On Sunday, finally, we’ll have Super Bowl LII, or 52 to us commoners. Apparently, then NFL Commissioner, Pete Rozelle, thought Roman numerals would “class up” the game. (Instead,
it just made me wonder, as in one year, what does “XXXIV” stand for.)
Given its enormous popularity, the Super Bowl has become an unofficial national holiday. So I thought I’d try to take a much-needed break from discussing Donald Trump. Assuming that’s possible. Somehow he sticks his puffy orange face and weirdly dyed coiffed hair on camera for everything.
For example, who can forget when Trump shamelessly pushed aside a stunned Prime Minister of Montenegro for a photo op during at a NATO meeting. (Google: “Trump pushes Montenegro PM.” It says volumes about our POTUS.)
Back to the Super Bowl, the very first was at the L.A. Coliseum in 1967 and was boring. While the first half was competitive, the Packers beat the Chiefs 35-10 and it wasn’t that close. There were 30,000 empty seats and the most expensive ticket cost $12. (Parking for Sunday’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis is $26 and StubHub reports tickets are as much as $40,000!)
The 1968 Super Bowl was also pretty dull as the Packers beat the Raiders 33-14. But, everything changed in 1969 when brash, young quarterback, Joe Namath, who boldly predicted victory, led the 18-point underdog Jets to a shocking 16-7 win over the Colts. (The Jets haven’t been back to the Super Bowl since.)
Sunday’s game is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX (39?), when Tom Brady, aka “Tom Terrific,” and the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21. The Pats became the first team since the Broncos in ’97-98, to win back-to-back Super Bowls. And guess what? If, on Sunday, the Patriots beat the 4 ½ point underdog Eagles, they’ll have won two in a row again.
If they do, Brady will have the most Super Bowl victories in NFL history, while dour Bill Belichick will be the coach with the most Super Bowl wins. Brady led the Pats to wins in Super Bowls in ’02 ,’04, ’05, ’15 and ’17, and was the MVP four of five times. (To be fair, Brady could easily be 3 and 4 as big-time ‘luck” figured into victories over Seattle and Atlanta.)
Brady’s remarkable record (even more remarkable at age 40) often brings up the debate is he, a former lowly 6th-round draft choice, the greatest quarterback of all time? Joe Montana, 4-0 in Super Bowls, claims Otto Graham is the greatest. (Before you ask who’s Otto Graham, in the 1940s and 50s he led the Cleveland Browns to 10 straight championship games and won seven.)
Meanwhile, the Eagles seem on a mission. Whereas the Patriots have won five Super Bowls (Steelers have six, Cowboys and 49ers have five) the Eagles have yet to win one. Depending on the outcome Sunday, Philly may be more famous for their cheesesteak than football.
The Philly cheesesteak, whose debut dates back to 1897, includes steak slices that are quickly browned and scrambled into smaller pieces with a spatula. Slices of cheese are placed over the meat and the roll is placed on top of the cheese. The mixture, along with sauteed onions, is scooped and piled into a fresh, locally baked roll, which is cut in half. (It’s difficult to type when one’s mouth is watering.)
As for the big game, the Eagles will be playing with backup quarterback Nick Foles as starter, Carson Wentz, was injured and out for the season in December. Philly seems to be the Cinderella team as most fans, outside Boston that is, are sick of the Patriots dominance and various alleged cheating scandals, including “spy-gate” and “deflate-gate.” (Richard Nixon’s enduring legacy after Watergate is that all scandals seem to acquire the suffix “gate.”)
Some viewers, tune into the Super Bowl primarily for the often brilliantly produced commercials, which, this year, can cost $5 million per 30-second spot. Others tune in for the half-time show, which this year features multi-talented Justin Timberlake. (In 2004, Timberlake’s half-time show resulted in the infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction,” otherwise known as “nipple-gate.”)
I wouldn’t be surprised if the elephant at U.S. Bank Stadium is Trump, in person. We all know he demands supreme personal loyalty from the FBI and it’s the same with football. So it is, Brady, Belichick and Pats owner, Robert Kraft, heartily endorsed The Donald in 2016. That’s just another reason for me to root for the Eagles. (Along with my writer friend, Bill Singley, a Philly fan who’s been waiting what seems an eternity for a Super Bowl win.)
If the Pats do win on Sunday, Trump might take full credit as he’s done with just about everything else. Then again, if they lose, he might simply call it “fake news.”
Super Bowl LII will start at 3:30 PST, televised on NBC and streaming live. Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org