The Brothers And Super Bowl Hype

When San Francisco 49er coach Jim Harbaugh said last week that the matchup against his brother John’s Raven team was both “a blessing and a curse,” he clarified that the curse part was because media attention devoted to the brother battle would detract attention properly owed to the players.

Not to worry, Jim. The NFL Network has announced that it will increase Super Bowl coverage to 140 hours leading up to the game. As one NFLN producer said, “If anyone in New Orleans is talking about the Super Bowl, we’ll have it.”

Keep in mind that’s just one network. There will be ample media time to cover every participating player’s genealogy back to the Middle Ages. We will know every player’s favorite music, food and color. There will be feature stories on each prominent player, on every platform imaginable. Come kickoff, you may know more about the Harbaugh brothers than you do about your own brothers. There will be enough information about Jack and Jackie Harbaugh to create a remake of Ozzie and Harriet.

And then there’s the advertising.

Prices for commercials will set records again this year. Want to buy a 30-second spot to promote your company? Expect to part with roughly $3.8 million, not counting the cost of production. And the competition among those who make these commercial spots makes it sort of an Academy Awards feeling in the analysis. During what other sporting event (or any other kind) do people sit riveted on commercials?

Getting back to game day, the NFLN will do a mere 10-and-a-half-hour pregame, ending by contractual agreement one hour prior to kickoff. It also will have three-and-a-half hours of post game. And the broadcast is on CBS!

All of this seems to obscure the fact that this is a truly fascinating matchup. The Niners have a tremendous defense, No. 4 against both run and pass, and can generate tremendous pressure on the passer. Offensively, Colin Kaepernick has become one of the biggest playmakers at his position in half a season. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and even Randy Moss all can be dangerous. And Baltimore has the winningest road QB in NFL playoff history in Joe Flacco to go with All Pro Ray Rice to run the football. Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and Torry Smith are all legitimate threats in the passing game, and the pending retirement of superstar LB Ray Lewis has given the venerable Raven defense new life. According to Bovada, the first 48 hours of wagering saw 60 percent of the money go on the five-point underdog Ravens, which moved the line down to four. Las Vegas is expecting its largest handle ever. You can bet on everything from who wins to who wins the coin toss, and on whether or not a safety will be scored.

The Super Bowl is the grandest spectacle in sport and this year the game could, just possibly, live up to the hype.