In a Super Bowl run-up almost completely devoid of weirdness, contention, absurdity or ghastliness, it should be come as little surprise that nobody has made a thing of San Francisco shutting down the parade route for the team they no longer have a week ahead of time.
And yes, the fact that the above sentence is laden with falsehoods makes no difference. In Super Bowl Week, everything is typically a lie and thus totally believable. It’s just that in this Super Bowl, it seems nobody has the will or desire to turn the football game into a clown car of bad behavior. It’s just the annual trade show, only this time there is no open bar.
But first, the parade route. The people who run San Francisco, where the 49ers don’t play, decided months ago to turn Market Street into a carless promenade, an attempt to solve the daily mega-gridlock that begins early each day, takes an hour off, and then resumes again. Fine, social planning. No big deal.
Only it is also the planned parade route in case the 49ers win Sunday because Santa Clara, where they do play, doesn’t really have an equivalent, well, anything. That, plus the 49ers have been feuding with the local government there for years now, which in many ways makes Levi’s Stadium a shining beacon of modern life.
Still, under normal circumstances, an opponent other than Kansas City would turn this into a testament of 49er hubris by concocting some “See, they don’t respect us!” story line that fans could glom onto in their drunken lie-to-me hazes. You know damned well that Patriot fans would.
But the Patriots aren’t here. The Chiefs are, and in all ways join the 49ers in a festival of likability that has chilled the fake animosity into a cool frothy grayness, even though both teams wear red and will create on game day a gigantic amorphous blood clot of humanity that will make everything seem like the Ohio State spring game.
And all attempts to find contention in Miami have failed. Richard Sherman’s one vitriolic target this week was Jim Harbaugh, who is still at Michigan and not even part of the NFL charnel house. Patrick Mahomes is everyone’s favorite new toy, the kid who throws from all angles and positions and still finds his target, and Jimmy Garoppolo is Dreamboat Willie, the model in pads who has completed more than a hundred handoffs in a row. Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan have been almost fawning in their praise for each other, and Mike Shanahan has laid low so as not upstage his son–all disgustingly admirable things.
Clark Hunt is that rare owner who wields power without being obnoxious about it and Jed York is that rare owner who was once vilified and now in his moment of triumph has not used it as an opportunity to lash out at his enemies. Also, neither of them have been caught at a local massage joint, so no joke fodder there. Almost nobody paid attention to Roger Goodell’s State of The Bank speech, which normally boils the blood with the pure power of naked rapaciousness.
In very small addition, the minimal point spread (Chiefs -1 for all but about 20 minutes of the Super Bowl fortnight) means that nobody gets to act like the aggrieved underdog, the bullying favorite, or even the we-get-no-respect brigade. Nobody is shrieking “NOBODY THOUGHT WE’D BE HERE!” because nobody on either team thought they would be.
There is, frankly, no villain here, and no villainy. And there is nobody who could convincingly play the part the way the Patriots always have. It’s that most horrifying of events–The Game That In The Absence Of All Idiotic Distractions Is Going To Be The Game.
Of course, the stupefyingly somber beginning to the week may have something to do with it. The helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, four other adults and four children including one of his own Sunday was a high-velocity knee to the stomach across all social strata, thus putting this Super Bowl and its practiced garishness into a small corner of the national consciousness.
But it is fair to suspect that this Super Bowl week would have little sturm und drang even if last Sunday’s devastating news hadn’t happened, that this would have been a Super Bowl of unrelieved blah even after you filter out the 10 percent that is Miami willing to do literally anything to literally anything to get people’s attention.
This may change, of course, as the Super Bowl is always one undercover cop, one trip across the border, one pants-dropping at a practice away from being the cartoon it always strives to be. This still could be our national piefight. There just doesn’t seem to be much will to inflate this game to its normally ridiculous shapes this time. Maybe we’re just not that country any more, and it’s hard to know whether that’s maturity, exhaustion or general unfocused disgust with the hellscape of everything and everyone.
I know which way I’m voting.
Ray Ratto is a vagrant of no discernible accomplishment.
1) $500 no one mentions that Colin Kaepernick brought the 49ers to their last Super Bowl
2) $1,000,000,000 no one mentions that Tyreek punched his pregnant girlfriend and that Frank Clark punched a woman
February 1, 2020 — 9:05 am
Duke of Dabar says:
+1 take your star you bastard
February 1, 2020 — 11:38 pm
Tyreek strangled his pregnant girlfriend and beat that child after it was born, Frank Clark hit his girlfriend and then threatened a reporter who wrote a story about it
February 2, 2020 — 9:40 am
This is good Kinja +1
February 2, 2020 — 4:35 pm
Personally, I’m thrilled with this. I don’t have to wake up feeling like evil won again, no matter who wins.
February 1, 2020 — 9:14 am
It’s the NFL. Even always wins.
February 1, 2020 — 2:20 pm
Evil, fuck you Kinja.
February 1, 2020 — 2:21 pm
February 1, 2020 — 3:50 pm
Caviar SmokeBoy says:
Everyone whines about the Pats being in the Super Bowl every year, but they always have an exciting game.
February 1, 2020 — 9:17 am
The 2019 Super Bowl would like a word.
February 1, 2020 — 11:26 am
Maybe more of a grunt and a vague gesture
February 1, 2020 — 1:34 pm
Did you watch last year?
February 1, 2020 — 2:43 pm
Couldn’t be more excited for this game. Obviously the two best teams all season going head to head. Both likeable, young teams with a ton of high end talent. It all sounds boring and cliche I guess, but it genuinely seems like a great matchup. Feels like a new era of talent being ushered in as well. Anyway, love you Ray!
February 1, 2020 — 9:18 am
Lee Carney says:
Pity we didn’t get the Chiefs-Ravens AFC championship game to know if your comment about these being the 2 best times is correct (I tend to believe it is, but would’ve still loved to watch that game)
February 1, 2020 — 10:02 am
Window Cleaner says:
Further proof that it is correct is the fact that the Ravens didn’t make it to the AFC championship.
February 1, 2020 — 4:18 pm
Souper Bowl fan says:
I figure the best way to root against the Patriots is to root for Jimmy Garoppolo to be the MVP tomorrow.
February 1, 2020 — 9:20 am
Nah, knowing Pats fans they’ll just treat it like a pseudo-Patriots victory if the Niners win. They’ll claim he brought the “Patriots Way”™ to San Fran or some such garbage.
February 1, 2020 — 9:29 am
Caviar SmokeBoy says:
Yes, yes we will.
February 1, 2020 — 9:51 am
Lee Carney says:
Again, wish we could upvote or like comments
February 1, 2020 — 10:00 am
Caviar Smokeboy says:
February 1, 2020 — 10:14 am
February 2, 2020 — 10:36 am
Spanfeller is a Herb says:
Yeah I have a bit of a rooting interest for KC but won’t be too sad if the Niners win
February 1, 2020 — 9:22 am
Like all great comics, the true villain only reveals himself and his scheme at the end of the game. That villain will be a cop, working security, who gets bumped while a team celebrates. Filing a lawsuit will be his master scheme all along.
February 1, 2020 — 9:37 am
I figure if KC loses to SF there’s a good chance they’ll pull a Royals and come back next year to win.
February 1, 2020 — 1:01 pm
Lil Dave says:
Nice to have you back Mr. Ratto
February 1, 2020 — 9:31 am
February 1, 2020 — 10:17 am
Yes, +1 to Mr. Ratto being able to take a break from his vagrancy to blog again.
February 1, 2020 — 2:04 pm
Clark Hunt’s grandfather was one of the goons responsible for unleashing Phyllis Schlafly on the world, who in turn was one of the misbegotten parents of the modern conservative movement.
February 1, 2020 — 9:32 am
From The Stacks: More about Clark Hunt’s grandfather:
February 1, 2020 — 9:41 am
Lee Carney says:
I wish this site let us upvote comments
But that’s a small quibble, its a joy to have the writers and the comments community back in my life
February 1, 2020 — 9:59 am
Dear bloggers: is it so wrong that once you guys quit your blog, I went to the website and bought a “stick to sports” t-shirt? Did the corporate people understand the irony of selling that shirt?
February 1, 2020 — 9:32 am
I mean, at any point have Spanfeller and his cronies seemed like they understand irony?
February 1, 2020 — 9:53 am
Do they understand anything? Considering their ideal business model was to squeeze every last cent out of G/O then scrap it and sell it for parts, their big gambit killed the golden goose before it could lay an egg.
February 1, 2020 — 10:18 am
Don Slaughterhousefive says:
This Super Bowl is the MS paint of Super Bowls.
February 1, 2020 — 9:38 am
As a Bostonian who watched the Super Bowl 18 years ago harboring similarly optimistic thoughts to Ratto’s “No villains” line above, I can only offer this meager advice:
You fools. This is how it starts.
February 1, 2020 — 9:43 am
Cryptkeeper Al Davis says:
Tomahawk chop: even if this game is villain-free, it won’t be stupidity free.
February 1, 2020 — 1:54 pm
I didn’t want to dilute the point of my comment, but yeah, the tomohawk-chopping explodes the idea that both of these are likeable franchises, about as much as Kaepernick’s erasure from the history of the 49ers.
February 1, 2020 — 2:09 pm
Eyes Wide Right says:
Well, there is that fancy dog that peed on the rug looking for attention…
February 1, 2020 — 9:48 am
Caviar SmokeBoy says:
Everyone whines about the Pats being in it every year and now everyone is collectively yawning.
February 1, 2020 — 9:52 am
No, not yawning, simply relieved we won’t have to deal with a another Spygate or Deflategate or Handjobgate with the Patriots. That stuff is exhausting.
February 1, 2020 — 12:33 pm
February 1, 2020 — 12:37 pm
Lee Carney says:
I know he’ll hate reading this on the very unlikely chance that he does, but its a joy to be able to read Ray again
Even here in Sydney, from a man who’s never set foot in America, your writing is appreciated Ray
February 1, 2020 — 9:58 am
Eagles fan, Andy Reid hater. Even winning one of our own finally has not changed my feelings toward that fat fuck. He’s Marty Schottenheimer 2.0, so I don’t get the groundswell of support for him to win one. Go Niners.
February 1, 2020 — 10:19 am
Well Placed Rocket says:
Also Eagles fan. I heart the guy. He is one of the few coaches who designs playbooks around his team, rather than the inverse. Players like him. Some sportswriter somewhere (maybe Deadspin? I dunno) once described him as a “powerful but slow football mind” which feels accurate to me. Now let us burst into unimaginable violence over this disagreement the way everyone wants and expects us to.
February 1, 2020 — 11:42 am
I mean, I’m game if you are…
February 1, 2020 — 1:41 pm
Adam Schwartz says:
Can we all meet in Temecula? All of UTSB and the commenters
February 2, 2020 — 1:21 pm
Cody Quinn says:
If only we were able to enjoy these kind of musings on a regular basis.
February 1, 2020 — 10:20 am
Benalish Dad says:
February 1, 2020 — 4:29 pm
I’m gonna enjoy that for once I won’t actively root against one of the teams in the game. Just makes it pleasant when you don’t have to watch the Pats inevitably dogshit their way to still another win.
February 1, 2020 — 11:33 am
Luke Skywanker says:
Fuck yes! Ray is back!
February 1, 2020 — 12:32 pm
Common Man Randy Savage says:
“As the world burns around us, it is but a blessing we can turn to the Superb Owl for much needed bloodsport diversion.”
February 1, 2020 — 12:48 pm
Shankless Al says:
Well! I’m sure Jim Tomsula will have something to say about THIS!!
February 1, 2020 — 12:53 pm
Count Tolstoy says:
I’m just happy that this year’s game will be watchable
Last year looked like 2000s Big Ten toliet bowl football
February 1, 2020 — 3:37 pm
What time is it though
February 1, 2020 — 4:54 pm