JOHN RIORDAN: Talking over as New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks set to raise hell in Arizona

Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with fans after defeating the Arizona Cardinals 35-6 in the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.

How much more hype from over here can you stand? says John Riordan.

I’ve just finished clearing the doorway of the much less than promised two feet of snow. The threat of an historic blizzard combined with a winter storm in the northeastern states of America failed to materialise and now we have five full days of Super Bowl hype to look forward to. It’s always something. Nobody’s safe.

But, then again, this Sunday’s showdown in Arizona has so many different story lines the hype might end up having a little bit of substance.

In these pages on Saturday, Larry Ryan did full justice to the ridiculous subplot surrounding footballs not being inflated properly during the AFC title game. That mess will probably drag on and the New England Patriots might be tainted forever.

Mercifully for the sake of perspective, comedian and Patriots fan Louis CK was reliably efficient in his reaction when he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night.

“They want to win really bad,” he deadpanned when the same question was put to him by the host that everyone else is asking: why are the Patriots so robotically attached to playing hard and fast with the rules?

“Sometimes you do stuff that isn’t fair so that you can win,” he carried on. “I have no problem with, I think it’s hilarious. It’s a stupid football game. Deflate the balls, poke a guy in the eye or whatever… it’s football!”

So let’s park that and enjoy the other elements of what could be the most fascinating Super Bowl in a few years, the good, the bad and the refreshingly ugly.

The best teams on either side of the draw are coming together so you can’t argue with that. Tom Brady could end up being the greatest quarterback of all time if the Patriots can do it but the young pretender on the other side of the coin — Russell Wilson — is way ahead of schedule.

If he secures a second Super Bowl ring at his age, it could be a long decade ahead for the rest of the NFL.

Ugly is taken care of by the doomsday smack talk darting back and forth between the respective defensive backs.

It got very ugly Monday when a Patriots player Brandon Browner spoke his mind and advocated breaking bones if it meant winning the Super Bowl.

He was asked about the fortitude of his direct opponents Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman who ended the previous encounter against the Green Bay Packers operating with one properly working arm each. Browner called for the targeting of those recovering arms and the media tut-tutted audibly.

“I’m gonna tell my teammates: ‘Go hit that elbow. Go hit that shoulder. Most definitely. Try to break it if you can’. You’re gonna be my best friend after the game, but I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do.”

That didn’t go down too well with the Seahawks either of course and it’s probably a little bit of unnecessary spice for what will be an utterly intriguing game.

One of the key players who’ll be in line to define the outcome is Marshawn Lynch and he provided the undisputed highlight of the circus that is Super Bowl Media Day.

The running back has no time for any of this nonsense and has paid a heavy price more than seems viable. Compelled to speak to the media by the NFL, star players who happen to be reticent outside the lines have no option but to deal with the dreaded reporters.

So Lynch has resorted to different tactics to avoid actually answering questions. His latest move was as confrontational as it gets, offering answers to the gathered hordes of hungry press people which varied from “I’m here so I won’t get fined” all the way across the spectrum to “hey, I’m just here so I won’t get fined”.

It was a bit of performance art from the player, smirking all the way through those 25 monotone responses before finally allowed to remove himself from the podium, his wallet unburdened by what apparently could have been a fine heavier than anything he’d experienced before.

He’ll let his own actions do the talking when the ball is placed in his hands and he could be the difference in what is an impossible game to predict. That’s all he has to do really. The rest of the talking is just as empty as no words and it will thankfully stop in a few days. The season of seemingly ceaseless negativity will be cast aside by the main event.

Enjoy the hype. Or ignore it. It’s just a stupid football game.

 johnwriordan@gmail.com 


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