The Definitive Guide to Super Bowl 2020 for Non-Football Fans

Presenting the ultimate handbook to the Super Bowl for all the people in need of a basic refresher before the big game.
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Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by nearly 100 million Americans, about one third of the country. By comparison, the most-watched conference championship game this year (the NFC title game on Fox) averaged 43.6 million viewers. So, roughly speaking, at least half of the people watching the Super Bowl this year are not going to be football fans. Some of them will probably be at your Super Bowl party—and you might even be one of them!—so here’s how to answer all of the inevitable questions surrounding the big game.

Where are the Patriots?

At home! Watching this game on TV like you! All because a loss to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the miserable Dolphins on the final day of the regular season cost them a first-round bye. Then the 9–7 Titans waltzed into Foxborough and Derrick Henry ran roughshod through the New England defense and Tom Brady looked every bit like a 42-year-old quarterback in a 20–13 loss.

But I want to root against the Patriots. Which team is most like the Patriots?

Well, the 49ers are quarterbacked by Tom Brady’s former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco is also the only other team in recent memory to put together a dynastic Patriots-like run, qualifying for the playoffs 16 times from 1981–98 and winning four Super Bowls in that span. But that’s ancient history—current Niners star Nick Bosa was only 15 months old the last time the franchise won a Super Bowl. There’s just no replacing the Patriots.

Which one of these teams does the NFL’s best player play for?

Neither! Those same Titans who dispatched the Patriots won again on the road against Lamar Jackson’s Ravens the following week. Jackson—who is a shoo-in for the MVP award after both leading the league in passing touchdowns and breaking Michael Vick’s single-season quarterback rushing yardage record—had 508 yards of total offense in the game, but his three turnovers cost the team dearly.

Who’s that ridiculously attractive guy they keep showing on the sideline?

Oh, you mean the guy with the absurdly chiseled jawline whose hair emerges from under his helmet perfectly tousled? That would be the aforementioned Garoppolo, the starting quarterback for the 49ers. And he’s more than just a pretty face. He’s one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL and was fifth in the league in passing touchdowns this season.

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Who’s the guy who looks like a walrus? He seems like a cool dude.

Andy Reid! The head coach of the Chiefs. He might be the only normal human in the football coaching profession. He’s just a guy who grew from a comically oversized child to one of the greatest offensive coaches in the history of football. He also once texted his mac and cheese recipe to a reporter after striking up a conversation at the airport and demolished a 40-ounce steak in just 19 minutes as a young assistant coach with the Packers. So yeah, he seems like a fun guy to hang out with.

What are some things I can expect the announcers to say over and over again tonight?

You’re definitely going to see that video clip of 12-year-old Andy Reid towering over his peers at the LA Coliseum. You’re definitely going to hear how Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana played for both of these teams.

I really can’t find a way to relate to these supremely talented people. Have any of them suffered any sort of horribly embarrassing incident like those that I, a normal person, experience on a near-daily basis?

Well, there’s the time Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones was running the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine and his penis fell out of his shorts

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