LITTLE ROCK — Botched by Bubba Watson, the total boycott of all Super Bowl pre-game was made possible by an 11-year-old.
No sooner did Watson fritter away a playoff with a too-aggressive second shot and a weak par putt than the youngest granddaughter called the cell from the back of the house. At 5:02 p.m., with the temperature at 33, she inquired about an ice cream run. She had me at “Poppy” and reconnaissance of one scoop chocolate peanut butter and one scoop chocolate mint took care of the next 24 minutes.
The 48th Super Bowl was more anticipated than any in recent memory and the idea was to be football-fresh at kickoff.
Early Sunday, while CNN giddily counted down to kickoff, a check of the on-screen guide showed a four-hour block for a pre-game show on Fox. I’m guessing the script included something about Denver’s No. 1 offense vs. Seattle’s No. 1 defense, Peyton Manning’s legacy, Richard Sherman’s mouth, and Seattle controlling the ball with Marshawn Lynch.
Old news all the way around.
Part of a master plan to miss every minute, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. was gobbled up by gifts, grub, golf and granddaughter. A trip to Jacksonville to deliver a birthday gift to a friend took some time. So did a fruitless hunt for a particular Valentine’s Day present. At the grocery, there was a line for the preferred meat for chili because the weather forecast and watch parties had wiped out the prepackaged stuff.
Back home, the first helping of golf from a desert was a condensed version of the final round of the Dubai Classic. An unknown 21-year-old made an across-the-green for an eagle on the final hole only to lose by one stroke to defending champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, who has won three times on the European Tour in 18 years.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods also played.
In Phoenix, the storyline was more compelling with a half-dozen players in position to win. Kevin Stadler was the beneficiary of Watson’s final-hole bogey and will join his father, Craig, in the field at The Masters.
TV tray in place, the first image from New Jersey was referee Terry McAulay’s interception of Joe Namath’s premature coin toss, the first of three picks off aging quarterbacks. Namath’s fancy coat offered more protection than Denver’s offensive line provided Manning.
Pulling for Manning, but picking Seattle, I loved the defense — congregating at the ball in a hurry and technique tackling. I can’t remember a matador miss by Seattle. The NFL has supposedly evolved into a passing league, but one of the best quarterbacks in history was helpless against a relentless pass rush and defensive backs who can both cover and tackle.
Apples and oranges, but think about Arkansas’ limitations on defense in light of what Seattle can do because of big, fast people in the secondary.
Bored before halftime, I checked a friend’s flight from Atlanta and found the scheduled arrival time had been pushed back 10 minutes to 8:47. The cue to leave was Malcolm Smith’s fumble recovery at 7:56 p.m.
Facetiously, how could Smith be MVP after missing the goalpost dunk following his 69-yard return of a Manning interception.
The car radio was pre-set on ’60s on 6 and I never searched for a Super Bowl update. Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Herb Alpert, Johnny Rivers, and Steppenwolf, and others entertained.
For those interested in off-the-wall prop bets, the odds on some winning wagers:
• 40-1 that the first score of the game would be a Seattle safety.
• 40-1 that Seattle’s winning margin would be between 31 and 36 points.
• 3-1 that Bruno Mars’ first song would be “Locked Out Of Heaven.”
• 4-1 that Manning would throw a pick-6.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is email@example.com.