by Ryan Meehan
After a season of some fantastic NFL football – as well as a lot of real stinkers – Super Bowl XLIX is finally here. For the second straight year, both one seeds in their respective conference will be appearing in the big game. It should be one of the best Super Bowl in recent years, and after saying that about last year’s shitstorm it had better be. The football Gods kind of owe us a good one here, as we had high expectations for last year’s game and it ended up being terrible. We’ve still never had a Super Bowl go into overtime, and that’s something that every fan wants to see before they end up like Morgan Freeman’s character at the end of The Bucket List. (Spoiler alert) This one’s for all of the marbles, a saying that would be a decent analogy if anybody still played with marbles in 2015. Sunday night we will get to see the Fourty-Ninth Super Bowl in NFL history, and this is the First Order Historians Super Bowl XLIX Extravagantacular.
As most of you know the game will be held in Glendale, Arizona, one of the sixteen thousand suburbs that are in the Phoenix area. One of the most unique features of University of Phoenix Stadium is the fact that the playing surface is actually outside of the arena, and is then rolled into the facility the day of the event. This is supposedly done to ensure optimal growing conditions for the grass, and if there’s a better example of a first world problem than this feel free to email it to me as I’d love to hear about it. The stadium was built for the affordable price of $455 million dollars, with two-thirds of that figure coming from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority. By comparison, the Arizona Native American Preservation Society simply donated two heavily worn dollar bills paper-clipped to a handwritten note that simply read…”Seriously, Fuck You Guys”. It seats 63,400 people, but is expandable to 72,200 and with standing room peaks at 78,600. Nevertheless in the 2011 BCS National Championship game the final attendance count was 78,603, which means that three people were snuck into the premises via overcoat and thank God there wasn’t a fire.
Festivities for the forty-ninth annual NFC-AFC Championship for NFL supremacy begin sometime around Friday Night January 30th on ESPN, with Chris Berman giving us his “2-Minute Drill” and reminding us that as long as you’re good at what you do you can be an alcoholic for thirty years without anyone lifting a finger to say a damn word. On Sunday NBC’s pregame coverage will likely begin sometime around noon, and countless hours of overanalysis will be briefly interrupted at points by artists that you don’t want to listen to. The pregame warm-up acts are going to be Idina Menzel and John Legend. Menzel – who will be singing the national anthem – rose to stardom because she is the one that sings that “Let it Go” song from the “Frozen” movie. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about these two princesses that work for a law firm in Philadelphia and are then fired when their boss discovers they have AIDS. It really makes you think about 1) your place in this crazy world we live in; and 2) the fact that my medication might not be working properly. John Legend is somebody that I’m also not a huge fan of at all, and he will be performing “America the Beautiful” while I will be in the bathroom viciously turtling that burrito I smashed the previous evening. The silver lining of this portion of the broadcast will of course be Bob Costas and Rodney Harrison. Costas is still masterful at interviewing athletes, and Harrison might be the only legitimate ex-NFLer who is currently on television working as an analyst. While we’re on that subject, let’s take a look at the rest of the broadcast.
NBC has the big game this year, which is good because their Sunday Night NFL program is the most watched show on television. Compared to what you see on FOX and CBS, NBC is the cream of the crop. The camera angles are awesome, and there are a lot of personalities to dissect within that broadcast. Let’s get right to it…
Bob is a straight up legend. He’s been doing this in some form or another for a very long time, and he really gives us a look into what some of these athletes are thinking. Plus, his performances in “BASEketball” and “Pootie Tang” are classic. I could go on forever here, but keep in mind Costas is the only broadcaster in the history of sports that fans actually would like to see as a commissioner of a major sport. (MLB) That tells you all you need to know about the guy even though it will never actually happen.
I’m a huge fan of Dan’s radio show, so it would only follow that I support his work on Sunday Night Football in America. That being said, I’m kind of suspicious that DP is on steroids. I know of no other fifty-eight year old man who isn’t into bodybuilding that is in that good of shape, so I think maybe NBC should piss test him and see if he comes up clean. All joking set aside though, I do love Dan’s work and I know Dubs does as well – which is an achievement because Jonathan doesn’t even like homeless puppies.
Don’t like him. Great coach, and I have to say that I enjoyed reading his book. But he is very out of place on that broadcast, and just kind of seems like he’s being put there as the old man whose sole purpose is to argue with a recently retired player like Rodney. Give it a couple more years of focus groups in the offseason and he’ll be gone. Too soft, and tends to let his lifestyle opinions get in the way of talking about a collision sport that turns the brains of grown men into applesauce.
A+ work here. Rodney isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, and that’s why we love him. Additionally, Rodney and I have something in common other than the fact that we are both of African-American descent: We both went to Western Illinois University. Well, sort of…Rodney was a star athlete on the Macomb campus during the early nineties, and about a week before the September 11th terrorist attacks I began attending the Quad Cities branch. It was essentially an old IBM building that had been divided into a few classrooms, and after a few years they gave me a bachelor’s degree in hopes that my rancid flatulence would no longer scare the high school kids that were coming to visit. It didn’t work, but the point of that story is that basically Rodney and I are exactly alike.
I’ve grown up with Al, and I kind of like him. His half of the booth isn’t who I’m worried about, and we’ll get to that here in a second. Michaels has won five Emmys, and although he’s getting older he is still very vibrant and the perfect play-by-play guy for the Super Bowl. He’s done it all…literally. He’s the only sportscaster who has been a participant in calling all four major sports championships and the Olympics, as well as Hagler/Hearns at Ceasar’s Palace back in ’85. He also holds a special place in my heart because he called Super Bowl XXV and I’m a die hard Giants fan, even though that will probably be the last time I say that Al Michaels holds a special place in my heart for doing anything. And he also has built up a monolithic amount of respect for the American populace because he’s had to hold this show together while standing next to this assbag…
By now we’ve already written thousands of jokes about how poor Collinsworth is at being the color guy for the NBC broadcast, but there’s no cap on that so let’s fire away. To be fair, he has gotten a little bit more tolerable over the past season. He’s cut back on how often he laughs at his incredibly stupid observational quips, and he’s been able to provide us with some useful information at key points during the 2014-15 NFL season. That said, he probably still eats ice cream with his fingers and there’s no way he puts on his own underwear every morning. If he has a valid driver’s license that has to be the reason why the balance of the world has been off as of late, and I sincerely hope he aced the final in that plant watering class he was taking.
New England Patriots
New England is coming off of a rough week and a half in which they have became the center of attention for the sports world due to the Deflategate scandal. I already discussed this on Sunday, and to be perfectly honest I have about had it with this story. So much like the team, I won’t be discussing it any further. Aside from all of the tabloid style chaos the Patriots are also coming off of a murderous butchering of the Colts conference championship week, where they seemingly did everything right and beat a decent team by 38 points in the rain without their quarterback throwing for 250 yards. But their true genius lies in their ability to throw out amazing play calling progressions. They will need a little bit more of that Coach B sequencing mastery in the Super Bowl, compared with the “go for the throat” mentality that they exhibited in the Indianapolis game. While sometimes it takes Belichick a couple of drives to get the correct magic potion brewed for the domination of the remainder of the game, here that type of trial and error is going to be necessary but could prove to be very dangerous given Seattle’s nature to create turnovers. I look for Rob Gronkowski to have the game of his life here because when you consider that Brady will be retiring in a couple of years – along with how much Gronk gets hurt – he doesn’t really find himself with much of a choice.
The Seahawks are coming in having won a game a lot of people – including myself – think that they were lucky to get away with. Very rarely do you see a guy throw four interceptions in a conference championship and actually get away with it. And when Marshawn Lynch isn’t running the ball, the 27th ranked offense in the National Football League can really struggle at times putting the ball in the air. Let’s not forget that for fifty-five minutes of that game, Seattle’s offense was just sad at absolute best. So of course, they will be heavily relying on their defensive power to create turnovers and turn those turnovers into points. Their ability to stop Tom Brady and force him to make tough throws might not only be the one thing that they will need to stay alive in this contest, it could very well be the one thing that keeps this from quickly becoming a blowout. If there was one game where Russell Wilson has the opportunity to put his doubters in place, this is going to be it but he’s going to need to exercise extreme caution in doing so otherwise it could be a long evening.
The Halftime Entertainment
Despite my numerous emails to the NFL in attempt to get Napalm Death to do fourteen solid minutes in front of the world’s largest professional sports audience, the NFL announced back on October 9th that this year the halftime entertainment would be pop singer Katy Perry. Katy was married to actor Russell Brand for a brief period, further proof that in the bizarre event she actually does own a dictionary the pages with the words “comedian” and “talent” have definitely been removed. She first hit it big in 2008 with the hit single “I Kissed a Girl”, a song whose video didn’t even come close to meeting my expectations and tolerance levels when it comes to hardcore on-screen lesbian action. Since then she’s worked with Kanye West and recorded an MTV Unplugged album, but in all fairness she’s also made a lot of good career choices as well. Although I love pop music, Perry’s compositions have always seemed very forced when compared to others who are just naturals when it comes to songwriting. It’s music for girls who are somewhere in that weird age group where getting your ears pierced is the most earth shattering thing that can happen to you, so in a way it’s the perfect target audience for a group of people that otherwise have no interest in the game itself. To further complicate matters she announced that one of her guests would be Gibson Flying V advocate and irritatingly fashionable rocker Lenny Kravitz. Believe it or not, I do respect certain highlights of Lenny’s career. I really dig “Mama Said” and I love the hook in “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”. He also wrote “Justify My Love” by Madonna, which would have been a huge hit had MTV bigwigs not been practically facing electrocution if they aired more than three seconds of the video. But for some reason, overall I just don’t trust the guy. The conspiracy theorist in me keeps thinking that he’s taking all of this money he made from selling records and not quite being Prince to purchase warehouses of scarves that will never see the light of day. I’m also pissed about this because Katy Perry was interviewed on The Today Show recently and they asked her what she’d be playing. When she wouldn’t tell the jackass that passes for a journalist what pile of dogshit she had ready to serve to America on a hot plate, he figured he’d take a stab and say that the two would be playing “American Woman”. Staring through dead eyes and covered in eighty pounds of mascara, she replied by saying “I don’t know…you’ll have to watch and see!” Oh, you big tease…Did that really happen? Did Katy Perry really look into a camera and suggest that we should do something other than empty our bladders at halftime on the off chance that a guy whose mother played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons might do a Guess Who cover in the wrong key in 2015? There is some potential solace here though…Based on the material which might appear in this performance, there is always the chance that she does that “Roar” song and brings out some type of big cat like a lion or a jaguar. This would be hilarious for two reasons: 1) It would be the only chance that a Lion or a Jaguar would actually get to step on the field at the Super Bowl; and 2) There is the real possibility that she does something stupid and the cat would eat her. I’m not saying I want to see anybody get hurt, but I will say that sometimes when I say that I am lying.
The game: New England Patriots (14-4) -1.0 at Seattle Seahawks (14-4) (48)
New England and Seattle were both one seeds, so there’s no Cinderella story that can come out of this game. When the playoffs started this is the game everybody wanted to feast their eyes on, so as you can imagine everyone who has ever been a sports fan at some point in their life will likely be glued to the television for this one. It’s the classic case of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, proving that at least half of this one is going to be an instant classic.
When New England has the ball
This is the portion of the game that you are absolutely not going to want to miss. The last time these two teams met, Tom Brady supposedly told Richard Sherman to have him and Earl Thomas find him after the game when the Patriots won. Sherman then later tweeted a picture of himself talking an immense amount of shit to the visually dejected Tom after the Seahawks engineered a comeback that saw them winning the game 24-23 after being down thirteen points. But that was two years back, and even though the Seahawks have gotten better at many aspects of their pass coverage they may be in a little bit over their head here. As I said earlier, this is the day that Rob Gronkowski has been waiting for his entire life. But perhaps Belichick knows the Seahawks are aware of that, and Gronk’s touches will be brilliantly limited so that other players on the team who are not expected to touch the ball will sneak for first downs that will move Brady in position for the kill. Look, all I’m saying is that don’t be shocked if we find ourselves in another Jonas Gray situation Monday morning. But just as easy as Tom Brady can tie Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for Super Bowl victories by winning this game, LeGarrette Blount could end up being your most unlikely Super Bowl MVP. That would be a crazy story wouldn’t it? A guy who got cut from the Steelers just over two months ago for leaving a meaningless game against the Titans might just be a 130 yard rushing day away from being the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player. If I’m Seattle, it’s all about staying on top of the manner in which New England calls the plays. If they bust off fifteen straight passing attempts in a row like they did in the divisional playoff game against the Ravens, I don’t care how good your defense is – that’s going to be a problem. But if there is one defense that can manage it, that would have to be the Legion of Boom. This should prove to be one of the better match-ups from scrimmage in recent years, so don’t touch that dial or leave that couch when these two squads are on the field.
When Seattle has the ball
These could very well be the sequences which determine the outcome of this game. While Russell Wilson pulled off an incredible comeback in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay, let’s also not forget that he was pretty awful for a huge portion of that contest. He’s still not quite there yet, and could potentially be facing a situation where even if he wins the game here he’s always going to be looked at as the Trent Dilfer type player who always rode his defense to glory instead of taking the reigns. I expect Seattle to run the ball a lot during the first couple of drives to see how well that is working for them. I’ll shit a brick if they come out and throw down the field to Doug Baldwin on the first play, a lot like Pete Carroll will probably shit a brick if they actually have the balls to run that play and get picked off right away. It is going to take the patience of generations of saints for them to manage this game to the point where they will be effectively able to have any sort of control. The only thing they do have going for them is the Patriots have shown signs of weakness on defense at times this year. The first half of the Baltimore game divisional weekend they didn’t exactly look very sharp, and if they could turn back time I would think they’d like to have pretty much the whole Kansas City game back. The question is: Will Russell Wilson be able to step up and take advantage of these holes when they present themselves? It may be the lesser entertaining half of the two sequences, but if you’re a true football fan you will appreciate every second of it.
Personally I have never really been particularly impressed by Super Bowl commercials. If the game itself were as predictable as the commercials, Las Vegas would look like downtown Detroit by the first week of March. Here are some locks for the advertising spots that you can take to the bank right now: Budweiser will likely thank you for purchasing thousands of dollars worth of their products each calendar year, and then advise you to “Drink Responsibly” which is kind of hypocritical given myself or anyone of my friends have never taken a single cab ride at the expense of Anheuser-Busch. Pepsi will spend a majority of the second quarter reminding you that nothing goes with the Super Bowl quite like an ice cold Pepsi, and not to forget to crack open an ice cold Pepsi while watching the Pepsi halftime show featuring Katy Pepsi and Pepsi Kravitz. McDonald’s will run one of those feel-good ads that focuses on how their french fries can bring people of all walks of life together at the dinner table, as opposed to keeping it honest and finally admitting to the world that everything else on their menu will give you diarrhea and type 2 diabetes before you finally drop dead in the parking lot. Speaking of unnecessary diversity, the Frito-Lay family of products will run some stupid ad that will show ten people in the same living room who would never hang out with each other in a million years that are blown away by the innovative option to dip a fucking potato chip in a jar of salsa. Did I miss anything? Oh right…the NFL will probably run a spot making you feel guilty for all of the sociopolitical issues they failed at acknowledging the first month of the season when it could have really counted. This commercial – which will effectively do nothing to help the causes which it is addressing – will feature a lot of celebrities in tears and will likely kill the mood of the flow of what should otherwise be a decent broadcast. Now after having read this paragraph, I ask you…are any of those things worth four and a half million dollars for thirty seconds?
As much as I’d love to see the Seahawks come out again and repeat their blowout of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, I can pretty much guarantee you that it isn’t going to happen here. I realize that this piece has been kind of lopsided in the favor of the Patriots, but really…what else am I supposed to say here? Every cliche goes out the window with regards to what the Seahawks need to do in order to make this game competitive. To hell with “60 minutes of solid football”, Seattle is going to need 75 minutes’ worth of effort here if they even want to have a fighting chance. “110%”? You’d better bring at least a couple servings of that… And “at the end of the day”, you don’t want to be the guy who is using the phrase “at the end of the day” to explain why you didn’t win. All that said, I expect the Seahawks to give it more than all that they have, leave it all out on the field, and all of those other things you can’t stand to hear during press conferences – but still it will not be enough. I like the Patriots to cover what I believe is a spread that doesn’t do them nearly enough justice, a spread I’m assuming has a lot to do with the way that Seattle unexpectedly porked Peyton Manning in his pie hole about a year ago this week. That’s the only reason this isn’t a lead pipe lock, and it’s still awfully close to being one. The Seahawks are slowly being a team I wouldn’t touch point total bets on, so even though my prediction suggests that it would be the over don’t touch it. I’m taking New England by seven either way.
Patriots 29, Seahawks 22
What to focus on:
I don’t really care if you drink alcohol during the game or not, because the Super Bowl is more of an eating holiday to me. For some reason grown men in pads strategically plotting to turn each other either into dust or plaintiffs in what’s about to become the world’s largest concussion settlement seems to be a perfect match for me sitting on my couch shoveling corn chips and ranch dip into my craw. And for once, I’d like to see other people do the same. Everybody’s given up on their New Year’s diet by this point anyway, so let’s make Super Bowl Hangover Monday the day where everybody finally decides to get their shit together. From that point forward it’s bottled water, grapes, and carrots. But that Sunday Night? Open season. Have a blast on your last night as a free man until next winter starts and you fall back into the same habits.
And remember: If you don’t wake up the next day with bad gas, the terrorists win.
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