There are many different levels of NFL fanhood. And on Super Bowl Sunday, NFL fans from many varied walks of life will come together at sports bars and living rooms across the country. You may meet some people for the first time this Sunday, and you'll do a well-known dance in your first conversation with that person - the Dance of NFL Knowledge.
It works like this: you start simply, with something like "Do you think the Giants have a chance?" Then you set off a series of responses, where you and your adversary attempt to show off exactly what you know. And eventually, you discover that the person you're talking to is at one of these levels:
1) Dabbler - These don't actually know much about football, and do most of the listening while you talk. They qualify all their statements with "I heard," or "It seems," so they won't sound like a moron if they're wrong. For example, "I heard that Eli Manning hasn't thrown an interception in a while."
2) Fantasy Freak - These people are given away by making statements that overvalue touchdowns, such as "Clinton Portis and Joseph Addai are WAY better than Willie Parker," "Frank Gore had a lousy year," and "Jeff Garcia isn't a top ten QB." They know little about coaches and schemes, but know every team's backup running back. They almost never talk about defense.
3) Sportscentered - All they know is what Chris Berman tells them. They know all the quick-sell storylines, like Das Boot, Randy's restraining order, everything there is to know about Spygate, and so forth. They can name pretty much anyone on New England's starting roster, but only know four starters on the Titans.
4) Home Slice - They can give you history on their home team going back at least 20 years, and if you try to tell them about their team's weakness, they'll have a very good argument to shoot you down. Then you bring up the Browns, and they say, "Oh, man, are they ever going to be any good?" You point out that they went 10-6, and they say, "No s**t! Really?"
5) True Junkie - They read SI.com, Yahoo! Sports, and/or ESPN.com religiously, and have informed opinions about most players, coaches, teams, and even stadiums. The farther the team is from New York City, however, the less they know about them. The name Kirk Morrison is only vaguely familiar. It's not their fault, it's the media's.
6) NFL Nutcase - They read the above online media, and tell you why the experts are wrong. They probably have their own sports blog. They're probably either single, or they have a very understanding girlfriend/wife. Or if they're female, they have a very lucky boyfriend/husband. They can tell you why the Dolphins shouldn't use their first draft pick on a quarterback. And most importantly, they can tell you facts you'll never read elsewhere, not even in Dr. Z's column.
I'm very good at this dance. People see me, a skinny theatre guy who likes expensive beers, and figure "This guy wants to talk football? I'll eat him alive!" And they prove to be in the Sportscentered or Home Slice category, and they walk away baffled that they just talked to an NFL Nutcase.
So let's say you want to win the dance, but are afraid of being upstaged by a Nutcase such as myself. Well, here are a bunch of fun facts about the Super Bowl that you won't hear them bring up during the telecast. They will make you seem 10 times smarter, guaranteed or your money back (minus an $8.95 processing fee).
- 1) This is the 2nd Super Bowl ever hosted in Arizona. The removes it from a tie for last place among places that have a hosted a Super Bowl with Minnesota. It now ties Michigan and Texas for 2nd to last place.
- 2) This is the first Super Bowl in over a year to feature fewer than three Mannings.
- 3) This is the first Super Bowl since 2003 not to feature a team with an animal nickname.
- 4) The Giants haven't lost to the Patriots since Dec. 29, 2007.
- 5) 13 Super Bowls have featured a head coach named Bill (the most common occurrence). 7 Super Bowls have featured a head coach named Tom (2nd most). This is the first Bill vs. Tom matchup in history.
- 6) This year's NFL Championship weekend featured four teams with two-word city names, for the first time in history.
- 7) The Patriots are the first Super Bowl participant with two WRs who gained over 1100 yards since Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis.
- 8) Eli Manning has never thrown an interception in the Super Bowl.
- 9) This is the first Super Bowl in over 700 days to feature fewer than 3 1st-round draft picks at running back.
- 10) This is only the third Super Bowl since 2001 to not feature a kicker named Adam.
- 11) This is only the second time since Super Bowl XXXIX that the state of Pennsylvania has not been represented.
- 12) Brandon Jacobs' 1009 yards this season were the most by a Giant since Tiki Barber's retirement.
- 13) This is only the ninth time in 11 years that Mike Shanahan's team has not gotten to the Super Bowl.
- 14) No Super Bowl quarterback since Tom Brady has defeated an opposing quarterback who was drafted higher than him.
- 15) This is the first SB this decade to not feature a single back who rushed for more than 1050 yards.
- 16) Only three teams have ever won the Super Bowl after winning the NFC championship by 3 points or fewer.
- 17) Tom Brady has the 2nd-highest passer rating (117.2) of any QB on a Super Bowl roster since at least 2000. He trails teammate Matt Gutierrez (118.8).
- 18) Ahmad Bradshaw is the first rookie running back to appear in the Super Bowl since Cedric Benson and Joseph Addai.
- 19) This is the first time since 1991 that the Giants have appeared in the Super Bowl without Kerry Collins at quarterback.
- 20) Belichick and Coughlin share the honor of being the first white head coaches in the Super Bowl since SB XL.
And now, you know everything there is to know about football, and you'll look like a genius. Go get 'em, tiger.