Seems like every time the Super Bowl is held in Glendale, Arizona a really amazing afternoon unfolds. Certainly, the football and the drama that unfolded last night during the Kansas City Chiefs’ thrilling 38-35 comeback victory against the Philadelphia Eagles–only the second time in the game’s 57-year history where a team trailing at halftime came back to win–was stellar. And the final quarter in particular, and the game-altering plays that occurred in the last two minutes–were on par with the kind of memories that David Tyree and Malcolm Butler had produced in the two previous games played in that spaceship-looking venue.
So while Patrick Mahomes’ inspirational fourth quarter play, despite his injured ankle clearly being targeted and leaving him clearly hobbled toward the end of the first half, was more than deserving of his receiving the game’s MVP trophy, there were many other performances both on and off the field that deserve plaudits, at least from this humble observer:
— Jalen Hurts, Mahomes’ counterpart, tied a Super Bowl record with three RUSHING touchdowns–and added a passing TD and a crucial two-point conversion that got the Eagles even with a near-flawless Chiefs’ second half with five minutes to spare. For all of the concern about Mahomes’ ankle, Hurts was battling shoulder issues that hampered his performance in the playoffs. Save for a fumble that allowed Kansas City to tie the game in the second quarter when Nick Bolton took full advantage of one of Hurts’ few errors in an otherwise surgically accurate first quarter, Hurts proved that all of the reasons that the Eagles did lose, he was clearly not one of them.
— James Bradberry, the Eagles’ cornerback whose holding penalty on the Chiefs’ Juju Smith-Shuster resulted in the Chiefs moving downfield and continuing what proved to be their eventual game-winning drive, stood tall in admitting he indeed commit that foul, despite a monstrous amount of consternation among Iggles’ faithful who strongly believed that this was not the kind of situation that warranted such a decision.
— Greg Olsen, the rookie FOX game analyst and southern New Jersey native, who passionately reflected both his playing experience and his roots with his spirited but fair debate with his colleague and former NFL referee Mike Periera. As Mike Rosenstein of NJ.com recounted, he more than held his own:
“I hear what you’re saying, Mike. He has that right hand. I get it. I just think in this moment … oh, man, that is a game-altering penalty.”
However after the game, Bradberry pleaded guilty: “It was a holding. I tugged on the jersey.”
It was one of many outstanding moments for Olsen, and the fact that Tom Brady is too emotionally drained to immediately take his place as FOX’s top analyst will result result in his getting $7M bext year, and regardless of what FOX eventually decides, he has all but assured that he will have many many more lucrative paydays ahead.
— Sheryl Lee Ralph, at age 66, continuing what is a Brady-like career renaissance, not only with her stirring pre-game rendition of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice”, but her in-your-face response to the thousands of tweets mocking her alleged lip-syncing. “Does It Matter?” was the ideal response for someone reaching a career peak at a game featuring her favorite team. I could truly channel her happiness, and truly wonder how anyone could be so embittered and, yes, racist to take anything away from her performance other than pride and admiration.
–Rihanna, as much for her ability to levitate despite being pregnant (among the many breaking news items we learned of during the game, right up there with Derek Jeter becoming a baseball broadcaster, as her singing and, once again, enduring the tweet-wrath of a significant portion of the nation, including one clearly obsessed former President. Kudos to the many women on my social media feed that called out her baby bump even before the news alert came down shortly after halftime. And trust me, you orange POS, her belly is way smaller than yours, and she will lose her baby weight long before she’s your age.
–Andy Reid, who not only j0ins Mahomes as a candidate for football pantheon with a second Lombardi Trophy win. but pulled it off against a team that allowed him to leave after one too many disappointments. Considering what Reid has endured personally as well, his emotional confession that he would kiss FOX’s Tom Rinaldi as the red-and-gold confetti fell around him after the final gun, once again, cheering for someone reaching a life’s pinnacle after age 60, and looking so dominant in doing so, gave me a lot more hope than I typically have.
— And in another nod to AARP-age renaissance, the John Travolta-led TMobile commercial where he resurrected Danny Zuko as a suburban househusband along with SCRUBS alums Zack Braff and Donald Faison in a refitted performance of SUMMER LOVING from GREASE to hock high-speed internet service. When Travolta perfectly hit the “ohhhhhh” punctuation just before the song’s end as perfectly as he did when he dreamt of Olivia Newton-John (all the more poignant in a year after her death, and from a widower in his own right), yet again, it was exemplary to so many younger snarkers that many of us can and do our best work in our seventh decade.
For me, perhaps the most enjoyable by-product of yesterday’s emotionally charged and exciting day, despite the downer of another football season’s conclusion, was the chance to enjoy it with friends, with good food, spirited ribbing, prop bets (in my case, pure fantasy) and the reminder that the last time I watched at this person’s house, that thrilling Giants’ comeback against Tom Brady punctuated by the David Tyree helmet catch, I was offered a top job and resurrected my career, not to mention at least temporarily halting my financial concerns. More than ever, I could use the same kind of good fortune at this stage that Reid, Ralph and Travolta demonstrated, and G-d willing a similar post-mortem to a Glendale Super Bowl day.
See you next season?
Until next time…