Monday, February 4, 2013


The only person who cares less than me about sports is my wife. Yet every year on the morning of what is now known as "The big game," she announces quite determinedly, "Let's watch the Super Bowl tonight!" This translates as, "You make the chili and I'll eat it." I'm disappointed that she -- and my daughter, for that matter -- succumb to the hype over a game that no one in our house cares about. For my daughter, it was more about socializing with friends at one of their houses, along with the promise of Beyonce's half-time hump-and-grind. (It's a rather sad state of affairs that it's considered news that Mrs. Jay Z promised to sing live rather than lipsynch as she apparently usually does.) 

But what was my wife's excuse? Again, succumbing to the mass hypnosis that convinces people that a three hour-plus sporting event along with allegedly funny/moving/exciting commercials is something worth watching. Just to prove I was right, I asked her if she even knew who was playing -- that is, the names of the teams and the cities. To my surprise, she got both names right, along with one of the cities, which was three more than I'd expected. Of course, the morning news had been hyping it, too, so it didn't count. (To be frank, I hadn't known the names of the teams until two days before.)

 As noted earlier, our daughter was off to her friends Super Bowl party, which was BYOF (Bring Your Own Food). I packed her a container of chili, another of sour cream and Mexican cheese and sent her on her way. My wife settled in with the classic Super Bowl drink of choice -- a glass of Muscadet -- while I stuck with a couple of proletariat beers.

If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought the teams were the Sing Sing Transgressors and the Attica Miscreants. Tattoos, fights, scowling faces -- all guaranteed to pull in more eyeballs than anything else airing for the rest of the year. Very little action (other than the aforementioned fights). Fifteen minute quarters that somehow run half an hour. Commercial breaks every four minutes. And people think this is the greatest thing going. It must be all those Roman Numerals in the name.

Beyonce's routine (not recommended for anyone with taste or prone to epileptic seizures) encapsulated the game: loud, mechanical, dull as Wonder Bread. It was live, in that it featured people with a pulse, but it somehow looked it had been videotaped, or even on high definition film. Maybe it was all that dry ice fogging the cameras. But as with other half-time shows we've seen in past Super Bowls, it ulitmately had the same effect on my wife as it always does: "I'm going to take a bath and do my nails." Spoken like a true sports fan.

Coincidentally, this was used as a training film
 for most of the players.
It was music to my ears. I clicked on the DVR and watched Armored Car Robbery, a 1950 noirish B-movie which packed more genuine excitement in its 72-minute running time than the two hours I'd just wasted on the game. After it ended, my wife said, "Well, I guess we should find out who won." Which really wasn't true -- neither of us cared -- but I did what I was told. So imagine our surprise when the game was still in the third quarter, meaning a good 75 to 90 minutes were left. (It was only after our daughter arrived -- before the end of the game -- that we learned there'd been a power outage. If only it had happened during Beyonce's spectacle.)

No one else in America had tuned out. In fact, with over 111-million viewers, this was the most watched Super Bowl game in history. Perhaps it was the human interest value along with the Doritos commercials. First, the opposing coaches, John and Jim Harbaugh, were brothers. Winner John went across the field to shake his brother's hand. According to news reports, the conversation went like this:

JOHN: I love you.
JIM: Congratulations.

Jim's reply can be read one of two ways: either as a heartfelt tribute of sibling affection or dry sarcasm regarding John's statement. I hope it was the latter.

And don't forget Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis. This was his final game before retirement. And what a way to go -- as one of the winners of the most watched, and perhaps most exciting, Super Bowl of all time. Lewis is one of the rare atheltes going out on top, with a commerative gold ringer on his finger and a truckload of awards for a career that most players can only dream of dreaming of.

He's also, I believe, the only Super Bowl winner whose Wikipedia entry has a section called "Murder Trial." Go Ravens!


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