Will There Be a 'Super' Bowl in This Age of NFL Parity?

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Will There Be a 'Super' Bowl in This Age of NFL Parity?
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images
Where did everyone go?

I had a dream last night that they held the Super Bowl, but nobody showed up.

The two finalists, each of whom qualified for the postseason with an 8-8 record on the fourth tie-breaker, decided that they did not have the chutzpah to even attempt to put their names on a trophy named after Vince Lombardi.

Amazingly, each of the 75,000-plus advance-ticket holders also decided that it was not worth their time to go watch a game between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum.

Roger Goodell, the NFL’s master of positive spin, announced, “In this wondrous year of the replacement officials, we have finally reached parity on the field. In recognizing that every team in the league is as good as every other—except for maybe the Browns—we have declared the Super Bowl a 0-0 tie.”

I woke in a panicky cold sweat and called my therapist the next morning, fearing that without the benefit of post-dream analysis, each night would involve an instant replay of the last.

My therapist told me that I had come to the right person, since he had studied with all the greats in Vienna and his specialty was fantasy—in particular, fantasy football.

“My son,” he told me, “your problem is not your fantasy. It’s reality that stinks. Take a look at the standings and ask yourself whether there are any teams that stand out, whether there’s anyone out there who scares opposing coaches.”

“Well, the Falcons are undefeated, so that should count for something,” I said.

“Foolish, foolish. Did you see them squeak by the lowly Raiders in the fourth quarter last week? Did you see them just barely beat Carolina in the last minutes two weeks before? Resilient they are, but not great, not by a long shot."

He went on, "Then there’s Baltimore and Houston, the only teams at 5-1. Do you think anyone’s scared of the Ravens without Ray Lewis? Did you see the Packers decimate the Texans without Brian Cushing, also gone for the season?

"Or maybe you were hanging your hat on the potential of the Chargers. Well, that looked like a fair bet, until their monumental collapse at the hands of Peyton Manning.

"You like the Pats? Did you see their secondary make rookie Russell Wilson look like the second coming of John Unitas?

"And how can you take the 49ers seriously after what the Giants did to them?

"And did you ever notice that everyone in the AFC East is 3-3? And that 16 NFL teams are either at or within a game of .500?  And…”

“Whoa there, Doctor. It sounds like you’re having a panic attack. Calm down.”

“Well, maybe a few teams will come on. Maybe Atlanta is for real. Maybe the Giants will be the stealth team of last year. Maybe the Bears can be the team to beat—even if  Jay Cutler is their quarterback.”

“So, Doctor, you mean that there really will be a "Super" Bowl this year?” I ask.

“Yes, yes. No matter what the records of the playoff teams are, someone will win and lose, then thousands will pack the Superdome to anoint a new champion. And whether Mr. Lombardi is happy about it or not, the trophy with his name on it will go home with someone. Isn’t that right, Mr. Goodell?”

“Yes, of course. Football is alive and well, especially in this year of mediocrity…I mean…..parity. Whoops, just a little Freudian slip…”

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