I would like to thank many of answerers for giving detailed discourses about the gist and meaning of the sentence of the Washington Post’ article dealing with saturated TV commercial spree during Super Bowl.

There is still one phrase left unexplained (or un-translated) in the line - ‘But willingly, like ‘achy old pros,’ we returned to the holy rituals of this brutal game.

What does ‘achy old pros’ mean on the earth? And what is an allegory of ‘Old pros returns to holy rituals of this game? I tried to insert this question in yesterday's post, but couln't. I appreciate your further explanation. I repeat the original text of the part in question for your reference.

Too many insipid Black Eyed Peas songs will do that to a civilization. The cheese really is baked into the crust. But willingly, like achy old pros, we returned to the holy rituals of this brutal game, this billion-dollar boondoggle, tweeting our delight that seven-layer dip has somehow become nine. Distraction is the real attraction, which gets a little more true each year.

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    BTW, "what on earth" is usually an unbreakable phrase: you can ask "what on earth does X mean", but it sounds odd if you ask "what does X mean on the earth?". – ShreevatsaR Feb 9 '11 at 5:51
  • ShreevatsaR. Thanks for your advice. Ordinary dictionaries and grammar books don't teach such a rule - What on eath is unbreakable from what (or, I might have overlooked). It's a good learning from this forum. – Yoichi Oishi Feb 13 '11 at 1:32

"Achy" (ay-kee) is the adjective form of "ache"; An "achy old pro" is a seasoned veteran of the game with many minor pains and twinges from the various beatings he has taken over the course of his long career.

I don't know if you follow any football players at all, but right now Brett Favre is the quintessential achy old pro; he announced his retirement in 2007, saying he was too old and tired to keep playing. Then he changed his mind, went through a huge and rather acrimonious struggle to get back on the roster of his original team and then any team at all, and ended up playing for another 3 years despite "retiring" again in 2008. Despite being old, suffering from injuries both recent and ancient, and no doubt having a stiff back, sore knees, etc., he kept coming back to the game that he knew he should have given up.

(We can only hope he stays properly retired this time.)

As for the "holy rituals of the game" part, that's making reference to the fact that the act of watching the game is surrounded by rituals and habits that we keep doing over and over again, even though we know that they are actually bad for us, much like the game itself is hard on the athletes involved; getting chased and knocked down by 11 aggressive opponents every week (like the achy old pro quarterback did) is worse in scale than gobbling up 2 pounds of chips, cheese, and salsa and a 2-liter bottle of soda while keeping one's buttocks firmly entrenched on the couch for 5 hours, but neither one is going to make you healthier.

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    Thank a lot. Hellion. A thorough explanation. It’s a great learning for me. I realized with a surprise that it requires a hell of a lot of knowledge about the background of (American) culture and history - sports, football, players, their careers, food and drink, advertisers, their TV commercials, consumers, and their lifestyle here, just for understanding a single line, ‘Archy old pros return to the game.’ English language (and any foreign language) appears be like an unsurmountable mountain to me. I’m simply walking toward it because it lies over there. – Yoichi Oishi Feb 8 '11 at 22:40

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