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News Story
Updated: 01/31/2013 07:59:31AM

Ready for the big game?

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Larry Jewett

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By now, the bulk of the sports news will be about football’s big game, Super Bowl XLVII, which will be played this weekend in New Orleans. I’ll bet the NHL is glad they have their season under way because they will be flying under the radar for a week or two.

The Super Bowl, which is officially known as Super Bowl XLVII, always coincides with “Know Your Roman Numerals Week.”

Does anyone use Roman numerals for anything else? Do they still teach them in school or did they go by the way of the corded home telephone?

Despite the fact that neither team played a single game in the state of Florida (San Francisco did play the Dolphins, but the game was in California), there will be interest in the game. The bulk of the interest lies in Polk County’s own Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker by way of Kathleen High School. His arguably Hall of Fame worthy career will come to an end with this weekend’s game. There aren’t many people who can say their last game was a Super Bowl. In reality, there aren’t many, in the grand scheme of things, who can say they played any games in the Super Bowl. Lewis’ role has been analyzed endlessly, detailing his impact on and off the field for his team (I loved his role in the NFL-backed safety commercial with Tom Brady).

This is a time when the stat geeks and the trivia buffs spend hours trying to come up with the gem that justifies their efforts and/or intelligence. Case in point: Did you know that the very first quarterback sack made by Ray Lewis in 1996 was the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts named Jim Harbaugh ... the same Jim Harbaugh who is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers? Don’t feel badly. Neither one of them recalled that and was surprised to hear about it. Little known facts sometimes should stay little known.

This is the time when the movers and shakers in the sports betting world, legal or otherwise, stand to make a name for themselves, if not a few thousand dollars in the process. Many a fortune has been won or lost because of one simple football game with an unknown outcome. You can be a big hero without putting on one item of football gear.

Super Bowls tend to bring together an interesting mix. There are those who can tell you Joe Flacco’s stats from his college days as a Delaware Blue Hen and those who have to read the names off the backs of the jerseys. Some of the latter are there simply for the commercials. This year, there’s about as much pregame talk about the commercials as there is for the game itself. Just as the stores are filling their shelves well in advance of the holidays, advertisers are getting the idea that they need to reveal their commercials before the big game. It’s consistent with the stores that advertise their Black Friday sales and make them available online before Black Friday.

In reality, if you want to see the commercials, you don’t even need to watch the game. By Monday morning, there will be an abundance of websites that will have all of the commercials for you to enjoy. If you don’t mind watching them on a smaller screen, you can save time by watching them on the computer. If you are worried about not being “in the know,” get up an hour earlier on Monday.

Earlier this week, I returned from a trip to New York City and the talk in the Big Apple is all about the Super Bowl ... next year’s Super Bowl. In about a year, Super Bowl XLVIII is scheduled for MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The three-year-old facility, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, is worthy of the big game. It makes sense to bring the gala to the largest market (since Los Angeles doesn’t have a team), except for one small thing.

It’s an outdoor stadium.

Having just been there, let me say the weather is not Super Bowl caliber. Nighttime temperatures there was 11 inches and there was snow.

Politicians and civic leaders are saying all of the right things. They contend that football was meant to be played in the elements and a champion crowned in less than ideal conditions becomes a true champion of the greatest magnitude.

That’s just fine for the 100 or so people who are getting paid royally for their work. Tickets for the upper deck nosebleed section of the Mercedes Benz Superdome run about $2,500 for this weekend. Seats on the 50-yard line are going for $25,000 or more. Do you know anyone who would spend that kind of money to sit in uncertain conditions to watch a football game? If you do, you have just identified someone who has more money than sense.

I wish them well with their attempt to bring the big game to different places (Just don’t take it to London). There have been Super Bowls in cold climates (Bartow’s own Ken Riley played in one in the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit ... against the San Francisco 49ers, so is he rooting for Baltimore?), but outdoors? A Super Bowl is on my bucket list, but giving myself pneumonia to watch it is not part of the plan.

Like many of us, the Super Bowl will be on the screen, at home, at a friend’s or a local business. We’ll get a better view than anyone who paid $50 to park and walk 10 blocks in New Orleans. Sometimes, the simple things really are the better things.




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