Learning to love a Packer-less Super Bowl
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- Cashing the (discount double) check: The commercials of Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees
It’s been a terrific year to be a Packers fan right up until the very end. A lot of us had high hopes for a Super Bowl repeat. Instead, it’s the New England Patriots and the New York Giants facing off at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Lombardi trophy. But don’t become too forlorn, Packers fans. There’s still plenty left to do, including all that free music and fun down at the Super Bowl Village if you can make it to Indianapolis. And there are, of course, the commercials. But in the era of YouTube, previews, and “leaks,” watching the Super Bowl for the commercials isn’t quite the must-see fun it used to be. Miss a few during a bathroom break? Chances are you can watch them on your phone within a few minutes. And, besides, nothing will ever top Bud Bowl.
While other channels offer some great counter-programming, those aren’t available if you decide to socialize by actually leaving the house and attending a Super Bowl party. To that end, The A.V. Club has put together a list of ways Packers fans (and fans of the other 29 teams not playing) can stay emotionally involved in a game that, otherwise, means nothing.
Pre-game prep, i.e., gambling!
There’s never any shortage of insane bets to make on the Super Bowl. Betting on the point spread? Pshaw. Amateur hour. The real fun bets are much further down the list, opportunities to remain emotionally involved in the events even if rooting interests are emotionally detached for the sport’s biggest game. And you don’t even have to know anything about sports to make the bets.
• The coin toss
Another hugely popular prop bet and one you have a 50/50 shot at winning. Bet: Heads, then check yourself into rehab, Gambler.
• How long will the word “brave” be held during the National Anthem?
This year’s rendition will be sung by American Idol champ and Ron Paul backer Kelly Clarkson. While Clarkson certainly has the pipes, she’s also not one for unnecessary flourish (see: Christina Aguilera at last year’s Super Bowl). We’re guessing the over/under on this will be set around seven seconds. Bet: Take the under
• What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach?
The tradition of dumping Gatorade on the winning coach is always a fun one, so why not make it interesting? With a variety of regularly used flavors and the chance it might actually be the water jug the players grab, this one is a lot of fun to play with. Bet: Orange, the original.
Despite loyalty to another team not quite good enough to make it to the Super Bowl, most fans usually find themselves siding with one team or another either because of personal biases or just to have a rooting interest. But for Packers fans, choosing between the Giants and the Patriots is a lot like choosing between being punched or kicked in the face. In this instance, recent history—i.e. being dealt two devastating home losses in the playoffs—completely eliminates any emotion except burning hatred for the Giants, meaning any good Packers fan certainly doesn’t want them to win. But cheering for the vile Patriots isn’t exactly a good option either. Best to just act like you really care about one of them, though, so you have a good excuse to take the following Monday off.
The halftime show
The news that Madonna would be this year’s halftime entertainment was met with a resounding “meh.” The run of nostalgia-centric performers who’ve been enlisted since that infamous wardrobe malfunction have ranged from the pretty great (Prince, Springsteen) to downright awful (The Black Eyed Peas). Given her love of being a controversy magnet, we wouldn’t put it past Madge to try ruffling a few feathers, so the show might be worth watching just for that. But, more than likely, there’s a worthy alternative that will prove much more entertaining: Puppy Bowl VIII.
A few distractions aren’t enough for some viewers. They dislike sports so much that they need something stronger to get them through the game, particularly in the second half, once everyone’s settled in, stuffed their faces with food, and the glow of Puppy Bowl is wearing off.
So, every time:
• A replay of the David Tyree catch in Super Bowl XLII is shown, take 1 drink.
• NBC shows a star of a current or upcoming show in the stands, take 1 drink.
• NBC promotes Smash, take 1 drink.
• The Manning brothers are compared, take 1 drink.
• Peyton Manning is shown, take 2 drinks.
• Bob Costas says something sanctimonious, take 2 drinks.
• Eli Manning makes the Manning Face, take 3 drinks.
• And if an announcer draws a telestrator penis, just down the bottle.
Just because these two teams put on a hell of a show when last they met in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLII, the Giants won 17-14 in a game that ESPN has probably already mentioned roughly 4 million times in the last two weeks) doesn’t mean this game will be equally as good. And even exciting games have times when they drag (timeouts, instant replay delays). So bone up on useless trivia to impress fellow Super Bowl party attendees, or, if you’re staying home by yourself to watch the game, the cat.
• The Patriots have won three Super Bowls in franchise history (XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), all by three-point margins.
• The Giants have called stadiums belonging to both New York City Major League Baseball teams home. From 1956 to 1973 they played at the old (and now demolished) Yankee Stadium, and in 1975 they played a single season at the old (and now also demolished) Shea Stadium of the New York Mets.
• According to Snopes.com, the myth that major sewer systems have shut down because of so many flushing toilets during Super Bowl halftimes is completely false, but the rumor that said myth serves as a metaphor for last year’s Black Eyed Peas halftime performance is true.
• Tom Brady was originally drafted in 1995 by Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos, but instead sold his soul to the devil in exchange for roughish good looks and a scrappy sidekick named Wes Welker.
• The New York Giants aren’t actually giants. Their largest player is Chris Canty, who stands 6-foot 7-inches tall, weighs 317 pounds, and once ate a herd of water buffalo for dinner.
• Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels will be calling this game for NBC. In 2006, after a stint with ESPN, Michaels was “traded” to NBC to helm the network’s Sunday Night Football coverage in exchange for, among other things, the rights to televised golf tournaments and 1927 cartoon character Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. (Little known fact: the rights to Dennis Miller were also traded in exchange for the rights to Capitol Critters.)
Ah, the come-down from what will be an exciting game (provided it lives up to expectations). And networks long ago realized the value of the post-Super Bowl time-slot, that hour between the end of game coverage and the late local news, what with roughly eleventy billion people tuning in to watch the game. Over the years, that period has seen heavily promoted episodes of established favorites (Friends, Survivor) and hyped series premières (Family Guy, Undercover Boss). This year, NBC saw fit to debut the new season of its American Idol-esque singing game show The Voice, starring Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo, and some other people. But if you’re not into another reality show, there’s plenty of great counter-programming to watch while you and the rest of the Super Bowl party sober up (unless there’s an adorable baby in the post-game celebration).
The broadcast networks seem content to fill the slot with repeats, so you could catch up on some Modern Family on ABC. Alternatively, there’s the badass war-era drama Downton Abbey airing on PBS that all the kids are into theses days. If you like your British a bit more slapstick, BBC America is running an Absolutely Fabulous marathon. For the old, reliable stand-by, TNT will be running episodes of Law & Order. HBO will be showing its newest hyped show Luck. If you want to make things artsy, FLIX is running one of A.V. Club film editor Scott Tobias’ New Cult Canon picks, The Cook, Thief, His Wife, And Her Lover. And if you want to make things just plain weird, turn over to TLC to catch a few episodes of Strange Sex.