Can it be? Why yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday once again. For the XLVIII time.
It was just XII months ago that we enjoyed the action of Super Bowl XLVII when XXII football warriors battled for LX minutes before the Baltimore Ravens emerged victorious over the San Francisco 49ers by the score of XXXIV to XXXI.
This year the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will meet at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the game time temperature is expected to be in the neighborhood of XL, dropping to below freezing at night.
That’s ridiculous weather for a championship game but, hey, that’s just my II cents worth.
The Super Bowl is an American institution, Roman numerals notwithstanding. And while we like to think of the game as a tribute to civic pride, skill, fair play and sportsmanship, it’s largely about wagering.
According to one estimate, more than $8 billion is wagered every year on the Super Bowl alone. An estimated 200 million people bet on the outcome of the game worldwide.
Then there are the side bets. For example, you can bet on what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach. Or how many members of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, the halftime entertainment, will appear shirtless. Or the jersey number of the first player to score a touchdown. Or how long will it take Renee Fleming to sing the national anthem, if she will forget or omit one word or if she will be wearing gloves. If so, you can wager on what color gloves she will wear.
You can also put your hard earned cash on who the Super Bowl MVP will mention first in his speech: Teammates are at 2/1, followed by God (5/2), Fans (5/1), other team (7/1), coach or family (12/1), owner (25/1) and none of the above at 4/1.
Besides betting, the Super Bowl is about eating. Super Bowl Sunday can make Thanksgiving look like a day of fasting. And we’re not just talking about your famous football shaped cheese log or 50-layer dip.
The National Chicken Council estimates that 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed during the Super Bowl. There are expected to be 48 million take-out pizzas ordered. Some 80 million avocados will be consumed along with 11 million pounds of chips. It will be washed down with 325 million gallons of beer. The diet business will take in millions the following week.
The Super Bowl pregame show on Fox will last four hours. I defy you to find anyone who will admit to watching the entire thing. Somewhere in the midst of hours of sleep-inducing analysis, commentator Bill O’Reilly will interview President Obama. Expect some frank but cordial trash talking.
The game, including half-time show, will last another four hours. That should just about take up your day. But rest up. Marathon coverage of the Winter Olympics will begin and last more than two weeks. Break out the Stroganov and vodka and raise a toast to the fact that you don’t live in Russia.
Of course, there’s more to the Super Bowl than gorging and gambling. In fact, there’s more than just football involved. Who can forget these memorable moments?
The great blackout: In the middle of the 2013 game at the Superdome in New Orleans, the lights went out giving the proceedings an eerie third world feel. It lasted 35 minutes and was blamed on a faulty relay switch. That explanation didn’t sit well with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis who opined, “You cannot tell me somebody wasn’t sitting there and when they say, ‘The Ravens [are] about to blow them out. Man, we better do something.’ … That’s a huge shift in any game, in all seriousness. And as you see how huge it was because it let them right back in the game.”
The worst national anthem. Christina Aguilera’s version in 2011 was pretentious and bizarre ("What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming.") Fortunately for her, it sounded like grand opera compared to the “Star Spangled Banner” as performed in other venues by the likes of Steven Tyler and Roseanne Barr.
Worst (or maybe best) halftime show: The great wardrobe malfunction of 2004 in which Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for about half a second by the ham fisted Justin Timberlake. Also known as Nipplegate , it resulted in one of the greatest overreactions in the history of American entertainment: The FCC fined media conglomerates involved with the broadcast including Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries MTV, Clear Channel Communications, and Infinity Broadcasting, It also enforced a blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide. Timberlake, meanwhile, faced no such backlash.
Worst commercial: Anything produced by Go Daddy, which every year offers up cheesy ads that are just this side of porn. After all, sex sells. And what does it sell? Go Daddy is primarily an internet domain registrar and web hosting company. Could have fooled me. Based on their ads, I thought it was an escort service.
A close second was the Bud Bowl commercials in which a bunch of long neck beer bottles banged into each other in a simulated football game. It was so cartoonish and silly, it couldn’t hold the attention of a five-year-old.
Honorable mention: an ad showing Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner 10 years after he died. Dishonorable mention: In 1996, Giants quarterback Phil Simms became the first Super Bowl champ to announce “I’m going to Disney Land.”
Let the game begin.