Super Bowl Sunday is the culmination and the highlight of my annual sporting calendar. This year it will definitely face stiff competition from the World Cup and Olympic hockey, but there just isn’t anything like the Super Bowl. For the second straight year, I’ll be lucky enough to watch the game on big screen HD, which — short of actually being there — is the best possible way to watch sports. Also, because it’s an American feed, I’ll gratefully avoid a major menace of modernity: CTV simulcasting.
Watching the game with my dad and a close buddy of mine, I’ve decided to take a page out of ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ playbook and write up a running diary. Did I mention I love the Super Bowl? Yeah, the level of hype is stunning, almost nauseating, but you have to give league commissioner Roger Goddell and his minions props; no one amps up their product and orchestrates a media fervour quite like the NFL bosses do. Obviously, the Super Bowl is so much more than a game; it has become almost like a one-sport Olympics — all parties, rock concerts and beautiful people.
At the Super Bowl, everyone wants to be seen and everyone wants to be heard, and so, selfishly, I’m betting this collective need will create some high entertainment value for me. Inevitably, the commercials will be great (well, they should be at $3.2 million a pop) and someone will probably say or do something stupid. It should be good. As for the actual game, an hour before kickoff, here’s my prediction: 38-35 Saints in overtime. With all that has happened to New Orleans in the last few years (although I imagine living in central Indiana would be almost as tragic), it’s almost impossible to root against them. From a football perspective, I’m expecting NO’s rabid, turnover-fiending defense to make a difference in this game, after all, they forced roughly 191 Minnesota fumbles in the NFC title game to get here. Anyway, after nearly six hours listening to a motley crew of ex-coaches and players posturing and prognosticating it’s time for the national anthem and the opening kickoff.
5:26 p.m.: CBS and the NFL brought in Queen Latifah and Carrie Underwood to perform the 1-2 punch of America the Beautiful and the Star-Spangled Banner. Biggest mismatch ever. Carrie Underwood is a good singer and Queen Latifah is not.
5:42 p.m.: The 87-year old Matt Stover puts the Colts ahead with a short field goal, but more comically, one billion world-wide viewers see Mr. Robot, Colts QB Peyton Manning, drop a big and very obvious F-bomb on his way to the sidelines. Awesome.
5:49 p.m.: Saints wide receiver Marques Colston drops what should have been an easy first down catch. Inexplicably, CBS colour commentator and former NFL star Phil Simms explains that passes are only ever dropped when the receiver fails to concentrate enough to catch the ball. Passes are only dropped when the receiver doesn’t catch it? Insightful. It’s a good thing CBS pays him so much.
6:01 p.m.: Manning feathers a beautiful pass to his receiver and part-time French waiter, Pierre Garcon for a touchdown. Colts up 10-0. As a Titans fan, I really, really wish I could hate him, but he’s just too good.
6:08 p.m.: A Shape ups Skechers’ ad just featured Joe Montana talking about how much he enjoys the orthopedic benefits of Shape ups. He was once one of the biggest sports stars on the planet . . .
6:21 p.m.: By the way, it’s now 10-3 Colts thanks to a 46-yard field goal by my boy, Garrett Hartley.
6:44 p.m.: Brutal. The Colts stuff the Saints’ offensive on a four-down goal line stand. This could be a turning point in the game. Also, not a lot of offense so far. Can I change my prediction please? No? Damn you.
6:50 p.m.: Harts pumps another field goal through to close the half. 10-6 Colts. Bring on the Who!
7:14 p.m.: So Daltrey looked like he ripped his coat off the back of an inside-out zebra and his voice faltered at times, but those decrepit old men can still bring a show. And on the best effin’ stage set-up of all time, no less! Best half-time show since Nipplegate.
7:24 p.m.: Ironically enough, the Colts’ Hank Baskett can’t hold on to the ball on the Saints’ onside kick attempt. What a crazy scrum that was around the ball though. I would have gone on a tirade if the Saints hadn’t recovered that, but in this results-orientated business, coach Sean Payton is clearly a genius with some balls of steel.
7:28 p.m.: Touchdown Saints! Hell yes! 13-10!
7:38 p.m.: Manning orchestrates a touchdown to immediately reply and re-take the lead. I don’t know why this surprises me. He’s too good. Urgh. Colts up 17-13
7:49 p.m.: Harts is so money. Another Saints FG. 17-16.
8:05 p.m: What a fantastic defensive hold by the Saints to force a long Colts field goal attempt. Huge.
8:06 p.m.: And old man Stover hooks it! Wicked. Screw the Colts.
8:14 p.m.: Boom! Drew Brees completes to the half-deranged Jeremy Shockey for a TD. Now they need to go for two.
8:16 p.m. Ugh. It’s no good. I totally thought he had it. Throw the challenge flag, Coach P., throw the flag!
8:19 p.m.: God Bless instant replay! A reverse angle clearly shows that the ball crossed the goal plane before it was knocked away by the Colts defender. Saints get awarded the two extra points. 24-17 Saints. 5:34 remaining!
8:24 p.m.: “Whoa!” That was the collective groan that went up in my house as Saints’ DB Malcolm Jenkins came within a fingertip of intercepting Manning to essentially end the game.
8:29 p.m.: Unbelievable. Saints didn’t miss the INT this time! Pick-six baby! 31-17 Saints. In other news, I just invented a new literary device. It’s called unintentional foreshadowing. Who knew?
8:32 p.m.: P.S. I love the E*trade babies.
8:36 p.m.: Two minute warning and the Colts are driving to try and come back. As much as I hate this, Manning is a machine — with him, anything is possible.
8:43 p.m.: Fourth and goal here from the Saints’ three-yard line. It comes down to this.
8:44 p.m.: Manning can’t do everything after all! Saints win, Saints win, Saints win! Bourbon Street must be going nuts! Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and the entire city of New Orleans. This is a happy day. Looks like Mardi Gras is starting early, kids!