A Super disappointment
By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist

The Super Bowl stinks.

There've been maybe half a dozen exceptions; but by and large, the Super Bowl stinks.

We've spent the last two weeks talking about what New England's defense takes away from you, and how Carolina plans to work the short passing game. But when it's over, what we'll be talking about is how and why the big show fell flat yet again.

I say we cut to the chase, spare ourselves slogging through the actual game and free up Sunday evening for what really matters: more chili and beer.

Jake Delhomme
Jake Delhomme will likely be running for his life against the Patriots.
Why will the Super Bowl let us down this time around?

Because Jake Delhomme is in over his head. Belichick's boys are gonna come at him hard and get to him often. He'll start off nervous and end up a shattered shell of a man. This isn't the biggest game of his life; it's the prelude to "Where Are They Now: The Jake Delhomme Story," featuring three years of therapy, a stint in the WFL and a job driving a truck for UPS that he swears "makes me happier than I've ever been."

Because Tom Brady is not Joe Montana. What are we talking about? This season, he's not even Jon Kitna. Or Matt Hasselbeck. Or Jake Plummer. Or Trent Green. Intangibles, blah, blah, blah. Gritty, gutty, blah, blah, blah. We're talking about a guy who's steady, and who put together one steady drive for a field goal late in XXXVI.

Because Teddy Bruschi's hurt. Here's the one guy that puts the Ray-Lewis fear of god in folks, and he's going at maybe -- maybe -- half strength.

Because Stephen Davis, even if he is 100 percent, is still Stephen Davis, which means he's running pretty much jukeless, north and south, which is all right if you're John Riggins and you're good for a crazy quote and a dramatic fourth-and-one rumble for the clinching TD. Otherwise, it's pretty boring, and not too likely to get past Ted Washington, anyway.

Because defense may win championships, but it also makes for ugly football. So the Pats rattled and stunted Peyton Manning into submission. So what? All they did was rob the rest of the football viewing world of a chance to see some electrifying offensive skills at the big dance. Thanks for nothing.

So the Panthers got all up in Donovan's grill. So what? All they did was deny us the fitting end of one of the NFL's most truly compelling storylines: McNabb's season-long smackdown of the Rush that Roared. Who needs 'em?

Peyton Manning
Anybody else wish they could watch Peyton Manning play on Sunday?
Because it's being played in Houston, Texas, where the temperature as I write this is 47 degrees Farenheit. Yeah, there's a retractable roof, so they'll be able to control the temperature at game time. But I'm not worried about game time; I'm worried about the time leading up to game time, the time when it's supposed to be warm and inviting outside so the city can go crazy and the players can get in trouble staying out too late and drinking too much and whatnot.

This Houston thing, this is a recipe for sobriety and in-by-curfew responsibility. Where's the fun in that? Where's the Max McGee bravado in that? Where's the dramatic Eugene Robinson fall from grace at the feet of Rod Smith in that?

Because these teams are an extension of their coaches. Smart, sure. But stiff and cheerless, too.

Because outside of Carolina and New England, people could care less what happens on Sunday.

Because these teams sport some terrible uniforms. On some level, you have to look like a champion. Steelers, Cowboys, 49ers, even the Colts and Eagles, have classic looks befitting world title holders. The Patriots and Panthers look like they're getting ready for a guest spot in "Any Given Sunday II."

Plus, the logos on their helmets look disturbingly similar (Ooooh, let's make the little heads lean forward to suggest aggressiveness ... and, ooooh, let's put little tails on them, to suggest speed and motion) and they're each sporting metallicized silver domes, which means all the good-guy/bad-guy, night and day, black and white tension is missing from this thing. You won't know which team's got the ball, which team's made a play, or even which team's won, and you won't care.

Seriously, is this the least contrasting, least compelling uniform clash in Super Bowl history? Are these guys even going to want to hit each other?

Because both teams have very, very good kickers. This is nice if you like kicks. It's nice if you think a field goal is the height of drama. It's nice if you think watching a coach send in the field goal team every time he gets within spitting distance of the end zone because he knows his guy is going to nail three to the board is exciting stuff.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson is hot and all ... but are you gonna get all that excited about seeing her on Super Sunday?
It's lousy if you want to see players making plays.

Because, speaking of playmakers, there aren't any in this game, on either side of the ball or on either side of the field.

Because the NFL thinks we want to see more Beyonce.

Because, I'm sorry, but how long has it been since Aerosmith made a record anyone liked? And Janet? Didn't she lose us about three I'm-open-and-honest-about-my-sensuality albums ago?

Because the Pats have no running game.

Because Carolina is the 21st-rated passing team in the league.

Because neither team scores much, or rolls up many yards, or in any other way entertains the average football fan, who will at no time be tempted to gasp, shout, clap, or groan while watching this dry, highlightless snoozefest.

And last, and most importantly, it'll stink for the same reason they all stink: Because for two weeks now we've been analyzing and handicapping, and up-close-and-personaling this thing as if the game will be good, and as if we'll really care. And long-about halftime, we'll know it was all just a lie we told ourselves, a front we perpetrated on ourselves, and we'll wonder all over again why we do it. And the answers -- because everyone else is doing it, because our lives are too empty to do anything else, because we're lazy -- will depress us.

Oh well. At least there'll be chili and beer.

Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.





A SUPER DISAPPOINTMENT

ALSO SEE:


Eric Neel Archive

Neel: A Super waste

The Sports Guy: Mighty Kasay strikes out

Thompson: Mr. Brady goes to Washington

Page 2's 100 Greatest Super Bowl Moments

The List: Greatest Super Bowl subs

Murphy: Super substitutes





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