When the National Football League added an extra game to every team’s schedule at the start of the 2021 season, I knew this day was coming.
It stood to reason that a 17th game would elongate the regular season, and given they weren’t going to start it any earlier than Labour Day, that meant it would now stretch into the second week of February. That’s likely inconsequential to most people, but for me, it meant the unthinkable could happen: the Super Bowl could be played on my wife’s birthday!
The schedule had been fixed at 16 games for more than 40 years, which typically landed the big game in very late January or the first few days of February, which provided me with plenty of breathing room.
But once the season was extended by a week, I knew it was only a matter of time. I dodged that bullet by a couple of days the first time around and by a day last year, but that inevitability caught up to me this year. Apparently, leap year didn't come soon enough.
Before I go on, I must make it perfectly clear that my wife isn’t someone who wants a fuss made of her birthday, and even if she did, you’ve got to think that being underwhelmed on that occasion for the past three decades would have lowered her expectations by now.
Nevertheless, plunking down on the couch to watch the Super Bowl on your wife’s birthday, particularly when she isn’t much of a football fan, is breaking ground that even I know should remain unbroken. And the idea of going out for dinner after the game is a non-starter because even though it’s the same 60 minutes as every other contest during the season, watching the Super Bowl can often feel like an eternity.
These conflicting dates might well be a blessing in disguise because as likeable as Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce seem to be, the whole Chiefs-in-the-Super-Bowl thing is getting a bit old. And that’s before you even factor in the non-stop Taylor Swift references that will undoubtedly form part of the interminably long broadcast.
The pop star is so likely to become a significant story line that betting sites are offering all kinds of props, including whether she’ll be shown during the national anthem (quite likely) or the halftime show (that’s a toss-up). There are even odds of her being mentioned during the MVP's post-game speech.
There’s no doubt that, in true American fashion, the Super Bowl has become an outsized event, so ridiculously hyped that it routinely struggles to live up to the billing, but it returns the following year with even grander expectations.
Perhaps this confluence of dates is somehow a sign to me that although the hype train will carry on, I’ve reached a personal saturation point when it comes to the Super Bowl and that it might be time not to sit through its entirety.
OK, so maybe that’s reading too much into a schedule change fueled by nothing more than a cash grab. Maybe I should just be thankful that my wife wasn’t born in June during the NBA finals.