For full-time football fanatics, halftime is right time to party

Published: Sunday, February 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 1, 2004 at 1:27 a.m.

We can't lose today.

Unless we are serious fans of either New England or Carolina and I'm guessing that in our community that number would be about the same as a meeting of the ACC Officials Fan Club.

We can't lose.

It's Super Bowl Sunday, a national holiday that brings so many of us together to gobble nachos and slurp cold beverages in record numbers. And really, does the game matter that much?

That's why we can't lose.

Even if this promises to be a boring football game, it can't be as bad as the two weeks leading up to it. No controversy, no interesting stories. It's a buzz-less Super Bowl but what would you expect when the three biggest names playing today are:

1. Tom Brady.

2. Stephen Davis.

3. He Hate Me.

The coaches have been as exciting as junk mail. Today on one sideline you have Bill Belichick, who dresses like the Unabomber, and on the other John Fox, who the average American is just now discovering is coaching one of the teams in the big game.

There is no star power unless you count the halftime show.

Which is another reason we can't lose.

Regardless of which team wins the XXXVIIIth edition of the Super Bowl, it will be refreshing to see that you can get to the ultimate prize in pro football by being a team, not a collection of individuals.

This Super Bowl is about contact, not contracts. Both teams are built around defenses, even if we have a hard time naming three players on either team's front seven.

But mostly, today is about the parties, whether they are in homes or sports bars. The nation shuts down on Super Sunday. Even if you are not a sports fan, you watch because there is nothing - not even American Idol or the last Friends - that captures our attention the way the Super Bowl does each year.

It's the one day of the year where you can reach for another chicken wing without your wife shooting you a dirty look. You are supposed to indulge. It's the Super Bowl.

The South Beach Diet can wait until Monday.

And we can't lose because we're not plunking down a minimum of $500 to sit in Reliant Stadium just for a chance to miss the commercials.

There is also the real chance that we'll get a game that comes down to the wire, which is all we really ever ask for with a Super Bowl and hardly ever get. New England hasn't lost since the fourth week of the season. Carolina doesn't lose close games.

Which, of course, makes picking a winner difficult. The Patriots are favored and it's hard to pick against a team known as the Pats, at least for me.

But you never know which coaching staff has used the two weeks, the two insufferable and mind-numbing weeks, to either come up with the perfect game plan or over-analyze everything to the point of paralysis.

After two weeks of deliberation (OK, it was actually 30 seconds in between fielding silly calls about recruiting and answering e-mails about Florida's half-court defense) I finally decided to go with New England 20-17.

That question is answered but there are certainly plenty of other burning questions leading into today's game:

Can New England's defense slow down the Carolina running attack?

How do you pronounce Jake Delhomme's last name?

What happened to the Bucs?

How many writers will foolishly refer to the Patriots' dynasty if they win for the second time in three years?

What is Janet Jackson wearing?

If he's 33 years old, why do they call him Kid Rock?

Are there really any Panthers in Charlotte?

Can the Patriots play when it's not Ted Williams-cold?

Is Tom Brady the next NFL superstar or just a Matt Damon look-a-like?

Where's Peyton Manning? Donovan McNabb? Steve McNair?

Which hometown newspaper will have the headline "Houston, We Have a Problem"?

How many fat grams in a mini-quiche?

How many Tedy Bruschis do you figure to down today?

What is the over-under on how many sets will be tuned to "Lingerie Bowl 2004" at halftime?

When will my hair grow back?

Whatever happened to the Astrodome?

Whatever happened to "Up With People"?

Which team is Pete Rose betting on?

How many of you just want the game to get over so you can get to "Survivor All-Stars"?

What happens if the remote breaks and you are stuck on the ABC Family Channel's marathon of "Full House"?

Is 11 minutes really the exact time it takes a warm beer to become cold on ice?

Can the Panthers use the corner blitz while playing a Cover-2?

Can you eat a cheese blintz while drinking a Colt 45?

All of these questions and more will be answered by tonight, when full

bellies and bleary eyes around America realize this sobering thought - tomorrow is Monday.

You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at or by calling 374-5053. You can hear Pat weekdays from 4-5 p.m. on WGGG 1230-AM in Gainesville and WMOP 900-AM in Ocala.

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