51 fascinating things to know about Super Bowl LI
HOUSTON — The Super Bowl, aka your best yearly excuse to crush a six-pack on a Sunday night, is today!
You already know the basics: The Atlanta Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan will take on the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in a battle between North and South; veterans and Super Bowl neophytes.
For all the nitty-gritty game-day details, consult the handy box below. For 51 completely random and mildly interesting facts you can use to annoy people at your Super Bowl gathering, just read on.
Super Bowl 51: On the #RoadtoHouston with Heather Lake
About the teams
1. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls, all of them with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm.
2. This is only the second trip to the Super Bowl for Atlanta, and they didn’t win the first time.
3. The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl nine times, an NFL record.
4. They have won four times, which is not a record.
5. That belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won six.
6. Tom Brady has been to seven Super Bowls, the most trips by any single player. He has been in the NFL for 17 years, and may actually be immortal.
7. The Patriots were penalized this year as a result of “Deflategate,” the controversy stemming from a 2015 playoff game that preceded the Patriots winning Super Bowl IL. Please don’t make us explain it again, but the upshot was Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of this season.
8. Shockingly, people are pretty tired of seeing the Patriots win. According to one poll, more than half the country is rooting for a Falcons victory.
9. In fact, a lot of fans have been comparing this Super Bowl to the plot of “Star Wars,” with the Falcons being the upstart “rebels” and the Patriots being the reigning “empire.” This is not a favorable comparison for the Patriots, but when you have four rings already, you have to deal with a little flak sometimes.
10. It looks like fans are hoping for a close, high-scoring game. On the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, the Patriots were favored to win by 3 points. The over/under for total score was 58.5.
11. At least one star will be notably absent from the field. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom you may know as that tank top guy in the Dunkin’ Donuts commercials, is injured and will not be playing for New England; though he will be there in spirit and also in a Tide ad.
12. Gronkowski has the most Twitter followers (nearly 2 million) of any player on a Super Bowl team this year.
Other people to know
13. Some famous Patriots fans are Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Captain America Chris Evans, most if not all of New Kids on the Block, and President Donald Trump.
14. Some famous Falcons fans are: Samuel L. Jackson, President Jimmy Carter and country star Zac Brown.
15. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is one of the founders of The Home Depot.
16. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is the chief executive of the Kraft Group. He has owned several other Boston-area sports teams, including the Boston Lobsters, a defunct professional tennis team with the most perfect logo ever.
About the music
17. Lady Gaga is the Super Bowl halftime act.
18. You will recall, she sang the national anthem for Super Bowl 50 last year.
19. Country star Luke Bryan will perform the anthem this year.
20. He is from Leesburg, Georgia (also the hometown of baseball star and fellow perfect-teeth-haver Buster Posey). Naturally, Bryan is a Falcons fan.
21. Members of the original “Hamilton” cast will sing “America the Beautiful.”
About the commercials
22. This year, a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl reportedly costs between $5 million and $5.5 million.
23. The median annual household income in the United States is about $55,000, which amounts to about .3 seconds of Super Bowl airtime.
24. The surprise of the ads is sort of ruined these days because so many of the commercials are released ahead of time.
25. So far, people are talking about Budweiser’s immigration-themed spot…
and a deeply unholy Mr. Clean ad.
We are all sinners now. SPEAKING OF, let’s talk about…
Houston, a den of sin
26. Houston is the fourth-most populous city in the United States. A fun way to get people to shun you while the game is on is to ask them to name the other most populous cities (New York is No. 1, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago).
27. It has a beer can house. Shameful.
28. And Houston is where the infamous hip-hop “beverage” “Purple drank” (aka “lean,” “sizzurp,” “a horrible idea”) originated. It’s a mix of cough syrup, soda and Jolly Ranchers.
29. Last time the Super Bowl was in Houston, it was NIPPLEGATE.
30. That was where Justin Timberlake pulled off a piece of Janet Jackson’s top, exposing her breast. There was a LOT of talk about whether it was staged, and Jackson in particular got flak about it for years.
31. For the young ones, this incident is also where we get the tongue-in-cheek term “wardrobe malfunction.”
32. Also, the last time the Super Bowl was in Houston, the Patriots won…
Superstitions and weird coincidences
33. The Patriots will wear white jerseys and the Falcons will wear red.
34. The Falcons actually CHOSE this arrangement, even though white-shirted teams have won 32 of 50 Super Bowls to date, including 11 of the past 12 Super Bowls.
35. Five teams other than the Falcons have worn red jerseys, and the overall red jersey record for the Super Bowl is 5-4. The 49ers are especially lucky in the color, having won three of their five championships while wearing it.
36. We’ve gone over the fact that the Patriots won the last time the game was in Houston, but there are even more similarities between that game at the end of the 2003 season and this one. For instance:
37. The Patriots have the same record (16-2).
38. They last won a Super Bowl two years ago.
39. They are playing an NFC South team (in Super Bowl XXXVIII, it was the Panthers).
40. Unrelated, Falcons QB Matt Ryan went to Boston College, in the heart of Patriots territory
Theme songs and bling
41. The NFL theme song (baba ba, baba ba, baba ba ba baaaa!) was composed by a guy named Scott Schreer. It was designed to sound like “Batman on Steroids.” Apt, because listening to the whole thing at once feels like injecting testosterone directly into your ear holes.
42. The Super Bowl theme is different, if not a bit more elegant, and was composed by David Robidoux.
43. Each Super Bowl ring awarded to the Patriots after their 2015 win was worth $36,500 (owner Robert Kraft footed the bill — more than $5 million for 150 rings).
44. The Vince Lombardi Trophy, given to the winning team, is produced by famed jeweler Tiffany & Co.
45. There has never been a Super Bowl that has gone into overtime. Please football gods, spare us once more.
46. Maybe you’ve heard of the Matthews family? Theyre a big deal in football. Jake Matthews currently plays left tackle for the Falcons. His cousin is Clay Matthews, of Green Bay Packers fame. According to ESPN, the Matthews family has been represented in — wait for it — EVERY NFL SEASON SINCE 1978.
47. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Jake Matthews is from Houston.
48. This year, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be coaching the Super Bowl with his two sons in tow. Steve Belichick is the team’s safeties coach, and Brian Belichick is a scouting assistant.
49. At 41, Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant will be the third-oldest player to appear in a Super Bowl (the oldest was 42 and also a kicker).
50. Tom Brady also is long in the tooth at 39, but if he wins, he would still be a few months younger than than the oldest Super Bowl-winning QB, who is…
51. Peyton Manning, who nabbed that honor when the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 last year. He was 39.
That makes it sound like he died. He didn’t, he just retired.
WHEW. If you got this far, you deserve your own ring! Why not waste time before the big game with even more Super Bowl coverage from CNN?