Super hype makes game hardly worth waiting forPublished 11:26am Friday, January 28, 2011
Unless you cheer for the Patriots, the Steelers or one of those other perennial NFL powerhouse franchises, watching your team in the Super Bowl ought to be a real thrill. For most fans, it’s a rare opportunity.
This year will mark only the third time that my favorite, the Green Bay Packers, have made it to the big game. I don’t count the two Super Bowls back in 1966 and 1967, which I probably watched with my family but don’t remember.
As exciting – and unexpected – as it is to have a dog in the Super Bowl hunt, the frenzy that surrounds the event makes it really hard to enjoy the game itself.
Big league baseball has plenty of flaws, and I seldom take in a game during the summer. But by October I have grown increasingly interested and usually end up watching every game of the World Series no matter who is playing. The NHL has the same thing going for it; I hardly bother with the regular season, but often tune in as the Stanley Cup finals near.
Yet it’s the opposite with football. In a normal year – which is the vast majority when the Packers are not going deep into the playoffs – my interest wanes as the playoffs go on and the hype builds to ridiculous proportions.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the Super Bowl is the NFL’s pretentious decision to make fans wait two weeks for the game so that the league can extract the maximum commercial advantage. One can’t blame the league for doing that, we can only blame ourselves for being suckers enough to fall for it by watching the various Super Bowl preview shows, reading the preview articles, getting excited about the heavily scripted and almost-sure-to-be-awful halftime show…. Enough said.
Two weeks is just too long. The stories have all been done. If there is any fresh reporting between now and Feb. 6, it will only be because some player does something stupid in a bar or a car.
Sticking the Pro Bowl in the gap week may have sounded like a good idea, but it is not. Inevitably a few of the players who would make the Pro Bowl interesting are unavailable because they are preparing for the Super Bowl. Some years, the scheduling knocks a dozen players out of the Pro Bowl line-up.
Nor is the delay much help to the teams. Barring some minor injury recoveries, it’s hard to imagine any team benefits by being knocked out of its preparatory rhythm. As proof, look what happened to almost all of the teams that had a bye during the first week of the playoffs.
So except for those who are insatiable consumers of mindless football blather, what the NFL has achieved is a massive roadblock to interest in what should be its biggest game.
As much as I enjoy watching the Packers play, it is going to be a struggle to stay excited for another 10 days, to stay interested despite the circus surrounding the game.
Eagles in area
We’ve heard some reports about bald eagles being spotted near open stretches of the Cedar River near Austin this winter, and some hope that it may be a sign that a nesting pair will make its home hear come spring.
Many of us remember when eagles were incredibly rare. While still not common, the big, majestic birds have made an amazing comeback in the decades since pesticides containing DDT went off the market.
During the 1970s, it was a real thrill to even glimpse a bald eagle. I recall my father driving the family to a distant park just on the chance of seeing one. Now it may not be common, but it is no longer rare or even unusual – although our area does not provide a lot of eagle viewing.
Eagles’ range includes most of Minnesota except the state’s far west and southwest, where there are few of the lakesides where they like to nest and hunt. The Mississippi River is prime eagle territory, however, and it’s sure conceivable that eagles might extend their range this far.
They nest in March, so if a pair does take up residence near here, it should be evident before too long.
n On Sunday’s Insight page, national political columnist George Will.