Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Loser

If you're a Cleveland Browns fan, the Super Bowl would have to be considered the most irrelevant sporting event of the year. My team hasn't been to a NFL championship game since 1964, before they started calling it the Super Bowl. There have been 46 NFL championship games played since then, 44 of them Super Bowls, which started in 1967, the year of my birth.

For me, a giant helping of Frosted Flakes and milk in a large Tupperware container is a Super Bowl. Normally, I could care less about the game, which is now only three days away. But the team I hate the most, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is playing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday evening. Steelers fans are known for waving a ridiculous yellow (they'd call it gold) towel over their heads all game long. Packers fans, or Cheeseheads, are known for wearing giants wedges of cheese made from foam on their heads. Let's see. I hate Pittsburgh, but I love cheese. Cheese makes the world go round -- it's my favorite pierogi ingredient. And any person willing to wear a cheese hat in sub-zero temperatures to watch football has my undying respect. Add it all up and you can probably guess who I'll be rooting for in Super Bowl XLV.

For the past few years I've DVRd the games, but only to speed through the game action to get to the commercials. Because Super Bowl games typically end up being duds, the commercials are very often the most entertaining part of the broadcast. I've worked in the advertising industry since 1991. So, if I'm watching with my family and the commercials come on I'll usually tell my kids to shut their pie holes while "daddy goes to work." During breaks in the game I become the Roger Ebert of Super Bowl ads. I used to keep notes and record my biting commentary on cassette tapes, but then I realized how strange that was and worried that my wife might try to use that against me if we ever have a nasty custody battle. "Yes your honor, I have the tapes right here. Would you like to listen to them?" At which point the judge would reply, "No that's okay, the notebooks will suffice. Visitation denied."

I don't really know who has Super Bowl parties these days. I haven't been to one in years, which means I haven't been invited to one in years. Part of me wonders if all these parties are really happening or if it's like the phantom holiday, Sweetest Day. I've never tried to do something with any of my friends on Sweetest Day and had them answer that they couldn't because it would mess up their romantic evening plans. Whenever I ask my wife what she's getting me for Sweetest Day, she starts to laugh uncontrollably and usually lands up on the ground holding her sides.

Because we're social outcasts, we watch at home. My wife always makes a few appetizers to have while we're watching the game with the kids -- things like nachos, crab dip and chicken wings. I've even been known to crack open a cold one. An empty beer bottle is something only a true Browns fan can love. If my kids get out of hand, the game pisses me off or the appetizers don't wow me, I lay down the law Cleveland-style, with a quick bottle toss across the room. Most of the time I don't try to hit anything, I do it just to scare them a bit. I'm not a big drinker at home, so I'll sometimes open the container and dump the beer in the sink just to have an empty bottle at my disposal. Don't knock it, it's quite a deterant.

A lot of people place bets on the Super Bowl. When I was younger the only Super Bowl bet you could make was on which team would win. There would be a point spread and all, but that's as detailed as it got. Nowadays you have the ability to put money down on how long the national anthem will take to sing (by the way the over/under is one minute and fifty-two seconds by Cristina Aguilera) or which side of the ball, offense or defense, will do the Gatorade dump on the winning coach at the end of the game. Apparantly, the smart money is on the defense since the offense will most likely be running out the clock.

Who comes up with these things? And, who's betting on it? Must be the guy who says, "You know I've never won a straight up Super Bowl bet, but I've got a buddy who gave me an inside tip that Aguilera's national anthem will only last twenty-three seconds due to a wardrobe malfunction. One of her sequins will catch fire and burn her left boob, forcing her to flash the entire world while she tries to extinguish the flame. I don't know how he knows this, but he said I could take that to the bank." Me, I'm happy with a couple of Super Bowl squares, a fundraiser for my son's baseball team. It's not considered gambling if you know you're going to lose.

I know not everyone feels the way I do about the Super Bowl. But if you're lucky enough to get invited to a Super Bowl party and there happens to be an obnoxious Steelers fan in the group, don't overreact. Wait until the commercial break is over, take out your lighter, then grab his stupid Terrible Towel, jump up on the coffee table and yell out, "I'm taking bets on whether this yellow rag will burn faster than Aguilera's dress."

Come to think of it, a similar incident got me banned from the last Super Bowl party I attended. Oh well. Go Pack Go!!!

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