Sunday, February 05, 2006


Quite a hairy situation when these two follicular opposites take the field.

By today, Super Sunday, the typical reader is oversaturated, over-hyped and over-Superbowlicized by the zillions of articles, advertisements, and TV reports about whether the bald pate of Matt Hasselbeck could be successfully implanted with enough hair follicles from Troy Polamalu’s rich and flowing mane (a sack or two would do it), who will win the annual Cowher Family Spitting Championship, and how many cracks there are in the front door of Da Bus’ dilapidated and abandoned boyhood home in Detroit. Oy, I just noticed I counted three Steelers and only one Seahawk in the last sentence! The Seahawks can’t get a break from the media, huh? Sorry, Seattle, you’re just too socked away up in a foggy little corner of the U.S. for us media moguls to pay any attention. My pal Tony Kornheiser has a geography lesson for us: “They’re so far north and west of the Mississippi, Lewis and Clark didn’t even get there – they reached the Pacific Ocean in Oregon!”

So what can Shaun Alexander and Co. do to bring the fair city of Seattle out of its rainy obscurity by winning its first championship since the NBA’s Supersonics in MCMLXXIX? If Shaun can run more than CXXV yards and score II touchdowns, Matt Hasselbeck throws for another CCL with at least a passing touchdown for good measure, and Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill rattle Big Ben in a Marino-esque way in his first (and only?) Super Bowl show, this could happen. Pittsburgh, who has won IV Super Bowls, may not find the going easy in its pursuit for title number V.

Wetboat, why the Roman numerals?

I’m making a statement. If the NFL keeps sticking to an inefficient system used 2,000, or MM, years ago by ancient Romans for numbering each and every Super Bowl, I fear for the future of American football. The Roman Empire collapsed because it became too big, too clumsy, and too inefficient to financially manage its far-flung possessions. Try adding XXXIII to XIV on a piece of paper to figure out the over-under on Super Bowl XL. It gets worse when you MULTIPLY these numbers! No wonder they couldn’t manufacture calculators to accommodate this system, you can’t go from 0 to 4,000 without making room for 15 letters! The ancient Arabs gave us the numbering system we use today – a good reason the Arabs and their Turkish brothers dominated Europe for so long after the Roman Empire went out of business.

I think I got the advertising industry’s fascination with the Super Bowl’s Roman numerals figured out. Since the 9th Super Bowl, the letter “X” has appeared at least once in the Super Bowl numerology every year. Think IX, X, XI, XII…XX, XXV, and on and on. This letter connotes mystery, power, and a hint of danger. The inherently uncertain definition of “X” made it possible for marketers to shape every Super Bowl to their packaging and advertising purposes. Last year’s Super Bowl, XXXIX, was long enough for host city Jacksonville to drape a banner of it across one of the city’s bridges. This year’s edition, XL, is tailor-made for things like oversize potato chips, 3-liter Coke bottles, and Rochester’s Big & Tall stores. Not to mention Detroit’s over-sized American cars.

Remember the 30th Super Bowl, XXX? Advertisers wouldn’t touch it with, umm, a six-inch pole!

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on someone’s perspective, this Romanophilic fascination among football fans will go stale in the next few years. When the 50th Super Bowl rolls around, it will be the first time in over 40 years the letter “X” won’t be part of the name. The sound of Super Bowl L will send marketing executives running to the toilets and gagging. This will be the first Super Bowl in which the LOSING team will happily embrace the title! After that, it’s LI, LIII, LIII…I doubt the Roman numerals will continue forever. The NFL should just call L the 50th Super Bowl and be done with Roman numerals.

Because after all, when the 888th edition of the NFL’s grandest spectacle draws nigh, pitting the powerful offensive juggernauts from the planet Venus against the suffocatingly tight defense of Uranus, is there room on T-shirts for “Super Bowl DCCCLXXXVIII”?

If there is still a National Football League then, and the ageless Doug Flutie is still drop-kicking field goals.


Professor Ellis D Trails said...

wont superbowl 49 be SB IL

Watership2 said...'s gonna be XLIX. the Ex-Lax advertisers will have a field day.