Column: A preview of things to expect during Super Bowl week
There have been 50 of these already, making this Super Bowl LI in the roman numerals the NFL uses to make sure no one forgets just how important the game really is.
And important it is, at least as a national holiday of sorts to the 100 million Americans who will tune in. People who have no clue who Malcolm Mitchell is and are only vaguely aware of Matt Ryan will party in homes and bars across the country.
But there are things that even the casual fan should know. So here's a primer on what will happen Super Bowl week in Houston:
- Bill Belichick will refuse to go to media day, saying he's already told the media everything he knows.
- Robert Kraft will read a speech on arrival about ''Deflategate'' that he wrote on a cocktail napkin on the airplane.
- Commissioner Roger Goodell will use his state of the NFL address to lay out the league's position on Las Vegas. Goodell will surprise some when he offers an over/under of $1 billion when asked how much Vegas taxpayers should lay out for the Raiders.
- President Trump will give a pregame interview marveling about the large crowd on hand to see the game.
- A sportswriter will write about the lack of trash talking, just to be able to use Hollywood Henderson's line about Terry Bradshaw not being able to spell Cat if he was spotted the C and T.
- The Patriots will announce the signing of a flag football wide receiver Belichick noticed at a local park while on his way to get coffee. The player will end up catching two touchdown passes and being named MVP.
- Luke Bryan will draw out the last note of the national anthem, sparking fist bumps from those who bet the over at 2:09.
- The Patriots will lose the coin flip, then accuse the Falcons of cheating.
- Fans in Las Vegas sports books will tear up five-team parlays that have the Patriots winning the coin flip.
- Bradshaw will open the broadcast by reminding everyone that he, like Tom Brady, has won four Super Bowls. He'll then go on to say he doesn't think Belichick is a very good coach.
- Houston civic leaders will declare that hosting the Super Bowl brings the spotlight of the country to a great Texas city.
- A poll of people watching on TV will find out 97 percent of them have no idea where the game is being played.
- Lady Gaga will say something nasty about President Trump. He'll respond by saying Janet Jackson's halftime show the last time the Super Bowl was in Houston was much better.
- Janet Jackson will have a wardrobe malfunction. No one will notice.
- The Chargers announce at halftime that instead of moving north to Los Angeles, they will move south to Tijuana. Mexico immediately announces plans for a border wall of its own.
- A company no one has heard of will spend $5 million on a Super Bowl commercial. No one will notice.
- Someone on the broadcast will say ''Houston, we have a problem'' when the game gets out of hand.
- People partying at home will think Matty Ice is a new craft beer.
- The Falcons will score only 14 points, half of them coming on a pick 6. Immediately, bloggers will say it's because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had his mind on the 49ers offense instead of the Falcons.
- The confetti will still be falling on the winning players when Shanahan is named the new head coach of the 49ers.
- The Super Bowl will go to overtime for the first time when Brady scores on a 93-yard broken field run to tie the game as time expires.
- Falcons owner Arthur Blank will vow to dance all night despite his team's loss.
- Goodell gives the Super Bowl trophy to Kraft, who pulls out a second cocktail napkin from his pocket to respond.
- Tom Brady will announce his retirement after winning a record fifth Super Bowl ring. He says he's eager to begin his new job as a presidential counselor in charge of media relations.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg