The Essential GAA Guide To Tonight's Superbowl
Tonight is America's biggest sports event of the year. In many ways, it epitomises the nation. A brash, loud, heavily commercialised and highly entertaining carnival. On Sunday the nation, and much of the globe, will be fixated on the contest at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It pits the juggernaut that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick against the plucky Philadelphia Eagles. A success-laden outfit despised by many against a team desperate for a win with a fanatical fanbase. If the Patriots win, they'll strengthen their case as the greatest dynasty in the history of NFL. If the Eagles win, it'll send their dedicated fans into delirium. The American Dublin v Mayo.
The Eagles are without Carson Wentz, the MVP contender who tore his ACL late last year and thus will start with backup Nick Foles at quarterback tonight. Foles had a promising start to the NFL but injuries saw him traded to the St Louis Rams and then the Kansas City Chiefs were he played backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs are like Tyrone from last year, a great start that saw many tout them as underdogs for the Championship until they collapsed against higher-quality opposition.
If the Patriots are Dublin then Belichick is an apt comparison with Jim Gavin. He is as emotionless on the sideline, equally brief with the media. Praise is earned and really means something. He is as ruthless with his players, having bombed out Randy Moss and Jamie Collins in the past in a similar vein to dropping your star half-forward prior to the All-Ireland final.
As any GAA fan worth his salt will know, your free-taker is crucial. The Eagles have a rookie kicker Jake Elliot. In the last five Super Bowl finals involving the Patriots, the biggest margin of victory has been six. Elliot is Cillian O'Connor, and his accuracy will be vital to the Eagles success.
Doug Pederson has never coached an NFL team prior to the Eagles, his biggest job was when he managing Kansas City's offence. Yet the inexperienced coach has brought them to the Super Bowl. He was widely criticised as underqualified, in a similar vein to the infamous 'Lions led by donkeys' jibe at Stephen Rochford.
As for the cliches you'll inevitably hear, here are their GAA counterpart.
They can rely on their Special Team.
They've another 15 on the line that are as good.
The line judge's presnap positioning was excellent.
The umpire took up a good position.
They've got to take it to the big house once more.
They need to go to the well again.
The big tight end out of Miami.
The big lad on the edge of the square from Ballybunion.
Away from the spindly comparisons, the Super Bowl is genuinely great in terms of an overall viewership experience and worth making the effort to see. It kicks off tonight at 11.30pm with live coverage on BBC 1 and Sky Sports Action.