Shortly after you read this, you’ll probably be either going to a bar, a party, or the comfort of your own couch to watch what is annually the year’s highest rated program: the NFL Super Bowl. This year, the fifty-seventh edition of the game (stylized Super Bowl LVII—I love the Roman Numerals—gives it an air of gravitas), pits the National Football Conference (NFC) Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, against the American Football Conference (AFC) Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams have recently won the Super Bowl—the Chiefs three years ago and the Eagles two years before that. This is also one of the most evenly matched games in memory; Las Vegas bookmakers have the Eagles favored by only 1.5 points which is pretty close to a coin flip.
The game has become a national holiday of sorts. While it is not recognized by any government, it is one of the few days of the year when Americans gather in groups to celebrate a non-secular date (Thanksgiving being the other, though there is room for debate on its religious roots). For some it’s the ultimate contest of the NFL season and determines the champion for that given year. For others, it represents an opportunity for collective entertainment, highlighted by the highly anticipated commercials, which cost absurd amounts of money. A thirty second ad this year will cost north of $7 million dollars. But that’s worth the price when considering that somewhere between 99 and 120 million people will watch the game. For still others, Super Bowl Sunday is an opportunity to indulge in some of the wildest proposition betting one can do, from the over/under on how long the National Anthem will be sung to a straight bet on Heads or Tails from the opening coin toss. While there are thousands of these types of bets, let’s look at some of the more curious ones:
- What color of Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach?
- Which beer brand commercial will air first?
- Will a player propose after the game?
- Which company will have the first commercial after kickoff?
- How many times will Tom Brady be mentioned on the broadcast between kickoff and final buzzer?
- Will a missed kick hit the uprights?
I could go on but you get the picture; if you can imagine a scenario, you can bet on it during the game.
Super Bowl Sunday is bittersweet for me. I love the game, but it also marks the end of the season and now I’ll have to wait seven months for next season to begin. I will say I am fortunate to have watched my favorite team, the New York Giants, appear in five of these games, winning four of them, including two of the more memorable games in Super Bowl XXV and Super Bowl XLII. Many of my friends who are long-suffering Jets fans have not seen them even play in the game; their last appearance was way back in Super Bowl III.
Finally, as I am writing for an Italian-American publication, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some notable Italian American personalities who left a great legacy on the game:
- Nick Buoniconti—Defensive Captain of the 1972 Miami Dolphins; the only team to finish an NFL season undefeated, capping it with a victorious Super Bowl VII.
- Bill Parcells—New York Giants Head Coach. Led Big Blue to victory in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Also led the New England Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI but was unsuccessful in his bid to be the first coach to win Super Bowls as Head Coach of two different teams.
- Vince Lombardi—the greatest coach in NFL history, he lead the Green Bay Packers to victories in Super Bowls I and II. His name adorns the championship trophy awarded to the victors
- Joe Montana—San Francisco 49ers Quarterback. The greatest Super Bowl Quarterback, he finished with a 4–0 record with San Francisco in Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII and XXIV, completing 68% of his passes for 1,142 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in those games. He was named Most Valuable Player in three of those games.
Regardless of where you stand, it’s nice to have these traditions that we can all (mostly) agree on and enjoy. So have fun and let’s hope it’s a good game!