Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with a daily light-hearted needle and jab at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald except years when we forget to do it.
Well, the stage is set for the big battle. Two rivals, one the favorite, one the underdog, neither giving an inch. What? Oh, you thought I meant Denver vs. Seattle? No I mean New York vs. New Jersey as the two states divided by the Hudson River lay claim to which is the real Super Bowl host.
The game itself is in East Rutherford, N.J., of course, and both team hotels are in Jersey City, but other than that it’s all Big Apple. National coverage is calling it the “New York Super Bowl,” and Times Square in Manhattan is home to the main media center and most major activities, including “Super Bowl Boulevard,” a 13-block NFL-theme fan attraction along Broadway set to open Wednesday featuring a 60-foot-high, 180-foot long toboggan ride.
(The area will be watched by 200 security cameras, seriously inhibiting Smirk’s initial plan to steal the toboggan flume).
Jersey is already complaining.
East Rutherford mayor James Cassella said the SB is being covered like “a New York event.” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said, “I passed ‘miffed’ a while ago. I mean this is ridiculous.”
I cannot confirm rumors that hot-tempered New Jersey bully-Gov. Chris Christie is planning to close all outbound lanes from Jersey leading to Super Bowl Boulevard.
New Jersey’s well-earned inferiority complex reminds me of when Miami hosts a Super Bowl and a pouting Fort Lauderdale feels left out. The key difference? Fort Lauderdale is a vacation destination for people who understandably want to get the hell of out New Jersey.
• Unnamed sources tell Smirk this may be the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl ever. We’ll be following this story closely.
• This just in: One change in the early Super Bowl injury report. The Seahawks have added cornerback Richard Sherman (inflated ego).
• The outspoken Sherman and of course Peyton Manning are expected to be the predictable go-to attractions at Tuesday’s annual cattle-call called Media Day, a Super Bowl staple to be staged indoors at the Prudential Center in Newark. The event is expected to draw thousands of media, despite it being in Newark.
More residue of playing an outdoor Super Brrr in bitter winter: You can get a ticket for about $1,200, which brokers call the lowest SB cost since at least 2002. I loved Don Shula’s initial reaction when told the NFL had given the game to NY/NJ: “Why!” he said.
• The revamped Pro Bowl in Hawaii unofficially kicked off Super Bowl Week on Sunday night. Jerry Rice’s team beat Deion Sanders’ team, 22-21, and nobody cared.
• The Broncos landed in Newark on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and the Seahawks at 7. Hmm. Denver by 3 ½ … yeah, that sounds about right.
• Spoiler alert! Broncos will beat Seahawks, 31-28 in overtime, according to the 11th annual Madden video-game simulation. Then again, Predictionmachine.com computers played the game 50,000 times and call a Seattle win 54.8 percent likely. In other words, nobody knows anything.
• Stations from across the country were setting up Monday on “Radio Row” at the media center in Times Square. Things turned ugly fast when producers for bitter rivals 790 The Ticket and 560 WQAM brawled over first dibs to interview Seahawks backup long-snapper Al Throckmorton.
• The Children’s Museum of Manhattan has an interactive exhibit called “You Make the Call: Learn to be an NFL Official,” geared to kids who wish to be seen as nerds and endure years of bullying.
• The National Chicken Council estimates 1.25 billion wings will be eaten during the Super Bowl. I’m surprised. Not by the number. That there is a “National Chicken Council.”
• Finally, world-renowned soprano Renee Fleming will sing the pregame national anthem. In a cultural exchange with the NFL, in return, Mike Ditka will fall asleep during an upcoming opera.