Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: The Little Things

Not having an affiliation to either team during the Super Bowl can be liberating and relaxing. It can also make the little things extremely entertaining. In my case, I survived a slow but shocking game thanks to the latter.

Around 3 p.m., a friend of mine shot me an Instant Message to discuss our small get together Sunday evening. I reassured him, saying, “Yes, Jon Fox ’08 [this is how I refer to all my friends] America’s finest football-watching accoutrements are all set for the big game, none finer than the chili which roommate Jody Mintz ’08 and I cooked up.”

Mr. Fox ’08 was pleased and said he’d arrive for the pregame coverage at six. I informed him that 6 p.m. Sunday made him about two weeks late for the pregame coverage, but since he has a life outside of watching ESPN, he was less amused than I’d hoped.

Six p.m. Sunday rolls around, and we’re all treated to a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by various recognizable football personas. Despite the emphasis on our nation, media coverage screamed one thing: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the East Coast-Bias Bowl!”

(Are you like me? Did you picture George Bush watching the Declaration montage in his onesies, thinking to himself, “Man, that was a cool poem! I need a copy of that!”?)

At six-thirty, FOX’s coverage begins. Hurray, everybody, it’s Joe Buck! On the 50-inch, I swear we could already see the cancer cells on his overly-baked skin. Thank you, HDTV.

After so much hype, the game is finally underway, and I can already sense the unwavering confidence the Giants fans around me have in their quarterback.

“If Eli Manning doesn’t throw,” says Mr. Mintz ’08, donning a red Giants beanie, “then he won’t be intercepted.” Luckily for him, the Giants look strong to start the game, and Brandon Jacobs is running through the Patriots like Willis McGahee in Week 13.

The camera flashes to Bill Belichick, who has donned a red hooded sweatshirt for the biggest game of the year rather than the usual gray number. Coach Belichick has obviously read the Tripod’s fashion articles. (This may explain all his kill-me-now facial expressions.)

FOX breaks for commercial after a Laurence Maroney touchdown makes it 7-3 Pats. When they return, Joe Buck finally says what everyone in America is thinking: “We may not be the best announcers out there.” And Michael Strahan may not have the best dentist out there? Really, Joe?

With less than nine minutes remaining in the half, Manning has just been sacked, botched a hand-off and hurried into throwing a ball to the ground on consecutive plays. He looks scared.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the half, Tom Brady has failed to connect deep and has been sacked twice on consecutive plays. He looks enraged. I think, “There is no way the Patriots lose this game.” After all, New England has been to four Super Bowls in the last seven years, the Giants only four in their existence.

After another sexually safe halftime show in which no partial nudity was even remotely desired (thanks, Tom Petty), sideline reporter Pam Oliver appears onscreen wearing a leopard-print shirt. I’m not kidding. She then gives her inside scoop on the Patriots’ offensive adjustments and Brady’s favorite cologne.

(Side note: Do you think they have sideline reporters for Snoop Dogg’s annual children’s football game, the Snooper Bowl? And is that game in any way affiliated with Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl?)

(Side note No. 2: FOX actually gave airtime to a bunch of bananas sitting on the sideline. Credible sources informed me that their cameraman is, in fact, a gorilla.)

Both teams decide that they don’t like scoring points anymore, and the fourth quarter begins.

Around 11 minutes left in the game. A touchdown pass from Manning to David Tyree makes it 10-7. The Giants have the lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. That’s right – the New York Giants. In the Super Bowl. I think Eli Manning just showed some emotion. It may have been gas. Either way, this is now an interesting game.

FOX takes a break, and the latest commercial depicts Derek Jeter drinking a new low-calorie Gatorade. Question: Derek Jeter or Tom Brady?

Answer: Charles Barkley.

FOX returns and flashes their sponsors alongside their robotic football player, who bounces around holding the Lombardi trophy. I just lost 20-bucks betting that the robot takes down the Terminator who appears to promote FOX’s new show.

At this point, I’m still in shock over the score. “The Giants might win the Super Bowl,” I say. Five hands immediately knock against the coffee table.

Jake Wallace ’08 discusses the Super Bowl logo. Fact: This year’s number (XLII) is also the size of the t-shirt which John Madden wears to bed. He’s had it since 1982, and it reads, simply, “FOOTBALL!!!!!”

Will Ferrell appears onscreen and states, “Bud Lite. Suck one!”

FOX again returns. I lose another 20 on the robot, who is tossed away by the Terminator. (And the robot looked so good during the regular season, too. He must have been modeled after Terrell Owens.)

The next person to appear is Giants trainer and veritable fossil John Johnson, who has held the position since 1948. Judging by his facial expression, John Johnson has no idea where he is right now.

Randy Moss finally makes his presence known and gives the Pats a 14-10 lead with just over two to play. I ask Giants fan and fervent Hillary supporter Josh Schwerin ’08 about Eli’s two-minute drill.

“It’s very good because he doesn’t have to think.” Reassuring.

Joe Kenol ’08 rises from his seat following Tyree’s ridiculous, deep catch against his helmet (hands down, the play of the game). Manning promptly throws incomplete and is sacked for a loss. Mr. Kenol is ordered to return to his seat, ousting several thoroughly confused female fans.

The Giants call their final timeout with 51 seconds remaining. Eventually, FOX returns. The robot is back and okay. We were worried.

Somehow, in some way, the Giants manage to score and take the lead for good. Brady attempts in vain to launch a Hail Mary towards the end zone. All across America, Pats fans wonder how this is possible. Giants fans wonder how Eli led them to the top. And somewhere, tucked away in his PJ’s with the feet, George Bush wonders if New England is that state next to Cape Cod.

Such is this great American holiday.


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