The Super Bowl is more interesting when my team is playing (and it’s been a long time since the San Francisco Forty-Niners have been there). I’m expecting a competitive game tomorrow, but there is more of interest in this match-up than just the 60 minutes of playing time. In fact, there are so many back-stories that the commentators would never have time to discuss them all if coverage didn’t begin at 8:O0 a.m.
To start, we have two teams that surprised us.
The 49er’s Colin Kaepernick’s story is well-known in his hometown of Turlock, California, and by University of Nevada fans in the northern part of the state. But to the rest of the nation, it probably seems like he appeared out of nowhere 10 weeks ago. In a moment of celebration after making a touchdown, Kaepernick kissed his bicep tattoo and now the move is mentioned on the late night talk shows.*
The entire Baltimore Ravens team was a surprise in the playoffs, winning both games when they were the underdogs. Ray Lewis has been getting the bulk of the attention in the past two weeks. While he is a great player, if you are looking for a feel-good story like Kaepernick’s, look to Michael Oher. He is the Ravens’ tackle whose early life was chronicled in the movie “The Blind Side”. Growing up in the projects in Memphis, Oher was taken in by the football-loving Touhy family, who encouraged his natural ability for the game.
On the sidelines in the New Orleans Superdome tomorrow, you will find coaches John (Ravens) and Jim (49ers) Harbaugh. This is the first time brothers have coached opposing teams in the Super Bowl. Their parents are in an unenviable position. I remember times when I had to temper my joy over one daughter’s achievement and console the one who did not succeed. The Harbaugh parents are in New Orleans and will attend the game. They have said that after the game, they will first see the son whose team loses, then go celebrate with the other.
Of course, there will also be the analysis of which Super Bowl commercials are most interesting or funny, and which were flops. I’ve already seen a few previews; I think I liked it better when they were all secret until game day. Trailers can generate interest, but they also stir controversy as Coke has with this year’s ad featuring a race in the desert to get to the Coke.
America’s game promises a day to forget that the national unemployment rate is up and our paychecks are smaller. I’m looking forward to eating some unhealthy but delicious food that I normally avoid, seeing the Budweiser ad about a Clydesdale colt growing up and cheering Kaepernick and the 49ers on to victory.
* At first glance, kissing bicep tattoos and trademarking the name for that action seem rather arrogant. Most reporters say that Kaepernick is kissing his bicep, but Kap himself said at a press conference that he is kissing his tattoo. When you find out that many of Kap’s tattoos are related to his faith, you realize that “Kaepernicking” has special meaning to him. (The right bicep that gets the smooch has a tat saying “To God the Glory” and another with Psalm 18:39.) “Kaepernicking” is being put on t-shirts and other items – not just to make money, but to benefit Camp Taylor, Kaepernick’s chosen charity. Camp Taylor is near Kap’s hometown and hosts children with heart defects.