Somber, soulless Super Bowl: Enjoying a truly terrible football game
This the worst football game I ever watched.
I did not enjoy when Gladys Knight sung the National Anthem in a safe, but still awe-inspiring way. Nor did I enjoy when the Patriots lost the coin flip and the Rams made the obvious choice to defer to the second half.
There was nothing enjoyable about seeing a pass from Tom Brady slip through his receiver’s hands and fall into the mitts of a Rams defender on the first possession. It was extremely drab to see Stephen Gostkowski miss a 46-yard field goal to keep the Patriots off the board on their second possession. Only a brute could take pleasure in watching Ndamukong Suh manhandle a Patriot’s offensive lineman, forcing him into the pocket before crushing Brady and forcing a fumble. And no one could enjoy watching a defensive slugfest for the last 10 minutes of a first half where the score would end up being 3-0 Patriots.
Maroon 5 was not a fun selection for the half time show. I did not have fun watching Adam Levine play the hits. The other 20 members of Maroon 5 being extremely bland in the background was overshadowed by Levine’s half naked dad bod occupying the fulcrum of my screen. I did not enjoy Travis Scott’s raw energy. I found no pleasure in the appearance by Atlanta rap legend, Big Boi, one quarter of the iconic rap duo Outkast, on stage. Levine and Scott’s appearances as back-up dancers as Big Boi performed his hit song, “The Way You Move,” was coy and playful, but, ultimately, joyless.
I did not laugh when Tom “MAGA” Brady used Reagan as an audible to a run. There was no aggressive head nodding when former Chief Marcus Peters broke up a pass to Julian Edelman on third down to force a punt. I didn’t find the Rams’ eight consecutive punts endearing. Even when Johnny Hekker booted a 72-yard punt, the longest in Super Bowl history, I was unmoved.
I felt no excitement when the Rams finally began to move the ball in the third quarter. As Jared Goff started to look like an NFL quarterback, I was stoic. When he wound up and fired a deep ball to Brandon Cooks in the end zone and Jason McCourty desperately tried to (and succeeded to) prevent a Rams touchdown, there was no reason to rejoice. When Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein connected on a field goal to tie it, it was as boring as watching paint dry—or worse: watching a sport that isn’t football.
As the game reverted back to exchanged punts and quiet desperation, I remained solemn. The “big” plays of the game—rare runs for positive yards, rarer passes to move the sticks, great rolls to finish punts—were depressing. Todd Gurley exploded through the left C gap for an electric 10-yard gain to push the Rams over the 50-yard line. But center John Sullivan tackled a defender and the Rams were pushed back to around the 30. This lethargic sequence of threatening joy followed by overwhelming misery is the very essence of the game.
Midway through the fourth quarter, I have been lulled into a trance by how slow and pedantic every movement seems to be. I do not enjoy watching Brady fit a long pass into a tight window for a completion to Rob Gronkowski inside the 5-yard line. Sony Michel punches the ball into the end zone on a run on the next play, but it is not enough to restore the blood flow within my veins. This game is so unenjoyable, it is killing me.
The Patriots are up 10-3. The Rams are driving down the field. I think it’s almost too good to be true, and it is. Jared Goff flings a pass to a clearly covered receiver. It is intercepted and the Patriots run the clock out. They kick a field goal to extend the lead to 13-3.
The Rams launch one last Sisyphean effort to score and change the complexion of the game. At the end of the game, their old reliable kicker Zuerlein misses a kick by a mile. It is somehow the worst play in an entire game of mediocrity at its best and hideousness at its worst.
My ironic disdain for this Super Bowl has turned into genuine frustration with this pathetic display of ineptitude. There was never a question that I was not going to enjoy this game. It’s almost funny that I’ve managed to be disappointed by a game I had such low expectations of.
The only question I had before I began watching this Super Bowl was why was I going to watch it in the first place. I toiled over it before the game started. I revisited the question as the game became a soulless dredge over the home stretch.
I have never been more exhausted watching a football game. I have never been so disenchanted while watching a football game. But I never turned it off.
And to be honest, I never really stopped enjoying it.