by Jack Neworth

This Sunday in Atlanta there’s a little sporting get-together called the Super Bowl. How popular is it? It’s expected that over 100,000,000 people in America will watch the game, allowing CBS to charge $5.2 million for a 30-second commercial. (That works out to $170,000 a second!)

Before I predict who will win, let me share a bit of Super Bowl trivia. Sunday is # LIII, which always makes me stop for a moment to remember my Roman numerals. (If this were a commercial, that momentary “stop” would have cost at least ½ million dollars.)

Actually, I can’t recall the last time I referenced Roman numerals other than when talking about Popes and Rocky movies. But way back when the Super Bowl was first conceived, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle thought that Roman numerals would “class up the game.” (Frankly, I don’t think it ever “classed up” the Rocky flicks.)

Curiously, “Super Bowl” was given to the game retroactively. The first two were known as the “AFL-NFL World Championship” whereas the third and fourth were called “The World Championship.” But for the fifth, magically, the first four were suddenly referred to as Super Bowls, followed by the respective Roman numerals.

For those who’ve been out of the country, our Rams are in the big game, albeit as 1-point underdogs. The only other time the L.A. Rams were in the Super Bowl was in 1980 in Super Bowl XIV. (Which I think was #14 but don’t quote me.)

Contrary to many dull Super Bowls, this was exciting. It was also only the second time one of the teams played before their home crowd. This was at the Rose Bowl while Super Bowl XIX had the 49ers playing the Dolphins at Stanford Stadium.

To the sheer delight of their fans, the Niners won their game but the Rams lost to the Steelers, 31-19. Actually for me, “sheer delight,” and the Rams rarely if ever are in the same sentence. That said, I’m hoping after nearly four decades between Super Bowl appearances, things will be different. (Albert Einstein reportedly observed, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”)

Beating the Patriots, who are in their third straight Super Bowl, won’t be easy. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick comprise the most successful quarterback-head coach tandem in NFL history. (They’re also the richest as Belichick is worth $35 million and Brady $180 million.) As if their extraordinary talents and wealth wasn’t enough, they cheat. But don’t take my word for it.

Brady and the Pats as cheaters is “proven science.” At least to10-year-old Mill Creek Elementary School student in Lexington, Ky., Ace Davis. (Is that a great name for a kid or what?) Ace won the local science fair by “proving” that Brady is a cheater.

As evidence Ace used the infamous “deflate-gate” scandal resulting from the 2014-2015 AFC Championship game in which the Pats beat the Colts 45-7. Davis “scientifically” graphed his own accuracy and distance throwing a football as well as his mother’s and sister’s while using properly inflated balls and balls that were under-inflated.

Neither Davis nor I are fond of Brady, but in my case, some of it is pure envy. Handsome and rich, he’s Brady’s considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time AND, for the past ten years, he’s been married to super model Gisele Bündchen. (Other than all that, he has nothing to live for.)

In 2017, Brady set the NFL record as the oldest player to ever start a Super Bowl at age 39. In 2018, at age 40, he broke that record and now he’s going to do it again. At 41 he doesn’t seem to have lost a step and says he wants to play until he’s 45.

If the Pats have age and experience, the Rams have youth, starting with their head coach. Sean McVay was hired by the Rams in 2017 at age 30, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.

All McVay did in his first year was take a 4-12 team from the previous season into the playoffs and win the AP NFL Coach of the Year award. In 2018 he led the Rams to the Super Bowl, making him the youngest head coach ever to coach in a Super Bowl game. Other than that he’s been so-so. (Before any emails, that was a joke.)

Whereas Brady is 41, the Rams quarterback, Jared Goff is 24, as is star running back Todd Gurley, while outstanding wide receiver and former Patriot, Brandin Cooks, is 25. But the decider may be can the Rams defense, featuring Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, get to Brady and rough him up? I’m hoping they can and I think Ace Davis would agree with me.

Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears every Friday. He can be reached at Jackneworth@gmail.com.

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