Welcome back, everyone! Let me just say that this is the Super Bowl post that I didn’t want to write. I was going to boycott the game this year due to the heinous, heinous I say, miscall during the final seconds of the first round playoff game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys that effectively stole the game away from Detroit, depriving my home team of their rightful chance to compete in the Big Game. (I managed to come back around after almost the exact same call went the opposite direction for the Cowboys the following week, eliminating them and proving that he who lives by the pass interference call dies by the pass interference call.) But then Deflategate happened and then it was the Seahawks defending their title against the Patriots, the douche-bro-est team in the country and, frankly, there just wasn’t a lot else on TV that Sunday night so I decided to watch. Plus, I heard that Katy Perry was going to BURN Taylor Swift in the halftime show, and even though I don’t care much about either one of those people, I’ve always liked effigies.
Having watched the game, with its first 30 minutes mind-numbingly dull and its second an exercise in athletic what-the-fuckery, I’m not sure I made the right decision. But I get ahead of myself.
As I’ve said many times before, Super Bowls are all about spectacle. They are not stunning examples of amazing athleticism or daring competition. For that, we have the Olympics and Dance Moms. It’s for that reason that the entire first half of the game was such a letdown. This Super Bowl pitted the Seattle Seahawks, who won last year’s Super Bowl so decisively over Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos, against the powerhouse coach/quarterback/douche-nozzle combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
To give a sense of the match-up, going into the game both teams had exactly the same record (14-4) and throughout the first half played with almost identical statistics such that going into halftime, the score was tied. And not even an energetic tie. It was a relatively anemic 14-14. Ho hum. It was so boring that even Bob Costas had to come on just before the second half and deliver a three-minute commentary on how everyone needed to shut up on Twitter about how bored they were and remember that Super Bowls are often decided in the second half, they’re not meant to be exciting, and for God’s sake stop posting pictures of your food all the time.
Needs more pinkeye.
Then the second half started (actually, there was a halftime show in between, but I’ll get to that in a second) and things finally started to pick up. Seattle started putting points on the board, scoring 10 during the third quarter and shutting out New England. Moving into the fourth, New England began to rebound, scoring a touchdown and putting themselves within three points of a tie. Then Patriots Quarterback and human equivalent of crashing your uncle’s Porsche into the pond at the country club after you drank too much Boones Farm Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass with two minute left in the game that put New England up by four points, 28-24.
And now, finally, we had, as they say, a football game as Seattle took possession of the ball and drove it fearlessly down the field. Things got tense for folk from the Emerald City when Seattle managed to somehow both fumble and catch a critical pass at the right time, almost losing out on their chance to score. Nevertheless, they eventually found themselves on New England’s 1 yard line, literally three feet from victory. And that’s when they shit the bed.
Not photshopped. This is an actual picture showing what it looks like to fuck everything up.
Here’s the thing. Seattle was on the 1 yard line. They could have tripped and fell into the end zone and won the game as long as whoever tripped was holding the ball when he fell and managed to cross the line before his knee hit the ground. But for some reason, Seattle called what has been referred to as the worst play call in the history of the Super Bowl. They decided to pass. And that pass was intercepted. For those of you not familiar with what happens in football (and for the smaller number of you for whom that’s the case and still decided to read this post), that was a very bad thing for Seattle. To make matters worse, Seattle has arguably the best running back in the country in Marshawn Lynch. Hand Lynch the ball, and even if every New England player is ready to pounce on him he’s still going to cross the line and make it in. Alas, none of that happened and Tom Brady, who is in fact that guy you knew in high school who started bum fights in the basement and never got in trouble for it because his dad was on the school board, got another thing aside from his super model wife and multimillion dollar per year job to brag about.
And yes, that’s all Seattle’s fault. New England didn’t win; Seattle just lost spectacularly. Seattle won the Super Bowl last year and they haven’t shut up about it since. They’ve been on constant news reports talking up their greatness, which makes them the sports equivalent of that weird guy who once drunkenly made out with a model in a bar and now believes that it means he’s way hotter than he is. Winning the Super Bowl once actually is not that difficult. There are plenty of teams that win once and then either not again or not routinely. Like so many things, it’s performance over time that counts. Seattle wanted to be thought of as the new powerhouse and instead handed those accolades over to New England, the team that’s self-importance is so inflated it could float a zeppelin despite being a team that has employed, shall we say, questionable practices to get what it needs.
Factual? No. Representative? Definitely.
What happens next, however, is what may be the most interesting thing yet. The NFL entered this game in a state of turmoil due to the news-making events with Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice’s videotaped beating of his then fiancée, Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito’s racially-motivated harassment of his fellow players and staff members, and Arizona Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer beating his wife and son. As such, it wasn’t a surprise to see many, many commercials in this Super Bowl that sounded more like “The More You Know” style PSAs about what it means to be a “real man” and encouraging men to maybe, like, not beat up women or something. The last thing the NFL is looking for is more evidence that the ship that Commissioner Roger Goodell is sailing may not be so shipshape after all. And now the league will have to contend with the evidence that the Super Bowl winning team, in theory the best team of the year, only got there because they cheated in an earlier game, deflating their own footballs to make their passes easier to throw and catch.
So yes, there are a lot of things that disappointed me about this year’s Super Bowl, but perhaps one of the biggest ones is the cruel twist of fate whereby one of the two competitors this year wasn’t New York if only for the reason that now I can’t legitimately make a Sharks vs. Jets joke. This year, the Pepsi Halftime show gave America the public figure it has craved more than anyone else; a figure of style and beauty, of hope and inspiration, of talent and verve. I refer, of course, to Left Shark.
No discussion of this year’s Super Bowl would be complete without considering the cultural icon that is Left Shark, seen here with his backup singer, a young woman who was not identified at press time:
Since his emergence onto the national stage, Left Shark has inspired artwork, lawsuits challenging that artwork, historical retrospectives, and thrilling investigative journalism. There is at least a little bit of Left Shark in all of us, and yet none of us can every truly be Left Shark. Except for Left Shark himself, of course.
No matter who plays in the game, Left Shark wins. Left Shark always wins.