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Every year Super Bowl parties bring together awkward groupings of people who are then forced to sit and watch a football game. Inevitably this drives me crazy. Primarily because I don’t understand why I should suddenly be forced to watch football games with people who haven’t bothered to watch a game all season. I mean, is there any other event that celebrates idiocy more? For instance, I don’t feel compelled to show up in New York City and crash some Broadway actors Tony Awards party. You know why? Because I don’t like musicals and haven’t even seen a Broadway play in the past five years. But I respect the fact that for someone who enjoys the Tony’s, it would be sort of annoying for me to begin the night by saying, “I just don’t understand how anyone could ever like a musical.” Yet, somehow, people arrive at Super Bowl parties and say things like, “I just don’t understand why the teams don’t score more touchdowns. Pass me a Zima,” with absolute impunity. It’s lucky these parties only have plastic utensils.
Even worse than that these Super Bowl gatherings require small-talk, ginger ale, finger foods, awkward banter, excessive genuflection over sugar-free sugar cookies that someone made, insufficient supplies of beer and overly abundant Mike’s Hard Lemonade, poor seating options, and require you to listen to some guy explain what a first down is to his girlfriend with an IQ that would barely be sufficient to allow her to be executed were she to commit a murder. Basically the Super Bowl forces the legitimate football fan to be tortured for about four hours with people he or she wouldn’t even think of spending time with on any other sporting occasion. Essentially, a true football fan has three options when confronted with a Super Bowl gathering of football imbeciles, a. actually answer idiotic and rhetorical questions b. make everyone at the party uncomfortable by calling out the idiots and telling them to shut-up and c. doing your best to ignore the outrageous commentary and the idiots you are amongst. Regarding this, I’ve always thought it would be classic for someone to roll up for a Super Bowl party, sit down on the couch, and put on headphones to listen to the radio broadcast. If anyone is willing to do this at a party, send pictures and I will interview you. In an effort to make this experience somewhat more enjoyable, we have devised a comprehensive list of people who you will be hating to spend your Super Bowl Sunday with.
1. The aforementioned fan who does not understand why teams don’t score more touchdowns. This clown can be either male or female, and will begin speaking at any point when the score is not approaching 81-79. Which means always. Worse, there is always someone who seconds this opinion with a brilliant and nonsensical endorsement. “Yeah, why don’t they score more?” One appropriate response would be, “Because the football team is missing out on your offensive genius.”
2. Girl with an exposed thong. Inevitably she will sit right in front of you and you’ll think you’re clubbing in South Beach. The thong will be something ridiculous, like leopard print or have a saying like, “Sex Kitten…make me purr” which will be true but distracting. Of course this girl will lean forward on a pillow or something and you’ll miss several important third down plays because you are trying to keep your wife or girlfriend from noticing your obsession with the exposed thong.
3. Guy with a hat turned sideways. Please, oh god, please could you not just turn your hat either forwards or backwards? Is that too much to ask? If you feel like it ask this guy if he’s dancing in the half-time show or meeting Kevin Federline’s posse post-game.
4. Wife who brought the sugar-free sugar cookies. And now you have to pretend to be impressed by some sugar substitute that you’ve never heard of. Oh awesome, now the sugar cookies taste like bread dipped in a bird-feeder. Man, these are great.
5. Guy who feels compelled to say three minutes into the game, “(Insert team’s name here) just didn’t come ready to play.” Really? I’m pretty sure the Super Bowl didn’t sneak up on either team. It’s not like Tom Brady was out shopping at Home Depot earlier that morning and then he suddenly realized, “Oh man, it’s the Super Bowl today,” I better get to the stadium.
6. The fan who works at Denny’s and complains about how much the players get paid…then suggests he or she could do their job. Right, of course you could. Despite misconceptions that most players arrive in the NFL after proving themselves somewhere in college football, actually they get discovered as short-order cooks making grand-slam breakfasts in Hoboken. Good point, run a post route and don’t come back.
7. Guy who draws sweeping conclusions from any and every play, particularly those that occur early in the first quarter and when the teams are separated by a single score. “I’m telling you the Giants just can’t handle the Patriots today,” he will say. Easy there Nostradamus. I’m pretty sure that four-yard off tackle play for a first down midway through the first quarter hasn’t defined the game.
8. Guy in the Dan Marino jersey. There is always a guy in a Dan Marino jersey.
9. Boyfriend of girl with exposed thong. He will be constantly eyeballing every other guy in the place in a kind of territorial thongdar. He will also be attempting to cuddle with his girlfriend so that her mid-riff bearing sweater can attempt to reconnect with her low-riding jeans. The cuddling will be unsuccessful.
10. Guy who confidently asserts, “It’s about time for the halfback pass,” on first and ten from inside their own five. Dude, give up on the halfback pass. If one team actually runs the halfback pass in said situation just stand up and leave the game. Halfback pass guy is going to be emboldened and you really don’t need to or want to hear him demanding the double reverse on fourth and goal.
11. Guy who says, “He’s gonna score,” every time a five yard gain occurs. Easy there hombre. There are players who aren’t on the screen. If this starts to get really annoying (and it will) start picturing this guy out drinking at the bar. For him foreplay begins the moment any girl accidentally bumps into him standing in line at the bathroom.
12. Guy who calls for the quarterback to be replaced midway through the second quarter with the score something like 10-3. “I’m just telling you (insert quarterback’s name here) is just not getting it done.” You always have to love this guy. It doesn’t matter how many regular season games the starting quarterback has won or that no healthy starting quarterback has been replaced in the Super Bowl in either of your life times. Guaranteed, this guy has a message board name like Pantyraidingqbstuffer48. Feel free to ignore everything he says…if you can. If not, log on to his favorite message board and choose as your own name Pantyraidingqbstuffr48. Gleefully destroy his message board “credibility” post by post.
13. Woman who is overly obsessed with the raffled scoring grid. “Oh, and if the game finishes with a score of 3-2, Suzy will win. Yay, Suzy.” Lean over to this woman who I guarantee you will be named something like Ronda and give her the most difficult logic puzzle you can think of that incorporates the raffled scoring grid. Something like, “Ronda, if the Patriots score one-half of the points that the Giants score in the first quarter but three times as many as the Patriots score in the second quarter and each team alternates scores of 7, 3, 2, 3, 7 in the second half, whose square would win if there is a safety by the Patriots in the final minute?”
14. Guy who analogizes this game to his high-school game in New Mexico circa 1984. Yeah, sure. The approximately three base defenses and three pass plays (screen right, slant, screen left) your team ran in those halcyon days really offer an outstanding template for the Super Bowl. I’m surprised Bill Belichick didn’t request the game film.
15. The person who spends the entire game cheering for ridiculous things like how many times a punted ball bounces or number of times players tap each other on the butt. Make this fun for everyone. Start counting the number of times this person touches his or her hair, crosses his or her leg, eats a pretzel. Have Ronda keep a chart if necessary.
16. Guy who shows up wearing wristbands. What, did he just step off a jet and come straight to your place from the Australian Open? At a crucial moment in the game, feel free to lift his arm and mop your brow with his wristbands. I mean, that’s what wristbands are for right?
17. Guy who keeps saying, “I can’t tell if the Giants are in the dime or the nickel,” while the Giants are on offense. They’re in the quarter…please shut up.
18. The foreign dude who is studying abroad and keeps saying, “American football is only the second most popular football in the world.” Maybe so, but it’s the most popular football in this house and this country. Go have a strudel…and take the metric system with you.
19. Woman who parades her fat kid around the room and says, “When Tommy grows up he’s going to play football.” Just because your kid is fat doesn’t mean he is going to play football. In fact, chances are, he’s just going to be fat. Please move him from in front of the television screen and tell him to put down the bowl of cheese-puffs.
20. Person who announces they only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, talks throughout the game broadcast, and then shushes everyone during the commercial breaks. Does this even require any analysis? Shun them…or stone them during half-time.
21. The insider. Will have the most ludicrous connection imaginable to one of the teams. Think shares a refrigerator repairman with Rob Gronkowski. Yet will insist all night that some tidbit of knowledge like, “Rob Gronkowski’s sub-zero had cornmeal inside,” will determine the outcome of the game…according to the refrigerator repairman.
22. Guy who is absolutely certain that, “(Insert coaches name here) doesn’t want to win.” You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m sure the coach has been working hundred hour weeks since June so he can lose the biggest game of the year. Solid analysis…go back to telling us about your new call-center job please.
23. Woman who says something like, “I don’t understand why the coaches don’t dress better on the sideline.” Because their primary market isn’t prissy broads drinking martinis at Super Bowl Parties. Please be quiet.
24. Couple that gets into an argument over how many beers the guy is drinking. This means the guy is going to drink twice as many more beers as he otherwise would have. Whatever you do, don’t offer to make this guy a Lemon Drop.
25. Guy who makes everyone who doesn’t care about football uncomfortable by telling someone else’s kid to shut-up when they are running around the house screaming. This will probably be your friend…and it might be you. During a commercial break flash a one-hundred dollar bill at the kids. Then go outside and hide a five-dollar bill in the most difficult place imaginable. Then tell the kids it was a hundred and whoever finds it gets to keep it. An hour later when someone finds the five, say, “Someone else must have hid that. My hundred is still out there.”
26. Guy who comes up with his own “priceless” slogan and regales the entire room with a beginning like, “Meatballs- $14,” ending like this, “Spending time with my friends watching a football game…priceless.” Brilliant, bravo, you’re the next Shakespeare. I hope you get a flat tire on the way home.
27. The woman who counts calories. Will say something like, “Did you know that buffalo wings have enough saturated fat to meet your weekly saturated fat allowance? How do you eat that? Don’t you have anything that isn’t like a thousand calories?” Respond by offering her a sugar-free sugar cookie.
28. Guy that wedges into a spot between two other men. For the record, here’s a general rule about seating at Super Bowl parties: If any part of your body is touching another man’s body, then you shouldn’t be sitting there.
29. Guy who tries too hard to care despite zero affiliation to either team…and having watched no other football game all year. Will throw a throw-pillow or utter some primal scream as the game’s penultimate play approaches. You will be tempted to pick up the throw-pillow and smother him.
30. The woman who doesn’t eat meat. Man, is it great to have you here at a Super Bowl Party complaining because nobody thought to bring tofu or what? All season long, I’ve been waiting for just this moment…and I’m just sorry you chose to skip your Ani DiFranco concert for this. Offer to clear the snow off a patch of grass in the backyard so she can graze if necessary.
31. The newly dating couple with a man who insists on talking in an exaggeratedly sweet voice while saying something like, “No sugarplum, an extra-point is only worth one-point.” Then they kiss. Seriously, every single person here hopes you break up.
32. Guy who almost got Super Bowl tickets. It wouldn’t matter if the game was in Kuala Lumpur, this guy has a connection that just didn’t quite pan out. It will also not quite pan out next year…and the year after…and the year after…
33. Guy who wants the team to go for it on fourth down no matter the situation. It could be fourth and 7 from the twenty in the middle of a scoreless first quarter and this guy will be loudly insisting that the team should go for it. Inform this guy that this is real football, not Tecmo Super Bowl.
34. Guy who wants to challenge every play yet has no idea what the rules are for when plays may be challenged. “Throw the flag,” he’ll yell at the television after a holding penalty was called while flapping his arms madly. “Don’t let them snap the ball…I can’t believe they aren’t throwing the flag.” God, don’t you wish just that for one game teams would put guys like this in charge of challenging calls. A minute-thirty into the game, he’d have a conniption fit when the referee explains that offside is not a validly challenged play.
35. Person that shows up midway through the first-quarter and immediately claims a seat that interferes with your own view. The only thing worse than people who don’t watch football all season yet feel compelled to attend a Super Bowl party is people who don’t watch football all season yet feel compelled to arrive late at a Super Bowl Party. Relegate these people to the kitchen or make them supervise the kids as they search for your $100 bill outside.
36. Guy with some attenuated rationale for why he is rooting for either the Patriots or Giants. In addition to being attenuated, it is also usually untrue. Like his/her great-great-great-great-great grandfather bought Manhattan from the indians or his/her third cousin twice removed used to sleep with Paul Revere. Guess what, these people don’t even know you exist and no one at this party cares who your made-up great-great-great-grandfather fleeced. Please be quiet.
37. The “It’s a school night,” east coast Mom. Will drag her entire family out for a half-hour drive back to Westchester in a tie game in the middle of the third quarter. Every single family member will trail behind her into the cold night as if they are beginning the Bhutan death march. And her kid will still misspell “weather” on his spelling test.
38. Channel changer who misses key plays so you can catch up on the Real Housewives marathon. Everyone should subscribe to this rule, if the person in charge of the remote control misses a play that person is not in charge of the remote control any longer. Period.
39. The woman who wants to talk about how great the Twilight books are. This is the female equivalent of the guy who shows up in the Dan Marino jersey. For the record, I have no idea why the Super Bowl makes women think about Twilight. Yes, we know, Tom Brady would be an awesome hot vampire.
40. Guy who feels compelled to utter ludicrous statements like, “I think I could throw a football farther than Eli Manning.” Thank god for the internet. Immediately research how far Eli can throw the football (think north of sixty yards) and then insist that your friend from the accounting department equal his performance at half-time. Move the party outdoors and make your friend throw until he tears his rotator cuff or admits failure. If he questions whether the football is regulation, nod, and return a few minutes later with a tennis ball (the guy wearing wristbands should have one). He still won’t succeed. When the second half begins, every time Eli underthrows a pass, tap your friend on the arm and say with a completely straight face, “You’d of completed that pass.”
41. The woman who sends her approaching teenage kids out of the room as the half-time show commences because she, “doesn’t trust what might happen.” Lady, your kids can find video of midgets having sex with dinosaurs in about ten seconds on the internet. I don’t think your kids are going to be scarred for life by anything that happens on a football field at half-time.
42. Guy who thinks he is a member of the team. Invariably he will utter some banality like, “It’s all about the 12th man.” True. And you are really holding up your end of the bargain by using the subject “we” to refer to the team from a refurbished basement in Scranton. For fun ask him how he is planning on spending his playoff share.
43. Guy who takes his baseball cap off at home while the National Anthem is sung. How patriotic. I have tears in my eyes. This guy really loves his country even though there is a 90% chance he doesn’t vote in elections or know either of his Senator’s names.
44. Girl who knows more about football than the guy she is with and constantly embarrasses him. Her boyfriend will say something like, “Third and one, it’s time for the flea-flicker.” The girlfriend will tap him on the leg, roll her eyes at everyone else, and say, “Only an idiot would run the flea flicker on third and one. Go get me a beer…now.”
45. Girl who makes her boyfriend extremely uncomfortable by commenting on how attractive Tom Brady is. Inevitably the boyfriend will respond with a line that is something like this, “I guess he’s ok…if you like pretty boys.” If the girlfriend continues her appreciation, eventually the guy will start commenting upon how hot the cheerleaders are. If this happens get ready for the real dirt to fly. Before long, your friend’s predilection for wearing women’s underwear is going to be fair game.
46. Guy who “knows” a cheerleader. No, you really don’t. Stop lying. Just because you caught the pom-poms she tossed into the crowd at the end of the season and you now sleep with them every night doesn’t mean she knows who you are.
47. Guy who wears shorts to the Super Bowl party because, “It’s not that cold outside.” Unless it was sixty-degrees or more at kickoff then it is too cold for shorts. The Super Bowl is in the first week of February. This means that for 95% of Super Bowl parties it was that cold outside.
48. Guy who keeps saying with absolute seriousness, “I always run (insert play here) on third and eight in Madden.” Insist that the team is really missing out at offensive coordinator by not having the ability to take advantage of his video-game offensive pyrotechnics. At half-time have whatever ten-year old is in attendance smoke him in Madden.
49. Person who thinks the referees are trying to “give” the game to the other team. Unless the year is 1919 and the sport is baseball, you’re an idiot. The refs don’t care who wins and that false start call you’re complaining about is not going to decide the game.
50. Guy with a barbwire tattoo- Even worse than the barbwire tattoo will be the fact that he’s wearing a tank-top to the game. There is a 99% chance that this guy will flex his biceps without irony and say something like, “Welcome to the gun show,” immediately after a big hit in the game.
At least once a week I get emails from people asking what happened to my old CBS columns. The answer is simple, CBS redid its site format so three years of my ClayNation columns aren’t available online. Luckily I own the rights to all of them and they are still in my sent email. So if I track them down — there are over 400 of them totalling a million words or so — we can occasionally have OKTC classic. (Classic being defined very broadly).
This column initially ran in February of 2007 — my CBS column started in 2005 — but it’s no longer anywhere on the Internet. So I’ve modified it and am running it anew here.
If there are particular columns you liked, email me about them and I’ll break them out every now and then. Especially if it’s 70 degrees in Nashville in January and I can take the morning off to take my boys to the park.
If this list didn’t scare you, we’re throwing a 3HL Super Bowl party at Rippy’s on Broadway in downtown Nashville this Sunday.
Come hang out.