The spectacle otherwise known as the Super Bowl kicks off Sunday evening, and much of the world is ready for the action.
Well, unless you’re a fan of the Baltimore Ravens or Philadelphia Eagles — in which case, you’re still licking your wounds and screaming at the heavens above that there is indeed a grave injustice in the world because your team ...
But, yeah, I digress.
The Super Bowl, to me, is a unique entity in that just about everyone watches. The hardened sports fan might get a little frustrated with the pomp and peripheral shenanigans, but he or she will be glued to the set to watch a champion revealed. Fans of the respective teams, even if they’re not necessarily big football aficionados, watch the game and ooh and ahh with every play as they root with pride for their team. And others watch the game sheerly for the commercials — which is fine, too, as the NFL gets what it wants by simply getting casual observers to pad their ratings and get more money for their commercial time.
Me? Well, I like to eat.
I like chili and hot dogs, chips and dip, cheese and crackers and burgers, casseroles, small flightless birds, the wrappings off candy bars, etc. It is indeed a time to feast, and there seems to be a unique guilt-free allowance for Super Bowl Sunday, in that you have carte blanche to eat whatever you want, and nobody judges you for the random chicken wing that might be plastered to your lapel by the third quarter.
In fact, it’s practically a badge of honor.
However, I also love the game itself. Yeah, I could do without the 37 hours of pre-game programming — though, admittedly, I tend to watch a lot of it — and the annual line by an announcer that “you have to leave it all out on the field,” but I do get excited to watch the last game of the year. There’s a conclusion to each NFL season, and it’s a one-time deal — lose, and there’s no tomorrow. Win, and all your future tomorrows are just a little brighter than all your previous yesterdays.
It just wraps itself up in a pretty package.
As for the game itself, there is indeed some historical impact at stake. The Pittsburgh Steelers are attempting to win their sixth Super Bowl championship, which would officially make them the most succesful franchise of the Super Bowl era. The Arizona Cardinals, on the other hand, are attempting to erase a decades-long history of futility and ineptitude with one sweeping brush of greatness.
Now, for the important stuff to consider:
• The game will be aired by NBC on more than 200 stations throughout the United States, and will be broadcast on Westwood One Radio to 500 stations in the nation. In addition, Armed Forces Television will broadcast to 180 countries, and the NFL will distribute the game to more than 220 countries, and broadcast in 30 different languages.
• Each player on the winning team will make an additional $78,000, while the losers will each make $40,000. While that seems insignificant when taking into account the massive salaries earned by the players, it should result in one heck of a night at a Tampa Bay-area strip club.
• As of today, 3,276,834 have attended Super Bowl games, led by the 103,985 at the 14th Super Bowl in Pasadena, according to an Associated Press story. Though I have no official statistics to back me up, I would estimate that more than 30 million sick days can be directly attributed to the Super Bowl. In fact, I feel one coming now.
• Mike Ditka, Tom Flores and Tony Dungy are the only three men to have won a Super Bowl as both a player and a coach. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin never established himself as an NFL player, and Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt played as a role player for about a decade, and left the Washington Redskins the year before they won the 1991 Super Bowl. So, yeah, Ditka, Flores and Dungy have at least another year of standing alone.
• The most receiving yards in a Super Bowl was tallied by San Francisco’s immortal Jerry Rice in 1989, when he registered 215 yards. Arizona’s Anquan Boldin is going to break that this year as Pittsburgh rolls its coverage on superstar Larry Fitzgerald. Even so, Pittsburgh will win this one 30-17.
That’s my prediction, and I’m sticking to it.