IRVINE, CALIFORNIA - 25 JAN 2021: Helmets for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs, oppo

Sunday is the Super Bowl, a decidedly muted affair this year. I’m not sure which team to root for. There are only 12 people in the entire country who will admit to being Tom Brady fans and two of them are Donald Trump…


• I believe that there’s some kind of statute that requires me to mention that I attended the first-ever Super Bowl. The powers-that-were had concerns that a sparsely attended game in the cavernous L.A. Coliseum would not be good for the AFL-NFL World Championship Game (it wasn’t yet called the Super Bowl). They had kids from poor neighborhoods bused to the game. We started off sitting in the end zone, but by the time the University of Arizona Marching Band took the field at halftime, we were sitting on the 40-yard line, in seats that would cost $10,000 today. 

• The games themselves are generally not all that exciting. In the 1960s, the average margin of victory was 17 points (that’s a blowout by NFL standards). In the 1970s, the margin was down to 11 points, but in the 1980s, it was a whopping 22 points per victory. In the 90s, it was down to 14 and in this century, it’s only 11. Still, out of 54 games played, only a handful have been truly memorable. 

• I’ve known Kent Senzee, the girls basketball coach at Canyon Del Oro High School, for 20 years. He’s a great guy, but like everybody who comes from Kansas City, he won’t answer the critical question: Who has better barbecue, Gates or Arthur Bryant? 

When my daughter was playing volleyball at Cornell, I flew to Kansas City to watch her team play in a tournament. We went to dinner at Gates and had burnt ends.  If Arthur Bryant is somehow better-tasting than that, there is probably some kind of law being broken.

• Every year, I enter one of those Super Bowl Squares things. They make watching the game itself even more excruciating It’s a 10 x 10 grid with one team’s name down the side and the other team’s name across the top. The players (or, in my case, perennial loser) then purchase squares. In the contest in which I participate, it’s $5 a square. (I always buy four squares because $20 is a nice round amount of money to throw down a hole.) Numbers are then drawn at random and assigned horizontally and vertically to the grid. 

We’ll say that Tampa Bay is the vertical team and Kansas City is horizontal. After the numbers are drawn and put in place, you have a square that’s seven (vertical) and zero (horizontal). At the end of any quarter, if Tampa’s score ends with a seven and KC’s with a zero (e.g. 17-10, 7-30, etc.), you win money. And if the final score ends up like that, you win lots of money. 

In more than 20 years, I have never won a penny. It’s as though while everybody else gets two numbers for their square, I get a Greek letter and an ink smudge. 

This year, two of my four squares are 1-5 and 5-1. The odds of that happening are 1 in 825. That’s not going to help me win, but it is helping me keep my math skills sharp. 

There have been 54 Super Bowls; that’s 216 quarters (and 432 number possibilities in the scores of those quarters). The number zero has shown up 118 times and seven has appeared 81 times. Together, they make up near half of all appearances. Guess which number shows up the least often. That’s right: 5. In 54 years and out of 432 possibilities, the number 5 has shown up 10 times, a lousy 2.31% of the time.

Among the stranger wagers available, you can bet:

• Whether the number of combined points, rebounds and assists by Domontas Sabonis of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers will be greater than the distance of Tom Brady’s longest pass completion.

• On whether the National Anthem will last more than two minutes. (This year, it will be a duet featuring R&B star Jazmine Williams and country star Eric Church). Since it’s a duet, you should take the over.

• On which player will make the initial first down, on whether there will be a quarter in which no points are scored, or (my absolute least favorite) whether the number of completions Tom Brady has in the Super Bowl is greater than the number of points scored by the Denver Broncos in the season opener this coming September! That’s got to be the casino’s favorite bet. If someone is nuts enough to make that bet, what are the odds that he/she will hang onto that ticket for eight months?

About as good as a 5 coming up in the Super Bowl score.


EXTRA POINTS: Winter high-school sports have finally gotten underway after numerous pandemic-related delays. The Amphi schools (Amphi, Canyon Del Oro and Ironwood Ridge) just began basketball games this week and have a tight five-week window to get in as many games as possible… Immaculate Heart had to cancel a game when would-be visitor Duncan got snowed in over in Greenlee County… The University of Arizona women’s basketball team is tied for first place in the Pac-12, but will have to reschedule their L.A. trip due to a COVID outbreak in the Wildcat program… The first-ever (and, we all hope, last-ever) winter volleyball season has begun at the UA. The Wildcats began a brutal conference-only schedule dropping two games at (nationally ranked) No. 10 Utah, then returned home to face No. 11 Washington…

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