DALLAS – Reflections on Super Bowl 45, now that justice and goodness has been served with the return of the Lombardi Trophy to where it belongs:
- This was my first Super Bowl, though I’ve been an ardent fan for more than six decades. I did, though, attend the Ice Bowl, the conference championship in 1967, when Bart Starr sneaked the ball into the end zone to beat Dallas. It was 10 degrees below zero, good football weather, and I had a pint of blackberry brandy as anti-freeze. No problem for Green Bay fans. It was quite a contrast to Dallas that was paralyzed last week before the game by a couple of inches of ice and snow. Texans don’t own or know how to use snow shovels. Downtown walks were unshoveled.
- Our Nigerian taxi driver, a soccer player, remarked on our return to Love Field after the Packers reclaimed the Lombardi Trophy that he loved American football. I asked why. He said that he thought football unified Americans. And who can argue? Unlike many other parts of our adversarial ways in this country, civility generally rules in football, even though it is a hard-hitting game. And 110 million people sat down and simultaneously watched the Super Bowl Sunday, about one in three Americans. It’s the biggest party of the year.
- The Steelers and Packers fans wore their colors and were almost universally polite to one another. The 100,000 plus at Cowboys Stadium showed they understand the obvious: to play the game, you need a team on the other side of the ball. The fans wore their gold colors, mixed with green or black, roared their team chants and cheers, swung up and down with each play’s outcome and agonized or exulted with each play. But I didn’t see a single uncivil incident or even hear a taunting remark. (The Eagles and Bears fans were at home).
- Knowing that the game, even the Super Bowl, is only a diversion from the pushes and pulls of every-day life, they wore cheeseheads pierced with bratwurst and steelworker helmets pierced with yellow girders. They were laughing, of course, at themselves and their near-obsession with the game. We need our diversions. And this game was a grand one. The same pageant was going on back home in game rooms, saloons, offices and factories. In a way, it’s a big spoof on life.
- The over-the-top grandiosity of the event underscored its triviality in the greater scheme of life. It’s gaudy, loud, over-hyped, excessively commercial. It’s analyzed until there is nothing more to say, as this column proves. It’s Mardi Gras with a final score and a trophy.
- The guys’ with the big hair-dos set the tone for the tongue-in-cheek tone. Please vote for the goldilocks of Clay Matthews or A.J. Hawk, the ebony bush on top of Troy Polamalu, the dreadlocks of Tramon Williams, or the northwoods full beard of Josh Sitton. I really don’t care. Maybe the female fans do. If pushed, I vote for Fergie, who, not to be out-done, threw her coiffed mane to the sky with professional verve during the halftime show.
- I could do without the ear-banging rap music that fills most of the downtime before and during the game. I like to talk football with my seatmates, and it wasn’t possible with the amplifiers turned on high volume. But, then, I come from the rock-and-roll era when it all started.
- The NFL and the stadium managers have some work to do. Some 400 people were denied their seats and were put through an extraordinary amount of hassle. That’s not close to acceptable for ordinary tickets that were which were going for $2,500 apiece before game time. Because security frisked everyone, it took at least an hour and a half to get into the stadium. Bathroom lines were impossible. And the traffic jams outside the stadium added another hour or two to getting in and out. If you don’t like long lines, consider watching on TV. The new Lambeau Field is far better designed for logistics. The Indianapolis people who will host Super Bowl 46 next year vowed to do better than Dallas.
- The euphoria from the Packers win erased the hassles surrounding the big party, and will lift Packer backers through the off-season. Can’t wait to be there for the repeat in 2012 in my crazy green-and-gold hat.