If you keep in mind no other words from the millions that will be thrown at the Super Bowl the next few days, remember these:
There will be a game.
I can almost promise, there will be a game.
Keep saying that when the build-up gets too much, when you grow bored watching the nonsense chase its own tail, when you hear so much of Bill Belichick that he starts to sound engaging (honestly, he almost did Monday). It will help, trust me.
You shouldn’t have to go through six days of pot and pan rattling to get to the meal. If weddings went this long before arriving at the honeymoon, no one would ever get married.
Heaven help us, Monday, Opening Night at State Farm Arena, was only the beginning of Atlanta’s Super Bowl week. The NFL has crossed a press conference with a game show and come up with some kind of affront to man and nature, the X Games of interview sessions.
“This is exhausting already,” said Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay, a first-timer, halfway through the introductions fit for a conqueror of Troy and an hour-long siege by a revolving circle of 50 media members, any 10 of whom could actually hear his answers at any one time.
There will be a game, coach. There will be a game.
We saw the Rams defensive end Ethan Westbrooks eat a cricket offered by a Spanish-speaking TV hostess dressed in a flowing red gown and matching sombrero. Westbrooks turned down the worm on the platter. He’s going to need to get tougher. (There will be a game).
We saw the Patriots grump in residence, Belichick, actually play along with a schtick. Someone asked him to pull out a slip of paper from a white football helmet, bearing the name of some contemporary performer. Could he identify the star? And, rather than freeze the fellow with the ice ray that shoots from his eyes, Belichick actually did it. Twice. He failed the first time, and the second went no better. “Cmon, give me a football question,” he said. He’ll be here all week, be sure to tip your waitress. (There will be a game).
We saw one clown working the room, rainbow wig and all. Many others were working undercover. (There will be a game).
We heard Patriots happy-go-lucky tight end Rob Gronkowski talk about the possibility of going to Shaq O’Neal’s Fun House party Friday night at The Battery, and perhaps ride aboard the host’s shoulders. I think he was kidding. (There will be a game).
Thankfully, this first overdone thing is now behind us, on to the next. So, let us review and look at a few of the winners and losers from Super Bowl LIII Opening Night at State Farm Arena:
Loser: State Farm Arena. All redone, it’s lovely, but no basketball court is large enough to accommodate the ambitions the NFL has for this event (in Houston two years ago, the scene was a major league baseball park). I may have to get a television tripod surgically removed. Yeah, it was crowded down there.
Winner: Patriots fans. They dominated the scene in the stands, portending a week in which the streets of Atlanta will sound like one long outtake from “The Departed.”
Winner: Marist High School. McVay was pumping up his old Alma Mater for the international media, telling the world he wouldn’t be here without the place. They should name a hall after him.
Loser: Rams running back Todd Gurley. Really, wearing sunglasses indoors, at night? Has the Bulldog gone Hollywood?
Winner: Belichick. I saw him actually break into laughter, and the earth didn’t cleave nor the seas boil.
Winner: Tom Brady. Because, well, he’s Tom Brady. We can even forgive the fact he was the only guy who brought a personal water bottle and wouldn’t share whatever was in it. I wanted to become magically 15 years younger, too.
Little of Monday had anything to do with a game. It will get better. There will be a game, rumor has it, Sunday night at a billion-dollar stadium near you.