For those not familiar with the Roman numerals the NFL pretentiously attaches to its championship game, this one is number 45.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are returning to the big game for a record-tying eighth time. They have won six previous Super Bowls, four of them from 1975-1980 and two more in the last five years. This is more than any other team; basically, this "Steelers win the Super Bowl" crap was already old and boring by the end of the seventies.
Sometimes the same can be said for the halftime show.
Star Players. The Steelers are led by one Ben Roethlisberger, nicknamed "Big Ben" due to his size and presumed ability to tell time. He is known as a player who not only plays well under pressure, he positively thrives on adversity. The tougher the challenge, the better he plays. So, in order to bring about that adversity, Roethlisberger feels he must do something ungodly stupid every offseason to get ready to play. This year, Roethlisberger brought out the best in himself by getting accused of sexual assault and being suspended for the first four games.
Next year, Ben plans to overcome his beard.
On defense, the Steelers feature one Troy Polamalu, known for playing with remarkable intensity and for having a head of hair thick enough to stash a few pints.
Coach Trophy would be appalled.
The Steelers are ably coached by Dr. Foreman from House.
The Packers are also a team with a long, rich history. Dating back to the founding of the NFL in 1919, the Packers are the last remnant of a young sports league with teams in cities like Dayton, Ohio; Decatur, Illinois; and Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Although Green Bay's population is only slightly over 100,000, the team has remained financially viable and successful on the field.
Downtown Green Bay.
The Packers lead all NFL teams with a total of twelve championships in their history; they won nine times in the pre-Super Bowl era, and won the first two Super Bowls as well as adding another after the 1996 season.
Football fans vaguely remember this guy.
Star Players. The Packers are led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Although not well known outside of NFL circles, Rodgers has shown himself to be an elite player. Like Roethlisberger, Rodgers has had to overcome adversity many times along his path to success. This adversity included not being recruited by a four-year college coming out of high school; being passed over for lesser talent Alex Smith with the first pick in the 2005 draft; and being forced to sit on the bench watching Brett Favre throw interceptions for three years.
"Nice throw, Brett. Wait, which team are we on?"
The Super Bowl halftime show has come under scrutiny and criticism in recent years; while for decades the show featured such terrific acts as "Up With People" (1986) and "Michael Jackson and 3,500 Children" (1993), the 2004 appearance of Janet Jackson's nipple caused the NFL to retreat into the past, hiring a series of performers well beyond their sell-by dates.
Two of the band members were unable to perform due to extreme decomposition.
This year, however, the NFL has chosen a different path, tapping the Black-Eyed Peas to perform.
Warning: wardrobe may explosively disarticulate.
The legendary Apple commercial that ran in 1984 is often held up as the greatest, most memorable Super Bowl commercial of them all. Although it wasn't until 1997 that anyone realized what the commercial was actually for, older fans fondly remember their original befuddlement when this ad aired. And in the nearly three decades that followed, advertisers have spent billions hoping to recreate that wonderfully baffling minute.
This year, the commercials are expected to include several innovative new spots, introducing the public to wonderful new inventions they've only heard rumors of to date; expected to be featured prominently are ads informing us of the existence of things like "cars," "beer," and "food."
Although most of the ads will focus on your genitals.
On Sunday, 7 February 2011, Super Bowl XLV was actually played. The big story, of course, happened before the game started when Christina Aguilera performed a song reputed to be "The Star Spangled Banner." Although the lyrics were similar, the melody bore little resemblance to the American national anthem.
"So proudly we waved, as the twilight got reamed!"
This followed a lengthy, celebrity-rich reading of the American Declaration of Independence, a lofty, idealistic and inspiring piece of work that fortunately has no legal standing in America.
The other big story also happened before the game (well, mostly). Several hundred fans, who had paid $800 for tickets and much more for travel and accomodations, arrived at Dallas' magnificant $1.3 billion stadium to find that their seats were not finished. Some were shunted up to the higher reaches of the stadium and given complementary nosebleeds; others were given nice metal folding chairs in lower areas where they could almost see the game.
The halftime show featured the Black Eyed Peas, a reconstituted Slash, Usher descending from the Jumbotron, a bunch of faceless glowing people and various screechy noises from Fergie:
No, other one. Sorry.
Although unpleasant, the experience was arguably preferable to having the corpses of one's childhood idols dragged onstage and hooked up to machines that make them pantomime 10 second versions of all their hits.
The most memorable commercial was from Doritos, which featured actors licking orange processed cheese powder from each other's hands and clothing. The impact of this ad was tremendous; many viewers surveyed said it was so memorable they would never eat again.
Oh, and the Packers won 31-25.