ESCANABA - It should be a good game, but let's be honest. That's not why you're going to watch it. At least not if you're Joe American, the casual fan that watches because, well, that's what you do on Super Bowl Sunday.
Moreso than ever, the Super Bowl has become a spectacle. For years, it's always been a week of fanfare and excitement. It was always secondary to the main event though, crowning an NFL champion.
As reccently as Super Bowl XLII, I can clearly recall David Tyree's historic reception from Eli Manning, as the New York Giants successfully knocked off the 18-0 New England Patriots.
I remember the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV when Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair hit receiver Kevin Dyson, who came up 1-yard short of the game winning touchdown, stretching out his arm in futility. The Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams prevailed.
I'm sure much of the nation enjoyed Super Bowl XLV with the NFL's two largest fanbases, Green Bay and Pittsburgh going head to head as well, but was the game really all that memorable to those without a direct attachment to either team?
I search my memory bank back to Super Bowl XLIV between New Orleans and Indianapolis and Super Bowl XLIII between Pittsburgh and Arizona and...nothing. Maybe it's just me, but I think somewhere along the line, the game has gotten lost in the overcommercialization of the event.
For example, I can't tell you what happened at the end of last year's game, but I can tell you Chrysler put out a defiant ad, defending the city of Detroit and wasn't there a Doritos ad? Something about a guy holding a bag of chips and a dog running toward the closed glass door?
Advertisers aren't spending $3.5 million per 30 seconds for nothing. They've spent countless amounts figuring out exactly how our brains are hardwired, and tailor advertising to fit. That's why I can recall the E-trade baby but I can't tell you off-hand who won Super Bowl XLI. E-Trade? I can't imagine ever having a use for it, but whenever I try to think of previous Super Bowl's the first image that pops into my head is that talking baby at the computer, trading stocks.
Oh, and the hype. The terrible, terrible hype. Super Bowl media day might be the worst thing ever invented. We'll hear everything from the name of Victor Cruz's goldfish and his back story to Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis' family tree and how he's the great grand-nephew of Walter Payton, twice removed. When Eli Manning was a boy, he once broke the sound barrier with his arm in a dazzling display of exaggeration. Sheesh.
We'll get stories about the history of each team and statistics, breaking down every minute detail. Gambling junkies will eat it all up, searching for that one tidbit of information that's going to give them the confidence they need to place that big bet. We'll get stories about the fanbases of each team and their demographics. Sorry, but I could care less if the average income of a New Yorker is $29,500 a year. What the heck does that have to do with football?
There's the halftime show, which is a half-hour commerical in and of itself. It's an excuse to get something to eat, do your taxes, shovel your driveway, buy some shares on E-trade.
Or you could, you know...watch it. I don't know about you, but I thought the Black Eyed Peas gave a very moving performance last year. I think it's great that at the halfway point of the NFL championship, a horde of backup dancers and some lip synching "musicians" "entertain" us. But hey, whatever floats your boat I guess. For Joe American, maybe that's what makes it worth tuning in.
Me? I'll settle for the good old days of Super Bowl XXXII. Brett Favre, John Elway, a real game. The days when the sideshow was the sideshow and the game was the main event.
Though sadly, I think that's just the nostalgia of a now bygone era talking.