It's depressing enough that the Patriots won't be playing in the Super Bowl, but we have to compound that with the fact it's the end of football season, as well.
But even though Wes Welker won't be dropping any humongous passes or the Patriots' secondary won't be getting scorched on 30-yard out-patterns this weekend at the Superdome, that's no reason not to watch Sunday's game or get swept up in the pre-game hype. So here's our Super Bowl Sunday-Without-the-Patriots Survival Guide and 49ers-Ravens game day preview. We'll save the actual pre-game analysis for the experts. By the way and for the record, I've been proudly "loud and controversial" if not so "smart and insightful" since 1965.
Speaking of loud and controversial, it's time to take a cue from Rob Gronkowski when it comes to generating an interest in Sunday's game across New England. Gonk hasn't slowed down when it comes to having a good time. He was seen beering it up at Baton Rouge on Thursday, despite his broken arm. If Gonk can party with abandon despite the fact that his team lost at home in the AFC Championship Game a year after it blew a Super Bowl lead in the final two minutes, we shall not be deterred.
The Super Bowl is the closest thing this country has to a non-serious, celebratory national holiday. And there's plenty of logic to the argument that Presidents' Day should be moved up two weeks to accommodate all those folks who attempt to trudge into work hung over the next day. Super Bowl Sunday has plenty to offer before kickoff, both on TV and elsewhere.
Here's my plan for the day with some ideas I hope you can borrow to help make the day a bit more pleasant and the game more enjoyable.
7:57 a.m. - Wake up. Realize it was a dream. David Tyree didn't drop the ball.
8:27 a.m. - Check the morning paper for the latest Arby's and Cap'n Crunch coupons. Take a spin though some of my favorite sites on the internet to see which player was arrested late Saturday night, trying to pick up a prostitute named "Desire," who also goes by the name of "Fred." (Kids, Google: "Eugene Robinson Super Bowl XXXIII".)
9 a.m. - Morning dog walk. The dog and I continue to re-hash those three punts inside the 42-yard line against the Ravens, not to mention the misuse of clock at the end of the first half. We both agree that if the Patriots could somehow get Ed Reed and keep Aqib Talib, many of their defensive issues would be resolved.
9:30 a.m. - Off to church. Not sure if I'll to pray to the God of Ray Lewis or Colin Kaepernick. End up settling for communion from Fr. Tim Tebow.
10:30 a.m. - Roger Goodell joins Phil Simms and Jim Nantz on CBS's "Face the Nation." Host Bob Schieffer asks that all night games start no later than 3 p.m. to accommodate his bed time.
10:45 a.m. - Brunch. Order some waffles while I read Terry Francona's new book.
11 a.m. - Speaking of the Patriots since Super Bowl XXXIX, HBO2 airs the comedy classic "Bridesmaids.
12 noon: - Three hours into NFL Network's "GameDay Morning" coverage. We catch up with Hall of Famer Warren Sapp as he offers us financial advice.
12:25 p.m. - Daily "Deer Antler Spray" treatment. Wish this stuff was around before I went through those two organ transplants.
1 p.m. - Biggest diversion of the day. Clippers at Celtics. It's been officially declared "White Flag" day. Somehow, the Celtics will continue to overachieve without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. Even before Rondo and Sullinger got hurt, they were still short one big man and a scorer - or a productive Jeff Green. They were at best a contender to reach the finals in the East. Meanwhile, Clippers big-man Blake Griffin remains cooler than your car seat on a Monday morning in January. He's also more popular these days in LA than Kobe Bryant, which is just another reason to love the guy. Never thought anyone would ever wish they were a Clippers fan, huh? Celtics fans will be given their official release by Danny Ainge before tip-off to root for any team in the West they choose (besides the Lakers) once the Celtics-less playoffs begin.
1:10 p.m. - If for some reason you don't want to watch the NBA, CBS offers "Phil Simms All-Iron Team: Super Bowl Edition" starting at 1 p.m. as part of its day-long pregame programming. Among the highlights we won't see - the discovery of the white suit Ray Lewis wore in Atlanta the night following Super Bowl XXXIV.
1:35 p.m. - Check out the action on DirecTV's 7th Annual Celebrity Beach Bowl (which originally aired live on Saturday). The guide calls it a "no-holds-barred" flag-football game. Sounds like "an all-you-can-drink keg party" with nothing but root beer. Pitbull is doing the postgame show. If he lip-syncs it, no one will notice.
1:51 p.m. - You mean the 49ers and Ravens coaches are brothers? Really.
2 p.m. - CBS's official "Super Bowl Today" four-hour pregame show begins. Dan Marino, Tom Brady and Antonio Cromartie swap baby-mama stories and try to figure who has spent the most on out-of-wedlock child support. Marquette and Louisville also tip off on ESPN at 2 if you're engaging in a day-long Super Bowl boycott. Unfortunately, Rick Pitino will be walking through that door.
2:15 p.m. - Enough of that. Time to check out some Super Bowl commercials on this Hulu site. You'll be sick of them long before kickoff, especially that Volkswagen ad about the guy from Minnesota who speaks with a Jamaican accent. I don't care what language you speak, the only way I'd buy a Volkswagen was if they put an Audi engine in it and called it an S6. Here are a few ads worth checking out, starting with a very cool Audi S6 spot, which was a lot like my prom (at least the part about going by myself):
Here's one from Axe Deodorant:
And Taco Bell:
Taco Bell pulled another ad because, get this, it "attacked vegetables." Nation of wusses. Hard to believe sometimes this is the same country that won World War II, sent a man to the moon and produced Garrett McNamara.
Toyota put out this funny "genie" ad featuring Kaley Cuoco. I wish for "working brakes." (Cuoco also appears as Captain Kirk's long-lost daughter in a "Priceline" Super Bowl spot.):
And of course, the latest from Budweiser:
2:30 p.m. - Back to the Celtics. If they're within 15, we'll bring in the "good job, good effort" kid.
3 p.m. - "Puppy Bowl IX" kicks off with its lead paw on "Animal Planet." No doubt this will be the best one yet.
Check out this preview offered on Entertainment Weekly: "So, the Harbaugh brothers are coaching against each other in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday? Big woof. In Puppy Bowl IX, EIGHT sets of siblings are facing off on the gridiron."
How can you beat that? By the way, my money is on Alabama native and former SEC standout Chestnut:
3:23 p.m. - Celtics lose. Reality sets in.
3:45 p.m. - Mrs. Obnoxious returns from a day of working at her law firm, shopping and general spousal avoidance.
3:46 p.m. - Complaints start about what's for dinner.
3:47 p.m. - Mrs. Obnoxious tosses a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese my way. Although she plans to make her own world-famous, best-ever pastitsio (as us Greeks like to say, lasagna is Italian pastitsio) to occupy the next couple of hours so that she can avoid Super Bowl Sunday for as long as possible.
4:02 p.m. - The long march continues on NFL Network, which has been live since 9 a.m. Hope to catch special guest Brett Favre as he unveils his new adults-only Instagram page.
4:30 p.m. - Scott Pelley sits down and chats with President Obama on CBS. Hope Pelley takes it easy on the president. Obama must still be rattled following that brutal inquisition (with Hillary Clinton) conducted by Steve Kroft last weekend on "60 Minutes." I've seen tougher questions on "Red Sox Small Talk."
4:45 p.m. - Tear the dog away from Puppy Bowl IX so that he can answer nature's call. Good to get up and walk myself. Don't want to end up dying of a blood clot or have my arteries seize up thanks to four hours on the couch without moving - even if it means living long enough to see Ray Lewis win another Super Bowl.
4:51 p.m. - CBS airs "Cialis" commercial. Still trying to figure out how the hell you're supposed maneuver between those two tubs.
5:12 p.m. - Excitement builds - in San Francisco and Baltimore. If you're still missing the Patriots, you can catch a re-run of "Southie Rules" on A&E starting at 5.
5:25 p.m. - In the timely movies catagory, swing by "Lifetime" to join "The Wife He Met Online" in progress. Yes, this is a real flick. No, it does not star Manti Te'o and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
5:32 p.m. - As the game approaches, so does the excitement over the commercials. For the record, here's the greatest Super Bowl commercial ever - Apple's 1984 spot. Yes, even better than that great Larry Bird-Michael Jordan McDonald's ad, the famous Joe Greene Coke spot or my wife's favorite - the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot:
The ad only aired once. By the way, the bad guy in the commercial wasn't Microsoft but IBM. The irony of the ad given Apple's position in the marketplace these days (despite its recent stock price slide) makes it even more poignant and chilling 29 years later.
5:48 p.m. - If for whatever reason you are not near a TV set, or want something to do on your iPad, CBSSports.Com will load up its site with plenty of on-line firsts, including the first time many of us will ever visit CBSSports.Com. The site will stream the Super Bowl halftime show and online shots showing all 22 players on every play and other shots not seen on TV. The site will post every Super Bowl ad in real time, so you can watch them again and again on demand once they air on the telecast. That may be a good thing or a bad thing.
6 p.m. - After a mere four hours of pregame coverage, CBS begins it's official "Kickoff Show" only 30 minutes before the actual kickoff.
6:12 p.m. - For those Patriots' fans who simply can't bring themselves to watch any of this, AMC is airing a 13 hour, 30 minute "The Walking Dead" marathon starting at 3 p.m. The network will show a sneak peek "First Look" at the first two minutes of the next new episode at 6:35 p.m., which airs in full next Sunday at 10 p.m.
6:20 p.m. (or so) - Alicia Keys sings the National Anthem. The over/under on time is 2:10. The average time someone to sing the National Anthem is supposedly 1:55 and over is paying +120. Also, Las Vegas and online bookmakers are offering a +500 betting line (you'd bet $100 to win $500) if you think Keys will be booed during or after her rendition of the National Anthem. And it "must be clear consensus of boo's for 'yes' to be graded the winner." Whether or not she lip-syncs it is off the board. Before Keys sings the National Anthem, a group of kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., will sing "America The Beautiful." There won't be a dry eye in the universe.
6:30 p.m. - The listed kickoff time, but the game usually starts a couple of minutes later. So if you have to go, it's OK. As far as what might happen - consider this. Both teams beat the Patriots this year - with the Ravens doing it twice. New England combined for 43 points in its two losses to Baltimore, but managed to score 31 points in the second half against San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Ravens shut out New England in the second half of the AFC Championship Game. I like the Ravens, thanks to both their defense, their aggressive style of play and their offensive line. How good is that offensive line? Vince Wilfork had zero solo tackles in the AFC title game. In his two games against the Patriots, Joe Flacco had just one interception and the Ravens had no fumbles. For the record, my worth-what-you-paid-for-it pick: Ravens 24, 49ers 21.
Meanwhile, Super Bowl XLVIII is scheduled to begin at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2014, blizzard or no blizzard.
Hopefully, the Patriots won't miss it this time.
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