All Points West: How the Big Game became bigger
     2016-02-05      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
Half a century has gone by.

The NFL has cultivated fans for that long. America was built on choice, and Americans had the best of it with a smorgasbord of games offered up by both the National Football League and the American Football League, organizations which eventually morphed into the NFC and the AFC. The game was billed a monumental tilt between the old AFL and the old NFL after a merger of the two professional football leagues was announced on June 8, 1966.

In that fateful game, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers defeated the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, on Jan. 15, 1967, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the first Super Bowl. Prognosticators said the superior teams hailed from the NFL, and they were proven right, at least for one day.

And so it began.

This year, taking center stage at Levi Stadium in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, a franchise founded in 1995, will battle for bragging rights on Sunday. The favored Panthers (no surprise there) led by QB Cam Newton pummeled Arizona, 49-15, while the Broncos defeated the New England Patriots, 20-18, leaving the No. 1 seeds of both conferences alive and their seasons intact.

There are so many sidebars to the big event, it’s hard to keep up. After this game, Denver QB Peyton Manning may call it quits after 17 seasons. You’ll also notice the NFL thankfully ditched the Roman Numeral “L,” and went with the a big Five-Oh, which flanks the Lombardi Trophy on the game’s official logo this year. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Rolling Stone the main reason for the change was to avoid its association with the word “loser.”
Also, I’m not sure if this is breaking any records, but L.A. Times business writer David Lazarus says bettors, ranging from the seasoned sports book guys who regularly make the rounds in Vegas to the friendly handshake wager crowd, will spend at least $4.2 billion this year, according to the American Game Assn. If last year’s game between the Pats and Seattle Seahawks is any kind of gauge, about 114 million viewers will tune in. This year’s game is likely to be televised in about 180 countries in at least 25 languages. Compared with the first Super Bowl of about 50 million viewers, the growth of the NFL can’t be understated. That translates into big advertising dollars. Fortune says 30-second spots for the Super Bowl will sell for as much as $5 million, according to CBS president and chief executive Leslie Moonves.

How do Nebraskans see the game, and through what lens? To me, a lifelong Bronco fan, a similar feeling is inspired by a sea of red, a winning tradition, a revered and legendary coach in Tom Osborne, a recruiting machine looking to return Big Red to prominence and dominance, with many of the players maybe making it into the NFL, and a chance to one day, star in a Super Bowl down the road.

What must the game look like to someone who has never seen it, nor experienced the excitement in cheering by watching it in a friend’s living room, crowding around a kitchen, packing into a sports bar, or having the thousands of dollars it now takes to buy tickets to attend the game in person.

The game is a war. It’s guttural, brute force on brute force with nuances of grace, ballet catches by receivers, running backs hurdling over linebackers. Manning yells “Omaha” on almost every play, while making adjustments behind or under center.

Newton launches a 60-yarder downfield, while nimble Broncos Linebacker Von Miller, leveraging his way past behemoth lineman, brings him down – much like a lion leaps on a gazelle. We get to live our lives vicariously through these super men, if you will, for four hours of the spectacular.

Lest I wax poetic too much about the game, infected by this disease we call sports fanaticism, let’s remember, too, that it is only a game.

The late Andy Griffith, in his entertaining and unique prose, “They Call It Football,” probably described the game the best, while putting into perspective what we have made so great in our minds.

In this excerpt, Griffith wrote:

“Well, we commenced to go through all kinds of doors and gates and I don’t know what all, and I looked up over one of ’em and it says North Gate, and we kept on a-goin’ through there, and pretty soon we come up on a young boy. And he says ticket, please. And, I says friend, I don’t have a ticket. I don’t even know where it is that I’m a-goin’. I did! Well he says, come out as quick as you can.
And I says, I’ll do ’er. I’ll turn around the first chance I get.

Well, we kept on a-movin’ through there and pretty soon everyone got where it was that they was agoin’ because they parted and I could see pretty good. I could! And, what I seen was this whole raft a people a-settin’ on these two banks and a-lookin’ at one another across’t this purty little green cow pasture! Well, they was! And somebody had took and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it and I don’t know what all! And I looked down there and I seen five or six convicts a-runnin up and down and a-blowin whistles! They was!

And then I looked down there and I seen these pretty girls a-wearin’ these little bitty short dresses and a-dancin’ around, and so I set down and thought I’d see what it was that was a-gonna happen. I did! And about the time I got set down good, I looked down there and I seen thirty or forty men come a-runnin’ out of one end of a great big outhouse down there! They did! And everybody where I was a-settin’ got up and hollered! And about that time thirty or forty come a-runnin’ out of the other end of that outhouse and the other bank full THEY got up and hollered!
And I asked this feller that was a-settin beside me: I says friend, what is it that they’re a-hollerin’ for? Well he whopped me on the back and he says, buddy, have a drink!”

All over 11 inches of a brown leather casing filled with air, weighing 14 to 15 ounces – an object with an oblong shape which has caused grown men to joyously yelp and to heave uncontrollable sobs, all at the same time.

Enjoy the big game folks!

Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Morning friend!
Recently Read Sports
1326All Points West: How the Big Game became bigger
765Senior Legion 36ers back on winning streak
684Hot-shooting Bearcats sweep Sidney, Alliance
664Krzyzanowski wins 6th meet of year at Alliance: Scottsbluff takes 5th team title of season, Gering finishes in 2nd
796Bearcats spike host Bulldogs in volleyball sweep: Gering, Scottsbluff have final home matches Thursday night
912Third annual 3D archery shootout at Wildcat Hills
884Gering basketball back in the winning groove
675 Valley natives fuel Chadron State win
1112All Points West: Huskers leave nothing to chance
1424Running slow to go fast
752Final Point: This year, it’s a team effort for Bulldog golfers
745Minatare Indians young but excited for season
682Cardinals rally to down Bearcats for conference title
1637Bulldogs will be a ‘young, dangerous’ team
865Gering shoots to defend winning season
1400All Points West: Huskers should make most of bowl
818G.G.S.A umpires call it like they see it
1441Kimball tops at Bayard golf invite
643Bulldogs preparing for season
974Bradley, Garcia fuel Minatare past Arcadia for 1st win
Most Read Sports 2012
3920Mitchell track off to a strong start
3796Morrill baseball back in business
3203Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2992Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2904Gering wrestling builds on experience
2804Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2640Raising the bar high
2595Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2579Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2566Gering resident lives his dream
2544All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2458All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2404Doing the heavy lifting
2336Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2308Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2290Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2241Beam to golf at Midland
2214Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2131Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
2069New Bayard coach looks for productive season
Most Read Sports 2011
3920Mitchell track off to a strong start
3796Morrill baseball back in business
3203Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2992Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2904Gering wrestling builds on experience
2804Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2640Raising the bar high
2595Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2579Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2566Gering resident lives his dream
2544All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2458All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2404Doing the heavy lifting
2336Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2308Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2290Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2241Beam to golf at Midland
2214Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2131Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
2069New Bayard coach looks for productive season
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
Hale Multimedia LLC
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on