The Breakdown: Super stuff
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Coming out of halftime at the very first Super Bowl, the TV crews were busy interviewing Bob Hope in the stands and missed the kickoff. Panicked that a play would go untelevised, NBC had a solution: Have the Packers kick off again.
All they had to do was ask Vince Lombardi if he was OK with it.
Of course, in that non-commercialized, golden age of football, the league’s preeminent coach would never allow a TV station to interfere with the biggest game in league history, right? I mean, those were the days of low-paid legends, playing every game for pride and glory, not dollars and cents. Those were the times when athletes cared only about the names on the fronts of their jerseys, not the ones on their backs.
Surely, the coach who coined the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” would tell NBC to stick it … right?
Um, not so much.
The Packers teed it up again without argument.
At its very inception, the Super Bowl was more glitz than game, more hype than substance. Not much has changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the Super Bowl as much as the next fan (of a team that never wins it), but the game itself is really more of a spectacle than anything else. Between media day, the commercials, the extended National Anthem ceremony, the halftime show and Joe Buck being obnoxious, you almost forget there’s actually some football being played.
So, let’s get prepared for some of it.
Here’s a random selection of facts, stats and thoughts about the Super Bowl that should get us all in the right mindset for watching the XLV on Sunday:
Random Stat No. 1: In the first 31 Super Bowls ever played, only seven games were decided by less than seven points. But, in the last 13, more than half – again, seven – were decided by less than seven points. In what used to be an annual blowout, recent Super Bowls have actually been pretty exciting. Then again, there was still Rex Grossman-led Super Bowl XLI, a sad, sad game.
Random Fact No. 1: Have you ever wondered why commercials and advertisements always refer to the Super Bowl as “The Big Game” or something equally generic? Well, it’s because they have to. The NFL owns the rights to the term “Super Bowl,” as well as “Super Sunday.” No one else can (legally) use those phrases in ads.
Random Stat No. 2: In the last 10 years, 10 different teams have represented the NFC in “The Big Game.”
Random Thought No. 1: Sunday’s game will feature the top-three vote getters for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year with Troy Polamalu, Clay Matthews and James Harrison. Also, between Polamalu and Matthews, they set the record for most hair by two opposing players in Super Bowl history at 13 feet. Yeah, I made that up, but it might be true.
Random Thought No. 2: Also in this game, there will be the only true defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy – Charles Woodson of the Packers, who won the award in 1997 at Michigan. Which reminds me …
Random Stat No. 3: Don’t count on Woodson winning Super Bowl MVP this weekend. Only four Heisman Trophy winners have ever won the MVP award in their sport’s biggest game.
Random Stat No. 4: Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 14 interceptions in 12 career postseason starts, including three in his two Super Bowl wins. Also in his two title tilts, Roethlisberger has thrown just one touchdown pass – the same number as teammate (and wide receiver) Antwaan Randle El.
Random Stat No. 5: Still, if Bathroom Ben takes down another title, he’ll be only the fifth QB to ever win three. That total will barely surpass his record for sexual assault allegations among Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
Random Fact No. 2: For its first four years, the game was referred to as the “AFL-NFL World Championship.” It wasn’t called the Super Bowl until 1970.
Random Stat No. 6: Last year, it was reported that 106 million people watched the Super Bowl. It’s like Lombardi said in that first Super Bowl, “Winning isn’t everything, making sure people see you win is.”
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