Belichick and Vegas
 
Prop bets have become a very popular and entertaining avenue for sports betting in recent years. This is especially true for an event like the Super Bowl where the props range from the length of the National Anthem, to the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach, to the number of touchdowns a particular player scores.

 
This year one of the most popular prop bets was how many catches Chad Ochocinco would have in the Super Bowl. The line was set at a half point, which basically made the bet a “will Ochocinco have a catch in the game” proposition. The prop was well discussed nationally, and the overwhelming consensus was to bet the under.
 
Ochocinco had caught just 15 passes during the regular season. He didn’t catch a single pass in Week 17, played one snap in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs, and was inactive for the AFC Championship. Basically you had to go back two months, to December 24th, for the last Ochocinco catch. With this information in hand the Ochocinco prop bet was a lock.
 
Enter Bill Belichick, the jackal-headed trickster god of NFL football. The night before the Super Bowl the Patriots cut wide receiver Tiquan Underwood (bearer of a glorious hi-top fade) and activated Ochocinco (amid other strange roster moves). On the first play of the second half Tom Brady hit Ochocinco for a 21-yard gain, and cost a lot of smug gamblers some decent change.

Now we sit and wonder if Belichick is as wily and maniacal as he is portrayed, and if somewhere, in some degenerate bookie’s ledger there is an entry next to the 85 prop bet “Over-The Hood”.
 
A Foreign Affair
 
Well life takes some hard turns when you enter a foreign arena, and it seems that no amount of physical beauty can make a foreigner likeable when she meddles in a country’s national religion. But it’s the Super Bowl after all, and even weirdness goes international.
 
By now more people know about Gisele Bundchen’s wayward approach to football than know the actual result of the Super Bowl. A few days after her mystical attempts to get God involved in the game she was heckled by a pack of vociferous Giants’ fans and ultimately threw the Patriots’ receiving corps under the bus.
 
The event was as innocuous as it was boring, just a foreign supermodel cornered by some high-end American drunkards lashing out about things she didn’t fully understand, but which she wasn’t entirely incorrect about.
 
Bundchen was slammed for doing something that just isn’t done. No one associated with an organization is supposed to play the blame game, especially after an emotional game like the Super Bowl, and whenever anyone does so they are rightly chastised, supermodels included. On top of this, Bundchen suffered from two very important handicaps.
 
Firstly she is a supermodel, and as such is (fairly or not) immediately considered to be vapid and simple and wholly unqualified to discuss a foreign game built around violence and brutality. Secondly she is from Brazil, where the national game is soccer, a sport where falling down on purpose and faking injury is not only commonplace, but a tactically important element of the game. This is revolting to American football fans, who would never condone such cowardly behavior. We expect our football players never to back down and to always meet force with force. Imagine if you saw the New York Giants fake injuries in order to gain a competitive advantage. There is that argument ruined, but the larger point remains. We don’t do that…for the most part…at least not in football…for the most part, and we find it hard when people from that sort of athletic cultural background try to pontificate on our brutal sport.
 
For these reasons Bundchen was ripped in the media, but that was only the start. The next thing I knew, ESPN’s Sarah Spain wrote some weird article about Bundchen and the Eve complex and man’s tendency to blame woman for his problems. I was confused at first, because who on earth would actually blame Bundchen for the loss? I thought Spain had gone off the reservation in the vein of Jemele Hill, and was just doing some good ole fashion sexist baiting to bump up her article views. But then another sports journalist comes out with reports that Patriots’ talk radio is writhing with blame for Bunchen...

 
Babbling Jesus we are grasping at straws here! Some vapid Brazilian supermodel makes a few off-hand remarks when cornered by a bunch of New York drunkards and suddenly we are discussing Eve complexes and the legacy of Yoko Ono…I’m glad this season is over. I can’t take any more of these brainless implications.
 
Newbs
 
The Super Bowl is kind of like Christmas Mass, it’s attended by a lot of people who haven’t set foot in a church since this time last year. It’s always a strange feeling when something crops up that makes you realize this. You spend six months watching this sport every weekend, and you are part of a shared football culture. There is a certain set of beliefs and knowledge that we all come to know and to assume that others know.
 
But then the Super Bowl comes along and suddenly there are a lot of strange faces you’ve never seen before, trying to speak a language they don’t even understand. Suddenly Al Michaels has to come back from commercial to explain to the audience why there is a two-point score on the board. Well I guess that’s what happens when niche violence and simulated warfare take on international appeal for one day.
 
Despite the strange jolts these foreigners to football give us lifers, their culture shock must be all the greater. For instance when Jake Ballard was injured. Immediately after telling us that Ballard had torn his ACL, signaling an entry into a viscous cycle of surgery and relearning to walk that would threaten his 2012 season, Michaels said, “Now 3rd and 5 from the 40 yard line.”
 
Welcome to a sport so unceasingly brutal that when a guy tears his knee up we still press on to the next play as if he had the hiccups. We can’t miss a second after all. There is hardware on the line, not to mention a lot of ad revenue. This is not a sport for the casual viewer or the faint of heart. It’s good that we make them as uncomfortable as they make us.
 
Danger Close
 
If you need any reminder of the high-profile nature of the Super Bowl, here it is. They built a damn sniper nest into Lucas Oil Stadium! It’s quite an ominous scene, but like Douglas Saffir, I could only wonder why they took these pictures, and how did they get published?
 
Super Bowl MVP
 
Super Bowl MVP has been, and largely is a quarterbacks’ award, like most of the high-end glory in the NFL. Out of 46 Super Bowl MVP’s, 25 have been quarterbacks, eight have been defensive players (of any position), and only one special teamer has ever earned the award. It’s understandable given the nature of the game and the importance of the quarterback.
 
This year Eli Manning won the award, and while he certainly wasn’t undeserving there were probably two others who were more deserving. Bear with me on this first one. Punter Steve Weatherford had a fantastic day punting. All but one of his four punts were downed inside the ten, and two were downed in the shadow of the Patriots’ goal line, including a superb coffin corner. Given the value of field position, Weatherford’s punting had a real and tangible impact on the game and indirectly led to an early safety.
 
Justin Tuck was also deserving of serious MVP considerations. It was his pressure that led Brady into the intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety. Midway through the third quarter Tuck sacked Brady on third down. The sack ended the drive and apparently injured Brady, who was examined by the medical staff while Brian Hoyer started to warm up. Brady wasn’t the same after the sack. Before the hit he was 20-24, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 141.9 QB rating. After the sack, Brady went 7-16 (excluding the spike on the final drive), 75 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception, and a 32.0 QB rating. Tuck also registered a sack on the Patriots' final drive and ultimately had as much impact on the game as anyone. Oh yeah, and he wears an awesome facemask reminiscent of some menacing medieval jouster.