Now it’s finally the real Super Bowl week! The teams have wrapped up preparations at home and are beginning to make their way to Indianapolis. The city has been decked out in NFL gear and the tourist outlets are ready for the influx of visitors. After a long week of experts and idiots breaking down the conference championships on national and local radio and all over the internet… there’s still another seven days until the game. Maybe it’s just because I have a vested interest in this Super Bowl but this has been a long week and we are only halfway through the build up.
Since the NFL went back to the two-week gap between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl in the 2003 season, there has always been a point I have reached where I just say enough hype already! Usually by Wednesday I have heard every possible bit of analysis and speculation about who will play, who won’t play and who will play well or poorly because of some asinine reason such as the stadium’s alignment with the sun is the exact same as their high school team’s stadium. When you take a step back and look at it though, the saturation of the news coverage is at the level it is because there is always a demand for it. People will look at anything related to the Super Bowl as part of the build up either because their team is in the game, they watch the sport every week or they are degenerate gamblers (or all three). I’ll admit to buying into the hype every year, I’ll read those extra couple of news stories that relate to the game, downloading that extra podcast or spending a bit longer watching NFL Network just because it is the final game of the season. Every year I make the same mistake knowing that by Wednesday of week 2, I will be sick of waiting and just want the game to start.
From what I can remember of my first few years following the NFL, the one week gap just made the build up feel so rushed and the game was on you before you knew it. Years ago, just after the change back to the bye week system, I read an article by Troy Aikman (at least I think it was by him) saying that he remembered how the one week gap was too hard on the players mentally because they had so much hinging on the result of the Conference Championship. If you were the road team for that round you would have to pack for two weeks away just because there was no point travelling home between the two games and the transfers would be so rushed that you would inevitably forget to include a friend or family member in your Super Bowl plans. Of course there is the infamous story from the AFC Championship in the 2001 season when the Patriots travelled to Pittsburgh and as they were going out on the field for warm-ups, they saw some suitcases with the Steelers logo on it packed for the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Whether or not those were actually players suitcases or just a tool used by Belichick to motivate his players is a matter of conjecture but he sure as hell made the most of the opportunity.
Overall, I think the two week gap between games is better than the one week gap because it gives the players that little bit more time to prepare for the game (and in the case of some players to get healthy) and to also include their friends and family in what is no doubt a unique experience. My only request is that for the first week (or at least the majority of), maybe we just focus on the Conference Championships that have just been played before we begin to break down and hype up the big game. At least for this next week there is stuff going on such as media day and fans can see the light at the end of the tunnel as opposed to this past week where all we have had to look forward to is the Who Gives a Crap Bowl… I mean Pro Bowl.