Saturday, January 31, 2009

Five Types of Super Bowls

Super Bowl XLII is almost upon us. That means we get to watch the gritty Steelers over-match and out-smart, out-pass, out-defense, out-special teams, out-felony-assault (attn: Ryan Clark), and just plain out-power a pathetic Cardinals team in virtually every aspect of the game. I mean, the Arizona Cardinals are just awful (outscore opponents by one point, 3-7 outside the NFC WesTTT).

So instead of presenting what would be another boring preview of the match-up; we're going to do something a little different and try to capture the essence of what the Super Bowl could be like. All of this presupposes that neither one of the teams playing is YOUR team.

(1) CAUTION, This Game May Contain a Football Like Substance a.k.a. teh Blowout (apologies to TMQ - again).

These are the types of Super Bowls that are over before they begin. By halftime the end result is basically a forgone conclusion and the players have basically stopped trying. If you're at a good party it might be watachable, but chances are you're just milling around hoping that something exciting happens and being frustrated.

Truthfully, unless the team doing the blowing-out is YOUR team you couldn't care less what's going on. Most of the time between 8 and 10 PM will be spent explaining to the cute girl who secretly hates you the rudiments of the game so that you can impress her. But you won't - these games make for an utterly forgetable evening.

Examples (year denotes the season, not the year that the game was played):
Tampa Bay vs. Oakland (2002)
Dallas v. Pittsburgh (1995)
Dallas v. Buffalo (1992)
San Francisco v. Denver (1989)
Washington v. Denver (1988)
San Francisco v. San Diego (1994)
et seq. (really, like a third of the Super Bowls fall into this awful category).

2. Oh, That Was Kind of Close.

These are the games that if they were played on any ordinary Sunday no one would care, but since they are Super Bowls we all pretend to care. They often involve teams performing to expectations and margins of two scores (ten points or so is a common one). People who love football force themselves to keep watching in the final minutes even though their mind is elsewhere because it's the last football they'll get until to college season kicks off in late August / early September (no one watches the Pro Bowl).

Give it a shot
. People will be talking about it for about two minutes in Scott Commons the next day, and that will be it. For those who show up, the night will not be memorable but it might have a few choice moments until to you kill your remaining brain cells with beer at "Snow Pants or No Pants". For those who are working on Moot Court instead, little is lost.

New York Jets v. Baltimore Colts (1967)
Washington v. Buffalo (1991)
Dallas v. Buffalo (1993)
Green Bay v. New England (1996)
Denver v. Green Bay (1997)
Denver v. Atlanta (1998)
Pittsburgh v. Seattle (2005)
Indianapolis v. Chicago (2006)

3. Who ARE These Teams?

This is sort of a wild-card - when you get a Super Bowl B-list teams that no one cares about it. Usually it's just one team (i.e. Atlanta Falcons in Denver v. Atlanta; The Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore v. New York Giants; the Minnesota Vikings in the four SB's they lost; or the Cinncinatti Bengals in just about anything) but sometimes it's both (Kansas City vs. Minnesota? Does anyone reading this even know a single person who watched that?). Sadly, this game has the potential (The Cardinals play *where* now?) for at least half this sort of affair, but with the Steelers playing at least some people can motivate themselves to care. With these games your enjoyment increases geometrically with how good the party is. Lame party? Strap yourself in for a long boring night. Good party? All of a sudden you BELIEVE in Fred Biletnikoff even if nobody else does. You get a little bit of that sweet, sweet Super Bowl ale in you, and all of a sudden it's go time.

These games have potential, it's all about the people with whom you surround yourself while watching them. And lest we forget, it was a number three match that gave birth to . . . the tackle!

Kansas City v. Minnesota (1969)
Oakland v. Minnesota (1976)
St. Louis v. Tennesee (2000)*
Tampa Bay v. Oakland (2002)

4. What is a Cover-2?

OK, this really isn't a type of game but rather more a reference with the sort of people you might be stuck watching the game with. These are people who have literally seen less than five football games in their entire lives and all of a sudden decide that the Super Bowl is the trendy thing to do. Well that's fair - the good folks at the NFL, who are just scraping by really, wouldn't make any money if they couldn't pump a lot of new people to get excited and secure those lucrative network contracts and hours of pregame coverage.

But still, there's something sad about witnessing something great and not having anyone to share it with. It's as if - after finishing the greatest work of literature ever written - the only person to whom you could turn around and discuss it with was George W. Bush [or insert your favorite philistine here]. You feel like the guy in that Twilight Zone episode where you finally have time to sit down and read all your books but your glasses break - it's ironically not fair . . .

Anyway, for me this was Pats / Panters Superbowl (2003). I was watching it with a bunch of rubes in my college dorm room and they not only didn't get what was going on but were also making constantly insipid comments: "Jake Delhomme should throw to Steve Smith in the endsone every play! Roffles!" Ugh, thanks guys.

There's really no way to avoid this game except by careful planning ahead. Is your host inviting people who are the bandwagon type? Don't know about wide-right? Cowboys fans? Better safe than sorry I always say.

Examples (will vary with person to person)
New England v. Carolina (2003)

5. I Love You Guys!

And then, sometimes, it just clicks. It’s the type of game where both sides are leaving it all on the field, and you do too, metaphorically at least. You watch the game and you think that this – this – is what you will be telling your five-year-old son about when he is old enough to watch his first super bowl. The game is palpably close, so much so that the halftime line is close to even and even those who are bloated from having had too much to eat and drink are sitting on the edge. It’s about David Tyree pulling in a last minute catch, Tom Brady driving down the field in the last minute, Scott Norwood teeing up a last minute field goal, and the defense digging in at the one yard line with two seconds left and saying to Kevin Dyson: this far, but no farther.

If you’re with people you care about, you know you’re watching something special. If you’re by yourself, you’ll lament loneliness and the human condition. Either way, if you care about football – and by logical extension, life itself – you’ll be glad you tuned in.

New York Giants v. New England (2007)
New England v. Philadelphia (2004)
New England v. St. Louis (2001)
St. Louis v. Tennessee (1999)
New York Giants v. Buffalo (1990)
Baltimore Colts v. Dallas Cowboys (1970)

Here's hoping for a #5 and fun for everyone tomorrow night.

Five Types of New Year's Eve Parties [Gawker]


FFJ said...

After this post I feel confident in saying you have no credibility on all topics NFL. Where did you err? Let me count the ways:

1. It's KEVIN Dyson not KYLE. If you'd been paying attention this season, you'd know that since Kevin was Joe Flacco's favorite target in Baltimore this season. (Nice edit)

2. SBIII was one of the greatest upsets of all time and it changed the landscape of professional football. Yet your take on the game is "[f]or those who show up, the night will not be memorable but it might have a few choice moments." If you were a huge Colts fan or a Baltimore-homer, I might understand but are you kidding me? Namath's guarantee? Johnny Unitas coming off the bench? Don Shula's first SB? The Colts were a 19 POINT FAVORITE!!

3. 4 of your top 6 SBs were in the last 9 years. Yea, there have been 42 SBs but the first 36 were pretty much all unmemorable. Typical ESPN-generation reasoning: If I didn't see it, it must not have been very good.

4. Cincy-SF doesn't make your top 6? It was probably the signature moment of the greatest QB in NFL history's career and you didn't find it even worth mentioning. 92 yards and the go-ahead score with less than a minute? Bill Walsh's last game? Your failure to even mention this game while dubbing Philly-NE as a classic exposes a serious lack of football knowledge on your part. Stick to the Redskins tttrolling and stop trying to be TMQ.

After this post, I'm gonna feel like I'm stuck in one of those Number 4 type games you mentioned ("What's a cover 2?" "Throw it to Kyle Dyson!") every time I watch a game in the same room as you.

Rule 12 (f) said...


1. Mistakes happen.

2. Upset or not, it wasn't a close game (16-0) until the end.

3. Amazingly I feel more qualified to talk about Super Bowls I have actually seen. I didn't say those were the top six, I said they were examples of good Super Bowls, which they undoubtedly are.

4. See above. Reading comprehension.

FFJ said...

"The Know-it-All…Sorta

This guy is my personal nemesis. The reason I hate him so much is because he’s deceptive. You can pick the weirdos out of a crowd pretty quickly, but this guy always seems to get past your defenses. He slowly seeps under your skin throughout the day until finally you want to cut his throat with the small little cheese knife. It starts with a slight mispronunciation of a name. LaDanian Tomlinson suddenly becomes LaDamien Tomplinson. No harm really there, simple mistake. Then he starts talking about how great Chris Chambers is doing in the Dolphin/Chiefs game you are watching. The next thing you know he’s trying tell you about how Shaun Alexander led the league in TDs three years running. Shut up, you idiot! You clearly know nothing, so stop even trying! Your toddler-esque attempts to ride the two-wheeler of football knowledge are painful and grotesque. Every time you fall it gets more and more painful to watch you pick yourself back up and try again. Please, I’m begging you: knock this crap off!"


Rule 12 (f) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rule 12 (f) said...

Also, where are you getting that Kevin Dyson was one of Flacco's favorite targets this season - that'd be difficult, since he retired in 2005:

ffj said...

Dang talk about egg-on-face... Derrick Mason =/= Kevin Dyson. Yikes.