Sometimes in life you just know you’re witnessing history being made. Lately it seems we’ve been witnessing it more and more, but this is finally some of the good kind… less global pandemic/political insurrection, more man on the moon/GameStop on the moon.
LET’S TALK FOOTBALL
It’s the first Super Bowl to ever be played in a team’s home stadium. It features the oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl. And, yes… Mahomes vs Brady. I mean, pinch me, what more could you ask for?
Perhaps the two greatest quarterbacks in history going head to head on America’s biggest stage with legacies on the line. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Got a problem with that crossed out line? Tom Brady is indisputably the best to ever do it, anyone who says otherwise is literally listed under hater in the dictionary. The stats (2nd all time in pass YDS, 1st in pass TDs) and the Super Bowls (6 wins in 10 appearances, both records) speak for themselves.
Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have the gaudy career stats, but he wins the “eye test”. He’s reminiscent of Jordan in that all it takes is one look and you’re hooked. Just one mesmerizing no look shovel pass and you’re sitting back in your chair saying to yourself “I’ve never seen anyone better than that.” If the eye test isn’t enough for you, he’s got some records of his own- he’s the all time leader in career passer rating (108.7) and at a full four plus points ahead of Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers it’s really not even close. Oh yeah, he’s also 38-8 as a starter and has lost all of one playoff game in his three year career.
What we’re going to see on Sunday is truly special. Imagine what you would give to see Lebron James play Michael Jordan while they were both in their primes. It’s the stuff of fantasies, but it’s football equivalent is inconceivably taking place Sunday in Tampa.
It’s impossible to know who’s the better player off conjecture and stats alone, and frankly that’s why ESPN can’t stop bringing it up- because it makes for lively debate and great TV.
We’ll never know if Lebron’s huge stats in a career centered around longevity means he’s better than Jordan and his unbelievable athleticism. But lucky for us (and unlucky for ESPN, I guess) we will know if Brady’s huge stats in a career centered around longevity means he’s better than Mahomes and his unbelievable athleticism.
*insert obligatory disclaimer that football is a team sport here*
(ok fine ESPN, you can still have the debates)
Still not convinced this one game will decide who is ultimately crowned football’s G.O.A.T? Here’s the legacy factor. First let’s get one thing straight, the rings aren’t everything. Bill Russell has 11 but he couldn’t sniff a basketball GOAT conversation. And Trent Dilfer has more rings than Dan Marino, but we all know Marino is “greater”.
Mahomes has the benefit of the Marino factor, he’s more exciting and he just “looks better”, so he doesn’t necessarily need to hit Brady’s six, but one is definitely not enough. Brady’s six rings are an already daunting mountain for Mahomes to climb, a seventh could prove to be insurmountable. If he ends up with four to Brady’s six, his swagger might carry him over the top. Three compared to seven, however, isn’t much of an argument in most people’s minds.
OK COOL BUT I’M A DISGRUNTLED PATS FAN
Star power and legacy implications aside, Sunday’s game figures to be stellar football. Two incredibly potent offenses littered with pro bowlers and led by brilliant offensive coaches will surely make for a loaded highlight reel. The spread at -1.5 for Kansas City is tied for second lowest in Super Bowl history, so the odds are literally good that we’ll have a competitive game deep into the 4th quarter. (The lowest was the “Run the ball!!!” Pats Seahawks game at Seattle -1)
But what about the home field advantage? In a regular year, the Super Bowl features a notoriously corporate crowd as the typical rowdy hometown fans are priced out in favor of executives from the game’s sponsors. Even without the corporate factor, the Bucs picked a bad year to do it. Home teams went sub .500 for the first time in history this year as teams went to battle in eerily quiet stadiums. While there’s certainly something to be said about waking up in your own bed and going through your regular routine, there’s ultimately nothing regular about the Super Bowl and this year’s numbers back it up that the home field is unlikely to be much of a factor.
THE C WORD
I’m sorry but you knew it was coming sometime. So far so good on the COVID front. The NFL managed to get in all 256 of its regular season games and every playoff game so far has gone on as scheduled. Despite a brief scare involving a bunch of Chiefs players getting a haircut, because apparently that just couldn’t wait, the big game projects to be COVID free. The feel good story of the event was the NFL filling the stands with 17,000 newly vaccinated health care workers as a thank you for their service. Beyond the fuzzy feelings, this will also serve as an important and high profile example for how Americans should govern themselves during the pandemic’s vaccine rollout era. What you will likely see on Sunday, despite all parties being vaccinated, is a lot of mask wearing and social distancing.
This is because the vaccine is not 100% fool proof and its posted efficacy rates are not valid until two to four weeks after receiving the second dose. Furthermore, it is still unclear if the vaccine prevents COVID from being spread to others. The Super Bowl and its massive audience will serve as a great educational platform as we embark on this next stage in the pandemic.
WHAT IF MY IDEA OF A HARD SACK IS A FIRM MATTRESS?
Office squares. Commercials. Chicken wings. The Weeknd. YouTube videos of animals picking a winner.
The Super Bowl truly has something for everyone. It’s a uniquely unifying, American experience. Even if the thing we’re unified against is people who love telling you that they watched the puppy bowl instead.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s some of the normalcy we’ve all been craving. This is the first time in months that a major cultural event hasn’t seemed completely overshadowed by COVID. In a sporting year where we watched the Olympics get postponed and the NBA playoffs from a Disney World bubble, limited fans or not, this feels like a real Super Bowl- and that’s really something to celebrate.
My challenge to you is to truly enjoy this. Take a deep breath, live in the moment and enjoy some much deserved normalcy. For all the history and the hoopla surrounding this game, it’s still just Tom Brady in the Super Bowl… doesn’t get more normal than that.
P.S. ft. Fun* Facts
- I managed to use “literally” both literally and figuratively in this post for all you grammar super fans (5 points if you find them both)
- *obligatory Tony Romo finally made it to the Super Bowl joke*
- The Super Bowl is America’s second biggest eating day. Good work guys but let’s shoot for #1.
- 1.4 billion chicken wings will be consumed this weekend
- SB 30 second commercials now cost over $5.6 million
- This is more understandable when you consider it’s America’s highest rated TV show of the year, regularly pulling in well over 100 million viewers
*open to interpretation