The most ridiculous and the most overrated week in American sports begins in less than 24 hours when the media hordes and then the competing teams, Denver and Seattle, descend on the New York City area as a prelude to the championships game of the National Football League, known somewhat by accident but most fortuitously as the Super Bowl.
For starters, by dint of his infamous rant following the NFC title game, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman will be the main focus of the media attention.
Consider for a second what Sherman has done. He divided the country’s sporting public and then some in half with that crazed screed. Sherman looked like a man possessed as he dispatched civility, modesty and good sportsmanship -- all laudable traits -- in putting down the talents of defeated opponent Michael Crabtree and in proclaiming himself the best at what he does.
Such was Sherman’s manner in front of the Fox cameras that young children watching could well be bothered by nightmares for years.
And what was the accomplishment that brought Sherman to the the Fox microphone after the game? By his own admission, he covered a ‘mediocre’ wide receiver. He then proceeded to make what may be the most overrated play in the history of the NFL. He tipped a pass. That’s right, he deflected a pass that was then intercepted by a teammate.
And for that -- and his mighty mouth -- he has become one of the most famous athletes in the United States.
Sherman has been depicted as a hatemonger and as a truth-teller. He’s been called a jerk and been labeled a hero.
Since when is being a big-mouth who puts down other people and praises himself something to be applauded? But this from NFL.com:
Sherman’s agent, Jamie Fritz, ''said interest in his client has exploded since his post-game outburst went viral.’’ He further suggested, without much proof, that upwards of $5 million in endorsements could be coming Sherman’s way.
By most accounts, Sherman is a smart guy, a decent guy and a very good football player. That meant little until he behaved like an idiot. What a country!
Second in line for media attention behind Sherman will be Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who is in the discussion for being the greatest to ever play his position. He is coming off what is, at least statistically, the greatest season ever for an NFL quarterback. He set records for yardage and touchdown passes in leading the Broncos to a 13-3 record and an amazing 606 points.
No doubt his 2013 accomplishments will be much discussed this week along with his place in the history of the game. But those significant topics could well take second place in the media conversation to Manning’s use of the word "Omaha" in his pre-snap verbal dance.
According to columnist Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman, the largest city in Nebraska and the long-time home the college World Series now is best known as Manning's code word.
Wrote Tramel: “ ‘Omaha, Omaha!’ he barked 44 times at the line of scrimmage against the Chargers in the AFC semifinals. 'Omaha, Omaha!’ he called 31 times against the Patriots in the AFC title game.’ ’’
If the Omaha World-Herald previously had not been sending a writer to cover the Super Bowl, chances are it is this year.
The actual game could well play out as one of the best in recent seasons. It matches the great Seattle defense -- No. 1 in points allowed and yards allowed -- against the great Denver offense -- No. 1 in yards and points.
Some will portray it as a match of good vs. bad: Manning is the quintessential American hero, a humble man who allows his actions to speak for his deeds. Sherman, by his choice, is the quintessential American lout, a man who believes he must scream about his deeds in order to be noticed.
Should be some game come Sunday. Which is when most of America will start paying attention to the Super Bowl.