More Americans will go to church or synagogue or mosque this weekend than will gather round the electronic shrines in the family room for Superbowl XL. Still, it is likely that one of the single activities in which Americans engage together in the largest numbers ever will take place on Sunday at 6-9 pm Eastern time. Not that this will be the largest ever, or even in the top ten, but we can expect some 100 million people to be gathered around at the same time…
And this is a serious event. I don’t really care about the food, although I enjoy the good food as much as anyone, and I like to drink moderately, because what I really enjoy is concentrating on the game, play by play. I love to anticipate, to call plays myself, to be suggesting defenses — not that I have any expertise at all, but because I love the set strategy and tactics.
Say that there will be about 140 plays from scrimmage, and that each one will last between 3 and 5 seconds. That’s a lot of very intense, synchronized activity in a very compressed seven or eight explosive minutes. The rest of the time is spent standing around, huddling, patting one another’s butts. The game is a little like chess in planning, and like chess with a ver fast time clock in execution.
Right now I am trying to prepare myself for dealing with a Seahawks’ lead going into the finish, because I so much want Pittsburgh to win that I’m not sure my heart can withstand a Pittsburgh defeat. Pure self-protection.
Trouble is, these games tend to break one way or the other with a bunch of breaks, and/or a series of two or three great plays in a row for one side or the other. Sometimes, the game cleaves like an apple, and it becomes one-sided, even though the teams are not in fact unevenly matched.
I do think Pittsburgh is determined to win, or die trying. Jerome Bettis certainly is. He knows the old Notre Dame spirit, and it runs right through his knees.