(Courtesy NFL)

(Courtesy NFL)

In case you’ve just come out of a coma, this Sunday is Super Bowl XLVII. Julius Caesar would instantly know how many years that represents, but personally I find it annoying. It’s all because Pete Rozelle, the late NFL commissioner, following Super Bowl III felt using Roman numerals would give the game some class. (He clearly saw himself as the Nero of the NFL.)

For those also Roman numerically-challenged XLVII is Super Bowl 47. Super Bowl 99 will be XCIX and 98 will be XCVIII. Sheesh. No wonder the Roman Empire fell.

Ironically the first Super Bowl was in 1967 and was played in Los Angeles. I say “ironically” because we haven’t had a professional football team here since the end of 1994. (Unless, of course, you count USC.)

The NFL says we won’t get a team until we build a new stadium. I’ve got an idea. Why not, when the lease is up, use the land at the Santa Monica Airport? There’s tons of space and it’s freeway close.

OK, maybe it’s a bit far fetched, but at least it’s better than perennial City Council candidate Jon Mann’s idea of turning it into a giant pot farm. (Though I still like the notion of calling it Stoner Park.)

Since 1967, how upscale has the Super Bowl become? In that first game the most expensive ticket was $12. Today it’s $1,250 face value. Actually some desperate fans will wind up paying scalpers $5,000 a ticket. Meanwhile corporate suites go for a mere $300,000. (Ah, the perks of being a 1 percenter.)

In 1967 a 30-second TV commercial cost $42,000. Today it’s $3,850,000. That’s a lot of Bud Light and Nachos Bell Grande that has to be sold. (But fortunately we Americans are up to the challenge.) Speaking of expensive, in a commercial I’m looking forward to, the luscious Kate Upton is pitching Mercedes. Surprise, surprise it’s reportedly quite steamy. So steamy that I can just picture a Mercedes showroom the day after the Super Bowl as a salesman talks to a prospective male customer. “What sold you on Mercedes? Was it the elegance, high resale value or the state of the art technology?” “Uh, well actually it was Kate Upton’s breasts.”

Sunday’s game is being played in New Orleans and for only the second time in history, the Super Bowl coincides with Mardi Gras. (They’re calling it “Super Gras.”) Given the two “holidays” do you think there will be much partying on Bourbon Street? Nah.

The Big Easy expects 1 million visitors and an economic windfall of more than $1 billion. (Plus the cost of all the beads drunken guys on hotel balconies in the French Quarter will throw to drunken girls on the street who will then flash their boobs. While I live in a high rise, somehow I don’t think it would work in Santa Monica.)

Unfortunately on media day this past Tuesday Sports Illustrated broke a story linking Raven’s linebacker Ray Lewis to performance enhancing drugs, specifically deer-antler spray. (I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks.)

Apparently a growth substance in deer antlers is the strongest in the mammal world. I say “unfortunately” for two reasons. One, the last thing the NFL needs is a performance enhancing drug controversy. And two, I somehow don’t think the extraction of the antlers is voluntary on the deer’s part. Apparently, the spray is most effective under the tongue. So if you see a super buff athlete near you spraying something into his or her mouth, there’s a  chance it’s not Binaca.

But beneath the glitz and glamour of the NFL, an $11 billion industry and the Super Bowl, the most-watched TV program of the year, there is an even darker story than PEDs. Whereas the Romans fed the Christians to the lions, today we feed them to linebackers.

I’m referring to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, fancy words for the damage repeated concussions have on the brain. CTE causes dementia, memory loss, aggression, depression, and, as in the recent case of Junior Seau and many others, suicide.

After years of promoting the game’s “biggest hits” on TV highlight programs and through DVD sales, the NFL has finally taken steps to reduce concussions. (Being sued by 6,000 former players and their families might have been of some motivation.)

My solution is to make football single platoon as it once was, wherein athletes play both offense and defense. Because of conditioning issues, the humongous size of the players would reduce dramatically as would the damage they inflict. I have a feeling this idea will be greeted with the same “enthusiasm” as my “build a stadium at the Santa Monica Airport,” but at least I tried.

Hurry, get the chips and dip, the Super Bowl kickoff is less than 48 hours away. Depending on who you’re rooting for, go Ravens or go 49ers, or, in my case, go Kate Upton.

 

Jack can be reached at jnsmdp@aol.com