I’m not the biggest football fan. Those who know me pretty well can verify that on any given Sunday, I’m lucky to be able to name twenty active NFL players (including Brett Favre – even my 90-year old grandma knows who he is). I do catch about five or six games a year and understand the game well, I just prefer baseball. However, I caught maybe 1 ½ games of the World Series (literally – I watched the infamous rain game) but I never miss the Super Bowl. Admittedly, I can’t even name any of the players involved except the quarterbacks (David Lee Roth and Werner Herzog, if memory serves). But as many of you know, the Super Bowl is more than just a game: it’s America’s Christmas.
The Super Bowl is better than Christmas in so many ways. You don’t have to bust your butt in the kitchen for days on end baking cookies, decorating a tree and fixing a gigantic turkey or pig. Super Bowl parties tend to be filled with burgers, brats and beer. Bags of chips, veggies and baked beans surround the buffet table, ready for mass consumption. Nobody dresses up for the Super Bowl. In fact, people tend to dress in clothes that can easily absorb the myriad of ketchup, beer and bean spillage. No one cares if you make a mess – it’s the Super Bowl! Making a mess of yourself, mentally and physically is a time-honored tradition (possibly invented by Joe Namath in 1969). The Super Bowl party tends to be better than the game itself. If the Pittsburgh Steelers are up by 24 points or more in the second quarter tomorrow, who’s actually going to watch the rest? Super Bowl parties are like the family Christmases we want to have. You don’t have to invite your snotty in-laws or your backwards cousins, just those who you really want to spend this magic time with that only comes once a year. The Super Bowl is Christmas without all the b.s. At least no one is depressed before the game
I think it’s great so many people watch the Super Bowl who don’t understand football. Half the fun is listening to haphazard commentary resembling John Madden attempting to describe a dance recital. Take it easy on those people; it’s all in good fun. If their inept interjections become too much to bear, offer them another brewski, maybe two or three. Who knows? You might be treated to an extra half-time show. It’s hard to tell who possesses an "inner Janet Jackson". Superbowl Sunday is a great time to find out.
The Super Bowl half-time show is a time honored tradition of spectacle and this year will prove no exception. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are performing. The Boss has never turned in a sub-par performance in his 35-plus years as a musician. There is intense speculation surrounding his potential song selection, so much in fact, sports pundits have given odds on several songs. As a die-hard Springsteen fan, I’ll offer my picks and odds of the particular songs being played. “Born In the U.S.A”: 5-1. An 80’s anthem grossly misinterpreted by Ronald Reagan, the song is guaranteed to make a certain Alaskan governor pump her fist. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and “Atlantic City”: 15-1. Springsteen wrote many songs over his career describing the evaporation of the middle class, eliminated jobs and the downtrodden. It would not surprise me to hear one of these songs, but still a longshot. “Glory Days”: 8-1. It would be pretty cheesy to play it, but the Boss does know his audience. “Brilliant Disguise”: 50-1. Nobody wants to be reminded their relationship is failing, especially on Super Bowl Sunday. “Candy’s Room”: 500-1. It’s my favorite Springsteen song and I’d love to hear it. My “inner Linus” has faith. “My Lucky Day”: 3-1. It’s his new song and Bruce always has faith in his new material. Justifiably so, the song is a joyful pop masterpiece from an artist who has earned the right to proclaim his happiness to the world. “Born to Run”: 1-1. As a great mentor of mine would say: “Well, duh!” Contact your bookies, true believers. My predictions are known far and wide to be accurate. Incidentally, for those looking for the inside edge on the actual game, my prediction: Steelers over Cardinals, 35-17.
The ads during the Super Bowl are also a highly anticipated part of our American Christmas. What’s more American than gluing yourself to the T.V. to watch a commercial? This year’s batch of ads are especially intriguing, given our current economic climate. I’m very curious to see if we’ve paid for any of these commercials. Trust me, if Citigroup is stupid enough to attempt to purchase a corporate jet with our tax dollars, they’ll probably be dumb enough to advertise tomorrow. I’m pleased to note General Motors has announced they will not be buying ad time, which puts me in the ironic position of giving them kudos for not doing anything. That said, I’ll offer my predictions of celebrity appearances in tomorrow’s commercials, which is all that anyone cares about anyway. Justin Timberlake: 4-1. Joe “The Plumber”: 25-1. William Shatner: 6-1. Barack Obama: 3-1. Joan Rivers: 1,000,000 -1.
The Super Bowl is the one holiday that is truly American. We should relish the time we have to party with our friends and family, even if it is just once a year. As the game progresses, make sure you give a “high five” to those who’ve spent the time providing the gorgeous feast, washing all the dishes and throwing all those empty beers in the garbage. They make the party happen so the rest of you can enjoy the big game. Let them know you appreciate it. Make sure you provide an extra bed or a safe ride for those who began the party at 10 A.M. Good teammates have each others’ back. Show good sportsmanship and shake hands or give a hug to those who lost the game, an argument or their senses. In a time of uncertainty, we should cherish those around us; remember their smiles and pumping fists. Friendship itself is a trophy, a victory over despondence. Hold it high and celebrate! Let’s show the world what America is really made of.