Friday, January 31, 2014

SUPERBOWL CHEATSHEET: Mannings Take Manhattan (or at Least New Jersey)

Don't like sports? Forced to attend a seven hour Super Bowl party with people paying varying levels of attention to each other? You've come to the right place. Here are some trivia bullets to get you through the evening, and maybe even help you accidentally enjoy yourself. I mean, the Chili Peppers are doing halftime, and then auctioning off their special drum kit to benefit Make-A-Wish! Improve your attitude!


THE VENUE
  • MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey (basically New York City)
  • New stadium, opened spring of 2010
  • Shared home of the New York Giants and New York Jets (only two teams in the league that share a stadium)
  • It includes a total of four locker rooms: one for the Giants, one for the Jets and two for visiting teams.
  • Between the two NFL teams, concerts, and special events, the stadium was named the top grossing stadium in the world
  • Capacity: 82,500 (90,000 for non-football major events)
  • The first open-air stadium in a cold-weather U.S. city to host the Super Bowl.
  • Before the Jets and Giants agreed to collaborate on this new stadium, the Jets originally planned to build a new stadium on the west side of Manhattan as part of New York City's 2012 Olympic bid.


THE TEAMS

Seattle Seahawks
  • Team founded in 1976.
  • Seattle held a ‘civic suggestion campaign’ to name team; there were more than 20,000 entries (but only about 1,700 unique names).
  • Original team owner died of a heart attack before the team played its first game.
  • Seahawks were added as an expansion team to the NFC, switched to the AFC after one year, then switched back to the NFC again in 2002. During their AFC years, the Seahawks were in the same division as the Broncos (with the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders) and played each other twice every season.
  • Seattle is the only team that has switched conferences.
  • Seattle’s stadium was specifically engineered to be the loudest (open air) stadium in the NFL; December 2013 they broke the ‘crowd noise’ record in the Guinness Book of World Records. During a playoff game touchdown run in 2011, the crowd got so loud that it registered as an earthquake on a nearby seismograph.
  • The Seahawks refer to their very loud, very enthusiastic crowd as “The 12th Man” and raise a flag in their honor in their stadium before every home game.
  • They share their loud, rowdy stadium with Seattle’s MLS soccer team (the Sounders).
  • The Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2005 Super Bowl. That was their only prior Super Bowl appearance.
  • Coach Pete Carroll (age 62) coached at powerhouse University of Southern California (USC) from 2000-2009, where he won multiple championships (and then kinda fled in the midst of an NCAA investigation). He also chews a lot of gum.
  • Marshawn Lynch (age 27, #24) was the guy running when the Seahawks fans registered their “earthquake” – now they refer to him as “Beast Mode.” When he was a kid, his mom would give him “power pellets” (Skittles candy). In 2011, fans noticed a trainer giving him Skittles to celebrate a touchdown, and now when he scores, fans give him “rainbow showers” (throw candy at him) in the endzone. Skittles produced limited edition “Seattle Mix” candy in Seahawk colors for Super Bowl week. ESPN did a “Sports Science” experiment to see how Skittles actually affect his performance.
  • Defensive player Richard Sherman (age 25, #25) grew up in Compton, California, graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Communications and has begun graduate studies there, as well. He has the reputation for being very articulate, but also rather mouthy. He once tweeted a picture of himself talking to Tom Brady after the Seahawks beat the Patriots with the caption: “U mad bro?” Whatever, I laughed.
  • Quarterback Russell Wilson (age 25, #3) has been drafted by both major league baseball and the NFL (if he played baseball, he’d be with the Texas Rangers). He won the inaugural Big Ten Championship game with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2011. The Seahawks drafted him as a backup in 2012, but he won the starting job before the season even started. Experts said he was too short to play quarterback in the NFL (he’s 5’11”). He often posts Bible verses on Twitter (@DangeRussWilson) and includes Matthew 6:33 in his Twitter bio.


Denver Broncos
  • Team founded in 1960, never moved to or from any other city.
  • Founded by Bob Howsam, who owned a minor league baseball team. He built his baseball stadium too big (34,000 seater), and needed more revenue to survive the deep debt that resulted. Thus, he started a football team.
  • Howsam had a “name the team” contest, which resulted in the name “Broncos.”
  • During its first season, the team was so financially strapped that the players wore used uniforms featuring hilariously hideous vertically-striped socks. Two years later, the new head coach’s first order of business was to hold a public sock burning ceremony to usher in a new era.
  • Played in six (6) Super Bowls and won two (2) in 1997 & 1998, both with quarterback John Elway (now the Broncos’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations). The 1998 Super Bowl was Elway’s final game.
  • Players tend to celebrate touchdowns by giving the ‘Mile High Salute’ – a military-style gesture given to fans and teammates originally popularized by former Bronco Terrell Davis in the late 1990s.
  • The Broncos nearly made it to the Super Bowl with quarterback Jake Plummer in 2006, when they lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. A few months later, they drafted Jay Cutler.
  • Obligatory Tebowmania bullet: remember the 80 yard touchdown in overtime against the Steelers in the 2011 playoffs? The receiver who caught that Tebow throw (Demaryius Thomas, #88) is still on the team!
  • Earlier this season coach John Fox was hospitalized with heart problems that resulted in aortic heart valve replacement surgery. He was back with the team about a month later and now says he’s never felt better.
  • Receiver Wes Welker (#83) played in two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots (lost both).
  • Defender Champ Bailey (age 35, #24) has been a Bronco (and fan favorite) for 10 years; this is his first Super Bowl. His real first name is Roland. His younger brother Boss Bailey played for the Detroit Lions.
  • December 2013, kicker Matt Prater broke the record for longest field goal in NFL history (64 yards), though some argue he had an advantage, kicking in Denver’s thin, mile-high air.
  • When the Broncos score at home, a white horse (and rider) runs the length of the field in celebration. This real life bronco was born with the name ‘Winter Solstice’ but took the name ‘Thunder’ (the traditional name of the Bronco’s mascot). Thunder trained extensively for the job to get used to the lines on the field. He also leads the team out of the tunnel at the beginning of games.


The Peyton Manning Stuff
(Note: This cheatsheet was created by a crazed Indianapolis Colts fan, NOT an impartial observer. If you want bias-free trivia, ask someone else. Also, the Colts beat BOTH of these teams during the regular season.)
  • Born March 24, 1976 (37 years old) in New Orleans.
  • His father Archie was the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints from 1971-1982.
  • His brother Eli (33 years old) is the adorable quarterback of the New York Giants.
  • Eli heroically won the Super Bowl in Indianapolis during Peyton’s tragic last year with the Colts; now Peyton has the chance to triumph in Eli’s stadium as well.
  • Peyton and Eli’s older brother Cooper (39 years old) was on track to be a pro-caliber receiver, but was forced to quit football in college due to a spine condition. Now he’s a partner at a lucrative energy investment firm. I love him.
  • Peyton married his gorgeous but spotlight-avoiding wife Ashley in 2001. They have two perfect children (~3 year old twins, a boy named Marshall and a girl named Mosley). I'm so glad we got Marshall into a Colts jersey at least once in his beautiful little life.
  • Peyton was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 (first overall pick) and signed with Denver in 2012.
  • There is a hospital in Indianapolis is named Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
  • Peyton missed the entire 2011 season after a messed up disk in his neck caused nerve damage that resulted in numbness and weakness in his throwing arm. After four neck surgeries and a full year of rehabilitation, the Colts released Peyton (and most of their other players and coaches). Because he was released and not traded, Peyton was able to choose which team he wanted to play for. After visiting a few teams, he chose Denver.
  • Between Peyton and Eli, the Manning family has played in five of the last eight Super Bowls; Eli won both of his; Peyton has won one and lost one so far.
  • Papa Archie never made the playoffs but is still a winner.


For the first time in many years, I'll actually be attending a Super Bowl party - for the first half. I'll be watching the second half from an undisclosed location because if Peyton wins, I don't want to cry in public.