The two weeks preceding the Super Bowl are some of the most trying times in terms of sports coverage.
The only reasonable mantra, when it comes to the analysis of games, is to not talk about them until after they have occurred. How else can you discuss the on-field product intelligently? Certainly not to make spend the days leading up to the main event giving “hot takes” on the legacy of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and questioning whether or not the Falcons are “for real.”
Meaningless, all of it.
Despite what anyone on-air or online in sports coverage may tell you, none of us are capable of predicting what will take place between the Falcons & Patriots at NRG Stadium Sunday anymore than we could have told you who would be elected as the next President of the United States or what career path your firstborn child will choose. The sheer amount of variables that factor into any given game make sports so incredibly dubious.
Picking games or breaking one down using anything other than a full game-film analysis and an expert that truly understands every intricacy of schematic football concepts amounts to word vomit that is both frivolous and fraudulent in nature. The reality is that there is nothing of particular interest to talk about leading up to the Super Bowl. Unless tragedy, stupidity or controversy occur, the two weeks of coverage leading up the game itself are unadulterated crap.
But, can you blame us? Fans’ constant yearning for sports talk and our need to provide it to you leads to useless conversations about ranking the best quarterbacks of all time or whether Peyton Manning would have found more success if he had played for a coach like Belichick. It is no small feat to provide compelling content in sports radio and TV when there is nothing of interest to talk about.
Damn you, 24-hour news cycle.
That is why, for my part, there will be no Super Bowl picks or prognostications. Instead, we will spend this week finding the most entertaining story lines, gaffs and foul-ups from figures in and around the Big Game, starting with none other than the Commissioner of the NFL himself.
Last Thursday afternoon, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported that the NFL moved Commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual Super Bowl Week-ending press conference from Friday to Wednesday. On any other year, this break from tradition would go largely unnoticed. Ah, but this is the #DeflateGate Revenge Tour for Tom Brady and New England.
This is unlike any Super Bowl we have ever had.
Starting today, the media frenzy in Houston will begin to pick up steam with more and more press filing in as the week progresses. Joe Lockhart, NFL executive V.P. of communications, told Kaplan, “Our overall thinking is by Friday people are really focused on the game.”
Yeah, Joe, I am quite sure the impetus for moving Goodell’s presser to the middle of the week was to make the media’s job easier.
What appears to be happening is further cowardice on the part of the League. By moving Goodell’s availability, one can deduce that the NFL wants the size of the press pool they trot the Commish out in front of to be diminished. The NFL would limit the amount of uncontrolled questions Goodell may receive about Brady, DeflateGate or otherwise as the media will not have arrived at full force in Houston by Wednesday. Although, with team beat writers traveling with the Patriots for the full week, Goodell may have opened himself up to a higher concentration of DeflateGate-focused questions.
Regardless, this is another effort by the League and its commissioner to avoid unwanted scrutiny.
Goodell has bungled this at every turn. He erred in the initial handing down of Brady’s four-game suspension at the start of the year because of a failure to understand the Ideal Gas Law. Along with his refusal to attend a game in Foxborough to take his lumps during the regular season and the efforts made to avoid attending a Patriots home game this postseason, opting instead for two playoff games in a row in Atlanta, the stage has been set for only one possible third-party rooting interest.
You and I, all of us NFL Playoff orphans, must root for a New England Patriots Superbowl victory for one reason: to watch Roger Goodell uncomfortably hand the Lombardi Trophy to Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
It could be that my judgement on this is skewed. I work for a sports talk radio station and our sole focus to provide the audience with interesting content. And, while the coverage of the Super Bowl itself should be enough to satisfy the common fan’s desires, it simply is not enough for me. That Super Bowl LI promises to be one of the more aesthetically pleasing in recent memory is of little consequence. And, I would be lying if I told you that the football alone is going to be enough to satisfy me. I want more.
I want what would serve as the most wonderfully awkward moment in sports (or any) television this year. I want to watch Roger Goodell squirm under the withering gaze of every Patriots coach, fan and player for my amusement.
It comes at no small cost, though. For years, Brady and Belichick have terrorized the AFC. This will be their seventh Super Bowl together. We often accuse them of cheating and other nefarious acts when, in actuality, the only crime they have been found guilty of is being better and smarter than our teams at exploiting loop holes in the rule book. Most football fans want to see the Patriots lose simply out of spite and as recompense for the Tuck Rule, SpyGate, DeflateGate, and all other slights, real or imagined. I, myself, have agonized over the many defeats my team has faced at their hands. But, this Sunday, we must all put aside our hatred.
We must unite for the greater good or, rather, the greater entertainment value.