FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The NFL must cancel its cheesy Super Bowl Media Day, cancel the ensuing days of roundtable interview sessions and cancel the coaches' closing interview sessions. As for the Beyoncé press conference -- well, that can stay, because no one should ever cancel Beyoncé.
The rest should go -- now. The Super Bowl might have the world's most aching need for minimalism, and now this matchup has that need crying out in the shrillest tone already. The game itself looks unusually fascinating. But the pre-game looks unusually unbearable.
The forecast calls for continued televised segments featuring Ray Lewis with an 80-percent chance of schmaltzy music. On its own, that is not so devastating. Lewis has forged an incredible career. Even his dance has some compelling elements -- OK, it doesn't, but he clearly has found his way to a self-actualized perch elusive to many.
He must be one incredible leader, because, from the outside, the Ravens routinely seem to lead the league in esprit de corps. As Terrell Suggs put it Sunday night in the Ravens' locker room when Lewis had gone to the interview room, "POTUS is at the podium."
The problem is, we went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz before the wild-card round, because that might have been his last game. We went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the divisional round, because that might have been his last game. And we went through a bit of mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the conference-title round, because that might have been his last game as well.
Thus has the Ray Lewis schmaltz schmaltzed itself out, except that Super Bowl weeks might just have a knack for attempting to resuscitate exhausted schmaltz. Already Lewis has served as the vortex of a Super Bowl week -- in Tampa, 2001, when the tragic night in Atlanta 12 months prior was still in the national conversation. Now he gets another try in a better vein, and there might be an urge to compare the two, which does send cold chills down the spine.
Come game time, though, Lewis and the defense will have to solve Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree and the human phenomenon known as Vernon Davis, and that will be something to see.
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You might have also heard that the two head coaches in this Super Bowl have the same surname and are related and are siblings. This means a continuous stream of chatter about the brothers, and then a separate effort by the brothers to deflect that same chatter. The very idea that two brothers who shared a bedroom as children could grow up to coach against each other in a Super Bowl defies belief, but it also stokes some weariness about the narrative.
A reporter mentioned this fatigue, and the Ravens' John Harbaugh glommed on: "You know what, I agree with you, let's just cut that right now. We did that last year [when the teams played on Thanksgiving]. It got old last year. You're right, move past that and let's talk about the two teams."
There are too many hours in the days to talk about just that. So, for one thing, the name "Jack Harbaugh" will return to the forefront, which figures to be uncomfortable for the only father of both Super Bowl coaches in history. I covered a few of Jack's games in the 1990s when he coached Western Kentucky and when Jim helped him save Western Kentucky football, and I figure Jack's national title in 2002 as a No. 15 seed easily trumps any little old Super Bowl title for degree-of-difficulty.
The problem is, this intra-family saga has a chance, just a chance, of intensifying the pre-game flow of sap.
Come the game, though, one coach's system built through five seasons of competent nibbling at this prize will collide with another coach's system built through two seasons of boldness and arrogance and Kaepernick, and that will be something to see.
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The forecast also calls for ample mentions of a deity who may or may not figure in NFL outcomes and in a wider sense may or may not exist. God came up a lot in the Ravens' comments Sunday night, with Ed Reed noting early on that God had "assembled" these Ravens, which could prompt puckish discussions about whether it was God or Ozzie Newsome.
You would have to achieve some concentric circle of gloominess not to feel happy for Reed, a marvelous football player whose Hall of Fame bust should be in the chiseling process. Reed has played 11 seasons with Baltimore. It took him 160 regular-season games plus 14 post-season games to get a Super Bowl, which happens to be taking place in his hometown. "I really don't have any words for it," he said. "I rushed in the locker room and called my mom."
And more: "To get here, man, it's amazing … I'm so grateful to go to the Crescent City."
The problem is, the talk could lead to a national discussion on whether God determines NFL outcomes, and the problem with that is there's no evidence for and no evidence against. We're all stuck wondering and guessing. In some circles, that could lead to a discussion of whether God exists, and the problem with that is that nobody can confirm yes and nobody can confirm no.
When it comes time for the kickoff, though, talented people who get their inspiration from myriad sources will clash, and this post-season has managed to sort out the strongest two teams at this point. Maybe the NFL could engage in rare irony and just have the game (plus Beyoncé). Maybe reporters could go to town and dine together in fellowship.
Or maybe it's best to repair to the many foreign places in the world -- note: almost all of them -- in which 99.9 percent of the people never heard of Lewis or the Harbaughs or Reed or Roger Goodell or any of it. As the Ravens greeted their greatly deserved fate on Sunday night, several of them strolled around the locker room unforeseeably singing "Two Tickets To Paradise," in imitation of Eddie Money singing to that family in the GEICO commercial.
Funny enough -- that routine is already getting old, too.