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Pass the chips!

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

Super Bowl XXXVIII logo
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- That's about the size of it for Sunday, February 1st, at approximately 6:25 p.m. But, in reality, does what we usually envision as an ordinary game in the NFL that has been transformed into an event of inter-galactic proportions ever begin on time? Not hardly.

This is the marketing Godzilla of all sports. Television ads this week are trumpeting sales on plasma screens that will cover the entire wall of your den or living room. After all, who wants to watch this mega event on a mini TV? Local restaurants are preparing more catered trays than they do for Christmas Day and Yom Kippur combined. Neighbors are calling friends and family for Super Bowl parties that have become de rigueur in our societal social structure.

Thirty-seven million people gathered around the tube and you are not sure whether they are watching the game or evaluating the commercials. Dick Clark is undoubtedly considering yet another awards show that features and highlights the best, and worst, of the Super Bowl efforts. It is only a matter of time.

Fan with chips!
Are more viewers watching the big game or the commercials?
Meanwhile, pass the chips.

The children of destiny this year are the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots. The fickle finger of fate played a cruel hoax upon the scoring machines of St. Louis and Kansas City while decimating the recreation of the aura of the Green Bay Packers of distant years. It also exhibited a wry sense of humor in producing the largest suicide watch in the history of sports when the Eagles of Philadelphia left the nest and, instead of flying high and directly to Houston, crashed at the feet of their fans, some of whom have still not unpacked their bags or washed the green, white and black paint from their bodies.

Are the two best teams in professional football going to take the field this weekend? It doesn't really matter what anyone thinks. They are the two teams that won when it counted most and they are in Houston. All the rest is best served at the local bistro where purported experts can espouse their obviously errant philosophies over what should have been but is not.

The reality of the contest is that Carolina has lost to Dallas, Philadelphia and Atlanta during one aberrant stretch at the end of November and into early December. But, since then, they have posted 6 W's on their scorecard. However, take a closer look...Arizona, Detroit, NY Giants, Dallas (revenge at home), St. Louis (in overtime versus a Rams team that was flat) and at Philadelphia against the most over-rated team in the NFL. Not exactly a juggernaut's march through the ranks.

New England, on the other hand, has improved its defense with every contest, learned how to score and played against tougher opponents. The Pats probably belong in Houston. Like the old commercial about investments, "They earned it." The Panthers are not here on a fluke but they had more good fortune than was foisted upon the Eagles during their winning streak...and that was a truck load.

Can I have some more chips please?
Tom Brady
Tom Brady should be able to lead the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The odds makers of Las Vegas have installed New England as a solid touchdown favorite and made the over/under of the game, that somewhat indeterminable cumulative total of what both teams will, or will not (depending upon your personal point of view), score, 37 1/2. A glance at recent games and one is inclined to believe that this will be a close contest, a defensive battle with a resultant low score. That is what bothers me. It seems too obvious. Precisely why I like New England to win by more than seven points and for this to turn into a high scoring affair after the initial serve and volley, thrust and parry of the first quarter.

No doubt you will be swayed by the Patriots 23 points-per-contest average during their 14-game winning streak with three games where they scored 12 points or less. But, this is the big stage. Show time!!!

Super Bowl XXXVIII is made for Tom Brady, quarterback of the Pats, but he was not deemed good enough to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl with the likes of Steve McNair, Peyton Manning or Trent Green, all of whom will be watching the game on television. And, Bill Belichick, pacing the sidelines, will let Brady air it out consistently despite what happened to Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. If Carolina's front four is as good as the media has made them recently then Brady has no choice but to look downfield.

On the other side of the field John Fox will focus on defense for openers. But, it won't be long before the air of Reliant Stadium is filled with the sound of flying footballs. Jake Delhomme will not be shy about that albeit caution will be the rule for the first 15 minutes.

Fan with chips!
Need more chips?
The bag is empty already? What about the Doritos, or Nachos? Got any more Salsa?

OK, time for the office pool and picking five squares at $2 per. If they want to arrest you for that, you can handle it. Anyone else with more serious intent has his choice of New England minus seven points, Carolina plus seven, over or under 37 1/2 as a total number of points scored during the game or New England for $240 to win $100 or Carolina at $100 to win $190, Another option is what is appropriately called a teaser wager, or taking New England minus one, getting the advantage of six points, coupled with Carolina getting 13 (Six points applied the other way). It is not called a teaser for nothing and both sides have to win. All of this in Las Vegas, where it is legal...of course.

This is it then, the gargantuan battle of the behemoths for the right to point one unchallenged digit towards the heavens, place a relatively inexpensive baseball hat on your head after the game, don a t-shirt that proclaims your status in the world of professional football and declare that you are going straight to Disney from the stadium.

Am I going to watch the game, the same as you? Cloister myself in the den, fireplace gleaming and glowing, chips at the ready and friends over? But, of course. Do I think that this will be a game anywhere near the publicity pouring out of the offices of the NFL? You gotta be kidding!