Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, and much of America will be tuned in to see if San Francisco or Baltimore becomes the next NFL champion.
But that is not all that we are tuning in to see. Football is just one of the many things that will be on display as the ultimate sporting event in the U.S. takes over our evening viewing and Monday morning discussion.
This particular game, like the sport itself, has changed. What was often referred to as the Snoozer Bowl has been replaced by some truly exciting play. In the early years of the Super Bowl, teams were often more intent on keeping from losing than they were of playing to win. As a result, less-than-stellar play was the norm.
In recent years the play has been excellent with last-minute scores deciding the outcome.
But the play of the 49ers and the Ravens will not be the only thing under the microscope tomorrow. Here are some other things that will be discussed around the water cooler (are there really water coolers in offices anymore?) Monday morning.
• The national anthem. Not only who does it (Alicia Keys) but how she sings it will be critiqued. Will lines be missed? Will words be mispronounced? Will she sing it straight or embellish it with her own style? (The best rendition of the national anthem I have heard was not at a Super Bowl, but at an Atlanta Braves game I attended. A 10-year-old girl with a great voice sang the anthem without any additional flair.)
There are actually people who are wagering on the national anthem performance. Bets are being placed on how long it will take her to sing the song, whether she will omit or add words to it as she sings (like Christina Aguilera did in 2011) and if she will be booed following the performance.
• The commercials. TV ads are always a highlight for the Super Bowl. At $3.8 million for a 30-second spot, the creative genius of ad agencies had better show up on this night. And many of us are more interested in the ads than in the play on the field. That football stuff just gives some of us time to go to the restroom, get the nachos ready, pop the top on a cold one or call a friend to discuss the last series of ads that just concluded.
My favorite Super Bowl commercial ever is the Mean Joe Greene ad for Coke in which the star player tosses his sweaty game jersey to the kid who gave him a soft drink. I admit a bit of a bias here, as I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
• The coaches. Keep count of the number of times the announcers mention that these are two brothers facing each other from opposite sidelines. Indeed the coaches come up with the plans for the games, but chances are that neither one will run the ball, tackle anyone or kick a game-winning field goal. In spite of what is said about the coaches, it is the players who decide the outcome.
• The parents. And while there are sure to be a number of mentions of the coaches (the brothers Harbaugh), make note of the times that the parents of the two coaches are shown or mentioned.
• Halftime. Beyonce has the opportunity to headline the halftime extravaganza. I’m not sure why marching bands are no longer in vogue at halftime, but they went the way of the 8-track tape player. My guess is that there are some who will love her performance, others who will pan it and others who will go into the kitchen to check on the nachos.
• The commish. Will the cameras show NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and what kind of reaction will he get from a crowd in New Orleans? Remember it was Goodell who banished the New Orleans coach this season after Bounty Gate. No friend of the Saints is Mr. Goodell.
• Disney World? Who will look into the camera at the end of the game and say, “I just won the Super Bowl, and I’m going to Disney World?”
Inquiring minds want to know. Pass the nachos.
Jeff Wallace is the retired editor of the Aiken Standard.