Super Bowl XLV's Real MVP: The Game Itself


Timothy A. Clary

How the Packers' victory over the Steelers proves the old "Super Bowl is always a blowout" meme is officially dead.

Yeehaw! Now, that was a game.

For all the bad weather and canceled events, and the surprising amount of surliness from supposedly hospitable Texans, Super Bowl XLV turned out just fine. In fact, in honor of the late, Cowboy great Don Meredith, let's just go ahead and call this one a dandy.

There's no question who starred—and it wasn't anyone in uniform. It wasn't a player. Not even Aaron Rodgers, named MVP just as these words were being typed. The star sure wasn't the Black Eyed Peas, overwhelmed by their own (admittedly dazzling) production values and (star-studded) guest list.

The MVP of this game, as Roger Goddell predicted in his "State of the League" speech this week, was the game itself—the sheer, unmitigated, unapologetic, unrelenting hype and spectacle of pro football at its best.

Sure, the weather helped. After days of snow and slush, the sun at last came out for a few hours on Sunday—giving fans an idea of what the week was supposed to feel like. But, frankly, there could have been a downpour or tropical heat wave outside. No one would notice inside the palace that is Cowboy Stadium. People may love to hate Jerry Jones for building this tribute to excess, but mercy how it works on a day like this one.

In person, the massive video screens above the field are utterly fabulous, as vivid as advertised. The concourses are clean and wide, and even the pavement was buffed to a high sheen. The staff was universally helpful—or at least they tried to be. Sure, the food and drink were insanely overpriced. Yes, soda was seven bucks. Hot dogs were ten, the "Cowboyrita" was $19.00, and souvenir t-shirts were $30 or more. Whatever. If you want a bargain, you've come to the wrong event. And city. And state.

All that matters is that the old "Super Bowl is always a blowout" meme is finally, officially dead. Somewhere along the line—maybe starting with the Titans and Rams, fans started expecting the Super Bowl to be a good game. More frequently than not, we haven't been let down. Today, certainly, was just damn fine football.

But, now, as Dandy Don used to sing, the party's over. Now, before we can see another snap, the owners and players union have to work out a new CBA, and despite assurances to the contrary by the powers that be, a lockout is very real possibility.

So savor this one, folks. Dissect the game and ads, and make fun of Christina's monumental flub. Celebrate the Pack and Steel Curtain. Celebrate everything about the legalistic and technocratic, yet savagely beautiful game of American professional football. Revel in it, because Super Bowl XLV could be the last we will see of pro football for a very, very long time.

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Hampton Stevens is a writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN the Magazine, Playboy, Gawker, Maxim, and many more publications.

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