Super Bowl Shuffle

The Super Bowl, more so than any other sporting event, is built around hype. It's "the greatest day in sports," according to the FOX Network, as it takes advantage of all 24 hours in the day with a pregame show that starts before dawn. Super Bowl parties are happening everywhere. Match-ups will be debated on sports talk shows all week and I'm sure ESPN Classic is planning on showing every Super Bowl they can get their hands on. For some of you out there, all this hype can be pretty blinding. What do I watch? When do I start? What if I forget to buy beer on Saturday? All of these are important worries and that is why I'm here. I will lead you through the wilderness that is the Super Bowl hype, and when we come out on the other side, you will be ready for our most celebrated national holiday.

The Game Itself This is easily the most over-hyped part of Super Bowl week. I can think of only three times that the outcome of the game has been in question going into the fourth quarter. There was the Bengals/49ers game in 1988 when Joe Montana broke the hearts of Cincy fans by leading a last second drive for a touchdown. After that, the Bills/Giants game with the infamous Scott Norwood missed field goal, which inspired the U2 video Stuck in a Moment. And, of course, the Titans/Rams game from a few years ago which ended with Kevin Dyson two yards short of the goal line. This last game was the hardest to take, because it cost me roughly $100. Betting on the game is the only way to stay involved, so I recommend you wager heavily. My friend "the Lon" and I usually set up about twenty $1 bets to keep the game interesting. We bet on such things as the coin toss, who will score first, who will rush for more yards, and how many times will they show Kurt Warner's wife. As far as I can remember, he has never beaten me.

The Pre-Game The pre-game show will be going by the time you wake up on Sunday. DO NOT WATCH the pre-game show. Last year, ABC subjected us to the chicks from The View discussing how good Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn looks in his uniform - a segment that singlehandedly set back women in sports journalism roughly 25 years. Three years back, FOX gave us Keith Olberman cruising around in his car talking about how great Keith Olberman is. There are few real reasons to watch the pre-game. It's worth checking in to see if anyone was arrested the night before, whether it be the Bengals guy getting all coked up in 1988 or Eugene Robinson, recipient of the NFL's Man of the Year, soliciting hookers in downtown Atlanta. If you really want to get in the mood for the game, I suggest busting out the old 45 and listening to The Super Bowl Shuffle by the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew. If you have some friends around, you can each play a part. If you don't have any friends, I will come over and help you out. But I get to be the punky QB Jim McMahon.

The Halftime Show I remember back in the good old days, when other networks would "counter" program the halftime show. In Living Color used to do a live skit during halftime with a clock in the corner so you wouldn't miss any of the game. MTV did some Beavis and Butthead shows and USA once had a Championship Match between the Rock and Mankind, which Mankind won (and won $1 for me from "the Lon.") Recently, though, this "counter" programming has gone to the wayside. In fact, with Britney Spears on the show last year, I would not have turned the channel if God himself was giving a "State of the World" address. Once they announced U2 as the halftime show for this year (meaning no Britney Spears), I hoped someone would come up with something better for me to watch. Thank God for NBC. Some genius over there has come up with the idea of the year - Fear Factor with Playboy bunnies. God Bless America.

The Commercials The commercials have become as big as the game itself. USA Today even breaks down the Ad Meter to show which of the commercials were the best. Entire Super Bowl parties are hushed as the commercials begin. This has really gotten out of hand. I like funny commercials as much as the next guy, but at this point I can already tell you who is going to win the Ad Meter. There will be a commercial, probably by Pepsi, that will feature talking/singing/dancing animals or babies. This is what always wins. I want to go ahead and cast my vote for the KFC ad that features Jim McMahon and William "The Refrigerator" Perry. I cannot believe that 15 years later, these guys are still getting endorsement deals based on their performance during the 1985 Super Bowl. I would like to see a commercial reuniting the entire Shufflin' Crew (sadly minus "Sweetness" himself, the late great Walter Payton). Otherwise, I would prefer to see a monkey that speaks with a British accent, saying things like "'ello Guv-nuh" and wearing a little bowler hat. I predict this monkey could be a big hit and I am willing to sell the idea for $100,000 and an X Box.

Media Day Normally, interviewing professional athletes does not produce anything that exciting. The best part of Media Day, however, is that there are so many idiots asking questions, as well as so many athletes that do not normally talk to the media, that something is bound to happen. In 1987, some "journalist" asked Redskins QB Doug Williams, "How long have you been a black quarterback?" This was surprising because no one was even aware that Doug Williams had ever been any other sort of quarterback. In 1999, Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan wore a dog collar and talked about how ugly Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe is. And, of course, the revelation Packers safety LeRoy Butler had when asked by the Daily Show if there were any "real packers" on the team- LeRoy calmly explained that since studies show 10-15 percent of the population is homosexual, it was very likely that there were some "real packers" on the team. How LeRoy made the leap from "real packers" to homosexual I will leave for you to figure out.

Super Bowl Parties - If you are not going to a Super Bowl party somewhere, you are probably a big loser. There are (literally) 973 Super Bowl parties going on around Lexington. Even churches have them - God is apparently a big football fan. There are a few keys to ensuring the success of your party. First, make sure someone is responsible for getting the beer on Saturday since Lexington does not sell beer on Sunday. And a Super Bowl party is not a Super Bowl party without some chili, or even better, a chili cook-off. In the history of chili cook-offs that I have entered, I can only think of one time I have failed to impress. In 1999, the Captain, Tex LeBeu, and I began drinking a little too early, and the result was "Stone Cold" chili, which featured (but was not limited to) hot sauce, beer, bourbon, peanut butter, jelly, bw3's wing sauce, and every spice we could find in the cabinets. Needless to say, it was not very tasty. Otherwise, I have a white chicken chili recipe borrowed from Mrs. Mary Ann Buren (credit where credit is due) that is incredible.

I hope that all of this is helpful. Super Bowl Sunday is a big day, and it is easy to become mesmerized by the hype. My predictions are strictly for entertainment purposes. The Rams will win the game, but the Pats will cover the spread. Pat Summerall will get at least four names wrong and Drew Bledsoe will attack a member of the media by Friday afternoon, after being asked over 1,000 times where he will play next season. Budweiser will have the best commercial; Kurt Warner's wife will be shown 27 times; and David Longenecker will come up with some very lame excuse as to why my chili is better than his.

Jeff Zurcher is taking a break from the rigors of a weekly deadline to spend more time with his family. He will continue to contribute occasional columns and sports features to Ace, and can still be reached at