August 2, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

2021 Super Bowl week has been weak amid coronavirus pandemic

Welcome to Super Bowl Weak.

The quarterbacks admire each other. The coaches relate to each other. Insults are countered by shrugs. Barbs are met with blessings. Bulletin boards are empty. Nobody is guaranteeing anything, all of which guarantees one thing.

This has been the worst week in the Super Bowl’s 55-year history.

There’s no feuding, no fireworks, no fun.

For a variety of reasons — mostly pandemic related — Super Bowl LV has become Super Bowl ZZ.

Admit it, some of you didn’t even remember the game was Sunday. Or maybe you had no idea who’s playing other than it’s Tom Brady against somebody.

For the record, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a star-filled, dynasty-dripping duel for the ages.

“It’s gonna be an amazing game,” claimed Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill.

After this woeful warmup, it better be.

The fierce quarterback Brady and his fresh counterpart Patrick Mahomes aren’t staring each other down, they’re building each other up.

Said Brady: “I really admire Patrick for the kind of player he is.”

Said Mahomes: “I’m still trying to do whatever I can to watch tape on him because he’s doing it the right way.”

The celebrated Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid, 62, isn’t playing mind games with Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, 68, but instead acting as if they’re on the same team.

“I’m still part of the Geritol crew,” Reid said. “We are a little bit older and there is experience that comes with that and I guess you could say wisdom, with age.”

There are not throngs of people at the Super Bowl this year in Tampa.

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

This niceness is hard to swallow. This vanilla tastes just awful. Remember, Super Bowl Week is supposed to be more feisty than the game itself, six wondrous days filled with delightful preening and posing and trash talk.

This was when Joe Namath guaranteed a victory.

This was when Jim McMahon mooned a TV helicopter.

This was when Atlanta’s Ray Buchanan wore a rhinestone dog collar to celebrate his underdog status, and then said of Denver’s Shannon Sharpe, “You can’t tell me he doesn’t look like Mr. Ed.”

And, of course, this was when Dallas’ Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson said of Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw, “He couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the C and the A.”

Super Bowl Week actually created Super Bowl Sunday, turning a mere game into an event built on the craziness of the previous days. Huge media hordes descend upon players who get caught up in the buzz and puff out their chests. Rivalries are renewed. Grudges are stoked. Lines are drawn. Fans are stoked.

Smartphones are pulled out of pockets to record the bleakness?

That was Brady this week when he sat in for his first remote media webinar interview with faceless reporters from around the globe.

“OK, I gotta get a picture of this … how come I don’t get to see them at all, how come I just get to see me?” Brady said. “It’s a crazy media day. I’m sitting here in an empty room.”

This week there are no live reporters or live cameras surrounding live players. While the Buccaneers are based here, the Chiefs aren’t even traveling to town until the weekend, and both teams are essentially quarantining until game time.

There is, quite simply, no live pregame. And without a live pregame, the actual game will roll out Sunday with no real spark.

That is, unless you count the Super Bowl’s biggest story thus far, that of the Chiefs’ barber, whose positive COVID-19 test was received while he was cutting the hair of backup center Daniel Kilgore. This led to both Kilgore and receiver Demarcus Robinson being sidelined for close contact, although they still might play.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of week.

“I’m just sitting here in a room by myself right now,” the Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski lamented during one interview session. “There’s no one around, so like the juices aren’t flowing as much as if you’re in a room with media people going crazy, asking questions, fans cheering, music going.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates Rob Gronkowski, left, and Tom Brady have been in a lot of Super Bowls together, but this year’s has been unique.

(Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

He added, “It still is Super Bowl Week, but it is totally different and, for a guy like myself, you appreciate all that, all that media, all that attention, like all that excitement.”

Some players have tried to stir it up, bless them. But in this sterile environment, with no jostling media or laughing crowds to fan the flames, their efforts have been gently rebuffed.

When Tampa Bay receiver Scotty Miller was asked by broadcaster Dan Patrick how he would fare in a footrace with the Chiefs’ blur-fast Hill, Miller said, “I’m taking me, every day of the week. … Tyreek is unbelievable, super quick, unbelievable talent … but if we’re talking about a race, I’ve got all the confidence in myself going up against anybody.”

When Hill was presented with this boast, the sprinter politely took the baton, saying, “I feel like Scotty answered that question the right way. … Your answer should be, ‘Yes … I’m that confident in myself.’ ”

To make matters even more boring, Miller then replied with a graceful clarification.

“They can take that statement any way they want to … but at the end of the day I didn’t mean any disrespect by it … I gave him his credit,” Miller said.

Wonderful. Pals for life.

Incidentally, if they ever did race, Hill would absolutely smoke him. Before any other Super Bowl, Hill might have said that. But this year even one of the fastest players in the game’s history is preparing in slow motion.

Then there was the attempted shot from Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul against Chiefs’ tackle Mike Remmers, who will be moving to the left side to replace injured Pro Bowl tackle Eric Fisher.

“I didn’t even know who that was,” Pierre-Paul said. “Man, I’m not going to lie to you. Is this a tackle that they’re talking about?”

Upon hearing this, Remmers stayed in his stance.

“Honestly I don’t really care what his opinion is on anything,” he said of Pierre-Paul, later adding, “I don’t care at all. It makes no difference to me. I’m just going out there to do my job.”

It turns out, the only thing more milquetoast than the response was the actual rip. Check the tape. When the Chiefs and Buccaneers met earlier this season, guess who was seen ferociously blocking Pierre-Paul? Yep, it was that guy he claimed was a stranger.

Just when it seemed like the week couldn’t get any duller, the NFL piled on when it announced it was silencing the one potential blast of joyful noise.

Even though the game will be played at the Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium home, officials are treating it like a neutral site and thus will not allow the cannons on the pirate ship in the north end zone to be fired as usual when Tampa Bay enters the red zone or scores.

They can be fired during introductions, and if the Buccaneers win, but not during the game. And the cannons won’t actually fire, the sound will be recorded.

So, really, one of the coolest parts of Sunday is that the Buccaneers are the first Super Bowl team to play the game in their home stadium, yet they have to pretend it’s not their home stadium?

If that’s not the dumbest rule ever …

“We … acknowledge and understand the NFL’s position,” the Buccaneers said in a statement.

Of course they do.

Wake me at kickoff.