WASHINGTON — The worst idea anyone could have pitched to their chief content editor Monday was a Top 5-this or Top 5-that list. See, every year during Super Bowl week, real print and broadcast journalists become Bleacher Report interns, publishing something pithy or snarky that definitively explains what’s good or bad in seven seconds or less
These "lists" remind us that we really don’t want genuine news or insight about the Super Bowl. No, we just want to know Top 5 Best Hot Wings to Debone, the 5 Biggest Super Sunday Chokes and, of course, the Top 5 Reasons Why On Earth You Would Pick Maroon 5 and not Cardi B.
Personally, I’d like to do a Top 5 List of Innocuous Super Bowl Top 5 lists. But the boss won't let me.
So I've settled on just one.
For lifelong Washingtonians, many of you haven’t been to a Super Bowl party in three decades involving your beloved burgundy and gold. Twenty-two different franchises have played in the big game since you last won in 1992. Twenty-two! Shoot, the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams have both gotten there in that time.
This means two things: 1. It’s a good thing Mr. Snyder kept Bruce "Alumni Reunion" Allen, and 2. With a generation of practice, you and your kids have zero excuse for being an awful Super Bowl party guest on game day.
Because I have somewhat suffered with you for the past 15 years, I have come up with a quick tip sheet so you don't completely humiliate yourself and your family at the home of someone who might root for actual teams that play in January and February.
Herewith, then, the Top Five Worst Guests Ever on Super Bowl Sunday. Really, you don't want to be that guy. And I don’t do this for just anybody.
Worst Guest Ever No. 1: Cray-Cray Rage Man. You know this guy. "GET HIM!!!" or "THROW THE DAMN BALL, YOU IDIOT!!" or, when an injured player is down for more than 30 seconds, "MOVE 'EM OR PLANT 'EM!" If you have ever smashed a technology product, flung tortilla chips at a 50-inch, HD screen, pretending they are poison-tipped ninja stars that embed in Bill Belichick’s forehead -- or if you have just gone all-Kanye over a check-down pass that has no bearing on the game's outcome -- this is you: Disturbed, Angry Person. You keep saying you are "uber-passionate about the game," but in actuality you're just an intimidating lout no one wants to be around.
As a host, the best way to head off this kind of behavior is to bring your own challenge flags. You throw them at Cray-Cray Rage Man when he blows a gasket. Then you ask the room, flatly, "Was the response to the previous play really Brett or was that Cray-Cray Rage Brett? You make the call." Public embarrassment is key to him settling down.
Worst Guest Ever No. 2: People Who Say, "This is Kinda Funny, But I Don’t Even Really Like Sports." There are few things worse going into the final quarter of a tied Super Bowl than the Novice Who Loves To Tell Everyone They’re the Novice: "This might sound like a stupid question [column interlude: yes, it is] but Tom Brady has already thrown two touchdowns, right? Does that count for Fantasy points or is it only in the regular season? Because I’ve never even been in a Fantasy League. The last time I even really watched football was my junior year at Northern Colorado when I was … did I mention I don't watch football?"
Women used to get hit with this label all the time, but utter cluelessness about the game now has nothing to do with gender. Man, woman or child, no one cares that you came to the party vastly underprepared to have pertinent discussions about the importance of the Rams' employing bubble screens and zone-reads against the Patriots' defense. They don’t even care that you don’t know who Aaron Donald or Rob Gronkowski are. They only care that you spend 80 percent of your time at the party chitchatting brainlessly in the kitchen with Brett, preferably away from the chili and spinach-artichoke dip.
Worst Guest Ever No. 3: Coach Barcalounger: You'll know you are Coach B. when, 10 minutes into the first quarter, you start believing you’re a better play-caller than Sean McVay and Josh Daniels combined. Because who knew the NFL's greatest innovator after Bill Walsh and Paul Brown was Steve, the slovenly, unshaven neighbor of maybe 45 plopped on your recliner. Lucky for the greatest coaches in the game's history, Steve decided to enter the workforce as a medical transcriptionist and not an NFL play-caller, or all of them would be unemployed -- because Steve, see, is so ingenious and original in his stained pullover, slogging an I.P.A. and chasing it with pulled pork nachos, that either team would have been blown out had he only deigned to grace the sideline.
Worst Guest Ever No. 4: Prop-Bet Paul: Paul is a gambling degenerate. In fact, if Paul had real friends, they would use the Super Bowl party as an intervention. Like, turn off the TV in the second quarter and gather around their sick friend in a healing prayer circle: "Paul, we love you. Stop using the mortgage to bet the coin toss. You need help."
Paul used to be good for one thing at Super Bowl parties: setting up the pool numbers with all the paper squares, collecting $1 to $5 for every square and doling out the cash-ola to the dumb-luck cousin who had 9-5 at halftime -- in a game that miraculously featured two safeties, a field goal and a touchdown. Now Bovada or Google or Jeff Bezos or somebody does all that for you online so he’s not even needed.
The worst part about Paul is his addiction gets in the way of real-game drama. For instance, while most of America is enraptured by Jared Goff leading the Rams downfield on a Lombardi-Trophy winning drive in the final minute, Paul is praying for a sack, pick, fumble. Not because he likes Tom, Gisele, the Hoodie or Gronk. No, he just needs the Empire to cover the 2-1/2 point spread so he can collect. He has real skin riding on the game. If you know Paul well, you end up rooting for whatever warped outcome he needs to collect from his bookie. Because you know if he doesn’t win, well, Prudence leaves him, the kids hate him their entire adolescence and he’s suddenly exchanging backpacks behind CVS with his children’s stepfather on the weekends. Not that I've ever met anyone like this. Anyhow, the moral of the story: that $1 square is a gateway to hell, my friend! Hell!
Worst Guest Ever No. 5: Any Boston Sports Fan of Any Age or Gender That Complains About Anything. I mean, anything. A rotten call against the Patriots. Todd Gurley celebrating two seconds too long after his third touchdown. The underwhelming size of your LD screen. The just-a-tad-too-dry taste of your Sweet-Baby-Ray’s-basted ribs you’ve been meticulously slow-cooking at 200 degrees since frickin' 6 a.m. Or a natural complaint that might be relevant in another era: how emotionally tough it is just being a Patriot fan amid a nation full of living rooms who want Bill, Tom and Gronk to be curb-stomped, 49-3?
Your feelings are not important anymore. You have had five Super Bowl champion parades, four World Series champion parades, one NBA championship parade and one Stanley Cup champion parade since 2001. That’s 11 in 18 years. You know how many major revenue North American sport titles Washington has celebrated in 27 years? One. That's it.
You’ve been to 9 AFC championship games in the 18 years Bill and Tom have been together. That’s right, 50 percent of the seasons your favorite coach and QB play, they wind up in the penultimate game. More than 25 percent of the time, Brady and Belichick and Bob Kraft raise the grail. Shoot, Microsoft and Amazon don’t have that work-to-title ratio. Meryl Streep doesn’t have that movie-to-Best Actress ratio. You know what the work-to-title ratio of Washington sports teams is for a quarter of a century: 26 to 1. As a DC sports fan, you almost have better odds of putting your entire nest egg on one roulette number and telling the dealer to spin the wheel.
In which case, of course, you let Paul pick the number.
I'm so sick and tired of Boston sports fans detailing all of the agony they’ve experienced for much of the last century beyond the Celtics and occasionally the Bruins. People, you've more than made up for it in the new millennium. You’re spoiled, privileged and perhaps the only party guest worse than you is the person railing on how spoiled and privileged and big cheaters the Patriots are.
It's good these lists don’t have a No. 6, no?