OK, so you aren’t the world’s biggest sports fan. You don’t know a nickel set from a flea flicker, and what exactly is a “tight end” and where can I get pictures of it?
But it doesn’t really matter. Super Bowl Sunday, for all intents and purposes, is a national holiday. It has its own recipes. There is clothing marketed just for the day (team specific, so it changes every year — a stroke of merchandising genius). Entertainers turn out in droves to see and be seen at the big show. Some even perform. And why not? Thirty-two of the last 33 Bowls averaged more than a 40 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. If Sunday’s game is competitive, the TV audience could be close to 90 million viewers. Take that “American Idol.”
And don’t forget about the parties. There is always a party. You’ve probably been invited to one. There will be guacamole, chicken wings, seven-layer dip and beer. Lots and lots of beer.
Yes, there also will be football, but even if you don’t really like football, you can still enjoy the show. So here are five reasons why you should watch Super Bowl XXXIX (told you it was big time — they even use Roman numerals).
5. The game.
This year’s battle of the titans (lower case ‘T’, sorry, Tennessee fans) is between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots, who have won two of the last three Super Bowls, are led by the NFL’s new quarterbacking god, Tom Brady. He’s not bad on the eyes either. The Eagles, who have only tasted Super defeat in their one previous appearance, have controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is known almost as much for his on- and off-field antics as for his gridiron skills.
These games, more times than not, are one-sided affairs. But every so often, you get a real winner, like New England’s last-minute 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 game (that would be Super Bowl XXXVI).
In this case, take the Patriots and the over. However, at press time the oddsmakers were still waiting for the Almighty’s pick. Apparently, He’s a big football fan.
4. The entertainment spectacle that is the half-time show.
If you missed Janet’s “wardrobe malfunction” last year, don’t expect a repeat. As the nation continues to heal after the flash seen ‘round the world (well, only if you had TiVo, and looked really, really closely), the NFL has opted for a less controversial headliner. No, it’s not Up With People. They are currently doing what they can to bridge the gap in the NHL lockout talks.
This year's pick is former Beatle and all-around good guy Paul McCartney. Paul will “Let It Be” and “Live and Let Die”. Rumors that he will join Michael Jackson is a live version of “Say, Say, Say” are untrue.
3. The commercials.
Madison Avenue ponies up as much as $2.5 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl. And if you are going to spend that kind of money, you might as well pull out the stops and run some good commercials. Now I know you are saying: “Good commercials? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” But some of these pieces are darn funny.
In case you forgot, it was during last year's Super Bowl that we were first warned about the dangers of four-hour erections as Madison Avenue unleashed Cialis and Levitra on an unsuspecting public.
In keeping with the kinder, gentler theme of this year's show, Fox and the NFL have been saying no to racy ads. Less gaseous horses and male enhancement drugs, more All-American corporations and snack food.
Regardless of the company being shilled in the ads, there are always some winners. One of my favorites was "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker," which debuted during the 2003 Super Bowl. Who hasn't wanted to see some office yahoo leveled from time to time?
But do you remember what Terry Tate was trying to sell with those bone-crushing hits? Nope, and that tends to be the case for many of these ads (the Tate ads were for Reebok).
2. Play the Fox promotion drinking game.
The networks shelled out billions (yes, that’s billions with a “B”) for the rights to show NFL games. As much as network executives love football, they don’t part with billions simply for pleasure. NFL games are week-in, week-out vehicles for the network’s prime-time lineup. And the Super Bowl? Yeeeeee-haaw!!
Fox is not the only network to endlessly shill its programs during games (ABC, CBS and ESPN are equally guilty), but since Fox has the Super Bowl this year, we’ll pick on them. And since there’s a good chance the game itself won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, let’s make this interesting. Much like the ever popular “Hi Bob” game spawned from “The Bob Newhart Show,” we’re going to play the Fox Promotion drinking game.
Computer generated field banners, which will appear in the background on the field throughout the game, don’t count. Eventually, you won’t even notice them anyway.
When you see actual commercials for shows such as “24,” “The O.C.” and “The Simpsons,” open up a cold one. Probably best to stick to mass-produced macro brews because this is going to be a 3-hour plus game and you are going to see these ads A LOT. Pacing wins the game.
However, each time you hear Fox announcer Joe Buck say “Tuesday night, they’re going to Hollywood on ‘American Idol’” or “Tonight after the game, ‘The Simpsons’ …” it's time to hit the hard stuff. One shot per on-air, game-time promo. Make sure you have a designated driver. You are going to be lit when this game is over.
1. “Desperate Housewives” is a repeat.
Despite the runaway success of the tales from Wisteria Lane, ABC isn’t crazy enough to program a new episode against a sure-fire ratings winner. If the game was on ABC this year instead of Fox, however, the writers could come up with a great cross-promotional episode.
In the Super Bowl edition of “Housewives,” the fun has gone out of the relationship between Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan. The towel has given way to sweats and fuzzy slippers. A bored and distracted Nicollette inadvertently wanders into the wrong locker room, where she discovers Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, lingering by his locker.
Tom, you have a game. Tom? Tom!
Denise Hazlick, a former sports editor, will be watching Sunday's game and recalling fondly her many Super Bowl shifts — with a beer in her hand.