The Super Bowl is more than just a game. And it’s more than America’s great, secular, national holiday. The Super Bowl IS America. It’s big. It’s loud. It’s overblown. It’s preposterous. It’s a ridiculously monumental celebration of wretched excess with a football game in its chewy center. And the whole world can’t take their eyes off it. It’s what this country is all about.
Sometimes, though, the game itself is lacking. For every epic matchup between two top teams like last years Colts-Saints game, we get one of those dog’s breakfast games like 2005’s Steelers-Seahawks crap-o-rama. As Super Bowl matchups go, I’d rate this Pittsburgh-Green Bay game as a solid B+ or A-. These are not great teams, but there’s enough talent on each of them on both sides of the ball to keep our interest.
But even a lousy game would be no excuse not to make the most of the day. It’s your duty as an American to squeeze every last drop of fun out of Super Sunday. It’s the one civilizing thing that separates us from the animals. Or worse, soccer fans.
To those millions of Americans who are neither Steeler fans nor Packers fans, but are nevertheless patriotic Americans who love their country and don’t want to ignore the game like a bunch of pinko subversives, I say there are lots of ways to get the most out of your Super Sunday. I’ve spent my whole life obsessing over Super Bowls I actually couldn’t care less about, and I have it down to a science. I believe I’ve perfected the art of making even the worst game interesting by turning every part of the grotesque spectacle into a game anyone can play.
Just print off this handy Super Bowl Survival Guide, follow these steps and even your most apathetic friends will be having more fun than the most die hard Terrible Towel waver or hardcore Cheesehead:
Take The National Anthem Endurance Test. If there’s one thing you can count on at the Super Bowl, it’s that the Star Spangled Banner will last longer than your average trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. This year’s performer is Christina Aguilera. Xtina is a lovely girl and a fine talent. But a quick bit of research on YouTube reveals that her typical Anthem is in the 1:50 to 2:00 range. With a worldwide audience watching, you just know the flourishes and vocal runs are going to be at an all time high. So test yourself against Christina. Can you hold your breath as long as she can make the song last? Do pushups throughout it? Leg lifts, maybe? Because if you can do any of the above, you might actually qualify for placement with the Navy SEALs.
Try “NFL on Fox” Kara-jokey. You know which is the funniest ensemble comedy cast on TV? “30 Rock”? “The Office”? “Parks & Recreation”? Wrong on all counts. It’s the Fox pre-game crew. Just ask them. No one on television finds themselves more hilarious than Terry, Jimmy, Howie and whatstheirnames. I mean, the rest of us might not get the joke 90 percent of the time, but they laugh more at their own material than every FM radio Morning Zoo America combined. So join in the fun and see if you can get the same laughs they do. When, for instance, Terry Bradshaw says “Well they’re going to come after him with the blitz, and you know I know how that works!” and they all bust a gut laughing “Bwahahaha!!!” try the same joke later on and see if you get the same results. “Wow. Dom Capers is really going after Roethlisberger with the blitz. And you know I know about that!!” And best of luck getting your friends to like it as much.
Play Super Bowl Ad Cliche’ Bingo. Draw up your own cards ahead of time. Suggested squares: “Cute animal,” “Z-list celebrity,” “Creepy CGI talking baby,” and “Doofus who chooses a beer over his preternaturally hot girlfriend and ends up doing something stupid to hurt himself.” I also recommend “Betty White,” but since she’s everywhere now, I suggest you use her as the Free Space in the middle.
Do The Wet Blanket Scavenger Hunt. The Super Bowl is pure, guilt-free, irresponsible fun. Therefore there are no shortage of political groups trying to harsh your mellow by pointing out how your fun is hurting their Very Important Cause. This one says football is misogynistic. That one complains it promotes drinking. Another complains you might eat meat. Or skip church. And so on. So in the days to come, collect as many articles by tub-thumping, nagging, self-righteous, fascist buttinskis as you can and see which of your friends can find the most. The winner gets all the Buffalo wings, beer and post-game porn-per-view he/she wants.
Try the Announcer Verbal Tic Drinking Game. This game was much easier to play in those halcyon days when you could count on John Madden to do his “Bam! Right there! Boom!” shtick, but he’s gone and he ain’t coming back, so we just have to make do. Basically you decide ahead of time which phrase the broadcasters can’t stop themselves from saying, and everyone takes a shot whenever they do. My suggested Troy Aikman verbal tic: “You wanna talk about...” As in “You wanna talk about accuracy? Look at this pass from Aaron Rogers...” But if you go with that, have a designated driver. Your pal Jerry does not promote drinking and driving.
Play the John Candy Celebrity Challenge. This gets its name from Super Bowl XXIII when, driving late with the game on the line and his huddle freaking out from the stress, San Francisco’s Joe Montana looked into the crowd and said “Hey look, guys. There’s John Candy.” If past is prologue, there will be somewhere around 300 superfluous shots of celebrities sitting in the crowd throughout the game. Since the game is on Fox, expect all sorts of self-promotion from House to the American Idol judges, from Sean Hannity to Quagmire, and everyone in between. See how many of them you can identify before Joe Buck starts reading the promo for their all new very special episode of whatever the hell they’re promoting. The real pity is that this year CBS isn’t doing the game. Just because I’d love to see whom Charlie Sheen would be sitting with.
Hungry, Hungry Heart Patients. This is one I more or less play by myself. I like to set up a Texas Death Match between my cholesterol medicine and what I eat all day. May the best chemical compound win.
Have a game of Halftime Show “Name That Tune.” The idea is simple: See how many notes it takes for you to identify the next song. This year it will be especially challenging for most because it’s The Black Eyed Peas performing, and not some geriatric Baby Boomer band. I happen to like them, but easily half the audience has never heard a song of theirs besides “I Gotta Feelin’” and most of them assume it’s a song from a cellphone ad. Actually, don’t be surprised if the BEPs just stretch “I Gotta Feelin’” out until kickoff.
See how long you can avoid Gambler Guy. I’m not a communist, so I have nothing against betting on the game. It’s just that there’s no one more tedious than listening to Prop Bet Guy. The coin flip, who’ll score the first points, will the two teams score more points than LeBron James, blah, blah, blah. Strike that. There is someone worse. Grid Squares Guy. The one who can cite chapter and verse of every scoring combination he needs in every grid he’s in like he’s the only one in America with squares. Both (and they’re typically the same guy) are the Super Bowl Sunday equivalent of the guy who thinks you want to hear his Daily Numbers Game stories.
Play “The Family Feud.” Look, by no means am I one of those guys who thinks women can’t follow sports. And the Super Bowl is all about the casual fan; I respect that. Male or female I don’t need anyone to pontificate on Cullen Jenkins’ play in order to watch the game with them. But invariably, my Sweet Irish Rose and the women in our group tend to shush us during the commercials and prattle on during the game, pausing only to talk about how huge B.J. Raji’s ass is and debate whom Aaron Rogers looks like (answer: Ryan from “The Office). I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing; just that it will happen to me, odds are it will happen to you, so you might as well make a game out of it.
So like I said, follow this simple guideline and I have no doubt it will maximize your enjoyment of the game. Remember, making the most of the Super Bowl isn’t just a good idea. It’s your patriotic duty.
Follow Jerry on Twitter at @jerrythornton1