Forget Thanksgiving. Super Bowl Sunday is America’s true unleashing of its national id, the day the country gorges itself on beer and chicken wings, patriotism, pop culture, hero worship, machismo, fireworks, sanctioned violence and consumerist yearning.
If you were watching on Sunday night — of course you were! — you know all this. But there was a lot going on, maybe even in your living room. So here are a few things that might have escaped your attention as you waited for and then rocked to Rihanna.
1. Nick Sirianni’s Tears
As the country music star Chris Stapleton sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni wept quietly into his beard. A Fox camera lingered on Sirianni for 10 seconds before cutting away. At the start of the third quarter, Fox included Sirianni’s tears in a first-half highlight reel.
Sirianni, 41, is known as an emotional guy, prone to throwing his headset and mugging for TV cameras.
“I don’t really mind that. I wouldn’t like a coach who didn’t wear his emotions out on the field,” Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata said last week. With Sirianni, he said, “you know when he’s happy, you know when he’s angry.”
And you know when he’s listening to the national anthem.
2. Kansas City Fans Being Kansas City Fans
At the end of the anthem, Kansas City fans at the game in Arizona upheld an Arrowhead Stadium tradition by singing “and the home of the Chiefs” instead of “and the home of the brave.” Before the game, about 50 people protested the name of the team and the fans’ tomahawk chop hand gesture because they see them as disrespectful to Native Americans, but the traditions live on.
Damar Hamlin’s Collapse
The Buffalo Bills safety went into cardiac arrest during an N.F.L. game in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. He was released from the hospital on Jan. 11.
- Injury and Reaction: The life-threatening injury to Damar Hamlin, which was televised on “Monday Night Football,” resonated around the league and the world of sports.
- His Recovery: Hamlin, who returned home nine days after his collapse and spoke publicly for the first time on Jan. 28, appears to be on a good path for neurological recovery.
- Beating the Odds: Hamlin should not have survived, if statistics on cardiac arrests are any guide. Meet the doctors, nurses and medical professionals at a Cincinnati hospital who saved his life.
- A Precarious Position: Hamlin’s injury has drawn attention to young N.F.L. players who have been hurt early in their careers and now struggle to get help.
3. Serena Williams Selling Drinks
Williams, who said last August that she was “evolving away from tennis,” continued to evolve as a pitchwoman, appearing in ads for two alcohol brands, Rémy Martin cognac and Michelob Ultra beer.
The Rémy Martin ad cast Williams as a coach exhorting a football team (and, for some reason, dancers and kitchen workers) to “fight our way back into the light one inch at a time.”
In the Michelob Ultra commercial, a riff on the film “Caddyshack,” Williams sinks a putt to win a match against the actor Brian Cox, who stands in for Ted Knight, who played Judge Smails in the film.
4. One of the Many Tributes
So many honors were bestowed during the Super Bowl broadcast that it would have been easy to miss at least one of them.
There were tributes to America, to the emergency medical workers who saved Bills safety Damar Hamlin, to Damar Hamlin, to the former N.F.L. running back Walter Payton, to Andrew Whitworth (last year’s winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award), to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (this year’s winner), to the former N.F.L. linebacker Pat Tillman (who was killed while serving with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan), to the Tillman scholars (veterans who receive scholarships from Tillman’s foundation), to the latest class of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, and to Julia Crossley, 12, a sixth-grader from Arizona who was selected as the N.F.L. Play 60 Super Kid. Among others.
5. Cryptocurrency Ads
You missed them because they didn’t air. Last year, crypto ads were so ubiquitous that the Super Bowl became known as the Crypto Bowl, with Coinbase, Crypto.com, eToro and FTX — remember the hard-to-impress Larry David? — all buying spots.
Today, FTX is bankrupt; its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, is awaiting trial on charges that he presided over the theft of billions in customer deposits; several other exchanges have gone bankrupt; and $2 trillion in assets have been vaporized.
Can we interest you in some cognac?
6. Players Slipping
You would have been forgiven, at certain moments, for mistaking the game for the N.H.L. Winter Classic. Players on both teams lost their footing on the grass in State Farm Stadium, particularly on the painted logos.
At halftime, the Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox commentator Terry Bradshaw pointed out that Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts had changed into longer cleats. “This field is slippery,” Bradshaw said. After Rihanna’s halftime performance, a legion of groundskeepers worked to fill the divots left by the stage.
In the third quarter, the Eagles’ Jake Elliott slipped while kicking off, just as Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker had done in the first game of the season at the same stadium. Butker missed four games with an injury.
Deadspin posted an article saying, “the N.C.A.A. and N.F.L. should give serious consideration to never playing a critical game in Glendale again.”
All of which must have been unsettling for George Toma, 94, known as the God of Sod, who helped prepare the field, as he has done for all 57 Super Bowls.
7. Gronk’s Field Goal Attempt
Rob Gronkowski’s attempt to kick a field goal in a promotion for the sportsbook FanDuel, mercilessly promoted during the two weeks before the game, unfolded with all the narrative tension of a call from a telemarketer. An onscreen label said the 30-second commercial was live, but it didn’t look live, and it was hard to tell whether Gronkowski, the retired N.F.L. tight end, made the kick, even though he collapsed in a pantomime of disappointment and FanDuel later said he missed it.
8. Rihanna’s Tether
Rihanna floated into the stadium atop a glowing platform suspended by cables. It was a magical — and slightly scary — entrance, given that she appeared to be hovering a few stories above the field. Yikes, what if she danced too close to the edge, especially given that she appeared to be (and was later confirmed to be) pregnant?
But not to worry: Like a window washer on a scaffold, Rihanna was secured by a cable with what looked, in photographs, like a sturdy carabiner. And doesn’t that look like a safety harness beneath her red jacket?
9. Travis Kelce Yelling
Actually, if you watched the postgame celebration, you couldn’t have missed this. Kelce, Kansas City’s star tight end, answered every interview question as if he were a Marine recruit responding to a drill sergeant.
“Not one of you all said the Chiefs were going to take it home this year,” he hollered, possibly at the Fox announcers who unanimously picked Philadelphia. “Not one!”
10. Your Family
It was a high-scoring game that went down to the wire. Be honest — do you even know where they were?