In a great break from tradition, yesterday's Super Bowl game was not boring. Yes, I was rooting for the Packers (and, once the game started, wishing I'd decided to bet the season's winnings on them instead of sitting this last game out, gambling-wise). But it wasn't only that. The game was not the plodding, conservative, try-not-to-lose-instead-of-play-to-win non-spectacle of most past outings. The Steelers and the Packers actually played. Except for a quarter-length stretch starting in the middle of the third quarter, when I did...let's say, multi-task...a bit, the game held my riveted attention. As it should have, given that it's the last football I'll get to see until I'm literally starving for it - ravenous enough to watch even the lame pre-season games in August. I'm already wistful.
I thought I might be projecting my bias as I watched the teams file through the tunnels to enter the field - the Pittsburgh players flat, unsmiling, sedate, possibly nervous; Green Bay hopping around, giddy, all but bursting with excitement - but it was obvious even then how the game would play out. Is there anything in football more graceful, magnificent or eye-popping than the passes Aaron Rodgers throws when he has time in the pocket? Anything more certain than Ben Roethlisberger's chances of throwing a perfect strike as he thuds to the ground in a thicket of defensive tacklers and then, soon after, standing tall and tossing an inept, brain-dead pick?
The melodic mangling of "America the Beautiful" and the verbal mangling of "The Star-Spangled Banner" struck me as right in line with the apparent belief of younger generations that meticulousness and accuracy are obsolete traditions of the past. The flyover above a closed stadium roof perfectly encapsulated the blithe, wasteful, out-of-touch-ness of Jerry Jones and his ilk. John Madden texting while sitting at a football game next to a former President of the United States was priceless. Whimsical and iconic, it was a beautiful blend of old and young, traditional and modern, the past and the present. (I adore John Madden.)
And throughout the game, I kept wondering what another football icon might be thinking and feeling. A persistent image of Brett Favre sitting in his Barcalounger, nursing his sore muscles, broken bones and equally banged-up spirit while he watched TV, flitted through my head. Was he thrilled for the Packers, for so long his team? Bummed about his own whimper of a final (I presume) season? Texting with John Madden? Or was he, like me, relishing the game and already sad that there will be no more NFL football until August?