It’s the second Saturday of January, 2012. In my world, that means only one thing, an appointment with the television at 4:30 to watch two NFL playoff games.
For those who don’t know, 32 teams start the NFL season every September. Unless a franchise moves, it’s the same 32 teams every year. No promotion or relegation like you see in soccer all over the world. They play 16 games over 17 weeks in eight divisions spanning two conferences. The eight division winners based on record (if teams are tied for a playoff spot, there’s a tiebreaker procedure to decide the better team) join four more teams, two in each conference with the best records that did NOT win the division (called wild cards) to make the 12 team playoff field.
Of those 12 teams, only one can be the Super Bowl champion a given year. The remaining 11 teams consider themselves lucky to have had such a good season. So I think of those 11 teams as great actors taking a curtain call.
This week, the eight teams left are reduced to four. The week after this, those four are reduced to the two teams that play in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
The Super Bowl has gotten so big that the promotion for it doesn’t seem to speak of the two teams that will be playing. There’s usually a large performance by a popular rock artist or performer at an extended halftime intermission. This year in Indianapolis, the 1980’s pop starlet Madonna performs. It’s like the Super Bowl takes a back seat to the rock concert in the middle of the game.
Me? I just like a good football game.