- Language Tips
The NFL playoffs are on two- week-long hiatus in advance of the Super Bowl.
After 24 consecutive weeks of games, only two teams remain - the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL gives the finalists an extra week to move their operations to the site of the big game in the city known as The Big Easy: New Orleans, one of the best sites for the Super Bowl, which is an American celebration of sports and commerce.
Sports have developed into the best vehicle for companies in the US and elsewhere to showcase their products. If football is America's No 1 one diversion, buying goods is likely a close second. And nothing sells product like the Super Bowl.
Advertisers will spend more than $3.5 million apiece to air 30-second commercial during the telecast. But the Super Bowl offer sponsors myriad opportunities in the host city itself. There are dozens of VIP parties, often featuring celebrities from music, TV and movies, as well as former NFL stars. And the media seem to show up at every one of these to help the sponsors get what they paid for - exposure on TV, radio and the internet.
Eventually, everyone will remember the real reason they came to New Orleans - the game itself. And that takes me back.
I was the starting quarterback for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV. The year was 1981, and we were about to face the hated Oakland Raiders, champions of the AFC.
The site of that Super Bowl? You guessed it - New Orleans.
We were the upstarts. The Eagles had never played in a Super Bowl, which began in 1967, or any title game since winning the NFL Championship in 1960, when they defeated Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers.
We were coming off the biggest win in Eagles history since that day, having upset our archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys, to win the NFC. We were in our fourth year under young head coach Dick Vermeil.
Most considered us overachievers after our quick rise from what was a bad team before Vermeil's arrival. Still, we had defeated Oakland during the regular season, in which we started out 11-1.
We did not win the Super Bowl. It hurts to this day; in some ways it hurts more than ever.
Many people assumed we would have a second or even a third chance to win a Super Bowl. But a series of events, including a bitter players strike and the early retirement of Vermeil changed all that, and I never again got close.
That's what I would relay to the players in this year's game. Seize the moment. But at the same time, try to stay within yourself, and not let emotion get you off your game. Looking back to my Super Bowl, I realize that I tried too hard. I tried to make every single play a winner. I didn't let the game come to me, and I forced too many passes.
As I recall these feelings, I think I see an inner calm in Joe Flacco of the Ravens that will serve him well on the big stage. In contrast, I wonder if Colin Kaepernick might finally show his inexperience, despite the remarkable things he has accomplished in 10 games as a starter. I am heading back to New Orleans with my new team, ESPN, and will have my detailed prediction next week.
Popular analyst Ron Jaworski, who played 17 years in the NFL and earned All-Pro honors and a Super Bowl berth with the Philadelphia Eagles, writes a regular football column for China Daily. Jaworski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(China Daily 01/26/2013 page15)