It’s time for yet another exciting and helpful set of tips for not embarrassing yourself while watching the Super Bowl (otherwise known as the World Cup of football) with your friends!

So, based on last year’s guide, how did your Super Bowl party turn out?

It was pretty good, although it got awkward for some reason when I asked when the players would start kissing.

Ah. You see, there’s your problem—they generally don’t kiss.

Yes they do. I’ve seen it a lot.

I think you’re confused—you seem to be talking about porn videos.

What makes you say that?

Well, how were the players dressed?

You know, football gear—shoulder pads, jock straps.

Were they wearing anything else, like jerseys, pants, helmets?

Not really.

Would you describe the “players” as, say, six-foot-five, 250-pound guys in their late 20s or early 30s?

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No, they were closer to five-eight, I’m guessing 140, 150, and probably around 20 years old.

Yeah, you were watching gay pornography.

Oh.

It didn’t strike you as odd that NFL games would only feature two to five players, and would be broadcast on Tumblr?

Now that you mention it…

Send me the links later, just so I can make sure. That aside, I’m glad that you enjoyed your Super Bowl party last year, but now it’s time for this year’s big game, featuring the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.

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Wait, last year you said the Broncos didn’t make it because Peyton Manning turned 100. This year he’d be 101, so how did he get the team back to the Super Bowl?

Well, they have a great defense, which is the main reason they’re in it. Plus, Peyton had a bit of a resurgence this year, due to hard work and intelligence—

Wasn’t there something about him getting HGH shipments?

You shut your damn mouth.

Sorry. Hey, on a completely unrelated note, didn’t you go to the University of Ten—

What did I just say about what you should do with your damn mouth? Anyway, here are some tips for deciding who to root for this year:

Geography: If you live in one of the Carolinas, you are contractually obligated to root for the Panthers. If you live in Colorado or Tennessee, you have to root for the Broncos.

Wait, don’t they have any players other than Peyton Manning?

I don’t know. I’d have to look it up. Probably.

And if you have to root for the Broncos if you live in Tennessee, do you have to root for the Panthers if you live in Alabama? After all, Cam Newton went to Auburn.

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True, but Auburn is the “second school” in the state, and most of the football fans there root for their rival.

Anyway, if you don’t live in one of those states, you can root based on aesthetics. The Panthers will be wearing their really cool black, silver, and blue uniforms:

The Broncos, on the other hand, will be wearing their road whites with the ugly stylized horse thing on the sides:

Speaking of ugly stylized horses, this asshole runs the team now:

Is this a Browns fan thing—

Karliss missed that fucking kick!

Huh?

Sorry. From an aesthetics point of view, the Panthers win this one, hands-down.

Now, let’s talk about the coaches. The Panthers are coached by Ron Rivera,

who spent years being “the next head coach” [it’s a football thing] before finally getting a shot with the Panthers. He’s good at what he does, although he has a really dumb reputation as a coach who takes risks because he does things like going for it on fourth down when the team has a statistically good chance of making it.

That doesn’t sound risky.

It’s not, but most NFL coaches are cowards. All you need to know is, if it’s fourth down and the Panthers’ offense stays on the field, holler out, “There goes Riverboat Ron again!” and the football fans in the room will get what you’re saying, even if you don’t.

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The Broncos are coached by Gary Kubiak, who spent years as a reasonably non-descript coach in Houston until they sucked one year, he had some kind of a stroke, then got fired. This is his first year back as a head coach, so it’s kind of a feel-good story, because he is pretty good at what he does. Plus he’s ably assisted by Wade Phillips, who has somehow been the head coach of every team in the NFL despite never being all that good (or all that bad), and who is everyone’s fat grandpa:


Now, the players. This is all you need to know about this game: it’s about the two quarterbacks. The rest of the teams are actually pretty similar—great defenses, good, sometimes excellent offenses. What differentiates the teams—and what you’ll hear about for five damn hours—is the quarterback matchup. The Panthers are led by superhuman comic book character Cam Newton:

I’ve heard about him! Isn’t he ruining the game, or something like that?

No, he’s not. Sports writers like to say that because he’s black overly exuberant and doesn’t win the way white more old-school quarterbacks do—head down, do your job and leave it at that. Plus something about being scrappy. What you need to know about him is that he is an exceptionally good quarterback, and is one of the more entertaining players you’ll ever see, especially if you only watch one game a year.

He sounds great.

Well, aside from getting kicked out of his first college for stealing a laptop, using said laptop on the university’s server, then throwing said laptop out his dorm window when the cops came to investigate

What a dumbass!

He was young. And a dumbass. But by all appearances he’s not that kind of dumbass anymore, so we might chalk it up to standard college dumbassery.

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You see? This is my objection to big-time football. A player commits a felony, but because of his ability to throw a ball and entertain the masses, he’s forgiven for his “indiscretions” while another student would be thrown out of school and possibly face jail time. He certainly wouldn’t be “punished” by spending a year at a junior college before resurfacing at another major school, winning even more adulation, and finally being rewarded with millions of dollars because an even richer group of people thought that he could make them money.

…and if you’re attending a Super Bowl party with embittered academics, you should absolutely say that. It will go over like gangbusters.

Am I wrong?

Probably not. Anyway, the Broncos are led by 184 year-old reanimated corpse Peyton Manning:

Good God, what happened to his forehead?

His helmet. And genetics. And nature’s cruel sense of humor. Manning isn’t nearly as sharp as he once was, but he is one of the greatest pure passers in the history of the game. He’s a compelling story because he’s almost certainly going to retire after the game, and a win would give him a second Super Bowl ring—he’s already the only QB to have ever taken two different teams to two Super Bowls. A win would allow him to lope off into the sunset as a champion.

He sounds great.

As a player, sure. He’s also kind of a dick. And he’s friends with an even bigger dick:

So who should I root for? Help me, you jerk!

I wish I could, but I’m struggling with this myself. This isn’t even a head-heart situation; it’s more of a heart-heart one. My heart wants Cam Newton to win because he’s a great player and I want ever so desperately to see most sportswriters suffer. But it also wants Peyton Manning to win, because he’s 184 years old and went to my old school; at the same time, I hate the idea of casting my lot in with all of the “play the game the right way” sportswriters, even if I would root for him for completely different reasons. It’s very nerve-wracking, like this high-level ethical debate:


So…?

I…just don’t know. If you live in one of the above-mentioned states, root for the team that plays there. If not, flip a coin. Me, I’m going to avoid the problem altogether by skipping a rooting interest and hoping for a good game, decent commercials, and a good, old fashioned bench-clearing brawl at some point.

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