Super Bowl for the Clueless looks at all the angles of the Packers vs. Steelers matchup: The gay angle, the porn connection, the hair, the hotties, the Steelers polka, the entertainment and who will win the game and why.
By Jim Buzinski
As a public service to help you dazzle your friends at your Super Bowl party, here is my annual Super Bowl for the Clueless:
WHAT: Super Bowl XLV (45 for those who flunked Roman history) features the Green Bay Packers (13-6) from the National Football Conference and the Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4) from the American Football Conference. The Packers, despite having the worse record, have been made a 2-point favorite among the oddsmakers, the smallest Super Bowl pointspread since the Miami-Washington game in 1983.
|Separated at birth: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and porn star Jack Ryan|
Green Bay and Pittsburgh are two of the oldest franchises in the league. The Packers began when the NFL did, back in 1921, and the Steelers joined in 1933 (their original name was the Pirates). The Packers have won three Super Bowls, including the first two. The Steelers have won more than anyone else -- six -- and are making their eighth appearance in the game.
WHERE: The game will be played in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium, a futuristic facility in its second year. (As a reader comments below, "technically the stadium is in Arlington, in between Dallas and Fort Worth").
More than 100,000 fans are expected and ticket prices are astronomical given the venue and teams involved. The L.A. Times reported that the cheapest seat available on StubHub went from $2,501, all the way up to $22,223 for a 50-yard line seat.
The stadium is a story in itself, costing $1.2 billion for owner Jerry Jones to build (he might have spent nearly as much on his facelift a few years back). The video screen that hangs over the middle of the field stretches for 60 yards and displays 2,500 square feet of video. There are also two sidelines monitors each 160 feet wide and two in the end zone that are 50 feet wide. Forbes reported that "Jones' inspiration for the monster-sized screen was a Celine Dion concert he attended in Las Vegas."
In total, there are 2,900 TV monitors in the stadium. Someone called it the world's largest drive-in theater since it seems half the fans watch the games on the big screen.
KICKOFF/TV: Kickoff is set for around 6:25 p.m. EST, but it always starts a bit later than that. Christina Aguilera will sing the National Anthem just prior. Her appearance breaks a three-year streak of the anthem being sung by someone from "American Idol." Fun fact: Anita "I Hate Gays" Bryant sang the anthem at Super Bowl III in 1969.
The game will be broadcast on Fox, with Joe Buck doing play by play and Troy Aikman the commentary. Is Troy Aikman gay? Beats me, but every time he does a game, Outsports traffic goes up by people searching for "Troy Aikman gay." Rumors have abounded about Aikman for years, and his just-announced divorce after 10 years of marriage will only add to them. For the record, I have no idea if Troy Aikman is gay, but keep those page views coming.
FASHION NOTE: Green Bay is the home team and will wear its classic green jersey with gold pants. Pittsburgh will wear white jerseys with yellow pants.
The helmet logos of both are among the best in sports, but the Steelers have a logo on only one side of the helmet. "At first, this was a temporary measure because the Steelers weren't sure they would like the look of the logo on an all-gold helmet," the Steelers website said, but the one-side logo became permanent when they switched to black helmets.
THE QUARTERBACKS: There is a quite a study in contrasts here. The Steelers are led by Ben Roethlisberger, who has two Super Bowl rings to go with two charges of sexual assault. His encounter in Georgia last year, where he was lucky to escape charges that he assaulted a 20-year-old, made national news and got him a four-game suspension by the NFL. In the 527 pages of records on the case, we got this from the alleged victim: "Ben came back with his penis out of his pants." Well, Big Ben's never been known as a pocket quarterback.
You'll hear a lot of "redemption" talk surrounding Roethlisberger this week, which is puzzling since I am not sure how he is redeemed. Making the Super Bowl while avoiding any more sexual assault charges is a pretty low standard for redemption.
On the other side is Aaron Rodgers, the Packers' quarterback who took over three seasons ago from Brett Favre. There are two interesting factoids about Rodgers: 1. He is apparently dating "Gossip Girl" star Jessica Szohr. 2. He's a dead ringer for porn star Jack Ryan (see photo above).
On the field, both quarterbacks are highly successful. Big Ben tends to run around a lot in the backfield and eventually find someone open. Rodgers can also run, but his signature is the quick strike on a slant pattern. Both suit their team's offensive philosophy perfectly.
THE COACHES: Mike Tomlin is not yet 40, and already has one Super Bowl title with the Steelers and is gunning for a second. For Mike McCarthy of the Packers, this is his first Super Bowl appearance. Other than that, they are your standard issue NFL coaches, without a whole lot of personality they show in public. If only the Jets, led by Rex "Foot Fetish" Ryan, had made it!
FANS: Packer fans wear foam blocks of cheese on their heads and call themselves "Cheeseheads." Steeler fans wave little yellow towels they call "Terrible Towels." Both fan bases are among the most passionate in sports and I would guess that the crowd will be split about 50-50. My late father was a huge Steelers fan, as are two of my brothers and a nephew. My brother-in-law and my niece's son are huge Packers fan.
My brother Paul will sometims call during a game and play the first few chords of the Steelers fight song. I much prefer the Pittsburgh Steelers polka from the 1970s; they don't make fight songs like that anymore. In contrast, the Packers fight song is really lame ("fight and bring the bacon home to old Green Bay." The Go Pack Go chant is much cooler.
GAY ANGLE: For the first time in years, I can't find much of one in the Super Bowl (though reader John comments that William Gay is a Steelers defensive back). Vince Lombardi had a gay brother, but he last coached the Packers in the 1960s. Does "Glee" count as a gay angle? Fox is airing a new episode right after the Super Bowl, and it has a football theme. The cast supposedly will do a version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." I have never seen "Glee," so I guess I will have to turn in my gay card.
ENTERTAINMENT: After years of geriatric acts (Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Paul McCartney), the halftime show is getting younger with The Black Eyed Peas, along with the Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm. Nothing beats the 1993 game I attended at the Rose Bowl featuring Michael Jackson, accompanied on "Heal the World" by a chorus featuring 3,500 children; oh, sweet irony.
HAIR-RAISING: The Steelers might have the hair angle covered best. Safety Troy Polamalu is known for his amazing locks, which have landed him a Head & Shoulders commercial. I think he's also the Steelers most important player; if he goes down, so does Pittsburgh.
The Steelers also have defensive lineman Brett Keisel, who is growing a playoff beard for the ages. "I think it is bar none the best beard in sports. I'm not trying to brag, that's just my opinion," Keisel told a Pittsburgh TV station. "I'm looking for a quality company to come through with a beard shampoo and conditioner. I think its important." Shirts are on sale that read, "Respect The Beard - Fear The Diesel." A Facebook page, "Brett Keisel's Beard," has more than 19,000 fans.
Fox has allegedly rejected an ad by the website AshleyMadison.com since the site encourages cheating. Ashley Madison is crying foul, but my guess is that they had no intention of ever paying for the ad and are just angling for publicity (just like Mancrunch a year ago).
I am never one who gets into Super Bowl ads, but I do especially hate the eTrade ones with the talking baby (a new one will air at the end of the third quarter). I hope a junior Bernie Madoff takes the kid for all he's worth.
HOTTIES: This is a somewhat unappealing Super Bowl from a hotness angle. It is nothing like last year's epic battle between the Saints and Colts, which was overflowing with hotties. But all is not lost.
For Green Bay, I like Aaron Rodgers (clean-shaven preferably); receivers Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver (both with rocking bodies) and Greg Jennings (terrific smile); the adorable punter Tim Masthay, kicker Mason Crosby and beefy stud fullback John Kuhn.
For Pittsburgh, it's a thin gruel, but I like tight end Matt Spaeth, and kicker Shaun Suisham (so cute and young looking that he looks like a cast member from "Glee") and handsome defensive back Ryan Clark.
|Jordy Nelson||John Kuhn||Greg Jennings||Tim Masthay||Aaron Rodgers|
|Donald Driver||Mason Crosby||Matt Spaeth||Ryan Clark||Shaun Suisham|
THE GAME: Oh yeah, at some point the teams will actually play. Even though I don't have a major rooting interest, this one looks like it could be a thriller.
The teams are evenly matched: The Packers scored 388 points in 16 regular season games, the Steelers 375. The Packers allowed 240 points, the Steelers 232. Both play a lot of close games: The Packers had 11 games decided by seven or fewer points, including the playoffs, the Steelers had nine. The Packers have never trailed by more than seven points at any time in a game this year, which is remarkable. All signs then point to a blowout, given the contrary nature of many Super Bowls. But I expect a close game.
On offense, the Packers will struggle to run the ball against a Steelers team that excels at stopping the run. Look for Green Bay to run a lot of four wide receiver sets to spread the field, with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. For a blueprint, the Packers should consult the Patriots' 39-26 drubbing of the Steelers in November. The Pats threw 43 times and ran only 24 - the result was 350 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Steelers' cornerbacks have been suspect against the pass and this will put a lot of pressure on defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to come up with blitz packages that fool Rodgers and force sacks. Safety Troy Polamalu will be the key.
On the other side, the Steelers ran the ball very well in the AFC title game and Rashard Mendenhall is having an excellent playoffs. But star rookie center Maurkice Pouncey is out of the Super Bowl and that has to be worrying against the Packers' stud nose tackle B.J. Raji. Roethlisberger holds the ball a long time, which often results in sacks and fumbles, but also allows him to buy time to find a talented group of receivers led by Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and the emerging Antonio Brown, along with tight end Heath Miller. The Packers defense is led by star linebacker Clay Matthews and no team scored more than three touchdowns against Green Bay in any one game. The Packers also have excellent cornerbacks in Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson and Sam Shields.
Special teams look about even, though I give a nod in field goal kicking to Green Bay's Mason Crosby over the untested Shaun Suisham.
PICK: I don't think the Steelers will have an answer to the Packers' passing game. The Vince Lombardi Trophy once again goes back to its original home. Packers 31, Steelers 24.
If you have a pick for the game, or some player you think is hot that I missed, post a comment.