Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.
You know Super Bowl Week is winding down and el gran juego is near when the official parties kick in, and that starts with the 27th annual Taste of the NFL, the “Party With a Purpose” fundraiser Saturday in St. Paul, Minnesota. Because nothing says “we care about the hungry” more than hundreds of wealthy football fans sampling dishes from high-end chefs representing every league city.
This year’s competing Super Bowl dishes are New England’s Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi Bolognese versus Philadelphia’s Spicy Bourbon-Braised Beef Brisket. Clearly the Philly dish sounds better, although it could use some Cheez Whiz.
If you wondered, the Dolphins, last in a Super Bowl 33 years ago, will be represented on the menu by a Tureen of Dolfan Tears. Sounds salty.
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Let’s hope there is no controversy at the Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was accused of attempting to deflate other chefs’ soufflés.
▪ Celebrity parties are as big a part of Super Bowl Week as the game itself, according to party planners, and two of the biggest are hosted by bitter rivals Maxim and Playboy. (Dear Maxim and Playboy: Have you not heard of #MeToo or gotten the memo? Objectifying women is, like, so 2016).
▪ Smirk rifled through the stack of his invites to A-list soirees and chose a party hosted by the ex-neighbor of Carrot Top’s estranged manager, but then audibled to Ricky Williams’ “Cannabis-Friendly Super Bowl Party,” which will lead all parties in snacks to satisfy the raging munchies in the room.
▪ It was 3 degrees in Minneapolis on Friday but expected to be a balmy 11 by Sunday. Undeterred by the absurdity of a Super Bowl in Minnesota in winter, the NFL announced next year’s game would be played in Oymyakon, Russia, the coldest place on Earth inhabited by human beings.
▪ NFL Honors awards show is Saturday, with Tom Brady (of course) favored to take the top prize: MVP. The show will be hosted by Rob Riggle, because all of the hosts you would want to see were already booked.
(*) Halftime star Justin Timberlake, asked Thursday about 2-year-old son Silas, said, “Uh, he will never play football, no.” Timberlake then backpedaled like a beaten cornerback as the collective gasp of NFL officials sucked the oxygen from the room. “I mean, if he wants to get into the arts or sports, then yeah,” amended the singer.
▪ Brett Favre will give a pregame speech to Eagles players Sunday. Nobody is sure why.
▪ A man suspiciously resembling Mercury Morris was standing on a step stool in the Mall of America food court with a megaphone Friday loudly rapping to shoppers that the ’72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team.
▪ Gronk Update: Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, cleared from concussion protocol, said he’s flying in 69 family and friends for the game. Or, did that go without saying?
▪ Also airing Sunday: The Kitten Bowl on Hallmark Channel and Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, which will look like 85 percent of the adorable online videos Mrs. Smirk makes me watch.
▪ Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Utah, predicted a New England win by choosing the papier-maché helmet with the Pats logo. In Vegas the betting line immediately moved by 1 1/2 points.
▪ Sunday’s pregame shows on NBC, ESPN and NFL Network will run a combined 4,684 hours, most of it with emotional features with tinkling pianos. What you won’t see: A story on cows slaughtered to make NFL Wilson footballs. Sailing through the air on the opening kickoff will be the remains of a doe-eyed Guernsey named Clarabelle who wanted nothing more in life than to graze in a pasture and hone a more musical moo.
▪ National Chicken Council estimates 1.35 billion chicken wings will be eaten Sunday, astonishing analysts who had no idea there was a National Chicken Council.
▪ Hall of Fame voters met Friday to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday, with Ray Lewis the only certainty. As always, deliberations took place in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room.
▪ The Wall Street “Super Bowl Indicator,” accurate 78 percent of the time, holds that the stock market dips when an AFC team wins the Super Bowl. Like we needed another reason to root against Tom Brady?
▪ An estimated 14 million Americans will suspiciously call in sick from work Monday. Make that 14 million and one. Smirk has a tickle in his throat.
▪ Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party does? As the Patriots and Eagles line up for the opening kickoff, abruptly switch the channel from the game to PBS and “Great Performances: Dudamel Conducts ‘Tangos Under the Stars’ with the L.A. Philharmonic.”