Football vs. football: What do people really want to watch?

Every year, the Super Bowl comes around and the mavens in the sports media tell us that it’s the biggest sporting event in the world.

Then every four years, the World Cup comes around and mavens in the sports media tell us that it’s the biggest sporting event in the world.

So which one is it? (Via Beutlerink):

World-Cup-viewersBut (the NFL fans whine) you’re comparing something that happens every four years to something that happens every year.

Really, are you going to make me do the math?

Multiply the Super Bowl number by four, and you’re still short by the entire population of North America, where the only people who care about the Super Bowl live.  And when you think about it, lots of people in the world don’t have televisions. So the World Cup is a community event where villages gather in front of a lone TV to see what’s going on.

And unlike the Super Bowl, they’re not tuning in just to watch the commercials.

I was in Belgium during the 2006 World Cup, and the city put a huge monitor in the middle of the street near the Bourse (the stock exchange building) downtown and closed off the area to automobile traffic. We roamed the streets with an Italian flag and joined all the Italians after Italy beat France in the final. That year in Paris, they put a big screen on the Eiffel Tower which allowed everyone to see Zidane’s headbutt heard around the world.

In 2010, we were in a restaurant/pub in London watching Spain beat the Netherlands in the final, although the highlight of that tournament was when the U.S. tied England because goalie Robert Green let this get by him. We were watching that match with a bunch of Brits who were ragging us on how badly American asses were going to be kicked. Let’s just say, the Americans were the ones gloating at the end.

Check out this photo gallery at the Washington Post to see how people are watching the World Cup around the globe. This is not how we watch the Super Bow.

The World Cup is depraved and decadent

Or more specifically, its governing body, FIFA, is, according to John Oliver:

That is impressive. Make a country change its laws against drinking. Create your own court that can send people away to jail for 15 years. Put an outdoor game in a country where the temperature is 122 degrees.

Can you imagine an American sports organization pulling something like that?

New details have emerged about the deal bringing the Super Bowl to Minneapolis.

Some of the conditions include: hotel accommodations, free police escorts and free advertising. They’re on the long list of requests in a confidential 153-page document obtained by the Star Tribune.

The National Football League made the specifications before it named Minneapolis the host city for the 2018 Super Bowl. Dated November 2013, the document details everything from field preps, to reserving bowling venues for the Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic.

Nice try NFL. You’re in the Pee Wee League compared to FIFA’s professional corruption status.

‘Seven Nation Army’: The world’s sports anthem

On Super Bowl Sunday, when the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers, expect a lot of this:

For all you old people, the song is “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. It came out in 2003, made it to No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Rock list by the summer and began to fade out.

But Ravens fans voted in 2011 from a list of five songs to make it the anthem played to rally the crowd.

It took them long enough.

When we were living in Europe, we heard it all the time when watching football (soccer) games on the TV in Belgium and England. I remember my son saying “That’s ‘Seven Nation Army” when we were watching a match in Belgium. (I used to think the song was called “I’m Going to Witchita.”)

When the World Cup was held in Germany in 2006, you couldn’t get away from the song.

So how did a simple tune created by these guys …


… become a stadium anthem for global sports?

Last year, Deadspin had the definitive history.

In short, it started when a bunch of Belgians, who traveled to Italy for football match, started singing it at a bar then landed drunk at a football match to cheer their team, Brugges, against the Italians, beginning the chant when Brugges scored.  It thrived in Brugges after that. Eventually, an Italian team traveled to Brugges and heard the fans chant it there and liked it so much, they got their fans in Italy to go with it.

It eventually spread in America because college band directors found it simple, but exciting enough to get a crowd worked up.

And now it’s the anthem used everywhere. Here it is at the Euro2008 final between Germany and Spain:

Here it is at the 2010 Ohio State/Michigan game:

And here it is in Rome after Italy won the World Cup in 2006:

I heard it at the Louisville/Georgetown basketball game in Washington last week.

So checkout the Deadspin article here.

And here’s the original:

Pretty soon, all the attention is going to be focused on who sings the national anthem at the Super Bowl. But “Seven Nation Army” is the song that’s going to get the crowd worked up.

Apparently, there’s a football game today?

Two teams from the Northeast, just an Amtrak ride from each other, are in Hoosier land today in a rematch for the NFL championship.

When they met four Super Bowls ago in 2008, the undefeated New England Patriots were the overwhelming favorites. The New York Giants, who had a so-so season, were supposed to just lay down, play dead, and let Destiny put an end to that 1972 Miami Dolphin ritual of opening up a bottle of champagne when the last team in the NFL with an undefeated record loses a game and the Dolphins remain the only perfect team in NFL history. But Eli Manning (right, not Payton) ran wild and did this:

Then the Giants moved down the field, scored a touchdown and won the game by three points.

And the aftermath: That was David Tyree‘s last catch in the NFL. Really. The Giants got rid of him the next year and he had one more uneventful season with the Baltimore Ravens.

So this year, the Patriots aren’t undefeated, but they’re the favorite to win.

Since I grew up in Brooklyn, I have the genetic abnormality that forces me to to cheer for any New York area team against any Boston area team.

So as ambivalent or disdainful as I am about the Jets, the Knicks, the Rangers, the Mets, the Bills and the Sabers (yeah, even Buffalo counts here), if the other team is within the Massachusetts border, I root for New York. (I’ll always cheer on the Yankees and the Giants, and since New Jersey is just a suburb of New York — and another one of the many places I’ve lived — I root for the Nets and Devils.)

Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, dies at 82

Oakland Raiders logo

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s the quote that sums up Al Davis, one of the great minds in football.

Just win baby!

From the New York Times:

The Raiders played in the A.F.L. championship game in 1967, 1968 and 1969, and when the A.F.L. and the N.F.L. merged in 1969, they went to the first of their 11 conference championship games in 1970. Mr. Davis’s Raiders played in five Super Bowls, winning three, Super Bowls XI in 1977, XV in 1981 and XVIII in 1984. From 1963 to 1985, the Raiders compiled an overall record of 229-91-11, the highest winning percentage of any team in professional sports during that time.

Super Bowl highlights: off the field

Some impressions from the Super Bowl: None is game related.

1) What was that intro by Michael Douglas all about? We recover from the depression. Franklin Roosevelt leads us through World War II. We plant the American flag at Iwo Jima. John Kennedy says ask what you can do for your country. Martin Luther King Jr has a dream. And the Steelers and Packers are in the Super Bowl. OK. One of these things is not like the others. Can you guess which one? C’mon guys, it’s just a game. Yeah, it’s a big game. But history will not judge us on this.

2) They need to change the name of the halftime show to the Short Attention Span Concert. I’ve been to a Black Eyed Peas show, and the band is pretty good. But turning their hits into sound bites, then shifting to Guns ‘n Roses for a minute, then bringing in Usher? And who’s idea was it to neonify the pretend spontaneous dancers around the stage?

3) Not one, but two Eminem ads. Soda and cars. Didn’t realize he’d ever be considered a spokesman with whom you’d want to associate with your product. Now wouldn’t he be a great halftime show? The censors would be going nuts. It would make Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” look like Sesame Street.

(And congratulations to the Packers.)

ONE MORE THING: Don’t agree to sing the National Anthem when you don’t know the words. Christina Aguilera, welcome to the club.

NFL Gameday

So, the big game is almost here.

I haven’t seen a Super Bowl in seven years. When you’re in Europe, game time is usually around 1 a.m., and staying up until at least 4 a.m. to watch football then going to work the next day isn’t rational at my age.

So, as I look back on the list of teams during that time period who faced off on Super Sunday, I’m stunned:

1) How did the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers end up in the Super Bowl? The Washington Post has this photo gallery of highlights from the games those teams lost. I was too busy mumbling: “Those guys were in the Super Bowl?” What really gets me is that they all lost close games. I guess the NFL isn’t like Major League Baseball, where you can always count on the same teams getting to the playoffs every year. (Go Yankees!)

2) How did the New Orleans Saints win a Super Bowl. Before I left the states, the one thing I could count on was the Saints screwing up in the first round of the playoffs, usually a game they got to because they won their usually rotten division with a lame record. But there it is, They beat Peyton Manning. What happened there? (Got to spend more time watching the NFL Network.)

3) How did the New York Giants beat an undefeated New England Patriots? Come on! The Patriots were awesome that year. And the Giants were led by Eli Manning! Want to know what the rest of the world thought of a playoff game winning Manning who wasn’t named Peyton? Here:

So all this weirdness happens when I’m gone, and when I get back, the teams going for the Vince Lombardi trophy are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. You know, teams you expect to see in the Super Bowl.

I’ll root for the Steelers. It would be nice if Aaron Rodgers leads the Pack to a win, because we won’t have to hear about Bret Favre anymore. But we really have to thank the Steelers for ensuring that we didn’t have to listen to Rex Ryan and the New York Jets mouth off for the past two weeks.

Bears mauled; Jets crash

It’s Green Bay and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. The Packers took out the Bears in Chicago this afternoon, 21-14, crushing three Bear quarterbacks. The Steelers overwhelmed the Jets in the first half, 24-3 and held on in the second half for a 24-19 win.

The best thing about the Steelers’ win is we don’t have to put up with the New York media obsessing over Rex Ryan’s mouth. It was really annoying listening to the NFL Network’s pregame show’s commentators being absolutely giddy over the wild things the Jets’ coach has said during the playoffs. Sports reporters tried to get Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin to join in the trash talk. But all he would say is talk is irrelevant: All that matters is the score at the end of the game.

So, Tomlin is the youngest coach to take a team to the Super Bowl twice. Ryan can spend the next few months mouthing off, and we don’t have to pay attention to anything he says until the sportscasters obsess over his trash talk next season.

It should be a great Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6. Two teams that symbolically represent historic greatness in the sport. Lombardi, Favre, and Cheese Heads. The Immaculate Reception, the Steel Curtain and the Terrible Towels.

If I have to choose, I go with Pittsburgh. They were the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Packers were the No. 6 seed in the NFC. The teams are probably equal on offense with dangerous running quarterbacks. Pittsburgh has the edge defensively.

Pittsburgh has six Super Bowl titles (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 2006 and 2009). The Packers have three (1967, 1968, 1997). The Steelers lost a Super Bowl in 1996. The Packers lost one in 1998.

Best of all: Their coaches know when to keep their mouths shut.