Today is finally the day. Each year, we suffer through the two weeks of relentless coverage that, by the Friday before the game, is reduced to desperate attempts to make anything news, just to make it to Super Sunday. Every year, I convince myself that this year will be different, that the day’s build-up to the game won’t be as exciting and the game itself will be just that – another game.
But that’s never truly the case. As the game inches closer to becoming a reality, there’s that feeling the brews in me and so many football fans like me. What’s the best thing to call it? Childlike glee? That anticipatory excitement, knowing you are about to see a game that is the epitome of what sports should be, doesn’t come around for other sports. It could be the one-game format of the NFL playoffs that does it, but whatever it is, the Super Bowl transcends what we would normally call just a game.
It’s the reminder that we all used to play this exact game in our backyards, drawing up plays in the dirt that were hard to see as the sun began to set on a full afternoon of playing. That we all think back to the first Super Bowl we can remember, and asking your father questions about the game. That a simple game like football bonds so many people together. Everything surrounding the Super Bowl can sometimes seem like a bloated mess, but the game itself is true drama. It’s exciting, sure, but the game of football is intertwined in the history of so many people. Think about it the next time you watch this game with your friends and family. Or even the first one you watch just with your children. It’s these types of things that a kid will remember growing up when wondering why he/she is getting so excited for the next Super Bowl.
This year, the NFL couldn’t have asked for a better match-up. Two of the most recognizable franchises in the sport are squaring off and, again, as a Browns fan, it’s weird to think that I don’t mind watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl. The rivalry has lost its luster since the Browns’ return to the league, mostly because the Steelers have used the Browns as their personal whipping boys. But, rather than getting upset at the success of a team like the Steelers, it’s easier to respect their good fortunes and instead focus my attention on wondering how the Browns can get to that point.
Naturally, it’s frustrating to see the Browns once again sitting at home, watching other teams fight for the highest prize in football. So often we sit there and wonder, “How do the Browns get here?” The team seems to be placed at an impossible distance away from contending for the Super Bowl, but it’s bound to happen someday. The journey to that point, though, is what keeps us coming back. Each year, knowing that there will always be the chance that, in February, the Browns could be fighting to win the Lombardi trophy. Whether or not that dream dies in September, October, November, or December doesn’t matter; we put everything we have into the team and get so much out regardless. When the Browns finally do make a Super Bowl, it will make the years of suffering and coaching changes worth it.
Writing this hardly even does the justice needed to try and describe the allure of this game. But something needed to be said.
So, with all this preaching about fairness, the integrity of the Super Bowl, loving the game for what it is, etc., does that mean I’m picking the Steelers to win? Of course not. No fiber in my being could pick them in such a close match-up. Green Bay wins Super Bowl XLV, 24-17.