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The Super Bowl For Dummies: Part I

Why hello there NFL newb! We can see you now; you agreed to go and watch the Super Bowl with your mates, despite knowing more about quantum mechanics than the New England Patriots. In fact, the most knowledge you possess may come from two badly played quarters of Madden NFL on the Playstation.

You threw numerous Hail Mary’s before evacuating or returning to FIFA. You may even have watched an episode or two of ‘Friday Night Lights’ at a push.

Despite the stereotypical ineptitude, a few of your friends have finally found Mecca, as the Superbowl is the ideal excuse to go drinking on a Sunday school night. You are all going to bluff it, so why not come out the most astute and quasi knowledgeable.

In reading this, you may just get away with it!

In part one we will talk about the game off the field as the pageantry of Super Bowl LI takes over. Part two will discuss the basic nuances of the game itself and give a football for dummies guide to the Super Bowl to the unwashed masses.


First Thing’s First, who is in the Super Bowl?

The New England Patriots as winners of the AFC conference meet the Atlanta Falcons, winners of the NFC conference this year. The Patriots are seeking their fifth Super Bowl title, while the ‘Dirty Birds’ hope to end their 51 year wait for the Vince Lombardi trophy. In their only other Super Bowl appearance, back in 1999, the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos 34 – 19.


When does the game start?

The game takes place this Sunday night, February 5th, with kick off at 23:30 GMT.


How long is this going to take?

On average a game takes three hours and eleven minutes.  However, the Super Bowl and all its pageantry usually takes a lot longer as it’s one of the biggest sporting events on earth.  Settle in, you have plenty of time for a few drinks!


So how many advertisements am I going to have to watch?

As mentioned above, you will be freed from the cinematic experience of the ad breaks should you tune into our British counterparts.  However, we have all been there at some stage, whether it be a college dorm or an airport, where we have streamed content through less than perfect mediums! Of course, many people love the Super Bowl for the adverts themselves and will have a stream operating so they miss none of the experience.

The good news is that prime time commercials during the Super Bowl, of which there will be over 100, are usually of great quality and are highly entertaining, often starring superstar actors and celebrities.  The average thirty second commercial costs as much as five million dollars, which is considered worth it by advertisers who get to put their brand in front of roughly 112 million people at once.

Beware of a horrible irony at your viewing party whereby the interested sports watchers won’t talk to anyone during the football, while the socialisers won’t talk to anyone during the commercial breaks!


Where can I watch it?

You can watch the Super Bowl on Sky Sports 1/Mix or BBC. For those of us with ‘basic cable’, the no subscription Sky Sports Mix channel will have full coverage mirroring SS1 beginning at 10pm. BBC begin slightly later at 22:20.

If you are wondering which British power-house does it better, BBC might get the nod. While they speak to their audience rather simplistically about the modulations of American Football, former New York Giants defensive great Osi Umenyiora and journeyman defensive back Jason Bell tend to drop the best nuggets. Importantly (negatively to some), the Beeb don’t show you any advertisements (more about that below) so the audience get substantially more of the wise words of the lads and their less initiated host Mark Chapman.

As per the yearly tradition, many city and late night venues are making a viewing party out of the occasion. Luckily, due to demand, some pubs make a fantastic effort. A list of Dublin venues is updated here.


This sounds great. I should go to the Super Bowl!

With ‘cheap-seat’ ticket prices from $500 to $700, and most fans paying five times that amount via ticket scalping, the Super Bowl has become more of a corporate event than a bastion for hard-core football fans. In fact, the Super Bowl is known as the Playoff game with the least crowd noise and atmosphere because most of those in attendance are not supporters of the teams playing.


Where is the Super Bowl?

For the third consecutive year, the NFL returns the Super Bowl to a warm weather city: Houston Texas.

The Texas NRG Stadium facility for Sunday has a seated capacity of 71,975 across a total area of 1,900,000 square feet. Before you ask, the venue for the biggest night in Sports is pre-ordained several years in advance, (ala the Champions League final in football), meaning that you could conceivably play the bowl game in your own back yard.


Did somebody mention a Half Time Show?

This year, Lady Gaga will perform at the interval spectacular. It’s a hard gig to live up to and many performers drag in other acts to give them a hand, such as last year where Coldplay had Beyonce and Bruno Mars memorably upstage them!

In typical crazy lady fashion, a rumor is going around that Gaga will begin the show on the top of the NRG Stadium roof. One must wonder also if a tribute will go out to Prince following his death as he played the half time concert exactly a decade ago.

This looks like a money-making opportunity?

You won’t be the only one to think that. Much like a Cheltenham racing festival or an All-Ireland final, the betting market swells for the Super Bowl.  The American Gaming Association have estimated that 4.7 billion (yes, with a ‘B’) will be wagered on the game.

While it sounds astronomical, one must be further befuddled when they consider that sports betting is illegal in many states. While some sneaky prop bets may be available on writers and pundit’s twitter accounts, there is no need for this article to go down in flames with my picks! As it stands, the Patriots are a three point favorite.


What is Deflategate?

‘Deflategate’ was a NFL controversy involving the allegation that the New England Patriots tampered with footballs used in the AFC Championship Game (game to qualify for the Super Bowl) against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015. The league announced that it would suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his alleged part in the scandal for four games of the 2016 regular season for his alleged part in the scandal.

Having spent two years listening to appeals in Federal Court and despite a breach of NFL procedures including letting Brady examine the evidence against him, Brady accepted the four-game suspension for this 2017 season.  The judge, jury and executioner for the NFL after their investigation was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whom not for the first time in his tenure took immense criticism for many faults with the NFL investigation.

Hilariously, if the Patriots are to succeed on Sunday, Goodell will be presenting Brady and the Patriots, whom he fought so vigorously (and some say immorally) with the Vince Lombardi trophy.

“No trait is more justified than revenge in the right time and place.”

That’s it for part one.  For those who haven’t had enough, part two will be along later in the week. There you can learn about what’s actually happening on the field!

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.