The Super Bowl is the social event of the season for sports fans. What are you to do if you don’t know the difference between a third down and a down lineman but you want to take part in the festivities surrounding the 50th edition of football’s biggest game?
Fake it, of course. Here are a few facts and tips to get you through Sunday evening without anyone questioning your pigskin savvy:
▪ UK fans fondly remember Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan as a star for the Wildcats. Do yourself a favor and join in any “C-A-T-S” chants that break out when he makes a big play. Bonus: Attending a party filled with Florida fans? Chide them with a reminder that the Broncos selected Trevathan in the 2012 draft with a pick they received by trading NFL outcast Tim Tebow, a former star quarterback for the Gators, to the New York Jets.
▪ Trevathan might be adored in our neck of the woods, but he’s perhaps more widely known for dropping the ball at the 1-yard line while prematurely celebrating an interception returned for a touchdown in a game a couple of seasons ago. Should anyone give you hell about that, just laugh and chalk it up to “Kentucky football.” (And promptly start convincing them that the Cats will win eight games next season.)
▪ Toy Story was the top-grossing movie in the United States in 1995, the year Carolina joined the NFL as an expansion team. Peyton Manning was a sophomore at Tennessee the same year. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the top-grossing movie in 2015, which was Manning’s 17th season as a professional quarterback. Advice: Never count out Disney or Peyton Manning.
▪ Speaking of cinema, Manning, 39, assigns movies for his much younger teammates to watch to help bridge the age gap. Meanwhile Cam Newton, 26, is among the coolest players in the league and hip to the latest trends, like the Dab. You can tell who’s a Broncos fan and who’s pulling for the Panthers based on how ridiculously mortified they become at Newton performing the dance after scoring a touchdown.
▪ One link between the generationally divided quarterbacks? They’re both fans of Kenny Chesney, for whom we can only hope the NFL will call a last-minute audible to replace soft rockers Coldplay as one of the halftime acts.
▪ Derek Anderson, the Panthers’ backup quarterback, was the starter for the Cleveland Browns when they went 10-6 in 2007, one of only two winning seasons that franchise has had since re-forming in 1999. The Browns missed the playoffs that year because the Tennessee Titans, also 10-6, had a better record against common opponents. God hates Cleveland.
▪ Broncos backup Brock Osweiler has thrown one more touchdown than Peyton Manning this season, and he has 11 fewer interceptions and has completed a better percentage of his passes in only two fewer starts than Manning. He also was pivotal in helping Denver secure a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. God also hates Brock Osweiler.
▪ Carolina Coach Ron Rivera earned the moniker “Riverboat Ron” after becoming a more aggressive play-caller during the 2013 season. You could score some cash from friends by wagering that a safety or a two-point conversion will occur during the game; at least one of the two has happened in six of the past seven Super Bowls. (Please forward 10 percent of your winnings to Josh Moore, 100 Midland Ave, Lexington, KY 40508.)
▪ CBS Sports will debut its new logo and on-air graphics package during the game. Gauge the temperature of the room toward the change and adjust your opinion accordingly.
▪ Phil Simms, the color commentator for the TV broadcast, was born in Springfield, and played quarterback at Southern High School in Louisville and at Morehead State before becoming a first-round NFL draft pick — a recent NFL Network special reminded us this prompted a universal cry of, “What’s Morehead State?” among sportwriters. He’ll be second all-time to John Madden in number of Super Bowl broadcasts after Sunday’s game. That, of course, doesn’t keep websites like Awful Announcing and For The Win from declaring him the worst NFL announcer going.
▪ Their names might sound alike, but don’t confuse Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker with Fozzie Bear of The Muppets. One’s a potential game-changer for Carolina should he show up ready to play; the other’s Fozzy Whittaker. Wocka Wocka!
▪ Cheering for the Broncos might draw ire because their quarterback played at Tennessee. Cheering for the Panthers might draw ire because their quarterback played at Auburn. Ah, screw it. S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!
Here’s hoping that’ll get you through the night unscathed. If it doesn’t work, springing for a case or two of a fine local brew should win over any second-guessers (my recommendation: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale). Cheers!
Super Bowl 50 airs at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 on CBS.