The fortnight between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl is always prime time for sportswriters to complain about their jobs, but this year, the grousing has reached record levels. Mostly: It’s too cold! We feel terrible for those poor souls forced to go to the Super Bowl for free in 40-degree weather. It’s just tragic.
But it also hasn’t been the most ideal fortnight for football fans, mostly because the Jets aren’t in the Super Bowl. Had they beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh — which, remember, wasn’t all that far off from happening — this would have been a giddy two weeks of Rex Ryan madness, of goofy soundbites and foot jokes and Mark Sanchez answering about 85,000 questions about Joe Namath. Alas: It is merely the Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. The most exciting thing to happen was Ben Roethlisberger singing “Piano Man.”
This is the first Super Bowl in four years that hasn’t had a compelling matchup between an established favorite and an underdog most of America was cheering for. Three years ago, the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots in a game that you might possibly remember. Two years ago, the Arizona Cardinals came out of nowhere and darned-near beat the Steelers. Last year, the New Orleans Saints made the entire earth happy.
(We could watch that for hours.)
This year, you have a team that has won six Super Bowls against a team that has won three. It will mean a ton for the fans of the team that wins, but it won’t be New Orleans. This will make for a compelling game for NFL purists. But it makes it difficult for the disengaged to have a compelling rooting interest. The best we can come up with is “cheer against Ben Roethlisberger.” That might be all Jets fans, and the rest of us, have to run with. Alas. There are always the commercials.