The time frame after the NFL’s annual conference championship games leading up to the league’s Super Bowl showcase has always been susceptible to its share of controversies. From New York Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath guaranteeing a Super Bowl III victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, to Atlanta Falcons’ cornerback Eugene Robinson’s transgression with a female undercover police officer before Super Bowl XXXIII, controversy is virtually unavoidable.
The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers is no exception. Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis was accused of using a performing enhancing agent, a charge he denies. It’s the type of accusation that no one wants attached to their name, regardless of the charge’s accuracy.
Not to be outdone, 49ers’ cornerback Chris Culliver made headlines for something other than his play on the field. That’s quite a feat, considering few fans knew who Culliver was before this year’s Super Bowl. Culliver made disparaging comments about not wanting a gay teammate. 2013 is a time when it’s politically correct to accept people regardless of race, color, religion, and sexual orientation. It’s safe to say that Culliver failed to exercise political correctness while expressing his beliefs. He later apologized for his remarks.
Controversy surrounding the game even extends to non-participants. NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino made news for an extra marital affair that produced a seven year old daughter. Marino is part of the CBS pregame team that is responsible for covering Super Bowl XLVII. Considering the NFL prides itself on being a family friendly entity, this isn’t the kind of publicity it wants. The fact that it involves an NFL legend like Marino makes the situation even worse.
Despite the aforementioned issues, they won’t have a negative impact on the big game. In fact, I think they enhance the big game. There’s only so much that can be said about the Super Bowl teams, rendering the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl mundane. Lewis’ name being linked to performance enhancing drugs makes some fans wonder how effective he’ll be in his final NFL game. Culliver wasn’t reprimanded for his comments. Then again, few would miss him if he were not available for the Super Bowl. As for Marino, the shock of his extra marital affair just gives fans something to talk about.
Super Bowl XLVII looks like it’ll be a competitive game between two closely matched teams. The travails of Lewis, Culliver, and Marino were only the bridge to get fans to the big game. Let’s hope Ravens-49ers surpasses the bridge in terms of excitement and suspense.