NFL Alphabet Super Bowl: Your Guide to Super Bowl XLV from A to Z
With the Super Bowl steadily approaching, it has become more than appropriate for a definitive guide to Super Bowl XLV without over-emphasizing historic franchises, quarterback play, (duplicitous and perfunctory statements of) Ben Roethlisberger's off-the-field improvements or all of the above while still giving credence to the aforementioned topics when necessary.
This A to Z guide, addressing elements and caveats strictly pertaining to this Sunday's big game in
Arlington Dallas North Texas, is designed to serve as a forward-thinking, outside-the-box guide to what could easily become the highest-rated Super Bowl of all-time.
A. Aaron Rodgers
...and he's got a neat Touchdown Celebration
Rodgers is the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback who was drafted at No. 24 out of Cal-Berkeley by way of Butte College and Pleasant Valley High School (the latter two being my alma maters).
Rodgers' dramatic journey to a Super Bowl berth saw him reluctantly caught in the crosshairs of Favre Watch 2008, which was the NFL's version of Days of Our Lives.
Rodgers comes into Super Bowl XLV as somewhat of a polar opposite to his quarterback counterpart (see next slide) as his gaudy stats throughout these playoffs and his career are almost completely devoid of late-game heroics.
If Aaron Rodgers want to begin cementing a promising legacy as a legendary quarterback, he must consistently win games in the clutch, and this Sunday would be a perfect place to start.
B. Ben Roethlisberger
The controversial starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers already has two Lombardi Trophies to his name as he looks to secure a third Super Bowl, thus entering the discussion along with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the greatest quarterback of this generation.
Despite possessing the lowest quarterback rating in Super Bowl history by a winning quarterback (Super Bowl XL), Roethlisberger saves his best for last and has shown a flare for the dramatic throughout his career.
Roethlisberger's game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII is widely regarded as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. Also, the last time the Steelers played the Packers, in 2009, Pittsburgh squeezed out a last-second win when Roethlisberger connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace with no time left on the clock.
C. Charles Woodson
The 2009 Defensive Player of the Year and a surefire Hall of Famer, Charles Woodson's imposing presence on the defensive line in exotic blitz packages will be needed if the Packers want to take Big Ben down consistently.
This will be only the fourth Super Bowl matchup between the top two scoring defenses in the league, and with stars all over the field for both teams defensively, including four current and former NFL Defensive Players of the Year, perhaps Super Bowl XLV won't be about the superstars at quarterback.
E. Elephants in the Room
The elephants in the room were fiercely released, without hesitation, on media day, as prodding reporters asked the "storyline" questions that make both quarterbacks involved intriguing.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's elephant in the room pertained to his off-field indiscretions that earned him a four-game suspension to start this season, while Aaron Rodgers had to deal with the always uncomfortable, yet persisting, questions about replacing Brett Favre.
FOX will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLV. Wherever there's a live blog covering the game, you can rest assured that there will be copious amounts of commenters ripping Joe Buck, as it was recently ruled that it's illegal to say anything nice about commentators on sports blogs.
G. Green Bay Packers
The historic franchise that will be the designated home team representing the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, won Super Bowls I and II. Green Bay Packer heritage is infused in Super Bowl lineage as the Lombardi Trophy was named after legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
Despite this fact, however, the Steelers have won the most Super Bowls all time with six, although the Packers lay claim to the record for most NFL Championships (12), which dates back to the non-Super Bowl era.
H. Halftime Show
With the Black Eyed Peas performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, this will be the first time that the NFL booked a halftime artist under the age of 96 since the infamous Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show that saw Janet Jackson (she was 92) expose her breast in what will forever be known as 'the wardrobe malfunction.'
Center Maurkice Pouncey is the only major name for the Steelers who will be battling injury as he deals with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the AFC Championship game against the Jets. Pouncey has said that there is a 75-percent chance he will play, and the prognosis gets better with each day.
The Packers are no strangers to injuries as they made it to the Super Bowl despite placing 17 players on injured reserve. The Packers' injury situation took on a life of its own when 2010-11 injured reserve alums Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley spoke out against possibly being left out of the Packers team photo.
Outside of the acrimonious weather, this has been the Packers' only off-the-field story in the weeks leading to the Super Bowl.
J. James Harrison
A star linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers who just looks dangerous, James Harrison's aggressive and violent style of play has been targeted by the NFL in its ongoing initiative to underscore the importance of player safety.
John Kuhn is a fullback and folk hero for the Green Bay Packers. While he may lack carries, he more than makes up for it in popularity. One can gauge the presence of Packer fans anywhere they play simply by listening for the "Kuuuuuuhhhn" chants when he is given the ball.
The looming NFL lockout is another one of those "elephant in the room" topics as the deadline steadily approaches for the players and owners to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid the pending lockout.
Mike is the most frequent name for a head coach in the Super Bowl, so it's only fitting that both opposing coaches in Super Bowl XLV (Tomlin, McCarthy) share this moniker.
N. North Texas
Or is it Dallas? Or Arlington? Or Fort Worth? Either way, the grand spectacle somewhere in Texas will play host to its first (and, surprisingly enough, maybe its last) Super Bowl. The architectural pageantry otherwise known as Cowboys Stadium has not been the topic of discussion as far as North Texas hosting the Super Bowl. Instead, many prefer to complain about the terrible weather facilitated by a nationwide blizzard epidemic.
The unfavorable memories sparked by the nasty Texas weather will surely serve as a major hindrance in future attempts for North Texas to secure a Super Bowl, anecdotal blizzard epidemic or not. Go ask Jacksonville how many Super Bowls it has received since the city hosted Super Bowl XXXIX, when everybody stayed in their hotel rooms.
Despite the fact that Super Bowl XLV features the top two scoring defenses in the league, it is worth mentioning that two fairly-potent offenses will be taking the field as well. The last time these two teams got together, they combined for over 800 yards of total offense in a wild shootout that literally went down to the last second.
The Steelers and Packers have very similar defensive styles, and both of the talented starting quarterbacks will be familiar with these styles. With the game being played on the fast track of Cowboys Stadium, all this talk about scoring defenses could prove to be more useless than the dust-collecting condoms sitting on Antonio Cromartie’s nightstand.
Troy Polamalu is the best defensive player on the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2010-11 Defensive Player of the Year and a future Hall of Famer in his own right. The Steelers have shown a significantly higher propensity to win games when Polamalu is healthy and on the field.
The be-all, end-all position in the NFL, especially when it comes to Super Bowls. Fair or not, a truly elite quarterback's legacy is defined by his collection, or lack thereof, of Super Bowl rings.
B.J. Raji. The dance that the 350 pounder did following what was thought to be a game-clinching pick-six against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game sparked a mini craze in Green Bay (as anything Packer-related does), and now there's even talk of the defensive tackle possibly getting a carry on the goal line a la Refrigerator Perry.
S. Super Bowl Commercials
A genre unto themselves, and the bar set for Super Bowl commercials has become so high that the next genre unto itself may be the tradition of analysts talking about how disappointing the Super Bowl commercials were the morning after.
T. Terrible Towel
The counterpart to the Cheeseheads worn by Packer fans, Steeler fans are known to swing the Terrible Towel furiously as a rallying cry. The chloroform in which Big Ben uses on his victims is said to be poured on these very towels, although this information is neither confirmed nor true.
Arguably the best defensive player on each team (Clay Matthews Jr. for the Packers, Troy Polamalu for the Steelers) attended the prestigious football factory of USC. USC's proud stench has disseminated throughout the NFL all postseason with USC alums Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez and former coach Pete Carroll all having prominent roles in the 2010-11 NFL playoffs.
The issue of violence in the NFL has become a focal point this season, with both teams being significantly impacted with its negative implications.
Aaron Rodgers suffered two concussions this season, one of which caused him to miss a high-profile game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, and James Harrison has taken the brunt of punishment issued by the NFL as a result of his hard-hitting playing style.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward recently spoke out against what he feels is a superficial initiative in regards to the NFL's concerns about player concussions.
W. Winning Percentage
The Steelers and Packers' long-term success throughout NFL history is marked by their high playoff winning percentages, as both franchises are in the top five all-time.
Super Bowl week is known for the wall-to-wall analysis on the Big Game, with a who's who of X-players from Bart Starr to Joe Montana and John Elway joining in on the festivities.
A prominent color among both teams (although technically the Packers wear green and gold), expect to see a lot of yellow throughout Cowboys Stadium between all those Terrible Towels and Cheeseheads.