Radoff: Getting (barely) excited for the Super Bowl

Jan. 22, 2015, 10:39 p.m.

To quote the famous Yankees traveling assistant George Costanza, “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t mind, but there was a little shrinkage.”

All jokes aside, I’m a bit deflated (okay, maybe just one more, for good measure) by the NFL’s season of misery. There are very few good storylines going into Super Bowl XLIX that are worth mentioning. It just kind of feels like a season of ignominy and mediocrity.

Sure, Tom Brady has the chance to throw his name in the ring for the title of best quarterback in football history. Sure, there are Stanford alumni abound on the Seahawks, not to mention possible cyborg and noted hand-shaker Marshawn Lynch. But we’ve been here before. The Patriots are going from “Will they make the playoffs?” to “Can anyone stop them?” The Seahawks using defense, fear and a touch of wiccan (given Pete Carroll’s previous bugbears, it could be true) magic to make it to the Super Bowl. It just seems like there isn’t much new territory. Brady’s been there seemingly every other year and the potential repeat champions, with the exception of the absolutely improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers, who were largely complicit in their own demise when they collapsed in on themselves like a burning star, have not played a particularly entertaining style of football. Sure, there’s east vs. west, and future hall of famers abound, but it feels substance-less.

With all that in mind, the biggest story is that Bill Belichick and the Patriots are being accused of cheating, again, this time for deflating balls. What are the advantages of deflation? Well, the ball is a bit easier to grip, throw, catch and, for the most part, carry. For a quarterback at the end of a long season, perhaps dealing with pectoral or elbow issues, it makes things a tiny bit more manageable. Think corking a bat, but on a much smaller level. Personally, I think that the entire situation is probably overblown. Heck, it may even be a ploy by the NFL to reinvigorate interest. Belichick certainly doesn’t mind playing the evil genius and the Patriot Empire facing the Legion of Boom has potential. The point is that the very fact that this is a storyline we must concoct is really telling: There just isn’t a lot to this matchup. The NFL now faces the inevitable comparison of its truly tragic year to the fantastic year of college football that ended in an almost perfect fashion.

Don’t believe me? The NFL had its worst ratings in six years for the wild-card round and saw similar numbers for the other playoff games. You can maintain that the Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon that can be adequately equated to Carnival for America, and professional football remains America’s true pastime (apologies to my beloved baseball), but the shift is on. Regular-season basketball ratings are reaching all-time highs and the NFL, much like the Packers (again, sorry), keeps shooting itself in the proverbial foot. By the way, anyone remember Plaxico Burress? Simpler times, when the only scandals in the NFL were of reckless stupidity and not of horrifying acts.

So here we are, full circle: a cycle that began with the homicide arrest of Aaron Hernandez, went through the tragic and very public incidences of domestic violence, a very muddled investigation into the aforementioned cases of domestic violence, and finally flat-football-gate. Deflate-gate? Under-pressurized-oblong-ball-gate? The NFL is at a crossroads, and it’s going to take more than PSAs to right the ship.

If the NFL is going to generate interest by trying to create a ridiculous controversy, it might as well go full bore with it; take a page from NASCAR and Kurt Busch’s book. Busch recently testified in Delaware that his ex-girlfriend is a dangerous international assassin. If the greatest reality television show of all time is really going to start degrading itself to the point of Housewives of Tallahassee (shout-outs to FSU), then they might as well get a good script.

Nic Radoff really wishes Plaxico Burress had played for Rex Ryan at some point, if only to hear the conversation. Contact him at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu to find out more. 

Nic Radoff '15 is now officially from Oakland and is a proud to be a history major and a Latin-American studies minor. Nic was a staff writer for women's soccer and follows football extensively, whether his editors let him write about it or not. He is a proud member of the men's club lacrosse team and invites you all to come watch most Saturdays, even though you might not see him on the field much. He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking with his husky Artoo, lamenting his A's and maintaining that things get better with age.

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