Newmann: Elegant mayhem |

Newmann: Elegant mayhem

Only two more sleeps until the kickoff of Super Bowl LVII (or 57, for those who don’t use Latin regularly).

After all the hype over the past few weeks, we’ll finally be able to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs battle it out for bragging rights as the best team in the National Football League — and, for that matter, the best gridiron team in the world (since most of the rest of the world does not play football with an oval ball).

The Super Bowl is the culmination of a 17-game regular season plus an additional two to three playoff games. Oh, and don’t forget the preseason games. With the size, speed and power of the current players, each game becomes a war of attrition. The healthy become less healthy, and the injury lists grow. And yet the remaining players and their teams (even those out of contention) persevere.

All of which brings us to Sunday’s big game. Two very good teams that have withstood the rigors of the season and have outstanding quarterbacks, explosive offenses and solid defenses. On paper, it should be a spectacular contest.

And, speaking of spectacular, we also have the added bonus of a Las Vegas-type half-time show featuring everyone’s favorite football fan, Rihanna; a national anthem sung by everyone’s favorite country-western football fan, Chris Stapleton; and a ton of new, 30-second ads for products that sponsors hope will become everybody’s favorites. At $7 million a pop for the commercials, the companies have to hope that, even if folks don’t remember the game, they remember the products.

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Even if you’re not into watching the battle of the offensive and defensive lines or the massive hits by the players on one another, there are some singular events that can stand out (even for the non-fans). The quarterback, standing tall in the pocket, looking perfectly at ease in the midst of the surrounding chaos, going through his reads of receivers and — at the last minute, defender in his face — tossing a completed pass with a perfect trajectory. Or the running back patiently following his blockers, waiting, waiting and then, presto, ducking into an open space and sprinting down the field.

But the most elegant moves come from the receivers, the ballet artists of the war zone. They are paired against defensive backs, who are every bit as agile and often just as quick. The two antagonists often perform a pas de deux, a dance where the receivers must use guile to shake off their defenders and get themselves open. Their routes are intricate, based on timing and location, choreographed to the moment. At the snap of the ball, they begin a series of elaborate moves — often accompanied by sheer strength — to get past the defensive coverage. And to get into position to make the catch.

And the catches can be sublime. A receiver, neck and neck with a safety on a back-shoulder throw, goes airborne over the defender (whose hands are in his face) to make a one-hand grab. A wideout tiptoes just inside the chalk line, hauls in the ball while the rest of his body falls out of bounds. Artistry within bedlam.

And so on to Sunday’s clash. Within the mix of hoopla, salesmanship and hype, we have to hope for one super aspect of the Super Bowl: that it turns out to be a very good game.

Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at

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