Man, just kick this thing off already.
Light this candle.
Holidays are about tradition, and if the Super Bowl is a de facto national holiday, I have my own traditions. They include not watching the pregame, halftime or the commercials.
This is the day when Roger Goodell, the NFL and its sponsors jangle a ring of keys in our faces, and we let them.
A beer company releases its ad on the Internet days before the game, and now we have commercials for commercials. A sockpuppet and a naked guy wearing a barrel showed up for Tuesday’s media day. The online sportsbook Bovada is offering a prop bet on the color of Katy Perry’s hair; 5-1 on purple seems like an underlay.
The Commish issued his annual State of the League on Friday, chockful of Pavlovian PR-engineered keywords like “fans,” “integrity” and “humility.” So, of course, he arrogantly sniffed at a tough question from Rachel Nichols of CNN about the conflict of interest when the NFL pays Robert Mueller and Ted Wells to run investigations of itself.
The snide retort reminded me of Bilbo Baggins in “Lord of the Rings,” when Frodo produces the gold ring, and for a moment his benign uncle reverts to a scary, hostile, avaricious Scary Person.
Nothing to see here.
Look over there, at that shiny thing.
For one day, the bloated spectacle of absurdity, puffery and grandiosity will divert us from the thorny issues that continue to prick at the NFL.
The league conducted Moms Clinics this week to show mothers with young boys how to tackle safely and to reassure them that football won’t make mush of their kids’ brains.
But those pesky polls and studies keep popping up, including one from the peer-reviewed journal Neurology that reports an increased risk of memory loss and thinking problems among former NFL players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12.
The backdrop for this game is also inevitably painted with the domestic violence issues from throughout the season and less-weighty splotches recently like Deflategate and Marshawn Lynch’s antics with the media.
When the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots finally kick off at 6:30 p.m. or thereabouts, they’ll provide the one diversion that I’m interested in.
The game likely will lack a terrific side story for Capital Region fans, since it appears that CBA grad Joe Vellano of Rexford won’t be suiting up at defensive tackle for the Patriots.
After over two months on the practice squad, he was activated for the AFC championship game win over the Colts two weeks ago because Chris Jones was out with an elbow injury, but Jones and another DT with a minor injury, Sealver Siliga, are listed as probable.
The good news for Joe is that, if the Patriots win, he’ll still get a Super Bowl ring based on the five regular-season games he played in at the beginning of the season.
As far as predicting how the game will go, I’ll continue to ride my 2-for-2 steam off the championship games.
For the record, I was so sharp two weeks ago that the Seahawks’ 28-22 overtime win over the Packers went exactly as I scripted it would, but that part of my column was cut due to space constraints.
I’m siding with the Patriots today for the simple reason that winning back-to-back Super Bowls is just really, really difficult to do.
The NFL just isn’t built to allow that these days, especially since scouting is so sophisticated that teams catch on to what their opponents are doing and adjust accordingly. If you’re the defending Super Bowl champ, everybody’s sniffing around for ways to beat you.
I suspect both coaches will have some tricks up their sleeves (even if Darth Hoodie is wearing cutoffs), but the Patriots, in general, seem to match up a little bit better.
I expect we’re going to see a lot of Marshawn Lynch, but when we don’t, the Patriots are equipped to handle the Seahawks’ receivers, with Darrelle Revis and former Seahawk Brandon Browner on the corners.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see linebacker Jamie Collins shadowing Russell Wilson, which could force him to give it up on the run instead of racking up his own yards on the ground. Wilson is terrific making things happen on the run, but if you’re forcing him into areas where you want him, you can minimize the damage.
My MVP pick is Rob Gronkowski, because, although the Seattle defense is predicated on speed, its secondary’s strength is outside, and Gronk could be a big problem over the middle.
Soooo . . . Patriots 27, Seahawks 16. Have fun, everybody.