The Greatest Super Bowl Ever

Super Bowl 48 was a let-down for many fans this year, a blow-out victory that was over as soon as it began. There was no last-minute comeback, no nail-biting finish to keep you on the edge of your seat.
For me, it was the greatest Super Bowl ever. I never thought that would be possible after Super Bowl 42..

February 3, 2008 was one of the most memorable days of my life. The New York Giants rode into Super Bowl XLII on a wave of heroism and improbability. They overcame tremendous odds to reach the NFL’s greatest stage, including a road victory against the formidable Green Bay Packers in sub-zero temperatures two weeks earlier.

I loved Eli Manning. (This was before he started selling phony underwear.) I repeatedly argued that he was ‘the greatest quarterback of all time’ in emails and bars, simply to get under the skin of his detractors. My friends thought I was one hair short of being an Eli Manning stalker. (I would have bought his game-worn underwear if you had offered it to me.)

So when Eli Manning hurled a prayer down the field in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XLII, which was miraculously caught by David Tyree, and propelled the Giants on to slay the undefeated New England Patriots for the NFL championship, I leaped out of my couch in a frenzy, screaming at the top of my lungs. It was the most unlikely of outcomes, and one that will never be duplicated.

That moment cemented all that I lived for as a football fan. How could this year’s Super Bowl possibly top that?

This year, I took a complete break from football. I skipped the entire season. I saved hundreds of hours of time invested in the NFL, and hundreds of dollars gambling.

Here’s a list of football related things I didn’t do this year:

  • Listen to NFL radio for four hours every day.
  • Research fantasy football on the web for several hours per week.
  • Play fantasy football at all – I quit three teams and three survival leagues. One league, I was commissioner of.
  • Subtract two or three more hours per week for commissioner duties. That league was amazing, but also high maintenance.
  • Exchange emails about football with friends, which could number as many as forty per day.
  • Watch any game, not even a Giants game.
  • Go to a game.
  • Go to a bar or a friends’ house to watch a game.
  • DVR record and watch in full an average of five games every week.
  • Gamble with my bookie for an average of $20 per week.
  • Spend approximately $600 for the season on all the fantasy & survival action (not through the bookie).

I did none of those things. I was completely in the dark. My prior knowledge was more than enough to pass through any casual football related conversation on the street.

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to watch the Super Bowl at all, but I decided to have my family come over. I figured that it would be a fun evening with the family, and that I might occasionally glance at the television.

That’s exactly what happened, and that’s the secret.

What?

It’s as simple as that. A fun evening during which I was required to do … nothing.

I didn’t have to know what time kickoff was. I didn’t have to listen to hours of analysis about each team in order to discuss the possible outcomes and perhaps place an educated bet. I didn’t have to worry who would play with my children while the game was in progress. I didn’t care if I missed a play, or ten, or the whole game. It didn’t matter in the least if it was a blowout.

The NFL certainly knows how to deliver drama. Sometimes it’s manufactured hype, but for the most part, the on the field action is exciting.

The problem is when we come to depend on the NFL for excitement. As if the NFL is the only way we can experience something amazing.

Except, it’s not. You are free to use all of those hours and dollars to do anything that you want. You don’t have to watch every game just because they told you to.

They‘ are everyone and every commercial that told you to watch football since the time you were two. It’s hard to separate what they want from what you want.

I was too heavily invested in football before. During Super Bowl 48, I did not lose one minute of myself. I didn’t miss my kids’ baths or bedtimes. I was completely free.

In closing, Eli still has 2.

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