Isn’t it bad enough, the difficulty chickens already have, trying to fly even tiny distances with those stubby wings?
But now, in order to celebrate a lousy old football game between the Ravens and the Niners, yet another 615 million chickens will be walking around Monday morning, permanently grounded, their wings having been sacrificed on the altar of Super Bowl XLVII (Roman numerals make it sound so classy, no?).
An estimated 1.23 billion wings will be consumed at Super Bowl parties, big and small. The National Chicken Council, which actually keeps tabs on such things, says this will be a drop from the 1.25 billion wings devoured during last year’s festivities due to a XIV percent hike in the cost of the detached wings, all because of record high prices for corn and feed (apparently, you cannot have your ethanol and eat it, too).
I don’t know about you, but I think it also has to do with the waning of the big event — the Super Bowl party itself. Remember back in the early days, back around Super Bowl XVIII or even Super Bowl XXIV, when you were a social misfit if you were not throwing or attending a party with relatives, friends, co-workers, even strangers at a bar? Not so much anymore. Sports bars still will be crowded, but not like they used to be in the days of say, Super Bowl XXIII or XV.
For one thing, it just got too long and drawn out. I predict — and you can quote me on this — that very soon CBS and Jim Nantz will begin the pre-game at VI:XXX a.m., right after your favorite televangelist signs off and a solid XII hours before kickoff. It will begin with exciting vignettes on the locker room attendants for each of the teams.
For this Sunday’s broadcast, pre-game will last only VI hours, which explains why CBS probably will find very little opportunity to tell us why the Ravens’ Ray Lewis has become such an inspiration for NFL players unfairly implicated in double-murders, only to testify for the prosecution against their own posses in return for a slap on their taped wrists.
Also, HDTV is just too good. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was complaining back in November that the stay-at-home experience on TV was so good that it could threaten ticket sales one day soon. So this weekend, guys in wife-beater shirts will be saying to themselves, “Hey, I paid XIX-hundred dollars for this Sony LX-inch LED set, so why not just spend XVI bucks more for a XXX-pack of Keystone Light and watch the game right here?”
But the big damper on Super Bowl parties, far and away, is the roadblocks and the stiffer penalties for drunk driving, long overdue but a damper nonetheless. I mean, I can remember parties back around Super Bowl XXV or even as late as XXXVIII when guys would depart the premises at the conclusion, barely aware which of the teams had won. There would be obligatory poker games, of course, that would end abruptly because none of the players could understand what the others were saying. Clueless, boozed-up attendees would ask, “The Giants’ road-game uniforms, aren’t they supposed to be purple and green?”
You had to grin this week when San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he and the police chief would not attend the game in New Orleans so they could visit hot spots in their City by the Bay and try to contain things this weekend. Hizzoner asked bars and restaurants to limit hard-alcohol sales in an effort to avoid the celebratory riots that accompanied the victory by the hometown Giants in the World Series last October. Fat chance, Mr. Mayor!
I remember Super Bowl XVI back in ’82, which got played at the Pontiac Silverdome somewhere near Detroit. My dear, departed uncle, Cono, lived in Saratoga, Calif., and he joined other Niners’ fanatics on a charter flight that featured open, midair bars and continuous video loops of season highlights. My uncle says they were dancing in the aisle with such vigor that he thought he could feel the plane shaking and the crew threatened to put it down in Denver unless they returned to their seats. Remember that old saying about going to a fight and all of a sudden a hockey game breaks out? That’s Frisco fans.
Whatever the reason, 10 million chickens (no clue what that Roman numeral is) will be spared horrible wing amputations this weekend. Think about that as Beyonce performs at halftime (Vegas oddsmakers say it’s IX to II that she lip-synchs). Chicken wings, however, still will be the second-favorite gametime snack, favored by XXIII percent of fans and bested only by “dips and spreads” coming in at XXXII percent. I’m betting if you break down “dips and spreads” into specific categories, like guacamole with Doritos or onion dip with that hollowed-out rye bread, wings would be number I.
John McLoughlin is a freelance columnist and a veteran Capital Region journalist now at NewsChannel13. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.