As a sports guy coming out of “Stupor” Bowl LIII, I was prepared to share with you the weekend’s newest emerging hero. We all were on the lookout for that one player, who against all odds, hoisted the fortunes of his team on his back, and carried the load to greatness.
However, the game was a stinker, and the heroes were obscured by the ho-humness of the contest itself. Oh sure the Patriot’s Julian Edelman was named the game’s MVP. But knowing that is a lot like knowing that Ben Johnson won an Academy Award. I’m sure Ben’s family cares.
Sometimes you just have to admit that in spite of your best expectations, your day is going to end up crummy.
That was the case for me, yesterday. Driving home in my brand-new-to-me Buick Enclave, I crested a rise in US 136, east of town, to be greeted by a constellation of rocks, stones, and other airborne projectiles falling off a dump truck into my eastbound lane.
Much like this year’s Super Bowl, there was little I could do to prevent impending misfortune. I thought I had weathered the cosmic storm until a limestone Jupiter crashed into my virgin windshield, sending fissures of brokenness vertically throughout the glass canvass like crossing routes on the chalkboard.
Expecting that my new car would remain pristine beyond the two weeks that I’ve owned it was much like the building high-scoring expectations for Super Bow LIIIl — an imaginary departure from reality.
I laughed aloud when the pre-game pundits imagined lofty scores for the game, like 31-23 and 31-20. What were the experts thinking?
Very little of Cooper Kupp, evidently. The Rams WR had accounted for 40 catches before being felled by an ACL injury, and his departure left the team far more predictable. The Patriots had similarly become low-key following the departure of WR Josh Gordon. I thought my Patriots 20, Rams 10 score was a much more reasonable prediction.
Maybe I came up with those numbers because of my experience. Those of us of a certain age will remember that most Super Bowls of the 1970’s and early 1980’s were played like Super Bowl LIII. It was common. Defenses ruled, offenses sputtered.
Truthfully, I credit the game’s lackluster play to spawning world interest in Super Bowl commercials. You can also argue that boring Super Bowls of the mid-years is why the NFL worked so hard to modify the rules to create high-scoring outcomes.
It is now crystal clear. The Super Bowl has returned to its days of ballyhooed imagination. No rule revision will change that. The only remedy is keeping anticipations nearer to reality.
As for heroes, it turns out that my star this year is Édouard Bénédictus. I am here to tell you (thankfully!) that if the inventor of safety glass returned to predict Super Bowl LIV, he’d temper the NFL’s made-up excitement, and fewer expectations would be shattered.
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.