Super bowl parties, and Super Bowl picks

Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

My dream of attending a Super Bowl with the Detroit Lions as one of the participants suffered a double hit, first with the ticket prices (now at a bargain basement starting average price of $8,000) then with an even bigger problem of the Lions not qualifying for the “Big Game”. 

So, back to another Super Bowl party, and boy, have parties changed over the years.

The very first Super Bowl was on my 13th birthday, and I celebrated by helping my dad’s friend move. The surprise that my dad, an avid football fan, would not watch a Super Bowl is surpassed only by my dad’s friend, a MORE avid fan than my dad, not watching the Super Bowl. Of course, most people that I read and listened to back then thought that this newfangled “Super Bowl” was nothing more than an exhibition game better scheduled in the preseason. The game itself was an easy win for the NFL (no NFC or AFC until after the 1970 merger) played in front of many empty seats. 


The first Super Bowl party I attended was with my parents at Super Bowl 3 (I’m not sure when the Roman numerals started) where my dad gave 9-1 odds and took the Colts, who were 17-point favorites over the New York Jets and Joe Namath. The problem was, that wasn’t the worst thing that happened at that party. The worst thing was when a party goer fell while ice skating and broke her hip. I guess for every Joe Namath on that day, there was also my dad and the poor lady trying to ice skate. 

I remember listening to a couple of Super Bowls overseas on Armed Forces Radio, although that took effort because the games started at 2:30 a.m. in Greece because of the time difference. I listened to those games alone and I know there were no parties for the game on the base.

For me, real Super Bowl parties began when Detroit (actually, Pontiac) hosted Super Bowl XVI (16) in January, 1982. My friend hosted this party but his wife banished the shindig to the basement. The females that I knew had not yet embraced the idea of a football watching party. The party ended when my friend’s wife decided 10 p.m. (I lived in MIchigan then) was late enough for a Sunday night party. 

For me, that was the turning point of Super Bowl Sundays. No longer was the Super Bowl something I watched with my parents. Super Bowl Sunday went from a regular day to a holiday. “What are you doing for the Super Bowl?” became as common as “What are you doing for Christmas?”. Maybe because we were getting older, but women besides my mom began attending Super Bowl parties. This was great for food, but bad for analyzing the game during commercials, as the “SHHHHH!” during commercials made its first appearance so people who really didn’t like football could hear, not my analysis, but the commercials! People began rating the commercials as much as they rated the game. Halftimes became spectacles. Things like “The Puppy Bowl” and squares made their first appearances. The games went from being on January 15th to the middle of February.

Halftimes became so long that, when we moved to Las Vegas, we began taking dares to jump into swimming pools as a way to pass the everlasting halftimes. Obviously, the motivation to jump into 50 degree water in February came from the same courage that causes many a bar room fight around closing time. We went through a 20-year period where Super Bowl Sunday was a big day celebrated in Las Vegas with lots of friends and lots of good food and drink, although my friends’ wives eliminated the halftime dips, citing the risk of heart attacks for the halftime dippers. 

As time went on, the parties got smaller, and quieter. The food became much better, as things like sushi and crab legs replaced pizza and those little cocktail weenies. There weren’t enough people to have squares. No neighbors complained. There was no longer the need to take the next day off, because we were now in bed by 10. There are now grandkids instead of our own kids running around, but this is the one day of the year when “Paw Patrol” does not replace football on the big downstairs TV. Nobody I barely know wants to come to the parties that I go to, they still want to jump into pools at halftime and their girlfriends haven’t stopped them yet.

Some things have not changed. This is the only game of the year where anyone cares about the coin flip. People pay attention to how the National Anthem is sung, and by whom. Almost everyone has a bet on the game, and friends and relatives that live in MIchigan still call for me to make a bet for them. Some of them pay me if they lose. The term “prop bets” is heard more on this one day than in the other 364 days of the year combined. And after the game, going home will still feel like New Year’s Eve after the ball drops.

The Super Bowl has changed, and I have changed with it. And this Sunday, I will again watch the NFL Championship Game. I will not be on a kitchen chair or on the floor, but in my own Lazy Boy chair. And after the game, I’ll turn my sporting attention to hockey and Major League Baseball. 

I already made my bet for this week’s game, and I’ll use the line I got: SF -2. 

Statistically, the 49ers have a better offense and defense. They have more star players on offense and on defense. The 49ers this year have done great against teams that play a similar defense to the Chiefs. The Chiefs struggle to catch the football and protect the passer. 

But the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, and I believe he is the best quarterback right now and maybe of all time. In my opinion, the 49ers should have lost to both the Packers and the Lions in the playoffs. The Chiefs are hot, and I think they will win.

KC Chiefs (+2) vs SF 49ers

Robert’s pick

Earlier this week, I was trying to recall which is the first Super Bowl I remember watching. I was born about five months after Super Bowl 1, which wasn’t yet called the Super Bowl. I remember watching football when I was in kindergarten, which would have been the 1972 season, and that that Super Bowl, Super Bowl VII, is the one where the Dolphins finished the undefeated season. I remember Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian desperately trying to throw a pass after his field goal attempt got blocked, but the ball slipped out of his hands and was returned for a touchdown by the Redskins.

Then again, that is one of the most famous blunders in NFL history and the replay has been shown a few thousand times during my lifetime, so do I remember it from watching it, or from seeing the replay so many times?

I do remember that my dad and I used to argue about who was the better QB, Billy Kilmer or Sonny Jurgensen. They split time for the Redskins, and that, I’ve come to learn, was actually something people all over the country argued about back then.

(As an aside, Bob Bowser, who lives here in Fernley, was an assistant coach on that Redskins team, and I’ve asked him for his opinion on that, and all he would tell me is what a phenomenal athlete Billy Kilmer was. So I’ll take that as proof that I was right, even though Bob most definitely didn’t betray his opinion one way or the other.)

If that wasn’t the first Super Bowl I watched, then it was definitely Super Bowl VII, when the Dolphins beat the Vikings 24-7.

I am positive I watched that one, because the father of one of my Little League baseball teammates was a friend of my dad’s and he had been a center at the University of Georgia when Fran Tarkenton was the quarterback there. I remember rooting hard for the Vikings, and being incredibly disappointed when they lost. 

I should have realized then that I would be incredibly disappointed by sports far more than I’m ever thrilled.

I remember watching Super Bowl XVII in the TV department of a KMart in San Diego. I was on a youth group trip to Disneyland from Albuquerque, and our bus driver had decided to take the southern route home on Interstate 10 because of a snowstorm and he didn’t want to have to go through Flagstaff, Ariz. It didn’t work. The bus broke down in San Diego, which is why we ended up watching the game at KMart, and it ended up being one of those fluke storms where it even snowed in Tucson and we had to drive through the snow all the way up I-25 from Las Cruces to Albuquerque.

Despite being the biggest football fan I know, I’m generally not usually that excited about the Super Bowl, other than the ones involving the 49ers. Super Bowl Sunday to me means the start of seven months without football, and I’m not good at goodbyes. Most times, I wake up on Super Bowl Sunday feeling like the kid in Jerry Maguire, when Jerry is breaking up with his mom and Jerry wants to hug him goodbye. “Just go,” says the kid.

But the 49ers are in this year’s Super Bowl, so this isn’t most times. This time, I’m terrified that the 49ers are going to lose again. I still get an upset stomach when I think about Jimmy Garoppolo overthrowing Emmanuel Sanders four years ago, and I probably will until the 49ers finally win one.

As far as betting this one, I keep hearing people ask how they can continue making Patrick Mahomes an underdog in the playoffs, but what people aren’t factoring in is that the books have a much higher liability on futures bets on the 49ers than on the Chiefs, so they had to make the 49ers the favorite. That means the line value is on the Chiefs. That, plus Mahomes, means the only way I could play a side would be to bet the Chiefs. But I’m not going to do that, because my rooting interest as a fan outweighs the paltry sum I have available to bet. I’m also not going to bet the 49ers, because I already have something more valuable than my little bit of money at stake.

But, the line of -2 and total of 47.5 means an implied score of 24.5 to 22.5. Even though this edition of the Chiefs is better defensively than offensively, I think the winner of the game scores more than 24.5, and I think there’s a more than decent chance that both teams exceed that total. So my bet for the game is Over 47.5. 

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