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CLICHÉ WEEK

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By Gregg L. Hayim

Brace yourself, because it’s coming. When the NFL brain trust decided upon the brilliant idea of a two week separation between championship week and Super Bowl Sunday, certainly they failed to take into account the sports writers, radio-show hosts and fans that tire easily from the seemingly unending repetition.

Let’s be honest, despite the endless complexities of football, there is only so much dissection and analysis the average fan can handle. Seven days is plenty of time for the John Clayton’s of the world to enlighten us on the supposed game plans, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, etc. of both teams. Seven days, and then what? You guessed it, seven more, in a week that I have come to refer to as cliché week.

By Monday afternoon, as it always does, the proverbial well will ran dry on the media. This inherent problem accompanying a game of this magnitude leaves the NFL hype machine with quite a dilemma. The Super Bowl is everyone’s top story. Fourteen days is a long time to drag out that story. What’s the media to do when the breakdown of X’s and O’s has been hammered home to the point where their very mention seems as interesting as yet another Manning brother home-video montage?

They invent stories. That’s what they do. The talks shift from Brian Urlacher chasing down Peyton Manning, to Peyton Manning chasing down demons, or something similarly imaginative. The Mark Schlereth and Jon Ron Jaworski technical experts of the world take a back seat to the Jim Nantz’s and Bob Costas’s as their flair for theatrics take center stage.

Truth be told, I probably would have a different take on the issue if the media circus revolved around the Jets. If this were the case, I suppose I would care about all the inconsequential sub-plots and tidbits that are so carelessly presented as “news�. Perhaps, it would seem important that Jon Vilma has run out of deodorant or that Jericho Cotchery accidentally trimmed his cuticles too close. Maybe the implication of Dwayne Robertson’s satellite dish losing reception or Leon Washington’s dry cleaner accidentally mixing his darks with his whites would, in fact, seem to be vital information.  But the fact remains, the Jets are not playing next Sunday and I could not care less that a light snow in the Chicago area caused a brief delay of the team’s departing flight to Miami. God forbid Tank Johnson arrives a few hours late and misses that symposium being held in South Beach on “Suburban Stockpiling and You�.

As tough as it is, I have decided to take a five day hiatus from the Super Bowl hype. For a few days the radio dial will be flipped to FM, the TV tuned to something other then Sports Center. And, for once, the front page of the Times will take precedent to the back (although, I’m not sure even that’s safe anymore). I will pick up with all this Super Bowl nonsense on Friday afternoon, hopefully leaving myself sufficient time to catch a human interest piece on Marvin Harrison saving sea otters (or something of the sort) to help me get back into the swing of things. Until then, I will leave you all with my thoughts on what actually matters.

THE PREDICTION
I doubt very many of us would argue, should the Bears have played an AFC schedule they would have had a difficult time winning more than ten games. Their 13-3 record is deceiving in the sense that it does little to indicate the door-mat schedule they played or that two of their three losses came at the hands of AFC opponents. Couple this with the AFC’s recent dominance (40-24 during inter conference play and seven of the last nine Super Bowl’s) and it’s not hard to understand how the seven points the Bears are receiving from the odds maker’s is justified.

Broken down, this game should be a battle between a great offense and a great defense. In fact, the Colt offense is probably the superior of the two and should the game be played in any setting other then the Super Bowl, Indianapolis probably wouldn’t have a hard time winning the contest and beating the spread. The only problem with this logic is that this is not any other setting. This is the biggest game in all of sports, the highest TV rated day of the year and what has become an honorary national holiday for this country.
No, I’m not going to get cliché’ on you guys and start talking about Peyton and his battle with mental demons. Rather, I am going to account for the very nature of the Super Bowl in my prediction. With commercial ads costing sponsors upward of 2.5 million per 30-second slot, Prince doing the halftime show and who knows how many other revenue producing throw-in’s, the Super Bowl is more of a circus then a football game. Point being, the very nature of this event favors the Bears. With an offense like the Colts, a group so reliant on those intangible notions of ‘timing’ and ‘rhythm’; the eight minute TV time outs, hour long halftime show and festival like atmosphere does little to help their cause.

I am not predicting a Colt loss. I think they’re too good to lose this game. Rather, I am entertaining the notion that it may be a bit more difficult than expected for the Indy offense to find that up-tempo pace they are most comfortable with. I believe the Colts will win this game and Peyton will owe a big thank you to Bob Sanders and the rest of his defense. At some point during this five and a half hour spectacle, the hype and hoopla will subside and an actual football game will emerge. I just don’t think it will happen soon enough to justify a seven point line. My Prediction:

Colts 24
Bears 21

The best of luck to you all with your office pools, wagers, bets and the rest of the ensuing off-season.

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