The Non-Sports Fan's Guide to the Super Bowl
The last three Super Bowl broadcasts have set the record for the highest rated broadcast ever, each topping the prior year's game. On average, upwards of 70 percent of Americans have tuned in for the Super Bowl in recent years.
In October 2012, Harris Poll conducted a survey which indicated that today a whopping 60 percent of Americans claim to follow regularly—up nearly 10 percent in the last decade.
That's a very impressive number, but it means that 10 percent—11 million people—of those tuning in to the Super Bowl are doing it for reasons almost entirely unrelated to football.
Although, if you really think about it, they aren't the only ones without a vested interest in the game itself. Most people who follow football have a rooting interest in a specific team.
The NFL has 32 teams, but obviously only two of them can meet in the championship game. And unless you're a 49ers or Ravens fan, you're only definitively tuning in because it's the Super Bowl.
This has got a little something for everyone whose team hasn't played in nearly a month. Time for kickoff...
Alicia Keys Singing the National Anthem
The national anthem is often a high point of a major sporting event, assuming it meets the following conditions:
- It is not sung by a child.
- It is not sung by an adult who forgets the words.
- It is not sung by a child who forgets the words.
- It is not sung by Roseanne.
Kelly Clarkson really knocked it out of the park in 2012, but her performance served mostly to make up for the previous year's debacle. After badly flubbing a line early in the song, Christina Aguilera stumbled through the national anthem in 2011, leading to speculation she had been drinking.
Rest assured that Alicia Keys will not embarrass herself, or America, in front of an audience of 110 million people. She's always touring, always performing and always amazing. Keys is an absolute pro and one of the best choices in years.
There Will Be Riots
Let me start by clarifying that I am not promoting riots, nor am I condoning them. I'm simply acknowledging the riot as a newsworthy event that, because of San Francisco's participation in the Super Bowl, is all but guaranteed.
There were massive riots in the Bay Area after the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. Obviously there is going to be a lot of overlap in the Giants and 49ers fan bases. So if fans in San Francisco celebrate winning a championship by turning over buses and setting fires all over the city, imagine what's going to happen if they lose.
Actually, don't. Let's just say things will get extremely dicey and leave it at that. Oh! And don't discount Baltimore's riot potential either. They don't have their recent track record, but I'm expecting riots in both cities, regardless of outcome.
I am of the firm belief that the beauty and unbridled enthusiasm possessed by NFL cheerleaders is something that could, and should, be appreciated by both men and women.
I realize that not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but I stand by it.
And honestly, what's not to like? A bundle of smoking hot, scantily clad, talented dancing women would be an excellent addition to almost any event in life.
Plus, I actually have been lucky to get to know some actual NFL cheerleaders. Seriously, some of the friendliest and wholesome girls I have ever met.
- Add equal parts Wild Turkey, bottom shelf vodka and gin to cocktail shaker (NO ICE). Amount depends on number of shots.
- Shake vigorously.
- Pour into shot glasses.
- Place glasses around candle or next to lamp.
- Once liquid is warmed, toast and shoot.
- Vomiting may be optional or compulsory.
This one could be prohibitive depending on your life circumstances. Once you move beyond the drinking stage of life, it's difficult to get back in that place. But if you're lucky enough to still be in that stage, a Super Bowl pre-game party is a great time to bust out all the old classics.
If you don't think you can get it up for a game of beer pong, I've got another suggestion for later in the night. The "Aaron's Delight" is fun for everyone, but only negatively impacts the drunkest person/people at your gathering—they've probably been annoying you all night anyway.
Get wasted before proceeding. Preferably wait until after 10:00pm to make.**
**If ordered at a bar, make sure that the bartender understands that "bottom shelf" means whatever bottle can be bounced off the floor safely. Also, the warming of the liquid is essential.
This year CBS has six hours of pre-game programming scheduled, which is no less than 10 hours of potential party time. Party games can be fun for the whole family and can be used in conduction with, or in place of, drinking games.
Everything is more fun when you add alcohol to the mix, unless someone's a well-known alcoholic and gets sloppy, then it's just kinda sad. If you skip the booze, I would definitely recommend something festive like a piñata. Candy isn't a bad vice substitute.
A football pool adds a financial stake to the game, particularly great if you don't have a horse in this race. One of my favorite games is my own creation, inspired by those ugly sweater Christmas parties. Offer a prize to the person who comes with the most absurdly outdated team jersey/gear.
If you don't have anything like that, the local thrift store is always a great place to pickup a Kordell Stewart or Tommy Maddox jersey. Obviously that varies from city to city.
Pre and Post Game Gossip
The Super Bowl combines my two passions in life: Football and celebrity gossip. In the week leading up to the game, athletes, media and fans from all walks of life come together in the same city.
The unending glare of media flashbulbs and unseasonably warm weather combine with the temptations of drugs, alcohol and beautiful women form a highly combustible compound.
Sometimes the week passes with no major incidents. Sometimes it's rifle with scandal.
The whole thing is a crapshoot, so who knows what we'll get this year. What we do know is the game is being hosted by New Orleans. Not a bad start, huh?
Dressing for the Occasion
This one is pretty self explanatory. If you're already a football fan, you'll probably just bust out a team jersey and call it a day.
I'll probably put in a little more effort, but only because 50 percent of my wardrobe is black and gold and I'm really indecisive sometimes.
But for the ladies with lukewarm feelings about the game, and the sport in general, this could be a way to get you enthused about the Super Bowl. There's never a bad excuse for a manicure and some shoe shopping.
Plus, you'll be excited all week! Not for the game, of course, but to show off something new! A win/win situation.
Wacky Fan Shenanigans
When I'm not in the crowd with my fellow idiots, making a complete ass of myself, trying to spot all the balls-out-crazies on television is one of my favorite things.
Nothing makes me laugh like a loud and proud shirtless fat guy with a painted gut, one hand firmly clutching his beer, the other arm flexing for the national audience.
Every lady likes a man with confidence. And it takes a confident man to cover himself with makeup, a wig, and novelty jewelry and pair it with a sensible fanny pack so he doesn't lose his keys or wallet.
Am I right, girls? Maybe that's just me.
Adorable Super Bowl Celebrations
Most people will hop on a bandwagon during the course of the game, but if you don't really have a team playing in the Super Bowl, the sting of a loss will wear off within seconds. Which is actually the greatest thing about your team failing at whatever point they failed along the way.
I was pretty freaking bummed when my Steelers didn't even manage to make the playoffs, but I'm already over that. Whereas, I don't think I'll ever get over losing in the Super Bowl to the Packers (2011) and Cowboys (1996). That's a lot of deep seeded rage to carry around for the better part of two decades.
But that isn't even a remote possibility this year, so I can sit back and enjoy the victory along with the winning team. (As long as it isn't the Ravens) I'm not even a warm and fuzzy type who coos over children—they are usually so dirty!
But you're made of stone if the sight of Drew Brees celebrating with his young son didn't make your heart grow three sizes that one day in early 2010. Seriously, seek professional help immediately if you aren't currently holding back an "Awwwwwww!"
Photos to Forever Jog Your Memory
You've probably been to any number of parties with a really annoying girl who was constantly taking your picture. I am usually that girl. And I understand that it can be a little grating in the moment, but ultimately it serves a much greater good.
With every passing year, you and your homies will have less and less time to spend together in a group. Everyone will do their best to stay in touch, but eventually it will reach a tipping point where you see each other once or twice a year.
And by the time it starts to tip back, people start to die. I know that's a harsh reality bomb I just lobbed at you—but that's how I roll.
The only reason I brought all that up is because I forced the photo issue (see photos) at our Super Bowl party in 2011 and everyone quickly came around. Then the game got away from the Steelers, the Packers won the game, and things rapidly spiraled downhill the rest of the night.
The next morning I awoke to realize I had fallen asleep sitting on my couch with a drink in my hand. The coffee table was flipped over. There was some broken glass. There was few small holes in the wall.
And the last thing I remembered from the night before was screaming about how the whole game was a conspiracy orchestrated by (Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady. (Yes, I know he wasn't playing. It goes back awhile.)
Well, it was the last thing I remembered until I looked at my digital camera a few days later! Then most of the night came flooding back to me.
Bagging on the Announcers
Bagging on whatever couple of goobers the network rounded up to call the game is a tradition that is as old as televised football. Sure it hasn't been the same since John Madden, and his undying adoration for one Brett Favre, finally called it a career in 2009.
Has anyone even seen that Frank Calideno guy since? Madden was the gold standard of galoots and that was the golden age of bagging on announcers. But that doesn't mean there's no joy to be had here.
Phil Simms and Jim Nantz aren't exactly beloved figures and they'll provide more than enough fodder for drunken mockery as the game wears on. I'm really looking forward to this one.
Absolutely Bonkers Snack Trays
If you would have told me a few years ago that someday we'd be living in an age of entire stadiums contracted from nothing but sandwiches, cold cuts, and various other assorted party snacks—I would have said you were crazy.
Really shows you how far we've come as a nation, doesn't it? Sometimes I'm just so damn overwhelmed by American pride, that it literally brings tears to my eyes. Like when those kids at WVU celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden by rioting and lighting garbage fires.
Unfortunately, it's still too early to expect a cold cut and sandwich stadium at every Super Bowl party—but that day will come. In the mean time though, there are still plenty of artery clogging goodies to go around. Super Bowl Sunday is up there with Thanksgiving in the all day eating department.
Niners' Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Pushing aside any concerns I had about looking like an online stalker, I have not made my love for Niners' head coach Jim Harbaugh any secret over the last two seasons.
And I'm very happy with my decisions, because if I had kept it to myself, I wouldn't have ever known how many other ladies out there echo my sentiments. Although, I really should've had an inkling.
Harbaugh is a passionate, ruggedly handsome, hot-tempered man with a handshake so macho that it makes weaker men immediately crumble in self doubt. Am I right, Jim Schwartz? You don't have to answer that. I know it is.
The Puppy Bowl
In 2004 "Nipplegate" sent us reeling into a decade of half time musical purgatory. And since 2005, as is designed by the hand of God himself, Animal Planet has been broadcasting The Puppy Bowl on a continuous two-hour loop throughout the entire game and then some.
It's the perfect salve for an untimely interception. The perfect alternative to a terrible half time show. In addition to being the perfect way to cleanse the palette in between heaping servings of the inescapable Phil Simms.
And if you are perfectly content with everything going on in the Super Bowl, you can't still catch The Puppy Bowl! Animal Planet will rerun it constantly for at least two weeks.
The Puppy Bowl Half Time Show
I realize this one is a little redundant with The Puppy Bowl slide. But squeeeeeeeeeee! Kittens, piggies and a sassy wise-tweeting bird that you can hit up on Twitter! (@MeepTheBird)
If that pile of amazingness isn't worthy of distinction, then I don't know what is. Even the fact that this event has a half time show is almost too adorable. Almost.
Impress Friends with Sports Trivia
This may not appeal to those of you with more interesting hobbies, but my fellow trivia nerds should appreciate it.
Particularly anyone who doesn't know that much about the game itself. Brushing up on a few fun facts is a great way to impress your friends and worm your way into a conversation that you would otherwise offer nothing to.
Personally, I'm pretty knowledgeable about football, but have employed this strategy for most of my professional life. And now I'm going to help you employ it.
Super Bowl Trivia:
- The only teams to have never played in a Super Bowl are the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
- The biggest blowout ever came in Super Bowl XXIV, the 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos 55-10. Dag.
San Francisco 49ers Trivia:
- The Niners are the ninth different team in 10 years to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Whereas the AFC was represented by just four teams in the last decade.
- Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh previously coached at Stanford—where he successfully recruited quarterback Andrew Luck and almost recruited Robert Griffin III.
Baltimore Ravens Trivia:
- This is the second Super Bowl in franchise history. In 2000 the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV.
- Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has yet to throw an interception in these playoffs, which puts him in very elite quarterback company entering the championship game.
Team Themed Alcoholic Beverages
The one thing you don't want to do at a Super Bowl party is decorate with any team decor, unless your team is actually playing in the game. It's unacceptable for any number of reasons, but just take my word on that.
Although, there is at least one way you can satisfy your creative instincts, without committing a massive party foul. Team themed booze! It addition to getting you drunk, it really adds a nice sense of occasion to the proceedings.
I'm very particular about my alcohol, so this is the service that I provide to almost any party I attend—even if I'm asked specifically not to. Following instructions has never really been my thing.
This year is particularly exciting because the team colors (red, gold, purple and black) offer endless delightful combinations. It was much more difficult when the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Green Bay Packers in 2011, the team colors (black, gold, green and yellow) resulted in a substantial trial and error period.
If you want to be the booze fairy at your Super Bowl soiree, feel free to hit me up on Twitter for some of my super secret recipes. Follow @blamberr
Over-the-Top Cupcakes and Baked Goods
Since I moved to D.C. about six years ago, the cupcake situation has changed dramatically. In that, six years ago there wasn't a cupcake situation, and today I live within a mile of no less than six cupcakeries.
Probably more. I gave up counting awhile ago. In fact, the cupcake situation in D.C. is so out of control, that I live within blocks of an establishment where a reality show about cupcakes is filmed.
The point that was lost in all that superfluous information is just that I don't have my finger on the pulse of the cupcake situation outside of my little bubble. So if cupcakes haven't hit your city, or have already gone out of style, just substitute cupcakes with the sexy baked goods in your town.
Like with the themed beverages, this is a great way to get creative, without crossing any decorating lines.Let's just sit back and appreciate the only day of the year in which it's socially acceptable, if not preferable, to consume nothing but cake and vodka all day.
God bless America.
The Super Bowl commercials have become so popular in recent years that the buzz around them has begun to rival that of the actual game.
Each year companies are in a competition with themselves to outdo whatever they did the year before. Anything to make it bigger, better, funnier or sexier.
Although, is it any wonder they want to get their money's worth with a memorable spot? We all know that Super Bowl advertising doesn't come cheap. In fact, they are the exact opposite of cheap. Expensive.
This year a 30-second spot will set you back a cool $3.8 million—up an epic $1.2 million since 2008. So when you're watching those commercials, be sure to enjoy every single second—because each of them cost $90,000.
Savor them like a smooth, cool, refreshing can of Old Milwaukee's finest.
Beyonce Half Time Show
For non-sports nuts, the Super Bowl half time show is the second biggest draw of the broadcast—aside from the commercials. Although, it doesn't feel quite right to describe the last decade's worth of performers as a "big draw." At least not in this century.
To be fair, most of them were once epic, but the average age of the half time performers has been hovering around 60 for awhile. Since Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, to be exact. It was like 9/11 all over again for every uptight family values complainer in the country.
You may recall that as the year that Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and Janet Jackson's nipple headlined the show. The grotesquely named "Nipplegate" scandal was one of the most ridiculously overblown incidents in modern history, but it's officially behind us now.
After two years of getting it wrong with the Black Eyed Peas and Madonna, someone (I suspect it was a lone voice of reason) had the good sense to book Ms. Thang herself—Ms. Beyoncé Knowles. Who I have no doubt will set the standard for years to come.