Super Bowl LI in the Land of Trump

If you’re wondering what “LI” stands for, that’s the Roman numeral for 51. Tomorrow (9:30 a.m., Phil. time), it’s the 51st Super Bowl. An estimated 110 million TV viewers will watch “Super Bowl Sunday” in what’s unofficially billed as American’s national holiday. It’s the single most watched television broadcast in the U.S.

“Football is perfect for TV,” said Dan Mastous, my long-time tennis friend who resides in New Hampshire and was in Cebu recently with wife Julie to swim with the butandings and trek to Tops. “The games are played once a week, so there is plenty of time for discussion and build up. The excitement grows as the game approaches. Even the commercials have become ‘must see TV.’ Sometimes the commercials are better than the game.”

How much does a 30-second ad cost? During the first Super Bowl in 1967, it cost $42,000. Expensive, yes. But here’s the mind-boggling figure from last year: $5 million. That’s $166,666 or PhP8.3 million per second.

On the game of American football, it’s thrilling. Back in Dec. of 2014, my CIS schoolmate and now New York resident Ping-J Villegas picked me up in his BMW Boxster convertible to watch the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in MetLife Stadium. Drinking beer and devouring hotdogs in the freezing cold while watching Eli Manning pass to Odell Beckham was an unforgettable two-hour experience.

With Super Bowl LI, this is the finals of the National Football League (NFL). When the season started four months ago, 32 teams competed. The New England Patriots amassed a 14-2 regular season record while the Atlanta Falcons scored 11-5. Both teams clash tomorrow in Houston.

What’s electrifying is the clash of the quarterbacks. The Patriots have Tom Brady, the 39-year-old four-time Super Bowl champ who stands 6-foot-4 and is married to Gisele Bundchen. At the opposite end is the Falcon’s Matt Ryan. Though they’re of the same height and weight (around 220 lbs.), Ryan’s credentials do not match Brady’s but he might have a better prize: Ryan is slated to be this season’s MVP.

Oddsmakers tilt the betting on the Patriots. Understandable because they’ve won four times during the Brady-Belichick era. 

“It’s a gladiator sport which has plenty of explosive action and precision that at times is difficult to understand for the layman,” Dan Mastous said. True. And, apart from Brady vs. Ryan and those $5 million ads, there’s the halftime show featuring Lady Gaga.

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