If you’re like me and aren’t one of the millions of Steelers fans or one of the tens of Cardinals fans, this Sunday is merely a ritual we all partake in as Americans: the Super Bowl Party.
Much in the same way St. Patrick’s Day, Fat Tuesday, and Cinco de Mayo are celebrated by countless non-ethnically aligned people, the Super Bowl is watched by everyone whether they like the teams or even if they didn’t know the Cardinals moved from St. Louis over 20 years ago.
So let me help you pick whom to cheer for this weekend by giving you a few ways to choose between the Steel Curtain and…and…OK, we don’t really have a clever alternate nickname for the Cardinals.
1.) College fandom
If you are a die-hard college football fan and your NFL team didn’t make the big game this season, why not revert to college allegiances?
Of course if your college team (Ohio State) was responsible for the same guy who just admitted to selling drugs as a kid and has a history of domestic violence charges and legal issues since leaving the school (Santonio Holmes), you may want to reconsider.
Likewise, if a player on one of the teams played for your alma mater’s arch nemesis (see Brady, Tom), well then, you’ve found whom to cheer against.
2.) Sworn Enemies
Going back to my conference superiority debate article, I will not spend the entirety of the NFL season cheering against my archrival and then turn around to cheer for them in the Super Bowl. I hate the Steelers 24/7, 365, and the same goes for Michigan and Duke.
Now if in fact both participating teams are sworn enemies, I say a good movie marathon would be a good replacement for the Super Bowl this season. Cheering against both teams has been proved to be difficult if not impossible, and trust me, I’ve tried (witness the Celtics/Lakers series and any Red Sox/Yankees LCS).
3.) The Friend’s Team
One of my steadfast rules of sports fandom is that if I can’t be happy, nobody can be happy. By that I mean if my team isn’t playing for the grand prize of the sports world, I don’t want my friends or those I’m close to to be happy either. Call me a jerk (or other bad names unprintable here), tell me I’m selfish, say I get a deranged sense of joy out of this; It’s OK. It’s true.
I’ll live with that over listening to my friends who are Steelers fans say, “Hey, dude, we got one for the other hand.” Yeah, well I just wiped my ass with your yellow towel. We’re even.
4.) The Media Darling (aka the Feel-Good Story)
Without fail every year the Super Bowl gives us new commercials, a four-and-a-half-hour-long game and a full week of coverage of one player who has become the media darling. In this year’s case it’s the QB of the Cardinals Matt Leinart…I mean Kurt Warner.
So if you enjoy those sensationalized, feel-good stories, cheer for Kurt Warner. If you like to see the hopes and dreams of millions of little children crushed…well…I’ll let you answer that one.
(Tangent: So I was discussing with a buddy that if Tim Tebow was the QB for the Steelers and he was facing Warner, whom would God cheer for? I think that after a long week of both QBs wandering through Tampa’s entertaining Ybor City cleansing strip clubs and bars, followed by their miracle healing of all the sick children at the local hospital, God would have a hard time deciding. We might find him right before kickoff hiding in his closet curled up in the fetal position, sobbing “Don’t make me choose! Please, please I beg you to not make me choose between my sons!”)
5.) Follow the Money
Want to give yourself a vested interest in the game? Gamble…on everything.
Wager the money line on someone.
Wager on who will score first.
Wager on the Over/Under for rushing yards by the backup running backs.
Wager on the O/U for points in the first and third quarters.
Wager on the O/U for how long the Star-Spangled Banner will take (hint, take the over).
And no matter what you’ve heard, the coin does not land heads more often than tails or vice versa due to weight distribution. So wager on the coin toss, too.
Why not turn the Super Bowl into a true, money-making affair? That’s what a real American would do.
6.) Two Words: Larry Fitzgerald
If all athletes could act like Larry Fitzgerald both on and off the field, SportsCenter would run out of court cases to cover and have to get back to actual highlights.
What’s not to love about a guy who is possibly the best wide receiver in the game, doesn’t flaunt or brag about what he does, and doesn’t have a cheesy, poop-eating smile on his face every time he’s on camera (yes, I’m talking about you, Hines)?
I’ve had a running appreciation for the tremendously overlooked weakness that is Ike Taylor for years now. Guess who will be covering Larry Fitzgerald in Super Bowl XLIII? I’m hoping this ends as well as Byron Russell vs. Michael Jordan.
7.) Cheer Against That Guy
So if the six preceding steps didn’t help you decide who would best suit your fan cheering needs, wait until you get to your Super Bowl party.
Arrive shortly before kickoff, giving you ample time to sample the food spread, survey the attendees and of course pick the primo spot to see both the TV and yet hit the bathroom first during a commercial.
During this time you will no doubt figure out who is “that guy.” That guy may be a hardcore fan of one team or the other who is constantly bashing anyone that is cheering for the opposing team, and we haven’t even wrapped up the final pregame show yet.
That guy may be the guy who takes his fourth turn through the food line piling up two plates at a time, but it’s OK because he brought a two-liter.
That guy may be the guy who, even 30 minutes before kickoff, is highly intoxicated and therefore annoying everyone with comments like, “Dude, Mean Joe Greene was a good defender, but James Harrison is the greatest ever!”
Find that guy. Find that guy and channel every ounce of karma you can into cheering against him. More likely than not he’ll be a Steelers fan because, let’s face it, Steelers fans are annoying drunks. Unfortunately for him Tim Tebow isn’t quarterbacking the Steelers. God has a vested interest in this game, and now you do, too.