America’s greatest sporting holiday is here. Many of us will gather together, eating and drinking and gambling and whooping and hollering, celebrating two of the greatest known American arts—blood sport and marketing—in a secular holiday second only to the Fourth of July.
Like many of us my family will be at a friend’s house for the annual Sunday night orgy of football, Madison Avenue over-exposure, eating and drinking. We’ll throw down chicken wings and assorted other sweet and salty carbs, sip adult beverages and consider the epic grudge match of New York versus New England.
The wife and child will duck in for the commercials and ask the occasional greenhorn question that reveals they watch football once a year. Kat claims neither of the New York football teams have counted since they both moved to New Jersey, but the Giant and Patriot Nations beg to differ.
TV networks expect at least 115 million of us will watch part of the game. I’m enough of an NFL fan that I’ll watch every play, knowing that there will be no games next week.
We came close to having our own community-tie to the big game this year, as Pope High’s T. J. Yates unexpectedly became one of the game’s biggest stories, taking his Houston Texans all the way to the second round of these playoffs before falling. I’m sure the Super Bowl party at the Yates home this year is bittersweet.
Most NFL fans are all about schadenfreude this time of year, the pain of others more interesting once our favorite team has been eliminated, which happens to all except one, glorious team.
If the Giants were to win by such a large margin that inscrutable New England Coach Bill Belichick stripped down to his jockeys and ran around in circles screaming he's on fire like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights, that would be more meaningful to most non-Giant or non-Patriot fans than the final score.
I’m a Falcons fan, going back to the mostly bad old days at Fulton County Stadium. Much like Hunter Thompson once wrote of Richard Nixon, the Atlanta Falcons never let me down. I know how that story ends. But for Giants and Patriots fans and the host city, today is filled with possibilities.
We send all of our civic best wishes to Indianapolis. Those of us who remember the roaring 1990s in Atlanta will recall the abuse the national press heaped on our city during the Super Bowl Week Ice Storm of 2000. Visiting Super Bowl grandees expect ice in their drinks and their sculptures, but ice falling from the sky is not acceptable.
At least Atlanta still had the Centennial Olympic shine left over, and plenty of four star hotel rooms for the assembled masses. Plus the Falcons had somehow actually played in the game the year before. We could handle a Super Bowl host hiccup and hold our heads high.
Poor Jacksonville got the game in 2005 and never quite recovered their civic pride once the assembled world press realized they were in, well, Jacksonville. I hope things work out better for Indianapolis.
Some of us will gamble a few bucks and others will bet larger amounts on the bounce of the pointed pigskin. Later tonight after all the confetti has fallen and champions crowned and we emerge from our carbohydrate stupor we will all know several fundamental truths—the football season is over, winter soon to follow. Everyone except one blessed fan base will be saying "wait until next year."
And the ultimate observance of the ritualized combat of football is as apt an American celebration as any.