No world event builds hype like the Super Bowl. The average NFL nationally televised game bringing in 10-15 million viewers; the Super Bowl attracts around 100 million. In the two weeks leading up to the game, the media feels obligated to bring the 80-85 non-football fans up to speed on all that's been happening with the two final teams. Those of us who have followed the NFL all season will hear more Cardinals and Steelers stories repeated these next two weeks than we could have ever imagined.
Here are the 10 that will soon drive us absolutely crazy.
1. Underdog Story!
1947. 1947. 1947. 1947. 1947. The last time the Cardinals organization won a title. Nobody – nobody – expected the Cardinals to be here. And here they are, facing one of football's most hallowed franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The reality is that the Cardinals have never won anything because they've been a God-awful franchise. The Steelers have won throughout history because they've been a model franchise. But America won't appreciate this. Instead, casual observers will root for the Cardinals because they'll see it as a case of the little guy trying to overtake the big bully.
2. Kurt Warner
Football experts will pound his new Hall of Fame campaign into the ground. Okay, that's fair. It's an interesting debate (except nobody is going to argue on the anti-Warner side all week). But the non-football experts are going to rehash the Kurt Warner rags-to-riches story that we all grew tired of eight years ago. You know, the grocery store bagger turned Arena League star turned unknown backup turned savior in St. Louis turned goat turned backup in New York turned unexpected starter in Arizona turned savior again. That story.
3. Larry Fitzgerald
He's known as the best receiver in football right now – and probably rightfully so. But come February, he'll be known as the best human being since Jesus Christ. Get ready for hearing about how Fitzgerald's dad is a sportswriter and how Fitzgerald was a ball-boy for the Minnesota Vikings during his early teenage years. Also, more than a few people will remind us that Fitzgerald has already broken Jerry Rice's playoff receiving record and that, unlike most receivers, he doesn't try to hog the spotlight and demand the ball.
4. Ben Roethlisberger
He's been here before, he still has some doubters to disprove and, oh yeah, he gets banged up a lot! He get beat around all the time. He's tough. He takes a lot of hits. He's battled injuries all year. He even got hurt in a motorcycle accident one time.
5. No one giving us a chance
This sort of falls in the underdog story category, but we'll put it in its own section because the Cardinal players themselves will be trumpeting this one. The Arizona defense will probably start calling itself a no-name defense and talk about how everyone just plays together, does their job and doesn't care about what people say. Is all this valid? Perhaps. But just know, Arizona will be about 10,000th team to play this card.
6. Ken Whisenhunt vs. former team
This story may actually be interesting, simply because there was a hint of animosity when Whisenhunt – and his top assistant, Russ Grimm – were turned away from Pittsburgh. What will ruin this story, however, is when reporters start suggesting that Whisenhunt would love to defeat his former team. Yes, he would, but not because the Steelers didn't hire him, but because if he defeats them, it means he's WON THE SUPER BOWL!
7. Anquan Boldin
Is he or is he not a prima donna? He was caught yelling at Todd Haley during the NFC Championship game, and then he bolted from the locker room without participating in the celebration afterwards. Oh, and don't forget, he had the contract issue at the front of the year.
Again, this is actually another intriguing story, but with Boldin sure to avoid any discord all week, it's a story that will go nowhere. Plus, those writers who will play contrarian and do a huge feature piece on how Boldin is really just a blood and guts competitor will also become obnoxious, because with Boldin returning from that agonizing facial injury earlier this season, this story has already been told.
8. Edgerrin James
A lot like the Boldin story only with a different tone in the end. He wanted out of Arizona, he's had a huge resurgence down the stretch, and now, he's trying to stamp his legacy. What could make this story interesting is if an intelligent Hall of Fame debate emerges. One could argue strongly on both sides whether James deserves to be in Canton (though most will agree that a Super Bowl ring this year would cement his placement there).
9. Mike Tomlin
Thank God for Super Bowl XLI. If we didn't have the Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith Super Bowl, Tomlin would have to assume the burden of possibly being the first African American head coach to win a Lombardi Trophy. Tomlin probably doesn't want this story, but with Barack Obama taking office this week, the head coach's race is bound to be examined. Overall, this is a great thing, as it highlights our country's progress as a free nation. But every reporter who tells the story will smother it with righteousness. And that's what will drive is crazy.
10. Economy and Commercials
Did you know the Super Bowl is a huge event for the advertising world? Did you know our economy is in a rut right now? Hey, how will the economy impact the Super Bowl advertising?