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Super and not-so-super observations

Commentary

Some general observations from the biggest football game of the year, which was far less interesting than many of the commercials:

n Overnight television ratings for Super Bowl LIII came in as the lowest in a decade (when the Steelers defeated Arizona in 2009.) Some pundits attribute the decline since even last year’s New England-Philadelphia match-up to “Patriot Fatigue.”

n A Seton Hall Sports Poll prior to the championship game revealed that nearly half of those who responded admitted to being tired of New England’s post-season presence, with less than one-third of those polled reacting positively to quarterback Tom Brady.

Widely speculated to be the “greatest of all time,” Brady should command the admiration and respect garnered by the likes of Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux or Derek Jeter. All were part of dynasties in their sports, and all rose to a legendary status that surpassed even the most bitter of rivalries.

In addition to his legitimate talent and many records, Brady sports model good looks, a beautiful model wife, and he even takes the field in patriotic red, white and blue. He should be America’s golden boy; instead he’s like the villain on a soap opera that football fans love to hate.

And that disdain seems to go beyond petty jealousy, but to the core of what we wish the greatest in their field to be: honorable, humble and kind.

Before the 2015 deflate gate scandal, Brady’s popularity was double what it is today, and the contempt seems to be baked in, leading many across the country to be disappointed in the outcome of the final NFL game of the season.

Still, there were bright spots in the game/spectacle that proved that defense wins championships, including some reminders that many NFL players are far better than the negative stories and controversies that have dogged the league in recent years:

n Prior to his MVP-performance, Patriot Julian Edelman gave Super Bowl tickets to a teenage girl who found herself bullied while playing quarterback for her junior high school team. Classy.

And it was awesome to see the Walter Peyton Award nominees and 2019 Man of the Year Chris Long of Philadelphia, honored for their community service and charitable endeavors.

n Among the most super commercials: the NFL 100 spot featuring generations of football greats celebrating the sport’s century milestone; it was especially cool to see Pennsylvania legends Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley.

n And the Super Bowl’s pre-game pomp and circumstance offered All-American inspiration with Gladys Knight’s exquisite rendition of the National Anthem, Chloe x Halle’s gorgeous “God Bless America” and the flyover by the Air Force Thunderbirds.

The performances were ultimately greater than the game itself for many football fans, who have only 213 days to wait until the kick-off of the 2019 season.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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