Above Average Thoughts From An Average Guy
I’m all for the bye week before the Super Bowl. Yes, it’d be ideal to have about ten days in between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl, but we’re not playing the game on a Wednesday night. In addition, it would feel rushed if the Big Game was scheduled to take place a mere six days after Lawrence Tynes’s overtime field goal against the 49ers. So this is the better of two imperfect solutions. But my God, of any year in recent memory that media coverage of the event felt exhausted after two weeks, this is the year.
Part of the problem is presented by a paradox: The matchup that, on paper, should be the most entertaining is also the least interesting.
There’s so much on the line in this game legacywise, but the discussions are stifled by how straightforward the stakes are. If Eli Manning wins, he’s really good, and it adds an interesting wrinkle when juxtaposing his career with that of his brother. If Tom Brady wins, he’s really, really good, to the point where phrases like “Greatest of All Time” can be legitimately bandied about. But otherwise, the fans and media have been forced to adopt the mind-set players traditionally use: act like you’ve been there before. Mainly because we have.
I can’t remember a season in recent memory in which the Super Bowl won’t provide us with the definitive image we conjure up when recalling that season, but this might be the year. This game will do a number for historical perspective and long-term evaluation of the people involved, but for quick-fix NFL banter, it might not crack the top ten of 2011-12. What will stand out the most about this season? In some order: the rapid decline of the Manning-era Colts; Tebow; Cam Newton; the lockout; concussions; the near-perfect Packers; Rex Ryan (again) and the tension within the Jets’ locker room; the Andrew Luck sweepstakes; the return to relevance of the Lions; the Eagles’ dream team turning into a nightmare; the Texans’ depth and what could have been if not for Matt Schaub’s injury; Jim Harbaugh’s quick turn-around of the moribund 49ers.
Even the Giants and Patriots in-season storylines felt like a rehash of past years: Have the Giants quit on Tom Coughlin?; Can the Patriots regular season success translate to January? The Patriots owned the 2007 season, from Spygate through 18-0 before it all came crumbling down after the Helmet Catch. This year, it feels like it’s been there, done that. There’s no coronation of anybody, only the further establishment of already-proven greatness. The fact that it’s the first time in history two quarterbacks who already have Super Bowl MVPs will meet in the Super Bowl best expresses the lack of novelty with this game.
For television and entertainment purposes, this matchup should be a gem. But aside from regurgitated hot air about Gronkowski’s ankle and the confidence of the Giants’ defense, the news coverage this week focused on a player who didn’t take a single snap this season, whether he’d take another snap again, and where he might take it. It might be the first Super Bowl where both sides can comfortably play the disrespect card.
It might’ve been a snoozer hype week for the rest of us, but I can assure you one thing: Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick are more than happy to cede the spotlight.