Updated: March 3, 2014 3:05PM
Today’s gridiron granddaddy of gluttony is not only about NFL football, shameless commercialism and America’s fascination with itself. It also offers us a daylong reflection of ourselves — what we want, what we value and what we deem important.
Today’s column will break down the spectacle’s X’s and O’s and pop culture significance, as well as its hype, hoopla, and histrionics. So let’s huddle up.
This time of year is typically the coldest, longest, most boring time, long after we scream Happy New Year yet before we utter Happy Valentine’s Day to our football widows. It’s a sad, dreary netherworld that we try to flee from each year.
So why not flee toward the hysteria and happenings surrounding a five-hour global event that will be talked about by most everyone else on Monday? Isn’t this the universal aspect of all spectator sports — to entertain us, to distract us, to be a handy accomplice in escaping from our lives, if only for a few hours?
The daily grindstone awaits us all. What’s not to love about today’s escapist reprieve from our own reality shows?
This will be the first time the game has been held in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as being the first Super Bowl played outdoors in the northern United States.
But it’s still one team of pampered, overpaid, egotistical behemoths playing a kid’s game against another nearly identical team. The notable difference here is the NFL’s best offense, the Denver Broncos, behind quarterback Peyton Manning, against the NFL’s best defense, the Seattle Seahawks, behind outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman. (Too bad no Broncos player is named Crabtree.)
Did you already watch Fox News host Bill O’Reilly interview President Obama during the station’s pregame show? Did they talk about Sherman versus Manning? Or anything about the “Stoner Bowl” or “Bong Bowl,” because Denver and Seattle come from the only two states to legalize recreational use of marijuana?
Or did O’Reilly stick to his game plan by relentlessly blitzing Obama about political issues, sacking him for another loss in public approval? I’m looking for Obama to punt but not drop the ball. We’ll see.
Football, like every other sport, creates a familiar huddle for people from different social classes, religious beliefs, political parties, and even geographical end zones.
Instead of rooting for what faith we worship, our lifestyle choices, or our political leanings, we can say we’re Broncos fans, Seahawks fans or simply sports fans. By doing so, we get drafted to a roster of like-minded fans, transcending so many other societal walls, obstacles, and prejudices.
For me, it all boils down to competition. This is the essence of sports. All the other trappings shoved down our throat today are simply the price we pay to get our competition fix. And it’s usually worth it. I don’t care who wins. I just want a competitive game.
At this point, you’re probably in need of a little entertainment, especially if you’re not a fan of Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. How about a little trivia to stump your friends?
Did you know the top-rated Super Bowl of all time, in TV viewership, was last year: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers? (Second place was Super Bowl XX in 1986, Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots.)
Also, in the past 14 years, the city with the smaller population has won the Super Bowl 10 times, giving Denver the edge because it has 0.04 percent less people than Seattle, according to the U.S. Census. (The population of East Rutherford, N.J., where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played, is only 8,978.)
If you’re still bored until the second half kickoff, check out these entertaining videos I found on YouTube: “A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL,” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRqKYXcL-2U; and a helmet-cam video from the Broncos’ skydiving team showing a “touch down” at Mile High Stadium, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJI4nDod7Fg.
If by the 48th TV commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII you want to throw your remote control in a perfect spiral through your wide-open TV screen, keep this in mind. It’s not the advertisers’ fault for making us an ad, ad, ad, ad world. It’s our fault.
We not only welcome commercials, we worship them, even as we pretend to ignore, detest, or protest them. Commercialism doesn’t exist against our better judgment. Commercialism is our better judgment. But why?
“It’s not always about the product, but about how the product or brand makes you feel,” explained local advertising expert Martin Oleksy, co-host of “The Ad Men” radio show on Lakeshore Public Media.
Take, for example, today’s Budweiser commercial about a cute puppy who befriends a Clydesdale horse. It doesn’t just tug on our heartstrings, it yanks them. And we love it.
Get a sneak peek at today’s commercials, costing an average of $4 million for a 30-second spot, here: http://voices.suntimes.com/arts-entertainment/the-daily-sizzle/watch-the-super-bowl-commercials-touchdowns-and-fumbles/.
The Super Bowl is also the granddaddy of gambling opportunities for novices and addicts alike. Whether we’re betting in the office pool, against the local bookie, or with others online, the official sports books will handle roughly $200 million in wagers today.
Betters will wager their cash on all kinds of silly things before, during and after the game, including how many times Manning will yell “Omaha” from the line of scrimmage. Last I heard, the over-under betting line is 27 times.
For chronic gamblers or addicts, it must be like New Year’s Eve for alcoholics, with so many opportunities to lay down their cash on something, anything. New Jersey’s Council on Compulsive Gambling knows this so it launched a mobile billboard to drive around the stadium today with an (800) GAMBLER help line.
But I’m betting it doesn’t get many calls, how about you? My prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 24.