A Fan Questions the Super Bowl

NFL Steve O Speak

By Seth Davis:

As the 2015 draft nears, much of the talk is centered on what is needed for “Team X” to have a change at a Super Bowl appearance.
Las Vegas sports books have already posted the Super Bowl odds for each team (The Seahawks are at 6/1, the 49ers are a generous 30/1, the Cowboys at 15/1 and the Jaguars and the Titans are the big long shots at 300/1), and ESPN commentators are already sneaking in Super Bowl comments.
With the 50th Super Bowl approaching, is it time to re-evaluate the whole Super Bowl mystique.
The quest for football’s Holy Grail, the Lombardi trophy has become such as obsession with some owners that it often overshadows good judgement.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy stands between the helmets of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers at a Press Conference in Dallas
Jerry Jones desperate desire to take home the trophy seemingly at any cost has led to a team riddled with players of questionable character. Jones has already been criticized for his player’s actions which include shoplifting from a department store because they were in a hurry, and vehicular manslaughter. His recent signing of Greg Hardy invoked outright wrath by some commentators, like Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen, who questioned the lengths Jones would consider to capture the Championship title.

The New England Patriots seem to be magnets for controversy and last year’s “deflategate” can hardly be expected to be the last. There is no question that Brady and Bellicheck are the best quarterback/coach combination in football history; but the underlying feeling that the team is willing to attempt to play angles to win sullies their legacy.
In 50 years, the NFL has diminished the true value of a Super Bowl victory. The wild card games, which were instituted for the sole purpose of generating more television and game revenue means that the big game may well be played by teams with seasons that considered “winning” in even the broadest sense.
The NFL has also turned the Super Bowl into a spectacle that features a football game. The halftime show has bloated to more than twice as long as the traditional halftime, which has elicited complaints from some players. However, with rumors persisting that the NFL is asking some performers to pay for the right to appear in front of 110 million viewers, the odds are in favor of a longer halftime rather than shorter.
In many ways the NFL has turned the Super Bowl into an infomercial, where they can tout their history and sell more merchandise, subscriptions and make fairly lame attempts to address some of the leagues problems. The NFL also uses the game to recruit future NFL stars by stressing how many players started when they were kids yet fail to address the very real health concerns that have let to players like Chris Borland to retire after only one year.

For the players, the desire to take home the trophy and end up with a Super Bowl ring (regardless of how tacky it may be) makes some sense. All athletes want to be the best, and one cannot fault the players for having an ego and the desire to be a champion.
The money is certainly not the main factor, even with the $97,000 per player bonus for winning the Big Game. For some of the players an extra hundred thousand is a big deal, but hardly life changing money for the team’s stars.
Winning the Super Bowl is a team effort and regardless of how much we as fans credit the Tom Brady’s, the Russell Wilson’s and the DeMarco Murray’s for a team’s success it simply isn’t true. However, over the past 50 years heroes have been made by their Super Bowl appearences.
The prevailing theory that football players, especially those sporting Super Bowl rings, are the greatest athletes of all time simply is not true. The number of sports that require true individual achievement on a scale out of the reach of many in the NFL are numerous, and most of them pay the champions better.
To take home the Wimbledon title, the player has to emerge on top after seven rounds against the game’s best players. They claim the trophy and $2.6 million. Roger Federer tops the list of tennis earners with over $81 million.
The Master’s champion must play his best game aided only by his caddy for four 18 hole rounds. He gets a green jacket and $1.62 million. With winnings of more than $109 million, Tiger Woods leads golf’s all-time money winners.
U.S. Open - Final Round
The World Series of Poker champion not only has to make it through a field that routinely numbers about 8,000 over 7 days of play but must put up $10,000 of his or her own money to compete. Last year’s winner received a championship bracelet and $10 million. The top money winner of all time is Daniel Negreanu who has earned nearly $30 million.
Prize fighters can lay claim to the toughest athlete title in what is the most individual of sports. They literally put their body on the line for up to 36 minutes two or three times per year. The winner gets a belt and several million dollars. Floyd Mayweather has won the belt more than any other boxer and is undefeated ; he has earned over $300 million.
Just like the Super Bowl stars, these athletes, also receive endorsement deals. Unlike the NFL stars each is an example of individual ability.
If one takes a completely cynical look at the Super Bowl, the only real reason the Super Bowl draws the attention it does is one that the NFL wishes would go away. More money is wagered on the Super Bowl than on any other sporting event. The sports books not only take wagers on the game’s outcome and point spread, but on everything from the results of the coin toss to the number of penalties.
Demand for hotel rooms in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl is unmatched than during any other sporting event, with the exception of a Mayweather championship bout. Yet the NFL continually fights to block the expansion of sports betting in an attempt to preserve the reputation of the game. In view of the actions of a large number of the “role models” that play the game, and the actions of the NFL itself in dealing with them, this comes off as a bit hypocritical.
To be honest, watching a well-played football game is one of the highlights of fall Sunday afternoons. Seeing well coached teams and the achievements of individual players like Payton Manning, Brett Favre and Emmet Smith can be awe inspiring.
The problem with football lies with the NFL and the Super Bowl with after 50 years seems prime to “jump the shark.”

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