Culbreath: Super distractionsWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I really wish I could go into this Super Bowl weekend talking only about the game, but society dictates that the NFL championship weekend is about everything besides football, so I must talk about the storylines, the halftime show, the commercials, Phil Simms’ tie and if Boomer Esiason will have any voice left at the end of the radio broadcast (which you can hear on 1370 WSPD and Fox Sports 1230! Cha-ching!)
Heading into Super Bowl XLVII, the first thought that comes to mind is that they have to ditch the Roman numerals soon. While nothing was cooler than seeing the letters “XL” plastered over everything in Detroit, I pity the city that has to host Super Bowl L. There’s just no way to make that letter look cool.
If you’ve watched any coverage of the Super Bowl up to this point, you know by now that Jim Harbaugh coaches the San Francisco 49ers, and that his brother John Harbaugh coaches the Baltimore Ravens. If you’re paying attention, you also know that both were born in the Northwest Ohio area; their father Jack played at Bowling Green State University and was an assistant at Perrysburg High School when both Jim and John were born. From there they moved around (as a football coach is bound to do), with John eventually graduating from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, and Jim graduating the next year from Palo Alto High School in California. If that’s not enough sports in this family, the Harbaughs have a sister, Joani, who’s married to Tom Crean, the head men’s basketball coach at Indiana University. Pfft, basketball … am I right, fellas?
It’s also Ray Lewis’ last game playing professional football. It’s a heck of an honor for Lewis, a man who was once implicated in the stabbing deaths of two men, to be able to go out on his own terms like this. It’s going to be truly special to see a player who’s a 13-time-pro-bowler, who won Super Bowl XXXV MVP, and who provided testimony against two men who were ultimately acquitted of their murder charges in exchange for a lesser charge of obstruction of justice, to have another shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Most players try to extend their careers a little too far, but not Lewis. Much like how he reached out-of-court settlements in both wrongful death suits brought against him in civil court, Lewis knows when it’s time to get out of the game. What an inspiration.
I haven’t heard buzz surrounding this year’s advertisements like I have in years past. I’m going to assume that’s because the era of the overhyped Super Bowl spot is over. They’ll still cost a lot of money, but we’ve seen more and more companies air any old commercial they have on tape. These used to be spotlight entertainment, the best of the creative minds at advertising agencies across the nation rubbing their heads together to write the funniest, most memorable spots. I think they ran into two issues, the first being that too often, the creativity of the spots far outweighed the commercial value of them, and nobody could remember what the advertisement was actually advertising. Secondly, the level of creativity and funny is not just reserved for Super Bowl Sunday anymore — you can watch anything at that level of humor come up on YouTube twice a week.
Controversy surrounds the halftime show as Beyoncé is set to … you know, I can’t even fake enthusiasm for this. I don’t care if you resurrect John Lennon and brought The Beatles back together to play at the break, no halftime show is ever going to come close to Prince in 2007. He literally played “Purple Rain” in purple rain, and it was amazing. I don’t know what they hope to accomplish by bringing Mrs. Jay-Z in a year after Madonna played the half, but I don’t care for it. More of The Who, less of The Why-Is-This-Person-Playing-At-Halftime.
With all that out of the way, can I now talk about the game itself? Despite the Baltimore Ravens having to get through Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to get to the big game, the good folks in Vegas are still giving San Francisco 3-and-a-half points. I think that’s because everyone’s enamored with Colin Kaepernick. The brains from Nevada came in to take over for Alex Smith when he went down to injury, and impressed to the point that he got the starting job over Smith, leading the team all the way to New Orleans. It’s a fun story (well, fun for anybody not named Alex Smith), but the real story is San Francisco’s defense — second in the league in scoring defense, fourth in rushing defense and fourth in passing. Not that the Ravens have been bad on that side of the ball, they’re just not that high. If Joe Flacco can do what he did against Denver, though, then anything is possible.
Final word: Ravens 23, 49ers 17. I’m not making that pick through some knowledge divined from the stats; I’m just still angry that San Fran traded Joe Montana to Kansas City.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director at 1370 WSPD. Email him at email@example.com.