Super Bowl MXTYPLZK is still two days away, but the results are already in.
New York has failed, and spectacularly so. In fact, to use the language of the area, New York had its chance and it choked.
Now this may change with some last-minute drugs/sex/cops-on-the-take scandal, but for the most part, this Super Bowl lead-in has been the most Indianapolis in years. Nothing about it has seemed even remotely Big Apple-y, or frankly, even very interesting by any city’s standard.
The weather? Cold, but disgustingly manageable. Atlanta was colder and more frightful. Shame be unto you and every seven-figure weatherman you've got.
Media day? Other than Marshawn Lynch needing two days to warm up to the idea of public speaking, and then only to avoid losing six figures of jack, nothing at all. Not even Richard Sherman at his most sensible, or Colin Kaepernick at his most weirdly talkative, saved a weekend of mostly pap.
The reaction to media day? Other than the Pro Football Writers Association being mocked for sending out a letter protesting Lynch’s absences and the complaints about police escorts for media buses that are provided EVERY SINGLE YEAR IN EVERY SINGLE CITY, nothing. Ines Sainz was dressed like a reporter, the costumes were bland, and the questions were, well, nothing to write back to the home office about.
Talks of gouging? The secondary ticket market has been dramatically depressed, as though people finally have figured out that the real Super Bowl experience is right in your living room after all. There were no arrests, no outbursts, no complaints, no outward stupidities beyond the baseline ones that every Super Bowl provides.
So what, then, was so damned special about this Super Bowl that it absolutely HAD TO be placed in the belly of the beast?
Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. New York had a chance to make a memorable Super Bowl, either as triumph or ungodly mess, and missed both ways.
This is not what we expect from the city. Indeed, the city was built on just the sort of grisly excesses that allow the rest of the country to hate it with a clear conscience -- which, of course, is what New York is constantly going for anyway. “We’re special because we’re special, and you hate us, therefore we are more special.”
But presented with the best opportunity yet to embarrass, ennoble and generally crush its guests and detractors alike by being given America’s pagan Christmas as a blank canvas, New York, frankly, went all Kansas City on us. The nation gives you its designated bacchanal and orgy, and New York came back with separate checks, and IHeartNY take-out containers for everybody.
That’s not what we overpay you for, oh City That Never Sleeps. That’s why we have Portland.
But maybe this isn’t New York’s fault after all -- even though as a failure of nerve, this is one of New York’s grandest. Maybe the NFL has actually managed after years of trying to boil the event down to the gigantic trade show the league has always wanted it to be. Advertisers and sponsors come in, throw some expense account money around, sign contract extensions that promise the NFL vast sums of money in exchange for slightly less than it has provided in the past, and then they all go home before the game itself, hung over, wallet-lightened but heroes in the office nonetheless.
But New York was supposed to be the antithesis to all of the league’s power to blandify its biggest show. It was supposed to be so expensive as to be out-and-out extortionate. It was supposed to be so bitterly cold that Green Bay sent blankets and coats. The cops were supposed to have to get triple-time just to keep up with the celebrities fighting in bistros, and negotiating frantically with the city to keep players out of jail for throwing up on firemen.
But no. Not one decent story to say, “Oh, yeah, the New York Super Bowl. What a time that was.” Roger Goodell actually had to say he could consider marijuana as a legitimate medicinal aid for concussions, and still we got crickets. When even dope and brain damage can’t move the needle of the nation’s ennui, or of the city’s response, you have a dead event.
Or a football game. Define it as you like.
New York still has some hours to come up big, though. Friday and Saturday nights provide possibilities we still may not have factored into the equation. The polar vortex may still have one good ass-kicking in it, and the merchants may still have weekend dynamic pricing schemes like $65 for a pack of gum in the arsenal. And with that many vice cops -- well, we live in hope.
But so far, the city has been a lot like its sports teams lately. Promising much, delivering little. So until further notice, or news of massive arrests involving owners, hookers and circus performers setting each on fire . . . thanks for nothing, New York. You were given the keys to the kingdom of degradation, and you puked it up like it was a gigantic Jets game.