Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Catching the Super Bowl fever

My original idea for this year's Super Bowl preview column was to use the playlist of Bruce Springsteen, tonight's halftime act, as the launching point for analysis. You know, "Born to Run" could be something about Edgerrin James, "Glory Days" could be something about Arizona's improbable story, all that.

But there was one problem. That idea was horrible.

So here's some random stuff on the Super Bowl, sans The Boss:

n A scribe's dream: Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a terrific player and, by all accounts, a great guy. But his dad is nuts.

Larry Sr., as you've probably heard by now, is a sportswriter in Minnesota. He's in Tampa right now to cover the game. It will be his 29th Super Bowl.

To which I say: Take the flippin' day off!

How can you sit in the press box and be objective when your son's playing in the biggest game of his life? And more importantly, why would you want to? Objectivity is noble and all, but in this case, it's highly overrated.

Think it over, big fella. Go outside and cheer for your kid.

n Hair scare: If you're a Cardinals fan -- and surely, there must be one of you out there somewhere -- you're probably not intimidated by Ben Rothlisberger, Willie Parker or even Hines Ward. But the guy with the hair should have you spooked.

Spare me the incessant quarterback features. Troy Polamalu continues to be one of the greatest stories in all of sports, a tiny, soft-spoken safety who turns into a play-making freak on the field.

Lightly recruited out of high school, he became an All-American at USC. And this season, when no offensive player truly separated himself, the 27-year-old Pro Bowler deserves serious consideration for MVP honors.

n Sign of the times: How bad is the economy? NBC struggled to sell Super Bowl ads this year. It wasn't until Wednesday that the network unloaded its final spot, when -- no lie -- signed up for $2.4 million.

This had better be one heck of an ad. Because I'm not sure how you're going to convince people watching reruns of "What's Happening!" at 3 a.m. to use this service, much less middle America viewing in prime time.

Let me see if I've got this straight, You want me to stuff all my unwanted gold into an envelope and mail it to you? And you promise to pay me well for it? And I don't even have to stand on a street corner, say "Psst!" to passersby and open my trench coat?

Hey, hand me a stamp!

Very sad. This is like putting an ad for "Dave's Laundromat" on during the World Series. Except we don't have to mail our laundry to Dave and cross our fingers.

But oh, it gets better.

The company announced that it signed Ed McMahon and M.C. Hammer for the spot. I know there's a "U Can't Touch This" joke in there somewhere.

Jilted lovers and petty thieves, you can do better than this. Simply mail your unwanted gold to Aaron McFarling, c/o The Roanoke Times ...

n The pick: It's time for the serious part of the Super Bowl column. The gambling section.

Now, I don't want to endorse gambling by any means. I simply want to point out that if you had followed my advice in the recent college football bowl guide, you would have gone 23-9-2 against the spread. You would have nailed all five BCS games, part of an eight-game winning streak to end the guide. There was also a 10-0-1 run in there.

In other words, what are you waiting for? Read the paper and gamble away! You can't lose!

Oh, right. The whole no-endorsing thing.

I don't have a stone-cold, 5,000-star lock this year. But if you peek inside this trench coat, you might see this: "Arizona +7."

Just don't bet all your gold and wind up on the Streets of Philadelphia.

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