I’m excited: NFL Super Bowl tomorrow

Well … technically it’s played Sunday in America, but it is broadcast almost-live by Channel 10 (1) in Australia as from 7:30 a.m. tomorrow (Monday).

Traditionally, for the last 10 to 12 years anyway, I have taken the day off to stay home and watch the Super Bowl. This indulgence comes at significant cost because I am a contractor and if I am not working I don’t get paid. So basically this half day of Super Bowl viewing costs me over $300 in lost income (because I take the whole day off).

What a sacrifice. I bet the tickets to the actual Super Bowl don’t cost that much!

I am not a huge follower of sport. Or should that be sports? I can’t decide. Anyway, whatever … I can sort of get through a whole game of Australian Rules Football if I have to (mainly when one of the two local teams are playing); and I have been known to get into watching the occasional game of tennis about once every two or three years (which seems to be directly related to the cuteness of the girls playing). I have even watched a few games of rugby now and then and this is probably because, in a number of ways, rugby is sort of similar to American football.

I do watch a bit of cricket now and then. Cricket is good. Cricket is a deceptively strategic game. I like just about all the ‘types’ of cricket. The five day test matches, the 50 over one day games, and the T20 (20 over) slog-em-hard games. I was a huge fan of the Indian IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket, but it seems this no longer gets broadcast on free-to-air and I don’t have Foxtel (that would be akin to ‘cable’ for my American readers).

A useful thing about cricket is that there are sort of three ways you can watch it. You can be doing something else, like painting a wall or working on your car, and just take notice now and then. This is sort of like 10 to 20 percent watching. Or you can sit in front of the TV but be doing something else as well like playing Sudoku, surfing the Web on your notebook, or keying up a blog post. This is kind of 50 to 60 percent watching. Or you can have a beer and chips happening and be paying almost complete attention. That would be 80 to 90 percent watching. These all work perfectly when you are watching cricket. Very useful. Probably a bit like American baseball … or not.

But back to grid-iron, or is that gridiron? Just checking my 20th Century Chambers on this. The hard copy version obviously. Okay. It is an actual word. It’s gridiron.

I find gridiron amazing.

I got interested in watching a gridiron game when my boss’ boss described the game to us one day at work. He was the CIO of the company I worked for. I can probably say his name as he, sadly, is dead now. It was Allan Nelson. He died from motor neuron disease.

I would have been about 30 at the time and I was part of the Systems Programming group. We programmed and fixed the NOS/BE operating system that ran on our CDC (Control Data Corporation) Cyber 170 mainframe computers. And these were ‘real’ mainframes. You could tell they were bona-fide mainframe computers because they took up a whole frigging (large) room, floor to ceiling, and they were cooled using chilled water. As the old saying goes “If it ain’t cooled with chilled water then it’s not a mainframe”.

So one day Allan Nelson proceeded to tell us about gridiron football, complete with all the required arm movements and jumping about. He obviously loved the game and was very animated when explaining it to us. I cannot remember

We learnt about how the quarterback would hoick the ball (Australian for ‘throw’ the ball) out somewhere into the downfield, and at the time there was nobody there. But then, out of nowhere, someone from his team would dart into place and catch it. Now if that catch was at least ten yards (yeah … no frigging metres being used here) from where the ball started then that was good. But if it wasn’t then they had to try again, and they got three tries at getting the ball ten yards further towards the goal line. If they didn’t make it in three tries then the other team got the ball and then the game went the other way.

There were specialist measuring guys with ten yards of link chain attached to posts that made sure where the ten yard marker was.

As an alternative to throwing the ball the quarterback could hand it off to some other team mate who could try to run the ball ten yards down the field. And good luck with that. Considering there were about 30 hulking great opposing team members trying to stop him. Okay. Probably not 30. About a third of that (11 actually). But still challenging.

Very simplified. VERY simplified. But basically it.

Oh. And then he mentioned the specialist kicker(s). Their only job is to be expert at kicking the ball. Sometimes they kicked for distance (when trying to kick a field goal) and sometimes they kicked for ‘air time’—to keep the ball in the air as long as possible to give his team time to get downfield and stop the other team from getting the ball when it landed. And while the kicker is trying to kick this ball the 30 other great hulking opposing team members (errrr, make that 11) are rushing at him to try and stop him from even being able to kick the ball.

So, based on Allan’s very interesting overview I decided to watch a game, which in itself was a challenge because back then—this would have about 1985 when we only had about four channels in Perth—very few gridiron matches were shown in Australia. And the ones that were shown were replays shown at midnight or later.

I was hooked after the first game. I loved how tightly controlled the game was. How crisp the rules were and how well they were applied. There are just about as many umpires/referees as there are players.

It was fascinating how the teams knew all the patterns of play and how strategic each play was. How the quarterback called the plays. The various play options that were available: like go for a ‘fourth down’ in a last desperate attempt to get the 10 yards (but if you don’t get the 10 yards you lose the ball); or to just take the safe option and kick a field goal.

DallasCheerLeaders

Initially I decided to follow the Dallas Cowboys. Not too sure why. Maybe it was just that the name “Dallas Cowboys” sounded pretty cool. Or it could have been that, at the time, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were reputed to be be the most attractive (examples shown above). Not that you hardly ever get to see the cheerleaders during a telecast game.

Then I moved over to the San Francisco 49ers.

But for the last few years I have been behind the New England Patriots.

Sadly none of the above teams are in the 2014 Super Bowl. The New England Patriots made it to the semi-finals (as we call them here), but they lost to the Denver Broncos. So the 48th Super Bowl will be between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

I am going for the Seattle Seahawks … because Twin Peaks was set in and partially filmed not too far west of Seattle. However the Denver Broncos are the starting favourites.

So tomorrow morning between 7:30 a.m. and about midday I will be having breakfast and sipping coffee and watching the 48th NFL Super Bowl—unless they cancel it!!

BarryMark