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Notes on Super Bowl XLVI

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I have to admit, it feels weird writing about Super Bowl XLVI because it feels like I've already done it. Dunno about the rest of you, but I was getting a serious case of deja vu throughout game; it was getting downright spooky just how similar this game was to the Super Bowl from four years ago, and it wasn't just because the teams were the same, and they were wearing the same uniforms, and they were playing in a dome like before, or that the Patriots were favored again. Both games were duller than dishwater for the first three quarters; both games had significantly less scoring than people anticipated; both games were defined by a key injury to a New England Patriot; both games ended with Eli Manning going on a game-winning drive, helped by a miracle catch by one of his receivers; in both games, the Giant who came with away with the game-winning score was someone who had been completely invisible to that point.

The similarities were so striking that when it got to Tom Brady's final possession, and the Pats were at fourth-and-16 deep in their own territory, I seriously began to question whether I was watching an exact replicate of Super Bowl XLII. However, Brady at least completed a pass to Deion Branch to extend the game, so it wasn't entirely the same.

Anywho, let's get to the records. The convenient thing -- for me anyway -- is that because there haven't even been 50 Super Bowls, it's virtually impossible for there to not be a dozen records set in every single Super Bowl. It's not like with baseball, where over a hundred years of seven-game series have made it rare for there to be a record-setting anything -- not that this latest World Series wasn't historical. I guess that was a bad example. Anyway…

Tom Coughlin, at age 65, is now the oldest Super Bowl winning coach in history. It's funny how reactionary our praise is in sports. When Tom Coughlin took over as the Giants' coach, there wasn't a single writer who stood up and wrote, "Wow, look at him coach. This is guy is going to be a Hall of Famer." It's only after he's won two rings that people are praising him as an all-time great, but the funny aspect with Coughlin is that the Giants have been itching to can him for years. Had the Giants lost their season-finale to the Cowboys, Coughlin might be out of a job right now. He'd be the exact same coach that is today, but no one would be praising him as amazing.

Now that Tom Brady has lost two Super Bowls, what does that make of him historically? I think as sports fans, we've been utterly spoiled in every aspect by Michael Jordan. Jordan had a perfect, spotless, storybook career, and he ruined what it means to be great for every other player. In truth, even the greatest of all time face defeat constantly. John Elway might be the best quarterback ever, and he lost three times in the Super Bowl in games that were never even close; Brady on the other hand has won three of his five Super Bowl appearances, and his two losses were at least competitive. In a way, Brady is a lot like Kobe Bryant: both are one of the all-time greats of their sport, both have lost twice in the championship, both are looking for one more championship to put them at an elite historical plateau -- Kobe would have as many rings as Jordan, and Brady would have as many rings as Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

At one point, Tom Brady completed 16 consecutive passes, setting a new Super Bowl record. In the end, key drops from Wes Welker and Branch, not to mention the ineffectiveness of Rob Gronkowski, will deflect much of the blame away from Brady. By no means will he be looked at as the reason they lost.

Super Bowl XLVI was the most watched television event EVER. 111.3 million people tuned in, which was slightly more than the 111 million people who watched last year's game between the Packers and the Steelers. And how did NBC capitalize on their sudden ratings boom? By unveiling a horribly-derivative American Idol rip-off that has less chance of becoming a hit show than Newt Gingrich does of putting a colony on the moon. There's nothing that'll get me to flip the channel faster than fake-outrage from B-grade judges who none of us care about. Also, the chairs are way too big.

And speaking of flipping, how about that half-time show? It was the most-watched halftime show in history, and guest singer M.I.A. took advantage of the spotlight by giving the audience a big middle finger. Lovely. Here's where I'm confused. I realize that we all want the game live and everything, but why can't the halftime show have like a five second delay? Would it really be that big of a deal? Most of us just complain about the half-time show as a joke anyway -- why does it have to be a live joke, especially if there's the possibility of something like that happening? Also, if the NFL is so concerned about performers doing controversial stuff on live TV, why was M.I.A. allowed to go on stage anyway? Why is there a loophole where the main performer can't be young or potentially risque, but the side performers can dress as half-naked 300 rejects?