Super Bowl With A Smirk returns again this year beginning today with a daily needling jab at the self-important NFL and the excess and 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 we forget to do it.
As Super Bowl Week commences, New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles demands that the name of the big game be changed for this season only. Call it the Unlike-A-Bowl.
Has there ever been a Super Bowl matchup that featured two franchises so easy to dislike and so hard to root for?
"No!" says Smirk. "Well, maybe. But for the purpose of our premise here, then no."
All of us outside of Massachusetts hate the Patriots and their relentless winning, of course, and none more than Dolphins fans. In fact, at Monday's big soccer announcement here, they showed a video of dozens of sports and entertainment celebrities welcoming Miami to Major League Soccer, and the only welcome the otherwise giddy crowd booed was from Tom Brady. True story.
The Eagles we love to hate not so much for the team itself, but for its loathsome fans. The Birds last won an NFL championship in pre-Super Bowl 1960, so might otherwise be nominated as a lovable underdog this week, but wishing well for Philadelphia fans would be like hoping Kim Jong-un wins the lottery. In fact GQ magazine once listed the 15 "Worst Sports Fans in America" and Eagles and Phillies fans ranked 1-2. This is the city that once infamously booed Santa Claus -- the fans that just recently pelted Vikings supporters with full cans of beer in the parking lot following the NFC Championship Game.
It's the ultimate no-win sports dilemma: Wanting sadness for Philly fans means rooting for Brady and Bill Belichick, and wanting the Patriots to lose means rooting for Eagles fans who'd torch the double-decker buses at their own championship parade.
On the bright side, at least this Super Bowl is being played in a great city.
Sure, it was 3 degrees in Minneapolis Monday. But it's expected to be 5 by game day!
Note to self: Never live in, or visit, a city whose by-far most famous attraction is a shopping mall.
(*) The Philadelphia contingent arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sunday afternoon, while the New England charter did not arrive until Monday afternoon. It was expected to be the last time all week the Eagles were ever ahead of the Patriots.
(*) As is tradition, Super Bowl Week officially kicked off Sunday with the Pro Bowl in Orlando, the annual all-star game that mysteriously survives despite the fact players don't want to play in it and fans don't want to watch it. The AFC beat the NFC 24-23 in what would have been a thrilling game had anybody given a rat's a--. The game is augmented by "skills competitions" that this year included Drone Drop, Kick Tac Toe and Dodgeball. Lord how I wish I were kidding.
(*) Monday was "Super Bowl Opening Night" at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where the NHL Wild play. That has replaced the old "Media Day." One thing that hasn't changed: Cliched answers to banal questions as players and coaches who don't want to be there and a herd of reporters who'd rather be out drinking on the company dime compete to see who's more bored.
(*) It is Super Bowl 52 to Smirk, by the way, not LII, until which time the Miami Herald demographic folks tell me most of our readers are ancient Romans from 450 AD.
(*) NFL Senior Director of Events Eric Finkelstein and NFL Field Director Ed Mangan will be available to the media Tuesday at U.S. Bank Stadium to discuss field preparation, even though the likelihood of any media actually showing up for that is, like, you're kidding, right!?
(*) Brady cut short his weekly WEEI radio appearance because someone from the station had referred to his 5-year-old daughter as "an annoying little pissant." It is believed to be the first time in history anybody has felt sorry for the handsome, rich, five-time-champion, married-to-a-supermodel quarterback.
(*) Gronk Update: The Pats' star tight end remains in concussion protocol, his availability for Sunday still in question. Gronk appears confused and disoriented. Sort of like the same as when he doesn't have a concussion.
(*) The Madden '18 video game, which has correctly predicted 10 of the past 14 SB winners, says the Pats will beat the Eagles, 24-20. Miffed the actual game will now be anticlimactic, the NFL late Monday quietly canceled this year's Super Bowl.
(*) Finally, Smirk's Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: When figuring how many chickens wings to order, the general rule of thumb is 385 per person, according to the National Chicken Council.