SUPER BOWL LVII (57) PREVIEW
Updated: Feb 8
Game On!! Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, February 12th at 6:30 PM EST. Here are a few pre-game nuggets worth sharing.
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Here at The Table we cannot even pretend to compete with the crush of Super Bowl media hype and “up close and personal” over-coverage, so we won’t even try… we’ll just add our $.02 to a few points in the rapidly growing heap of coverage. Here’s our take some of the main storylines so far–
KC Is A Great Sports Town!
The Chiefs won Super Bowls IV and LIV and lost Super Bowls I and LV. In other sports, baseball’s Kansas City Royals were formed in 1969 after the A’s left town for Oakland, and they became almost instant contenders. In 1985 they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals– their Missouri cross-state rivals– in the “I-70” World Series. They defeated the NY Mets in 2015 for their second World Series title.
Philadelphia Is A REALLY Great Sports Town!
Philly is what we might call a “4-Check City,” having won world championships in all four major professional sports– the NBA (4*), the NHL(2), and MLB (7**) in addition to the Eagles’ lone Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles lost Super Bowl XV to the Raiders, and Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots. Prior to the Super Bowl Era, the Philadelphia Eagles bested Vince Lombardi’s Packers for the 1960 NFL title.
(*2 titles as the NBA Philadelphia Warriors; **5 titles as the MLB Philadelphia A’s.)
Oh– and while we would never disparage an entire fan base, it is worth mentioning that Philly fans are notoriously rowdy… so rowdy, in fact, that in 1998 the city installed an actual courthouse under the bleachers to streamline the arraignment of drunk and/or disorderly fans.
Both Teams Are Famous For Iconic Super Bowl Touchdown Plays.
The Chiefs scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl IV on a play called “65 Toss Power Trap.” In Super Bowl LII, the Eagles broke the Internet– and the Patriots’ backs– with a fabulously-designed trick play known as the “Philly Special.”
First Time Ever– TWO African-American Quarterbacks in the Super Bowl!
That would be Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles.) Amazing, right? You’ll likely hear this story repeated ad nauseum in the build-up to the game. In our view, however, this is only news because it shouldn’t be; please notify us when two African-American head coaches– or better yet, two OWNERS of color– square off for the trophy.
Brother vs. Brother!
Travis Kelce is an All-World tight end for the Chiefs, while his less-famous brother Jason plays center for the Eagles. Their mother Donna will be wearing special attire for the game– the front of Travis’ Chiefs jersey stitched to the back half of Jason’s Eagles jersey. Although this is an unprecedented on-field match-up of siblings, Super Bowl XLVII featured the Harbaugh Brothers as opposing head coaches– Jim for the 49ers and John for the Ravens.
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But to many of us, all of the foregoing is merely trivia… as is the game itself, really, in the shadow of what we around Danny’s Table consider the most important storyline of all–
Philly Cheese Steak vs. Kansas City Barbecue
What is televised football, after all, without gutsy, beer-friendly food? HERE is a comprehensive take on the famous Philly Cheese Steak– the definition and parameters thereof, the recipe and its variants, and instructions for ordering it, along with a guide to the best places in Philly for doing so. (Pro-Tip: If you followed our Prime Rib recipe and have leftover meat in your freezer, this might be the perfect use for it.)
A Proper Spread of Kansas City Barbecue
If you are new to the BBQ art form, making your own sauce is a great way to get started. My favorite online BBQ resource (AMAZINGRIBS.COM) provides a great recipe for genuine Kansas City Barbecue Sauce, which, in its finest manifestations, is characterized by sticky thickness and the multi-layered depth of its bold flavors. The store-bought versions commonly include fake smoke flavor, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial thickeners. By making your own from scratch, you will not only avoid such culinary falsehoods but also wind up with a better-tasting sauce, with which you can turn anything from chicken to hamburgers into your very own Kansas City Barbecue. (For more about BBQ Sauce, please see this earlier essay on the topic.) And, recalling again our earlier Prime Rib recipe– if you bought a bone-in rib roast for Christmas Dinner and removed the bones prior to roasting and then froze them, they would be delicious grilled with a finishing slather of your homemade BBQ sauce.
When it comes to Football Wine, think BIG! Delicious Zins come all over the Golden State,
but Lodi is an especially great and affordable sub-region for NFL Sunday Zin.
Boldly-flavored football food cries out for cold beer, of course. And yet, as Americans become more and more wine-savvy, they increasingly pop corks instead of bottle caps for their Super Bowl sipping. If you count yourself among the ever-growing stemware set and want wine with your football, I recommend looking for what I’ve come to think of as “Ball Scratchers”– big, sturdy, and spice-friendly red wines from California, made from Zinfandel or Petite Sirah. Like good solid husbands, these wines are powerful yet uncomplicated. Look for offerings in the $8-12 range, because spending more won’t necessarily get you a better match with your tangy KC barbecue or a spicy, onion-y Philly Cheese Steak.
By that I don’t mean the usual halftime lip-synching, auto-tuned pop tart spectacle, which I typically enjoy with the sound muted and my back to the screen. (Hell, I would personally prefer they brought back "Up With People." See link below.) What I mean by “football music” is the absolutely fabulous (and often unintentionally self-parodic) theme music from NFL Films, which I love to blast in the kitchen on Super Bowl afternoons while preparing my annual feasts. A piece titled "The Autumn Wind" is the NFL Films theme song for my beloved Raiders, narrated by John Facenda, a.k.a. “The Voice of God.” The composition “Rainbows to the End Zone,” meanwhile, is just plain pretty. And who doesn’t recognize this rousing rendition of the classic sea shanty “Up She Rises?” These and many other manly-music masterpieces are available on the 10 CD set titled “Autumn Thunder.” (See also “The Power and the Glory: The Original Music & Voices of NFL Films.”) A perfunctory YouTube search will bring up individual videos for your personal compilation into a Game Day playlist.
Oh, say– can you see? In the Super Bowl Era’s first decade, the gig for performing the National Anthem mostly went to instrumentalists, marching bands, and/or children’s choirs. Since then, however, we’ve seen a democratically diversified alternation of famous vocal soloists from the musical realms of Broadway, Nashville, Memphis, Hollywood, and wherever American Idol calls home. (See complete list HERE.) This year’s National Anthem will be performed by Country star Chris Stapleton.
Most everyone old enough to remember will confirm that the late, fantastic, and beautiful Whitney Houston set an impossibly high bar in her unforgettable 1991 rendition. For properly accurate context, one should consider that America was just 10 days into the first Gulf War right then and awash with pro-USA, anti-French-Fries, flag-waving fervor when Ms. Houston let loose with her pipes, immediately followed by an F-16 flyover that reminded American and foreign viewer alike who was still boss.
But First, A VERY Expensive Word From Our Sponsors–
And finally, some people watch the Big Game not for the action on the field, nor for the food… nor, even, for the National Anthem or halftime show, but rather just to enjoy the Best Commercials Ever. That’s because, due to the exorbitant cost of Super Bowl advertising, the commercials get an extra measure of clever writing and production and are considered an art form in their own right. HERE is a recent Sporting News “Top 25” list of all-time great spots. I’ll leave you with my own picks, a trio that I actually find quite touching– “Commander” (Audi, 2016), “God Made a Farmer” (Dodge Trucks, 2013), and Budweiser’s 2002 tribute that ran just 5 months after the 9/11 attacks.
We at The Table wish all of you all a safe, exciting, delicious, and entertaining Super Bowl Sunday. May the better team not get screwed out of a Lombardi Trophy by lousy officiating.
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Most of the vintage NFL FILMS music was performed and recorded in (West) Berlin, where the world-class yet underpaid musicians of NINE sitting symphony orchestras filled the cafés and often welcomed the opportunity for a little side-hustle here and there… hence the surprisingly keen musicianship in the execution of these artistically naive compositions.
John Facenda may have been “The Voice of God,” but he had nothing over Paul Harvey, whose 1978 address to the Future Farmers of America convention formed the basis of the “God Made a Farmer” commercial. HERE is an interesting and informative piece in THE ATLANTIC about Mr. Harvey.
After the “Commander” ad ran, many online commenters questioned the wisdom of putting a doddering and perhaps cognitively compromised former astronaut behind the wheel of a 205 MPH sports car just to cheer him up. Given that it’s just an ad, I feel safe in suggesting that the old man’s test pilot reflexes are probably still sharp enough to satisfy his “need for speed” without threatening public safety. He got a billion-dollar rocket to the damn moon and back, after all… let’s cut him some slack and allow him that joy ride in the Audi if it raises his flagging spirits.
And finally, due to some utterly perplexing Internet glitches way above my pay grade, I was unable to post hyperlinks to "Up With People," "John Facenda," and "The Autumn Wind" in the body of this essay. I highly recommend watching all three-- "Up With People" is the most hilariously outrageous halftime show EVER; the "John Facenda" clip is a fantastic snapshot of football in the 1960's; and "The Autumn Wind" stirs the blood of Raider Nation like nothing else anywhere.