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I know what you’re thinking: Wait, a blind guy is going to tell us how to watch the Super Bowl? What does he know? Well, to that, I say, “How else am I supposed to know what commercials to vote for as the best? I mean, who do you really think votes on those polls anyway? Clearly, by the results, it is not people with two working eyes!”With that now clear, let us move forward.
Yes, I do watch the Super Bowl. My last Super Bowl as a sighted person just happened to be the Helmet Catch game in 2012. Not a bad final act. Since then, I continue to watch with the same anticipation and passion I always did. Even if it’s a dreadful game like the Seahawks’ drubbing of the Broncos, I love all football — sitting down, cracking a Diet Coke or a nice Blue Moon and watching the game. But this may be where our similarities end.
While you get together with friends, have a party and celebrate, I am content to sit alone and watch the game. If I’m with others, it’s just a few people. Am I unsocial? No. I am blind. Remember? This means not being able to see the game, so I have to hear it. You watch the plays with your eyes from across the room. I watch the game with my ears in front of the television. But I love it just the same. It has brought me many places in the past five years, like right here, doing articles like this for The Athletic, and informing readers about being a regular person despite my disabilities. It has also brought me great friends and mentors (one of those was the late, great, Chris Wesseling). Football has given me so much passion. So much determination. And with it, the motivation to make it to help others realize they too can make it. The Super Bowl brings all this together in one place. One enormous platform in which we are all on a level playing field.
So with that being said, let me walk you through the more normal part of my Super Bowl experience: the prep, the analysis and some of my picks for this Super Bowl. And then a few more fun lists — best football commentators, best commercials and best foods.
Cooper Kupp any time touchdown score — A simple bet, but with the level of production he has had, along with the connection he has with Matthew Stafford, there should be no way Kupp does not score in this game.
More second half points than first half points — Much like the beginning of the season, the Super Bowl usually starts with a feeling out period. On top of this, Sean McVay is extremely conservative, and Zac Taylor ran the ball on more than 75% of the Bengals’ first downs against the Chiefs. This was done so the potent Kansas City offense would not be on the field. The Rams offense, while not the Chiefs, is also very potent. Taylor and the Bengals will try to control the clock and build a lead. This means a slow first half and a more open second half as things settle.
The last team to score will also win — In the last nine Super Bowls, the last team to score in the game was also the winner. While the late 1980s and 1990s were known for huge blowouts, this has not been the case recently. In most cases, the games come down to the fourth quarter and teams need to score and hold on. Recently… they have been. So, expect the last team to score to also be the winner.
Matthew Stafford over 0.5 interceptions — Matthew Stafford loves to throw the ball. It does not always matter which team is on the other end. Coming into last week, Patrick Mahomes had not thrown an interception in any of his three previous AFC Championship games. Last week, the Bengals caused him to throw two of them, including one in overtime leading to the winning field goal. Stafford has a knack for throwing picks, so why not make some money off of the prop.
Whichever team you like to win the game, take their quarterback to win the MVP — Especially if it’s the Bengals, Joe Burrow is +200 or better to win the MVP. To bet on the Bengals to win is about +175. This means you will get more bang for your buck with the Joe Burrow selection. Of the 55 Super Bowl MVP awards, 31 of themhave been won by a quarterback. Unless you think this will be a defensive battle, the trend should continue. Trends are trends for a reason — because they usually hit. Let us win some money together.
Since I depend so much on what I hear when I’m enjoying football, I probably have a unique perspective on this. These are not going to be split up between play-by-play and analysts. It will be a mixture of both. If this offends some people, I am sorry. But it will be no more offensive than some of my choices and omissions. These are also just NFL commentators, which is why there is no Kirk Herbstreit.
Gus Johnson — Come on. Do I really need to say more than “Stokley down the sideline!”? He just has so much fun doing his job and it is contagious.
Tony Romo — Not only is he extremely energetic, but he is also pretty funny. More importantly, he paints a good picture and is extremely informative.
Greg Olsen — When the guest commentated for FOX while still playing, I knew he would be awesome. FOX has some disappointing analysts, but Olsen is a much-needed reprieve from the dregs.
Ian Eagle — I really like him and how he works with his co-host. He does not have the high energy of a Gus Johnson, but his toned-down mode works just as well in a unique way. He shows there is more than one way to do things and do them well. As someone who does things differently everyday due to my blindness, I respect this.
Troy Aikman — This hurts. As an Eagles fan, I should not have two former Cowboys quarterbacks on this list. I do not know if I’m getting soft or if this is due to the lack of talent on the air. Maybe I am getting soft. Aikman would have been even higher, but Olsen has been a pleasant surprise and to be fair, Aikman has been a bit whiny lately.
Budweiser Frogs — I loved it as a kid and I still do. I use it as my cell phone alarm to wake me up in the morning. It is a classic.
Budweiser Clydesdales playing football — Another classic, there is not much to be said other than it is awesome.
Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird for McDonald’s — This series of commercials was amazing. Increasingly difficult shots to win a McDonald’s meal. This was the perfect commercial at the height of the best period of NBA Basketball. Iconic.
Big Brother —The 1984 inspired Apple commercial was simple yet powerful. Breaking the screen with the sledgehammer to show that we would not be controlled anymore at a time when many felt disenchanted was great. It is funny though. The underdog Apple has now become the wealthiest company in the entire world. How times change. It is time for the next overthrow.
Roseanne Snickers — Not the best commercial. It is a screaming Roseanne Barr being crushed in the chest by a log. But hey, who does not want to see Roseanne crushed by a log?
Full House Reunion — The late Bob Saget as a house cleaner. Dave Coulier as an infant. John Stamos. What more do you want? Sure, it was only for yogurt, but it was funny in many ways.
The six-foot Italian Hoagie — This is the true name of a sub sandwich (or sometimes grinder to those of you in the wrong parts of the country). There is nothing better than slicing into a big sandwich and eating it while watching a great, or not so great, Super Bowl.
BBQ Chicken Wings — Finger foods are key. No one wants to be sitting down at a table with utensils while the game is on. Many people love Buffalo wings. Ok. Fine. I do not like Buffalo-style sauce. So, for my money, I will take the far superior honey barbeque wings.
Nachos — Just give me some good, old-fashioned, crappy nachos. I do not need chicken or beef or anything else. Just some tortilla chips with salsa and liquid cheese melted on top.
Pizza — Pepperoni, mushroom, or sausage. Whatever you fancy on top does not matter. What matters is, make sure you order enough for cold pizza leftovers for breakfast the next day.
Chili — Much of the country is cold during the game. There is nothing better to warm you up on a cool day than a hot, spicy bowl of chili. Normally, I am not a huge fan of the spicy. But chili has to be spicy in my opinion. Otherwise, it is just tomato sauce with beans and seasonings. So, spice it good and serve it hot.
Watching, and now listening, to football has always been a part of my life. Just because I am blind, this is not going to change. Much like all other parts of my life, it is simply different now. I saw the Helmet Catch. I did not see the Philadelphia Special. But both are just as memorable to me because I experienced both plays as a fan of football. And I did so the way I do anything else — by watching it (ears or eyes, it does not matter). What matters is, like you, I love it and will continue to. So, when you are watching the Super Bowl this weekend, remember, I am also. And I am loving it just as much. Even more. Because I know how lucky I am to be able to still be able to enjoy it despite everything I have gone through.
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