Get up to speed on all the big story-lines inside and outside the game with Michael Kasdan’s link-tastic Super Bowl XLVII Viewing Guide
Here we are: Super Bowl Sunday. The hype machine has been in full effect, with the culmination of two-weeks of media frenzy now focused like a laser on tonight’s game.
The Super Bowl is the NFL’s – and this country’s – annual TV mega-event, where fans and non-fans alike gather at parties to snack, be together, and watch the game, the commercials, and the half-time performances. The diverse array of stories leading up to the game is enough to make your head spin! The topics that everyone is talking about include story-lines from sports, human interest, music, advertising, business, culture, and the NFL itself.
With that in mind, here is a quick-hitting guide to some of the key stories of this year’s Super Bowl Sunday. Master these and you’ll be the hit of any Super Bowl party you attend, or any water-cooler you happen to be hanging out at.
The best offense or a good defense?
The game itself pits Denver’s league-best offense against Seattle’s league-best defense. If history is to be any guide, its Seattle’s game to win. In the prior Super Bowl’s that involved this rare matchup, the best defense prevailed five out of six times.
Place your bets!
The Broncos, led by golden boy – er – golden middle aged man quarterback Peyton Manning, are favored by roughly 2 points. Some predict the betting lines to shift Seattle’s way by game-time, but the Broncos have been consistent 2 point favorites over the past weeks. Of course, if your thing is betting on things like what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach after the game, check out our prop bet guide here. (We went with the traditional yellow.)
Fun (Random) Facts About The Teams – Weed, Horses, and Psychic Monkeys
Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized marijuana have their teams in the Super Bowl. Coincidence?
The Chinese New Year was last week, and this year is the Year of the Horse. This has to bode well for the Broncos.
Then again, a psychic ape in Utah has picked the Seahawks. And he hasn’t been wrong in the past six years.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The Legacy of Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has had a season for the ages, throwing for over fifty touchdowns. But does he need a Super Bowl win to cement his legacy?
Speaking of Manning, many have focused on his complex pre-snap code-words and signal-calling. Chief among them is “Omaha!”, which Manning says – well – a lot. So much in fact that he may pick up a sponsorship deal from the city of Omaha and stake-holders like Omaha Steaks.
Russell Wilson – Doing It For Short People
On the other side of the quarterback card is Seattle’s Russell Wilson. A two-sport athlete at Wisconsin, despite showing a big-time arm, poise, excellent athleticism and speed, Wilson wasn’t drafted until the 3rd round. Because he doesn’t have “prototypical NFL size.” AKA, he’s short.
Russell Wilson. Underdog. Giving short people a reason to live.
Silencing Beast Mode
Another of the big player-related stories is the rise of Seahawk’s running back, Marshawn Lynch. Nicknamed “Beast Mode,” Lynch ripped off one of the finest runs in NFL history in last year’s playoffs against the Saints.
Seattle’s bell-cow back hasn’t missed a beat since then, leading Seattle with over 1250 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Loud and proud on the field, Lynch has gotten into a bit of trouble during media week. For not talking to the media.
The Loquacious One
And then there’s Seattle’s super star cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman set off a controversial fire-storm with his brash post-game interview after the NFC Championship Game.
While Lynch won’t talk, Sherman can’t stop talking. And he’s a fascinating guy.
A Collection of Colquitts?
Well, the New York Times Sports Section profiled Denver Broncos punter, Britton Colquitt, and the rest of his punting family. A sure sign that two weeks in between football games really is too much time.
If its the coaches you want to talk about, both Super Bowl head coaches are “retreads” who have finally made it to the top.
And both are making a homecoming of sorts to Giant Stadium. (Well, Metlife Stadium is the new Giant Stadium and these guys coached in the old one, but close enough). Broncos head coach, John Fox used to be the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Seattle’s coach, Pete Carroll had a short-lived and forgettable tenure as head coach of the New York Jets.
Well, we know we are going to get our fair share of beer and pick-up truck ads, sexy super models, and gritty Americana.
Axe made a big splash early with its “Make Love. Not War” Ad. And Bud Light’s “The Perfect Beer For Whatever Happens” spot is a hilarious beer commercial that mocks its very beer-commercial-ness. Some of the other entrants from this year’s crop can be seen here.
Incredibly, we are ten years from the infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction. Following in the recent halftime entertainment footsteps of Madonna (2012) and Beyonce (2013) is the uber-talented Bruno Mars. It’s a break from Super Bowl halftime shows of years past, which featured “safe” but decidedly older generation rock stars like Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Who, or The Rolling Stones. Bringing a bit more of an alternative (but also older but not ancient generation) star-power to this year’s stage are The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And if the music isn’t enough for you, they are also planning some bizarre fan-created stadium-sized LED display with wool hats and lights. Really.
There was a lot of fun speculation about the weather being a factor, since the Super Bowl is usually reserved either for warm-weather stadiums, domes, or both. Snow – or the frozen tundra of Metlife Field – would have been nice. But alas it was not to be. Game-time temperatures are expected to be balmy in the mid-forties.
Stoking The Fire on New Jersey’s Inferiority Complex
Although the game is hosted at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, many seem to think that New York is the host city. This may have something to do with all of the awesome pre-Super Bowl events taking place in NYC, which turned Broadway into “Super Bowl Boulevard.” One New Jersey resident taking pictures of all the hubbub in the city even created the hashtag #ButTheGamesInNewJersey. (OK, that was me.)
One fun story-line focused on the fact that the mayor of East Rutherford wasn’t even invited to the game. That is, until the owner of the Indianapolis Colts took pity on him and invited him to sit in a luxury box at Metlife Stadium. It will be his first time.
Football Issues and Social Issues
There are also plenty of NFL-connected social issues that are teed up for discussion.
The inherently violent nature of America’s most popular sport also raises difficult questions about sports, violence and society.
Chief among the results of the hard-hits are concussions. The league has been trying to grapple with this issue by changing its rules to protect “defenseless receivers” and to penalize helmet-to-helmet hits. Recently, the NFL tried to settle a massive class action lawsuit involving concussion claims of prior players only to have a judge reject the $765M proposed settlement as insufficient.
Thanks to former Minnesota Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, the issue of homophobia in sports remains at the fore.
Finally, another headline story from this year was the bullying incident involving two Miami Dolphin’s players, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. With the issue of bullying front-and-center in our schools, this troubling story about bullying and hazing in sports is an important one for raising awareness.
Well, that brings us to a close. Stop reading already! You have a Super Bowl party to get to!
And whether its the game itself, the players, the music, the commercials, or something else that you like best, enjoy the day and enjoy the party!
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Anthony Quintano