The Football Girl: Most Intriguing Super Bowl Subplots

By all accounts, this particular Super Bowl week has been relatively uneventful.  There has been minimal trash-talking, absolutely no scandals, and an overdose of Twitter jester, Chad Ochocinco.  Super Bowl XLIV’s major storylines are obvious: The Colts are a machine and are expected to win handily.  Meanwhile, a Saints victory would cement the Hurricane Katrina healing process.  But in between all that chip-dipping and commercial-replaying on Sunday lie myriad subplots that make the game itself a compelling one.  Below are just a few:

From Ain’ts to Saints: Since joining the NFL in 1967, the Saints perpetual suffering at the hands of its opponents has led to its disparaging nickname, given by its own fans!, the Ain’ts.  They have been one of sports world’s greatest punchlines, having failed to reach even .500 in their first twenty five years in the league and only making the playoffs seven times (including this season). Besides the Katrina implications, a Super Bowl victory would free the Saints from its chains of the Ain’ts nickname once and for all.

The Manning Family:  They are omnipresent.  Archie, Peyton, Eli, even the freak child who (gasp) doesn’t play football.  We could blather on about the commercial monopolization by that family, but let’s focus on the game itself.  There are two things to look for here.  First, Archie Manning was perhaps the most famous Saint in the aforementioned Ain’ts days, but he never achieved his fame and fortune (or a Hall of Fame slot) because of the team’s losing ways.  Isn’t there just a small chance that Archie will be secretly rooting for the Saints to exercise those old demons?  Second, the Mannings do not handle losing well.  They get very furrowed brows and are unwilling to accept blame.  Watch for good Manning reactions, especially Peyton’s, if the Colts are down late in the fourth quarter.  Hope you have HD.

GOAT? :  On the other hand, this is the game that football historians are saying could catapult Peyton Manning into the greatest of all time debate.  Most polls give that honor to Joe Montana (four Super Bowls) or Johnny Unitas (three Super Bowl/NFL Championships).  And while Super Bowl XLIV would give Manning only two Super Bowls, this year’s team fell much more on his shoulders than the Super Bowl XLI champs. Not to mention that Manning himself is a ten-time Pro Bowler, and four-time league MVP

The Lonesome Kicker: It’s been a bad postseason for kickers.  Several teams (Bengals, Jets, Chargers) have been escorted out of the playoffs due to their unsteady legs during the game’s most crucial moment.  There is no greater pressure than the Super Bowl, and fortunately for the Colts, they have the most clutch kicker of all-time on their team, Adam Vinatieri.  But whoops, he’s injured and not playing!  So we’re left with the battle of 20-year journeyman Matt Stover (Colts) and newbie, yet recent hero of the NFC title game, Garrett Hartley (Saints).  Can they handle the pressure?

The Kardashian Effect:  Khloe marries Lamar Odom and the Lakers win the NBA Championship.  Kim dates Reggie Bush and the Saints are Super Bowl bound.  Should the Saints pull the upset on Sunday, Kourtney Kardashian may become the most wanted woman among athletes.

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