Aaaah, the culmination of a long season that since the start of training camps in mid-July has lasted close to 6 months.
I hesitate to say this, but I can hardly remember the dark days of 90-degree heat and replacement referees. Of course, that's only because I'm not a Green Bay Packers fan.
Wouldn't it have been fitting to see Seattle come to Lambeau Field for another game in the playoffs?
But enough about that. We have a serious game to play, the Super Bowl, with a sibling rivalry and two new teams in the big game - new, that is, if you've only been watching the NFL for 10 years.
My time as a fan goes back 40 years to watching Greg Landry guide the Detroit Lions to an endless string of 6-7-1, 7-7 and even an occasional 7-6-1 record, since this was when they only played 14 games and any game tied at the end of regulation stayed that way.
I can only remember Joe Namath at the end of his career when he moved as if he was standing in the shallow end of a pool, even though they kept playing those TV commercials where he shocks everybody by wearing some brand of panty hose.
Seriously, and you thought today's world was weird.
What has become weird at times, silly at others, are the Super Bowl proposition bets, or prop bets for short. They allow the most desperate gamblers to wager on everything from whether there will be overtime, to the length of the National Anthem to the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach.
I thought about making up my own list of prop bets last year, but there's such fertile ground coming out of Las Vegas, I thought, truth really is stranger than fiction.
How fertile is that ground? The first site that I found an exhaustive list of these bets, Doc's Sports Service, would've gotten me in trouble if I would've printed it out without looking, since it was 56 pages long of small print.
Here's a few of these bets I discovered cruising the Internet during the past few days, with the betting line:
And finally, my favorites, a cross-sports bet:
And before I wrap up the entertainment portion, I wanted to let you know that the oddsmakers have installed clear (or water) as the favorite among the Gatorade colors to be dumped on the winning head coach. Other choices are orange, yellow, green, red and blue.
Now onto the game:
Super Bowl, at New Orleans: Sunday, 6:30 p.m., Baltimore vs. San Francisco, CBS - Doesn't this game usually come down to which team is the best mentally prepared to play? Major pitfalls that beset teams most often would becoming overanxious, nervous or just coming flat at game time after overpreparing.
Baltimore would seem to have the edge there simply because Ray Lewis will have his guys in the correct frame of mind. But wait a minute, this IS Lewis' last football game, as he's retiring, and maybe he will get caught up in the moment, or more accurately, caught up in the week.
I think San Francisco is the more talented team overall when you add up their shutdown defense and quarterback Colin Kaepernick's various abilities.
But the 49ers' QB is the equivalent of a rookie in his overall playing time. Do you trust a game this big to a leader that inexperienced?
The only thing I can give him is that he has a good running game - meaning a little less pressure to excel - and that he performed well under pressure in college, specifically leading his Nevada team to a win over undefeated Boise State three or four years ago that kept the Broncos out of the national championship game.
I've picked against the Ravens each of the last two weeks, and I'm the most impressed with their win over Denver, the closest team in the AFC to San Francisco. The Broncos also had a solid defense, a solid running game and an excellent QB, even though Kaepernick and Peyton Manning would never be mistaken for each other in a hundred years.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco, while he'll have Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce at running back, likes to pitch the ball downfield when he throws, good for big yards, but also interceptions.
San Fran has the cornerbacks and safeties to make that strategy backfire, so in my final analysis, give me 49ers, 27-21.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.