I’ve learned that it’s usually a good idea to minimize expectations. People will remember if you brag about being able to do something and then fail to deliver. Promises can be hard to keep. It’s better to approach any task with an attitude of “let’s see what we can do.” Then, everyone is delighted if you accomplish it.

That brings us to two annual all-American traditions scheduled this weekend. The first is Groundhog Day on Saturday, when a renowned rodent in Pennsylvania — Punxsutawney Phil — faces the intense pressure of predicting the weather for the next six weeks.

The second tradition is the football game on Sunday afternoon that for more than 50 years has been described as “super.” However, it is also frequently described by another adjective, “big.”

Let’s deal with the second tradition first.

You may have noticed that whenever certain advertising messages refer to this event, it becomes “the big game.”

“Get this 70-inch television set for the big game.”

“Buy your chips and dips here before the big game.”

“Use our products responsibly. Don’t drink and drive after the big game.”

Only the companies that pay the league a licensing fee are sanctioned to use the trademarked name of the game, so others who are not official sponsors have generally settled on that “big game” substitute. Even though news reports and related game coverage fall into non-commercial fair use territory, I’ll avoid using the name today. Still, you know what game I’m talking about. It’s going to be super. Or, we hope so.

Actually, the multiple sports pundits who are assigned to cover “the big game” predict Sunday’s match-up really could be something super. Hopefully, they’re correct. I can think of some alternate match-ups that would have been super, too. I believe any combination of the four teams involved in the conference championships two weeks ago would have been super. Many of us would have even preferred a different match-up in this Sunday’s “big game.”

I saw a map of the United States that claimed to show which team most fans in each state support. It suggested that six states in the Northeast prefer New England, with the other 44 backing Los Angeles. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. While New England has become the team most of the rest of the league loves to hate, some areas may be unwilling to support Los Angeles because of the controversial manner in which they advanced over New Orleans. Regardless, both teams can’t lose. They have tie-breakers to ensure that. In fact, “the big game” went into overtime two years ago.

Regarding any “super” prospects for Sunday’s event, these “big games” aren’t always nail-biters. By one count, 31 of the previous 52 “big games” were decided by margins of 10 points or more. So, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the 53rd annual championship game will live up to its “super” name, or if fans will have to rely instead on this year’s crop of commercials to fulfill the “super” promise.

The forecast for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, calls for cloudy conditions this Saturday — at least, it did when this was being written. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, that would mean good news and an early spring for the winter-weary Northeast.

Both are “wait and see” propositions, with each outcome subject to “further review.” Either way the rulings go, enjoy this super weekend.


Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at news@brownwoodbulletin.com.