Tampa Fla. Your time is valuable, so we’re here to help.
You could spend the next 144 hours reading about Super Bowl XLIII, and you still might not get to that story about Willie Parker’s butterfly collection.
Why should you care about Willie’s butterflies?
Because we’ve entered our nation’s most hallowed hype week. It’s downright un-American to put your family, your job and your personal hygiene ahead of your game preparation.
At the risk of being labeled a Dixie Chick, you may have better things to do than study Pittsburgh’s blitz package.
As a public service, our staff of NFL experts has identified this week’s pre-eminent story lines.
Just devote a couple of minutes to reading them. Then you’ll be able to fake your way through any Super Bowl conversation, unless it has to do with butterflies.
From the Chicken Little tone in the news, you’d think Roger Goodell will be selling pencils outside Raymond James Stadium to help pay the NFL’s catering bill. Tampa is feeling some economic pinch, like the cancellation of the Playboy party. But an excellent economic barometer is strip clubs. The Mons Venus will have $50 and $60 cover charges, up from its usual $15. Employees will be charging $60 per lap dance. In the battle of Recession Blues vs. Football & Libido, always bet on the Super Bowl.
He’s not here, but 94.7 percent of all football stories the past month have contained his name. In keeping with that theme, the question must be asked: If Tebow played for Arizona, would Pittsburgh lose by 35 points or not even bother to show up?
Hines Ward’s wounded knee
The Steelers’ go-to receiver, Ward sprained his right knee in the AFC title game, ensuring we’d have another riveting medical drama (see: Tom Brady’s ankle in 2008, Terrell Owens’ ankle in 2005, Terry Bradshaw’s brain any year). The player always swears he’ll be all right, but will he really be functional? Expect the usual cloak-and-dagger featuring hourly updates from orthopedic consultants, unnamed sources and the limo driver who’ll claim he secretly drove Ward to a faith healer in Pinellas Park.
Arizona’s quarterback has enough material to fill NBC’s 128-hour (slight exaggeration) pregame show. Rags-to-riches Super Bowl winner with St. Louis. Married to Type A Cloris Leachman clone. Abducted by aliens and held hostage for five years. Resurfaced in desert with revived skills and a wife who looks like Nicollette Sheridan. She’s in Makeover Hall of Fame. This week’s big debate is whether Kurt should join her in football’s Hall if he beats the Steelers?
Steeler Nation vs. Cardinal Country
If the Super Bowl were the Oscars, this would be Daniel Day-Lewis against Larry the Cable Guy. Pittsburgh has five Super Bowl trophies. It has legions of black-and-gold disciples spread across America. It has Chuck Noll and the Steel Curtain. Arizona has Joe Bugel. What’s a franchise like that doing in a game like this? Beats me, but if the Cards win, expect the Cable Guy to get the next lead in Macbeth.