Filling the time until kickoff

To help you while away the final hours until Super Bowl XL finally gets underway, some reading material:

Ben Roethlisberger has been updating his blog regularly all week, showing the media blitz and hype from the perspective of the other side.

As you can imagine, my schedule has been crazy out here in Detroit. So Tuesday was a day off, like our usual Tuesdays during the season, but during Super Bowl week that just means I didn’t throw any passes. Tuesday before the Super Bowl is traditionally media day, and let me tell you, it’s a spectacle. I didn’t really know what to expect, but now I understand where the hype around this game comes from. We got on the buses from our hotel at 7:45am and went to the Stadium. Ford Field will always be special to me, because that’s where I played my first NFL game, in the preseason last year. We went into our locker room and put on our game pants and jerseys. Yes, we are wearing white jerseys, and yes, that is fine by me. It’s pretty funny to see football players in their uniform without pads on. Not the most figure flattering sight. We did some short tapings and photo shoots for promotional stuff and the game telecast. From there, we went onto the field, and some of us had to sit individually at podiums and answer questions for about an hour. As we walked onto the field, what seemed like thousands of media people poured down from the stands to the field. I answered questions for the entire hour – many of which were repeated – but none that were too crazy. Lots of questions about my beard and hair. For the record, the hair will stay after the game, the beard will go, most likely on Monday.

Chuck Klosterman has been posting an alternative blog for ESPN’s Page 2. Primarily he whines about having to cover an event he doesn’t plan to watch (although he does seem to know a lot about the game and teams) and highlights the surreal world of the pre-game hype.

One of the gimmicks of Super Bowl week is something called “The NFL Experience,” a massive exhibit of interactive footballesque activities located in downtown Detroit’s Cobo Hall. I did not have an intense urge to see The Experience, but I did want to visit Cobo Hall; while some people aspire to visit legendary sports stadiums, I intend to visit the location of every venue included in the 1987 documentary KISS Exposed (these venues include the Houston Astrodome, Rio de Janeiro, and at least one soccer stadium in Australia). The 1976 KISS performance from Cobo is especially moving, as Ace Frehley performed two autonomous solos during “Strutter” (one in the usual place, and then an abridged reprise at the conclusion). I sure do love football.

I went to the NFL Experience thinking it would be mildly ridiculous, but I was wrong; in reality, it was totally idiotic. I obviously assumed this kind of promotion would be primarily geared toward children (Note to readers: I loathe children), but it seems the NFL Experience is exclusively a twerp’s domain: It’s a bunch of miniature humans trying to kick footballs while simultaneously begging their parents to buy them overpriced Chad Johnson jerseys

Over on, Nick Bakay, sounding like he’d jump at the chance to switch places and save Klosterman from his misery, has been blogging the weeks away from the comfort of his couch.

Y’know, everyone talks about the intangibles in football — but what about the Man-tangibles:

What’s a Man-tangible? Hidden advantages that exist in a parallel universe, somewhere between the boundaries of a late hit, and your fourth Ketel One.

Mantangible, Exhibit “A”: Big Ben’s Beard:

While certainly not in the same class as Jake Plummer’s moody drifter special, I like Ben Roethlisberger’s scruffy, nappy, high school “first beard” presumptuousness.

Of course, the beard didn’t work out so good the last time the Steelers went to the Big Dance — anyone remember Neil O’Donnell’s separatist cult-leader special? How about the picks he threw with no receiver in the same zip code?

Regardless, I like a bearded QB — always have. I lived in Dallas a few years back, not in the greatest part of town, and there was this crazy donut shop that was set up just like a bar — jukebox, women with way too much eye shadow smokin’ 120s, a long counter with a TV on the wall — and every stool was filled with dudes who looked like Big Ben — bearded, haunted wildcatters sittin’ there all night nursing a coffee and a plate full of personal demons. The kind of place that made you feel lucky if you made it back to your car without getting your nose broken … and the mantangibles say that’s the kind of QB you like to see playing in January …

Advantage: Steelers.