I would describe Super Bowl Week not the game itself, but the buildup to it thusly: Thousands of journalists bound by custom and formula all writing and saying basically the same things while trying unsuccessfully to repackage them for an audience that not only has already heard these stories, but is sick enough of them to scream.
In other words, pretty much what I am doing right here with my Super Bowl Week primer, a list of top 10 story lines, a national cheat sheet for my media brethren set to descend locust-like upon New Orleans for the upcoming 49ers-Ravens game.
1. Ray Lewis: Baltimores great linebacker (and ex-Hurricane) will be at the emotional epicenter of this game, a role for which he is insanely well suited. Ray is a baller. I dont just mean once the game starts. Hes bawling during the national anthem, pulling muscles with his squirrel dance and giving pregame speeches so fiery the field under his feet is left charred and smoldering.
Your Friend the Media will plumb the soul of the Canton-bound Lewis and wonder aloud if he is the greatest defensive player ever. Coverage of him mostly will be breathlessly rosy, although some the Serious Journalists Who Know It Isnt All Fun and Games will be unable to resist the temptation to revisit the 2000 murder indictment, later dismissed in exchange for Rays testimony against two other men. (These same Serious Journalists also will be writing densely this week about the leagues concussion crisis, a story no less important because nobody cares to read about it.)
My hope? After a million floral retrospectives and odes to Lewis swan song have been reverently crafted, Ray casually mentions the day after the game that he has changed his mind and isnt retiring, after all.
2. The Harbaughs: Bro Bowl! Har-Bowl! Super Baugh! This has not been reported anywhere else, to my knowledge, but apparently Jim and John Harbaugh will be the first head coach brothers ever to duel in a Super Bowl. And oh how the media swoons with enchantment! Father and former longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, 73, will be more popular in New Orleans next week than beignets at Café Du Monde. Mom Jackie will need a phalanx of bodyguards to fend off the rush of reporters all seeking warm memories of a Harbaugh childhood, and tears, if she wouldnt mind.
For an offshoot, there also will be much contrasting and comparing of the Harbaughs with the NAwlins-based Mannings: Peyton, Eli and patriarch Archie. (Its why I have bought stock in media use of the phrase first family of football.)
My hope? A major news outlet (thinking Yahoo!) will have the exclusive, intriguing interview with heretofore unknown third brother Jasper Harbaugh, but it will turn out Jasper never existed and was the work of the same guy who duped Manti Teo.
3. Bountygate: A Super Bowl held in New Orleans the season of the Saints crippling Bountygate scandal and resulting penalties will spawn a thousand reheated analyses. (Not to mention vicious postgame booing of Roger Goodell as he presents the Vince Lombardi Trophy.)
4. Media Day: This is the one day during Super Bowl Week when both teams appear in the stadium and thousands of media members swarm upon them. The occasion is such that an investment in media references to circus atmosphere might be prudent. This event is renowned for the Wacky Foreign Journalist, typically a Mexican radio bombshell in a low-cut wedding dress asking the quarterbacks to marry her, and also for the Adorable Kid Reporter, typically a 12-year-old there for Nickelodeon who gets ushered to the front of the line by handlers rudely elbowing through the crowd of legitimate journalists.