the rematch of the Cowboys and the Bills. Beasts in Barcaloungers have been known to destroy chairs, tables, sofas and television stands on game day.

Football-related furniture abuse is one of America's dark little secrets. No one talks about it much. Very few are willing to admit it happens. But furniture-repair specialists recognize a football-related injury when they see one.

"Holidays are tough on furniture, but nothing compares to the abuse furniture takes on Super Bowl Sunday," says Bruce Johnson in his book, "The Wood Refinisher" (Ballantine).

Johnson says close games and disputed calls can be a death sentence: "In a single moment all across the country, rungs snap, arms come loose, rockers break in half--and refinishers smile, for they know the next day most of those broken chairs are going to be sitting in the their shop."

Even throw pillows can be a menace. An antique lamp found its way to Johnson's Durham, N.C., shop after a distraught fan threw a pillow at the TV set and beaned the lamp instead.

The folks at Dr. Furniture, with 10 Los Angeles-area locations, have recently repaired three items owned by men who confessed to inflicting damage during football games, spokesman Burt Noriega says.

The first call came from a sore loser who slammed the top of the coffee table with his hand. The force sheared off the table's legs.

The second victim was an upholstered sofa. While eating during a game, a fan became so distraught that he repeatedly stabbed the sofa arm with his table knife.

The third incident involved a TV stand that buckled when it was kicked sometime between the two-minute warning and the end of the game.

These are the confessions of admitted abusers. Other offenders plead temporary insanity and try to pass off the injuries as household accidents.

For the customer to come clean "really depends on how stupid the act was," says Maaka Nua, a technician for Dr. Furniture. "Often, if they don't tell us what happened, their spouses will."

People (let's just call them men) are loath to admit they creamed the television cabinet because their team lost a playoff game.

"I've been in this business almost 30 years, and nobody will admit that they took out football frustrations on a table," says Walter Butkus, owner of the Hawaiian Gardens-based Butkus Furniture Refinishing.

But customers readily confess when physical enthusiasm breaks the bed. "They seem proud of that," Butkus says.

Fortunately, the high-risk season for furniture ends with Sunday's game. "Emotions run high," Nua says. "(People) get carried away and somebody will kick something. The adrenaline flow behind the kick causes the furniture to break. It happens in the heat of the moment."

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