By Wayne William Cipriano
Even if you don’t like professional football, even if you don’t understand football at all, if you were in a dormitory where someone was watching, or a sports bar, or a living room, or just about any where else, you had to be infected by the fabulous violin-string tension produced by Super Bowl XLIX.
I taped it. Even though I have watched every single one that was broadcast over the air, I have only taped the Super Bowl once before, for my son to watch after work on Super Sunday. I taped XLIXX for the commercials.
For two weeks I heard how wonderful each commercial was going to be (and at over four million dollars for 30 seconds of air time you would think they better be great) and I wanted to be sure to have them to replay and enjoy at our leisure.
At first I thought I would just tape each commercial as they cut away to from the game, but even before the game started I realized that would require too much technical attention when my real duties lay in coaching each team. So, to make it easier, I just taped the whole thing.
I am pretty sure everyone will agree that this year’s batch of commercials was generally pathetic. Even after watching the entire broadcast once again, of all the commercials only two come to mind –– one was maudlinly excellent; the other so enigmatic that I still do not know its purpose. The rest were… dull. But, I am very, very happy that I taped the game, it was electrifying!
As much as I would like to discuss the seven pages of notes I made, each significant event (the turning point of the game: Wilson’s sack, to Kearse’s miraculous catch, to the game winning interception by an unknown rookie), each strategic decision (shifting from a ground attack to the air, to letting the clock run down at the end), each unwavering star performance (Brady’s passing, Wilson’s runs and passes, Gronk’s catches, Lynch’s runs), the minimal officiating errors (although missing that roughing-the-kicker was astonishing), the coaching mistakes (ignoring the potential safety for so long, an off-sides that gave the game away), and a really great fight, I won’t drag anyone not so interested into the weeds of what has now become gridiron lore. But, it was a fantastic game!
Rosalie does not care much for football. She spends her time while the regular season games are on preparing half-time treats and reading. During the playoffs, Rosalie ups her goody-game by serving tidbits during both halves and parading even more impressive delights during the unfortunately short halftimes. This keeps her pretty busy throughout the playoffs and she pays little attention to the games. However, she will stand still (only during the playoffs) to listen to my projected strategic possibilities and agree with obvious officiating errors as they are laboriously explained to her.
Super bowls have always been different. Not that Rosalie paid any more attention to the games, but ALL of game time has been completely allocated by her. Every quarter has had its individual theme and each was presented and removed with such attention to the action on the field that we were constantly snacking but never deflected from the game to the extent that we missed an important play. I am pretty sure she listened to the excitement in the announcers’ voices and the crowd noise to manifest her deliveries, but however she did it, those mini-feasts during the quarters were perfect.
Halftime was everything in spades. Heaps of stuff, platter after platter, bowl after bowl, a never-ending march of food delicious and appropriately decorated. All planned so that it could be eaten quickly, requiring no more physical dexterity than the ability to operate fingers, fork or toothpick. My job during these games? The beer, of course, completely my responsibility, an empty glass accurately targeting the devastating finger of accusation as unforgivable host failure.
And those pro forma remonstrations suggesting Everest-like spiking of blood pressure as a function of salt intake, or artery-clogging port propensities? All are charmingly, smilingly brushed aside as Rosalie reassures everyone, “It’s only one game a year. Just eat what you want. Leave everything else.” Ha! In the words of the Duke, That’ll be the day!”
This Super Bowl, even for Rosalie, was different. Chicago Bears were a no-show, and my favorite team was not there, so you would think we had no dogs in the fight. Rosalie should have been able to concentrate on her true mission without distractions and I without a favorite should have been able to serve beer and coach both teams with equanimity. (Take it from me it is quite a daunting task directing the play of both teams on the field simultaneously.)
But, that is not how it was. Reneé dislikes Brady for some reason and was firmly in the Seahawks camp. Ryan, demonstrating the intelligence, social skill, and self-preservatory instincts we have come to expect from him, agreed to root for Seattle as well. Since the kids were going with the Northwestern team, Rosalie naturally gravitated in that direction. And so, just to make it interesting, and coming from Connecticut as I do, I cheered on the Northeasterners.
None of us expected the game we saw!
I do not know how Rosalie kept to her serving schedule while paying such close attention to the game. I know my beer-providing activities were clearly (and successfully) placed on automatic pilot. We were captivated by the play as would anyone be who was conscious and in the company of others watching the game. Will XLIX be accounted the best Super Bowl ever? I think so.
But even if you disagree, what about that Halftime Show? It was hyped beyond rational expectation, and even the choir of the “85 Bears would have been hard pressed to meet those expectations. Yet, even though I only understood less than a dozen words of all the songs performed, the technical prowess of that huge robot, the ever-evolving stage, the lightning-fast costume changes, the fireworks, and Katy Perry’s flight on a comet held up by cables (or magic?) was pretty spectacular. All the more wondrous when you consider a football game was being played on that field seconds before the show started and seconds after it was finished.
Unfortunately, this game says nothing about what Super Bowl 50 will be like. It could be better, I suppose, but that is hard to imagine, isn’t it? It could be a runaway as so many previous games have been. Or, it could be a technically perfect game from beginning to end, lethally boring to all but the most dedicated football devotee.
So, encouraging those who do not thrill at the leaning catch, the blast through the middle, the crack and cough of contact picked up by microphones hundreds of feet away, encouraging those folks to watch the next Super Bowl might prove embarrassing. But, those who do not like football do like nachos. Make a date with them for Super Bowl 50. You never know, they might just catch the bug!