The Super Bowl is one of the greatest American sports traditions. Yet I find myself particularly unexcited about this year's contest.
(For anyone outside the US reading this, the Super Bowl is when Americans suspend all brain activity while staring slack-jawed at huge TV screens, overeating and trying to figure out Roman numerals. (Pretty much like any other weekend in the US.)
Before I get into why I'm a Super Scrooge this year, let me offer this disclaimer: If you're truly looking forward to this year's Super Bowl, either stop reading so I don't ruin your fun; Or, read on with an open mind, and tell me why I'm wrong or right.
The first let down for this year's contest is the teams involved.
Like most football fans living outside of New England, I'm suffering from Chronic Patriot Fatigue.
It used to be fun when the Patriots played late into the postseason because you could crack jokes about them only winning because they were cheating, or about how Bill Belichick is allergic to sweatshirt sleeves and, you know, smiles. Or about how Gronk can't count his Super Bowl rings without help from Sesame Street's Count Von Count.
(You may think I'm being hard on Gronk, but if his feelings get hurt, he can just climb on his party bus full of bimbos, and I'm sure he'll manage to get over it.)
What else can I say about the Patriots? I'm tired (along with millions of other fans) seeing them in the playoffs, and especially in the Super Bowl. There's no real need to analyze why, so I'll move on.
Then there are the Rams, a recently re-located franchise led by the NFL's fresh-faced hot new thing, Sean McVay. I'm not saying the Rams don't deserve to be in the Super Bowl, but their presence is marred (it seems by no fault of their own) by the no-call fiasco in the NFC Championship game against the Saints. The no-call situation is similar to Patriots fatigue in the sense that it's been analyzed to death, so I won't try to explain it here.
What I will say is this: Just when you think the NFL has it figured out, after seemingly putting the anthem-kneeling controversy behind it, the league can't move into Super Bowl week without some self-inflicted, absolute bonehead controversy.
The halftime show is usually something people can look forward to, regardless of the teams involved. Personally, I enjoyed Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga's halftime shows, and I thought Justin Timberlake's was some good, clean fun, thank you very much.
But Maroon 5? Adam Levine is a talented singer, but is anyone other than teenage girls who like "Moves Like Jagger", or 30-something women opening a second bottle of wine, going to really enjoy a Maroon 5 halftime show? Maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon out of touch with the times (my wife thinks this is definitely the case), but I don't see the attraction.
I have a suspicion that the NFL is trying to drive male fans away, and this suspicion is only made stronger by the news that there will be male cheerleaders at the big game this year. What's the goal here? To show that the NFL isn't just for knuckle-dragging males, but is a progressive organization that recognizes "gender fluidity"? Or that since women have shaken their money makers on the sidelines for years, now men will join them, so the league can put on a Magic Mike Lite show for the women watching at home?
I know the NFL did this to show what a wonderful, open-minded, forward-thinking league they are, but I imagine most people watching will either A) Ignore it or B) Think it's silly and wish any air time devoted to cheerleaders would have instead gone to more commercials.
And maybe it's just my especially negative mood, but it seems the commercials have dipped in quality over the recent years, as well. Companies overthink it. Everyone watching the Super Bowl is in a bit of a stupor from junk food and maybe alcohol, so keep it simple. (Like this classic Super Bowl commercial from E-Trade in 2000:)
Let me now take off my Grumbles McGee hat and put on my Mr. Sunny Super Bowl cap and balance this dirge of a column out with some optimism: Maybe the game will be one for the ages, a back-and-forth contest coming down to the wire. Maybe Maroon 5 will put on an unforgettably entertaining show. Maybe companies won't release their ads on YouTube early to try (and fail) to build up hype, and we'll have some advertisement gems to talk about Monday morning at work.
But we can't control any of that; the teams, the ads, the halftime show are all out of our hands. What is up to us, though, is the food that we eat.
So my advice to you, fellow football fans, is to make the most of the Super Bowl by filling your plate up with whatever culinary delights tickle your palate. Whether you plan on ordering pizza, tearing into some boneless wings, or maybe a football-shaped loaded baked potato, enjoy this evening.
Millions of people have fought, died or sacrificed to build this great civilization where we can pair feasting with watching grown men play catch and tackle each other. As disappointed as we might be with this year's contest, ours is a unique opportunity that shouldn't be wasted.
Forget for a moment what all of those annoying, seemingly perfect fitness gurus say. Let Tom Brady eat avocado ice cream. For this one night, don't count the calories. Eat your feelings, and everything else will work out just fine.