R.J.'s Disoriented Guide to Super Bowl XLIV

R.J.'s Disoriented Guide to Super Bowl XLIV

This piece was originally published February 1st, 2010

The Super Bowl.

You're reading those words and doubtlessly experience an instantaneous reaction to them.

In an era of total media saturation and immersion in the commercial build-up that proceeds it, a fairly difficult task is to not be bombarded by a mention of this grand American institution somewhere along your daily travels.

This Sunday is Super Bowl XLIV (that's number 44 which means next year will be the really great one with Super Bowl XLV, until we get to really really grand one which I guess they need to call Super Bowl L !? if they stay with the Roman style of numbering them. then again maybe they will go with XXXXX or maybe they will move to Sanskrit numbers because they look better). 

We have, ladies and gentlemen, the underdog New Orleans' Saints vs the bookies' favorites, the Indianapolis Colts.

The Saints, led by quarterback Drew Brees and aided by superstar tight end Jeremy Charles Shockey, will attempt the unthinkable, in their first Super Bowl appearance, defeat the legacy building, relentlessly driven (and some say greatest) quarterback in all of football, Peyton Manning. He doubtlessly would love to add another two Super Bowl championship rings to his one so that he may tie New England Patriots' QB Tom Brady and perhaps go on to surpass Brady's total number of rings.

How do you feel about this coming Sunday? Perhaps the answer lies below, and if you were not going to watch before, you may be persuaded to after reading this...

While I know that there may be exceptions to any sort of generalization, it is probably safe to say that your own heart (and mine) lies somewhere in one of these camps when it comes to this massively popular almost holiday:

#1) Anyone who loves football and follows it all season long with an intensity rivaled only by a love of buffalo wings, chicken legs, beer, (perhaps watching the cheerleaders' legs falls in here somewhere as well) and large bags of potato chips.

For you, dear loyal fan, it is finally here: "The Big Game!," "The Big Event!," the apex, the acme, the crest, the summit, the climax, the ne plus ultra...THE SUPER BOWL!

Sub-folders may include:

a: Those who exhibit marginally sociopathic behavior a.k.a. the goofy, drunken face painter FANatic.

b: The Fantasy footballer. May or may not own a vibrating, electric tabletop football game.

c: The sports gambling addict. It's all about the point spread.

d: The daily sports talk radio listener who has spent endless hours listening to the breakdown of the game which has lead to this pinnacle moment. This more or less boils down to following daily soap operas, but not ones that have anything to do with any typical version of romance. These love/hate travails include player tradetalk and contract minutia, bad coaching decisions and endless injury speculations. Closely connected to the fantasy footballer and vibrating electronic football game player. These folks dare not make fun of anyone who watches The Young and The Restless, and can now tell everyone, "I'm listening to my stories!"

e: The big fan who still falls well below the obsessiveness of any of the above categories. Watches most of the games and can discuss them in great detail, and may throw a few shekels into some friendly office pools, but is not to the point of face painting, listening to Sports talk radio, addictive gambling, playing fantasy football or falling off too many barstools.

#2) Sports hater. No interest, no time. It is a stupid game viewed by even stupider cretins who enjoy seeing large wealthy men in polyester tights chasing and subsequently climbing over one another while fighting to grab an insignificant item with a funny shape. Are there even any rules to this melee?

Sub-folders may include:

a: The visual artist/writer/musician/actor who can't be bothered with something that those talentless consumers eat up by the barrel. No time for such nonsense while trying to buy the latest Animal Collective limited edition numbered e.p. or working on a script that involves large wealthy men in polyester tights chasing and subsequently climbing over one another while fighting to grab an insignificant item with a funny shape.

b: Team sports hater. Digs individual sporting challenges such as chess, tennis, crossword puzzles or video games instead, although these can often creep over into impersonal online team activities as well. World Of Warcraft players insert character name here.

b: Huh? What's going on this Sunday? I have no idea what that is and I don't like music either.

#3) The casual, perhaps even slightly disinterested, viewer for most of the time type. Perhaps with only a marginal interest in any type of sporting event. However, this interest can be amplified if the local team makes it to the playoffs and then manages to get into the big championship game. Then it becomes a pretty fun event to watch.

Sub folders may include:

a: The Pink Hat. While often relegated unfairly, and in a sexist manner to girlfriends and wives, it can refer to anyone of any age and sex who is a bandwagon jumper because their team is ahead or only interested in making an appearance. The term originated when sports merchandisers decided to expand their selection of items (offering pink colors for the ladies) to ensnare a previously untapped market of football widows, fashionistas, gang members and mallrats who refuse to remove the "official" ugly sizing stickers from their fitted caps.

b: The friendly conversationalist trying to learn more about this intriguing team contact sport. A sport that has rules of such a complex nature and intricacy of play variations, that it takes a determination not unlike studying for a degree in astrophysics.

#4) The everything other than the game itself fan. May include party givers, party attendees, tailgaters, merchandisers, corporate box free ticket recipients, ticket scalpers, food purveyors and everyone else who only moderately cares about the actual game and is instead enjoying the trappings that surround it. Close relative to the "look at me I'm at the game and on t.v." cell phone talker.

Of course any of the above may involve overlaps, blurring of lines and deceptive crossovers.

It gets a bit difficult, if you are actually a paid employee within the sports industry such as a referee, work for sports talk radio, or in any other way are close to the leagues and make a living off of this game.

I have yet to figure out which type of fan you could be if you are a contracted professional football player, manager or coach at which point you probably have also been given access to the tiny secret room that lies in the back of each team owner's office where you read the scripts for the entire season and decided to sign off on whether this was the year in which your team would win or lose. If you have reached this point please contact me and confirm my suspicions as to why the Patriots were not allowed to win the big one after having a perfect 18 - 0 season...

My pick for this Super Bowl is a close win by the New Orleans Saints.

While I suspiciously ponder whether, after all the misery that the wonderful city of New Orleans experienced during the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, the commissioner of the National Football League gathered 'round his table of team owners for a conference call and decided then
and there, that five years hence the Saints would become winners of their first Super Bowl championship the real reason why I think the Saints will win are multi-faceted and numerous.

First the reasons most analysts think they won't win:

Teams on their first visit to a S.B. rarely perform well due a variety of reasons such as playing in an unfamiliar setting and the massive media buildup that has surrounded the game.

The Saints defense is not a "suffocating" one.

Unlike with The Colts', no obvious Hall Of Famers in the current Saints organization.

Here are a few of my reasons for picking The Saints (this might be where the "disoriented" part of my title for this piece comes in):

The interested world would love to see the Saints win. This would be a happy ending for a team that suffered a history of ridicule, Katrina, and at one time had fans showing up wearing paper bags over their heads and nicknaming the team "The 'Aints."

I really dig a nice Fleur-de-lis design.

Peyton Manning, by defeating the Saints, would not only look like one of the meanest killjoys in recent football history, his ambition and drive for this win could be his undoing.

Payton's father is the legendary NFL quarterback Archie Manning. Archie not only played with the Saints from 1971-1982, he makes his primary home in New Orleans where is he currently an analyst for the Saints' radio and pre season games. While I love thinking (see the secret room script above) that this could influence a win for The Saints (although some may think collusion was at work if they did win) I do believe this could be in Peyton's head and act as some sort of mental tripping up and ultimate undoing. For the record, Peyton's younger quarterback brother Eli won a ring with the New York Giants, beating out the New England Patriots and stopping their quest for perfection in 2007's Super Bowl.

Should The Saints unstoppable offense work as well as we have seen this past season, along with the most recent news that Colts' defensive end Dwight Freeney has an injured ankle and most likely will not be able to play this Sunday, we could have less of a close match-up than many expect. Personally, as I said before, I think that this game will be a very close and exciting one.

With all of this background drama, and adding in a halftime performance by one of my all time favorite groups, The Who (well at least half of the original The Who, but still predictably an exciting live act) viewers should be in for a treat that stands among the better of Super Bowl games.

Have a blast and may The Saints go marching in!

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