Look, we all can’t be football fans. It’s not that the idea of behemoth dudes in spandex and helmets running and tackling each other over a prolate spheroid doesn’t sound like fun. It’s just that with hockey, basketball, the new season of Homeland, that new gym routine… man, there just isn’t enough time. I hear you. But why let all that ruin what is traditionally one of the biggest sporting days of the year? Not to mention the biggest advertising, beer-drinking, chicken wing destroying Sunday of the year?
You can watch the game as a one-off or go to a buddy’s house and sit there quietly munching chips while everyone ELSE has all the fun talking about the plays, the backstories and all that. So here’s the Top 10 things you need to know to go from wallflower to super fan.
The Super Bowl. Ok, some basics. The first big game was played in January 1967 and was originally between the NFL champs and the title winners from its rival league the American Football League. The two merged in 1970 and each league became a conference under the NFL umbrella. The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Los Angeles. This year, the San Francisco 49ers are playing the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. The winner gets the Vince Lombardi trophy, named for the legendary football coach.
Who are the 49ers? Founded in 1946, the team joined the NFL in 1949 and it’s the oldest major professional sports team in California. The name comes from all the gold prospectors who flooded into Northern California around 1849. The team has won five Super Bowls—1981, 1984, 1988, 1989 and 1994. Two names from this team’s past you can drop to look like you know what you’re talking about? Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
Who are the Ravens? This city has a mixed up football history. First its NFL team was the Colts, who played here from 1953 to 1983, until the team was moved to Indianapolis. The Ravens were born in 1996 when the original Cleveland Browns were relocated here. As young a franchise as it is, it does have one Super Bowl win in 2000 under its belt.
Meet Ray Lewis. Linebacker Lewis was the Ravens’ second-ever draft pick at 26th overall in the 1996 NFL Draft. He’s the face of this franchise and is known for his flamboyant game day antics and fiery speeches. Oh and the murder charges.
The whole Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick thing. One was drafted 1st overall in 2005 and played on the 49ers ever since. The other was a back-up, drafted with the 36th pick of the second round in 2011. Guess which one is playing Sunday? Kaepernick stepped in when Smith went down with a concussion in November and has never looked back. Meanwhile, poor Smith, who was quickly back to health, has been stuck on the sidelines watching. DRAAAAMA! (OK, not really, but it makes for a good story, non?)
This is the Harbowl. John Harbaugh coaches the Ravens. Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49ers. John and Jim are brothers. Crazy, eh?
Chris Culliver. Hoo boy. The talk around this 49ers cornerback has been about anything but football in the last few days. During Super Bowl Media Day he was asked by comedian Artie Lange in an interview about the possibility of a gay teammate and said, ”I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that. Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.” Let’s review—a pro athlete who plays in San Francisco spoke on the record about a certain intolerance of gays. He’s since apologized but still looks like a complete tool.
Randy Moss is not the greatest wide receiver of all time. The 49er just happens to think he is.
It should be called Stuff Your Gut Sunday. This Sunday Americans will go through 1.23 billion chicken wings, 11.2 million lbs of potato chips, 3.8 million lbs of popcorn, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 2.5 million lbs of nuts, 8 million lbs of avocado for guacamole and more than 51.7 million cases of beer. All that and Domino’s says it will deliver more than 11 million pizzas. No wonder 7-Eleven expects antacid sales to go up 20% on Monday.
Manti Te’o's Girlfriend. She’ll be there in spirit.