This Sunday is the most American of events: The Super Bowl. This will be the 43rd edition of the game, and sadly, the 41st time that the Philadelphia Eagles are not involved. Although considering how the two times they were in the Super Bowl went, that might not be the worst thing in the world.
Of course, many (most?) people who watch the game have no interest in the outcome. They’re just interested in going to a Super Bowl party and watching commercials. I seem to recall that last year’s commercials were kind of lackluster. With the economy in the crapper, will the big corporations spend the money to give us good commercials this year? Budweiser can usually be counted upon to bring us some good ones, but now that they’ve been sold to a foreign company, will we get any standout ads from them?
I’ve also yet to hear a good explanation as to why the game shouldn’t be moved to Saturday as opposed to Sunday. Would anyone actually be opposed to this?
As for the game itself, it will probably suck. You’ve got the Arizona Cardinals, who in theory have some fans somewhere, although I don’t think I’ve ever met one. On the other hand, you’ve got the Pittsburgh Steelers who have a legion of fans across the country.
Why are there so many Steelers fans in America? Why is it that no matter what sports bar you go to, on an NFL Sunday, there will be someone there in either a Bettis (might be time for an upgrade) or Roethlisberger jersey? Here’s what I have pieced together:
Back in the 70s, the two dominant franchises were the Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. These two teams were almost always shown on the national NFL broadcast every week. Therefore, many impressionable young fans, when looking for a team to follow, chose one of these two teams. And since the Cowboys had somewhat of an elitist air about them (They did give themselves the moniker “America’s Team after all), many of these fans chose the Steelers. And this “fanship” of the Steelers has now been passed on to the next generation.
I have some problems with this. If you grew up in a geographical area that is represented by a sports team, unless you have an overwhelming reason, you should be a fan of that team. There are some acceptable exceptions. For instance, if your father grew up in Georgia and was a Falcons fan, but you were raised somewhere else, its OK for you to be a Falcons fan. Or if you live somewhere like Idaho where there aren’t any teams around. In that case, feel free to choose any team you like. (But really, go with some degree of difficulty. Don’t just choose the top team)
I mean, if I had any choice, would I have chosen to follow the Philadelphia sports franchises? I mean I had to wait 23 years for one of my teams to win a championship! But I was born in the Philly suburbs, and my parents were Philly fans, so what else was I to do?
Anyway, as for who’s going to win the game, it’s really hard to tell. (This is why bookies generally make money) One thing I’ve discovered is that with two weeks before the Super Bowl, we get overloaded with media analysis. And because of that, you hear so much overwhelming evidence for either side that you absolutely, positively start to believe that one of the teams will win. Until you read a magazine article which completely changes your mind, and you start leaning the other way. So trying to put that out of my mind, I’m going to pick the Cardinals.
Why the Cardinals? Two main reasons: They have a much better QB, and they have the best player in the game. Everyone thought Kurt Warner was over the hill, but he’s had an amazing season, and has been Super Bowl MVP in the past. On the other hand, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has a great reputation, and does posses a Super Bowl ring. However, he played awful in that game (One of the worst Super Bowls ever), and was handed the game after the refs gave them every call and the Seahawks gave up. The guy has been absolutely pounded by defenders this year, and I have no confidence in him making a big play when necessary.
Speaking of Warner, I do hope NBC can restrain from showing too many shots of his wife though. In the 2000 Super Bowl, they kept showing her, and we realized that with her hair cut, she looked a lot like one of our fraternity brothers. We got some good mileage out of that one.
The Cardinals also have Larry Fitzgerald, who is possibly the best receiver in the NFL right now. In every playoff game thus far, you’d think that the opponent’s defense would do everything they could to take him out of the game. Yet each week, he ends up killing them. The Eagles defense can usually focus on a star player and take him out of the game. But Fitzgerald destroyed them, almost singlehandedly winning the game.
Those two factors give the Cards the win 27-20.
With that said, I’ll take a look back on my Top 5 Super Bowls. These are the games that I have the fondest memories of. Not necessarily the best games. And because I never really paid attention to the game as a young child, my selection in limited.
5. 1989 – 49ers 20, Bengals 16
I remember my father telling me and my sister that he had a lot of money riding on this game, and that if the 49ers came back to win, he was going to buy the whole family new bikes. The 49ers did indeed make an impressive comeback, and I was pretty happy for awhile. It wasn’t later until I figured out that my father rarely gambled on sports and he was joking about the whole thing. But for a short time, it was a big thrill.
5. 2004 – Patriots 32, Panthers 29
This was an odd game as the first half sucked and was mostly boring, while the second half was amazing. Normally, this game wouldn’t make the list, except this was the first program I ever watched in HD (which I thought was the coolest thing ever), and of course for the halftime show. Yes, this is when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson essentially ruined television. We were debating if we should watch the halftime show or find alternative entertainment. We stuck with the halftime show, and couldn’t believe what we saw. I still don’t get why her career took a plunge after this, yet he became a mega star.
As for this year’s halftime show, I’d say its a lock that Springsteen plays Glory Days and Born to Run.
4. 2008 – Giants 17, Patriots 14
Despite the fact that the Giants won it, this was a great game featuring possibly the greatest play in Super Bowl history. And really, it was nice to see the Patriots (and Boston fans for that matter) knocked down a peg. Nothing sums up the agony of defeat like telling one of your friends “They still have a chance to come back and win,” and having her respond “F*** you!”
3. 1998 – Broncos 31, Packers 24
Throughout grade school, my family used to go to our friends’ house to watch the Super Bowl. But since my mother had to work on Monday, she always insisted we leave at half time. It’s kind of hard to truly enjoy a game or Super Bowl party when you have to leave at the half. For this game though, I was in college, and watched it from the fraternity house. Which meant that I was drinking heavily. We had two foreigners there who didn’t quite get the appeal of the game, so instead they started inventing new shots and doing celebratory rugby dances whenever someone scored. But when the underdog Broncos won the game, and we danced and hugged, you better believe I was truly excited. I think I had to skip my morning class the next day.
1. 2002 – Patriots 20, Rams 17
For this game, a few of my friends and I decided to come up with a Super Bowl drinking game. This sounded like fun and games until the 3rd quarter when we couldn’t tell if a play was live or a replay, so we just drank twice. Yet as it became the 4th quarter, and I realized that the Patriots actually had a chance to pull a huge upset, I got intensely into the game. So intense that despite the fact that I was at a drunken Super Bowl party, I couldn’t bring myself to concentrate on anything else. The Pats ultimately did pull off the upset in a classic Super Bowl game.
Next week, I’ll do a post mortem on the NFL season past. And those of you who don’t like when I blog about sports can rest assured that there won’t be another football post for awhile.