Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are LXXIX (er, 79) days to the Super Bowl.
Can we all please agree that the NFL should can the Roman numerals shtick when it comes to the Super Bowl?
At first, it was cute and maybe a little erudite in the same way the NCAA goes with Divisions I, II and III. But, and here’s a crucial difference, if the NCAA had 48 divisions, it would quickly be nixed.
Earlier this year, the NFL awarded Super Bowl L to San Francisco. Frankly, it looks ridiculous.
Super Bowl L.
Finally, a championship for those who have outgrown Super Bowl M but aren’t ready for Super Bowl XL.
Given the NFL’s popularity and insistence on holding a title game every single year, we’ll be there soon. Do you even know what year Super Bowl L refers to? In 2041, we will have Super Bowl LXXVIII. So just eyeball that. Do you think it will come before or after Super Bowl XC? (And no looking at your neighbor’s paper.)
Let’s just acknowledge that a nation of people who would have trouble picking out Canada on a map -- never mind the boundaries of the Roman Empire -- should not be subjected to Roman numerals any longer. Let me count the ways.
I. As the years go by, it will only get more confusing.
II. It’s alarmingly pretentious for a league that is affiliated with an animated robot named Cleatus.
III. This has to be the last reason because I always get confused as to whether four is IV or VI.
Look, the NFL doesn’t mandate that announcers use Shakespearean English when calling games -- Hark, what receiver through yonder end zone breaks? -- because watching a football game is not supposed to make your brain hurt.
What’s probably holding the NFL back from making the change is an inability to admit it was ever wrong. This is a league that, after replacement officials made a ton of botched calls and it was obvious to most carbon-based life forms that the real refs needed to be brought back, insisted all was well.
So this issue lacks the same immediacy, and the NFL could probably play through Super Bowl MMMCCCLXXXIII with impunity. But that’s just stubborn.
Sometimes you just have to admit you aren’t sure what exit you were supposed to take to get to your aunt’s house, or that even though these roads kind of look familiar we will eventually have to pull over to a gas station and say that we are totally lost or we will never get to the reunion on time.
For the NFL, Super Bowl L could be that moment. Things are going to get out of hand in the next dozen years, something the NFL should have realized right around Super Bowl XXX. (Insert joke here.)
But if the NFL can’t give up on this antediluvian habit, it should fund a nationwide program teaching America’s youth how to read Roman numerals, build aqueducts and properly wear a toga.
And by the way, for those who were curious, LXXVIII or 78, comes before XC, which converts to 90 -- something that only the Latin scholars among us will ever need to know. Which reminds me of the most valuable expression I learned in Latin, one I think applies to this situation: Semper ubi sub ubi.
Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl, ahem, XLVIII.