Week-After Coverage: Finally, A Super Bowl We Can All Get Behind

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI was a glimmer of hope and optimism in an otherwise bleak time. And I truly believe it was a night for the late Gen X/Millennial demographic to be targeted (in a good way) and celebrated.

I enjoyed just about every aspect of Sunday’s game, from the game itself, to halftime, to even the commercials. And while it may not have been the most memorable, I think once you look back on it, you’ll remember it fondly too.

For starters, there already was a different air about the game going in, given that we were going to watch two teams that were low seeds in the playoff bracket. The franchises aren’t historically teams that have done enough to get on anyone’s nerves (aside from the City of St. Louis and Will’s unexplained hatred of the Bengals) and I think if you polled the average fan, most would have been okay with either team winning.

Compare that to most years where most of the country wanted to see the Patriots, Tom Brady, or any of the usuals suspects lose, and that lends to the sense of excitement heading into the game.

I think the fact that both teams came across as hungry challengers looking to make a statement only added to the optimism. Think about it; for the first time in forever, there was no Brady, Patriots, Manning 1 or Manning 2, Saints, Packers, Rodgers, 49ers, or Broncos storyline running through this game. Regardless of who won, we could all feel happy for the winners. For the most part, there are pretty likable players on both teams—Eli Apple’s beef with 75% of the NFL notwithstanding. But we’ll get into the game a little later.

There was a heavy air of nostalgia throughout the event, including with the commercials. From Jim Carrey bringing back The Cable Guy in a surprise, to NFL Blitz and Backyard Football-styled stars running amok in a house, to the return of the Budweiser Clydesdale, a wave of yesteryear seemed to ease into the atmosphere of the event. Heck, even Meta/Facebook tried to appeal to us using nostalgia—maybe not to the result they hoped for.

Even the commercials aimed at “adults” were pretty solid. The Amazon Alexa commercial about reading minds with ScarJost was hilarious. The Planters “mixed nuts” commercial gave off Community vibes, and that’s what we all could use right now. Well, that, and a halftime show like what we got.

I don’t profess to be the most knowledgeable rap enthusiast, or even an enthusiast at all, and I can’t give you an in-depth history of hip hop. And I don’t profess to be a huge fan of or even know the entire catalogues of the artists that performed. But I know beats and hits when I hear them. And what we got were the Avengers of rap.

This performance really leaned into the 30 to 50 demographic really hard. These were songs we all knew. All had gotten hyped to our own Super Bowls to, celebrated our own triumphs to, and made up part of the soundtrack our experiences. And it reached back into the past, if only for a few minutes, and brought a piece of the optimism of those times back to us. Look at the TikToks and Instagram reels of people getting into it. That’s the beauty of music; it’s a powerful, powerful thing.

And it was the halftime show anyone from 30 to 50 needed to hear. We were already amped after the first three songs, so when the guitar strum of “Lose Yourself” started, everyone lost their minds. 50 Cent upside down? Sure, bring it on. Best of all? No frills. No Lady Gaga jumping off a stadium, no Coldplay doing Coldplay things. This was an homage to LA music and the generations of artists who were influenced by it. It was good stuff. And so was the game.

Oh yeah, the game. Almost forgot about that.

This was a solid football contest, especially for a Super Bowl. This was close throughout. I expected a blowout, and for the first quarter, it looked like that’s what we’d get. Then, the Bengals D (the Bengals have a defense? Who knew?) stepped up.

There were also a bunch of vignettes that every great game needs woven together to create a tapestry of a memorable contest here. OBJ exorcising demons to take the game over—only to go down with an injury. Matt Stafford waging war against his years in Detroit and himself. Taking control of the contest, only to try and give it away, and then take it over again. Cooper Kupp absolutely on fire, scorching DB’s and records on his way to a historic season. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase connecting on play after play to claw back into the game. Johnny Hekker’s PAT hold fumble that kept this game close throughout the contest. Sean McVay on the verge of establishing his legacy with either possible outcome of the game.

There was so much to captivate an audience, and while we’ll touch on it more on the podcast, watching the Rams—who went all in on a title—drive down the field and take the lead with little time left was the stuff of legend. And the Bengals, whose last Super Bowl trip ended in similar fashion, unable to convert the one yard needed to extend a drive, went home empty handed a third time. The epitome of so close, yet so far away.

Maybe it was just me, but for one night, it felt like there was a little hope in the air. Sure it’s just a game, but it was the game—and night—we needed.

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