The Copper Kettle is an actual Irish bar in Woodside, Queens. When I say actual I mean it’s not one of these paint-by-number bullshit paddy joints that spring up in big cities with names like Flanagan’s and Murphy’s and The Perfect Pint. These are bars that throw a couple coats of purple and pink paint on the front facade and think their Guinness is worth $8 because of the “authentic experience”. Meanwhile the Monday night trad session features a fiddle player from Staten Island with an Italian last name.
The Kettle is run by actual Irish people. It is frequented by them too. Folks who identify themselves by county and when they banter about “the football” it ain’t American football OR soccer.
This is usually where I watch the Super Bowl. It’s my local. Two blocks from my apartment. I play golf with the owner once a week. The bartenders are my friends. There’s rarely a face in there I don’t recognize and every time I walk in I hope upon hope that won’t be the case. (If you have a local, you don’t need further explanation.)
I go to the Kettle to watch golf every Sunday. And often Saturdays, Fridays and Thursdays. The bar has comically gained the title “New York’s preeminent golf bar” because (a) I’m good at giving things nicknames and (b) there is NEVER a Sunday during golf season where the final round of a PGA tour event won’t be found on one of it’s five large TVs in the bar area.
That includes Super Bowl Sunday.
Two years ago, well after “the big game” had started, I commandeered prime television real estate to watch Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama battle in a playoff down in Scottsdale. Nobody complained. You know why? Because it’s my local, I’m bigger than everybody else in there and a half dozen Irish fellas in the joint had WAY more money on the golf than on the football. (Shane Lowry falling outside the top five cost Mickey Gobbs at least a grand. Though nobody knows with Gobbs.)
All this was a long-winded way of saying, you know, I just don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl. To me the Super Bowl is to football fans what St. Patrick’s Day is to drinker: a chance for the die hards to step aside and let the amateurs have a go.
I don’t care about your tips for hosting the perfect Super Bowl party. I don’t care about the national anthem or the halftime show or the commercials. And while this may seem odd coming a football fan, I don’t give a damn who wins or loses the game. That’s why I don’t go anywhere special or doing anything of note. Hell, I don’t even bother hopping on the subway to Josie Woods in Manhattan – where I watch every Bears game – because who cares?
When the Bears were in the game, I spent two sleepless weeks calling random radio shows – Sporting News used to have a station in New York – and playing out the match-up in black and white composition notebooks. If I had been accused of murder in the days after the Super Bowl, those notebooks would have gotten me the chair.
When the Packers have been in the Super Bowl, I’ve been invested. Barring the Third Reich or Reagan Administration (specifically during the AIDS epidemic) starting an AFC team and making it to the last game, there’s no way I wouldn’t be invested in rooting against the Packers on Super Bowl Sunday.
But Patriots/Eagles? Broncos/Seahawks? Steelers/Cardinals? To quote the great Happy Gilmore, “Gold jacket, green jacket, who gives a shit?” Sure there have been fun, memorable moments in these games. Tyree and the helmet. Carroll’s crazy call on the goal line. Santonio’s game-winning grab.
But if that ball hits Tyree in the head and then hits the ground…okay.
If Russell Wilson hands the ball to Marshawn Lynch and he walks into the end zone…cool.
If Santonio drops that title…fine.
Memorable moments are all well and good but if one is not emotionally invested in the outcome of the ball game they are the equivalent of a third-person experience. I’m not in it. I cared more about every single Mitch Trubisky throw in 2017 than any play that’s happened in a Super Bowl since Rex Grossman threw the ball to Kelvin Hayden. And it’s not close.
Because when it comes to these Super Bowls, I just don’t give a shit. And it’s not because I don’t have a rooting interest in the game. It’s because I have my strongest rooting interest not in the game. I put so much into the sixteen games played by one team I don’t really have much left for the rest of em. There are sports I love and can get passionately worked up about. Non-Bears pro football ain’t one of them.
You see, if I had to rank my sports-watching passions, here they are:
1. Chicago Bears football
3. Major international soccer tournaments/qualifying
4. Non-Chicago Bears football
The gap between one and two is substantial. The gap between two and three is wider than a Connor Barth field goal attempt from more than 40 yards.
Will I watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? Of course. Even though the Kettle will have 75 people in there who don’t watch another football game all year. Even though “Super Bowl” is second only to Brooklyn Nets as the dumbest named thing in sports (The Nets are named after part of the playing surface. Think about that.) I’ll watch the Super Bowl because I like football and it’s an important football game.
I just won’t care. And if there’s excitement in Scottsdale, I may be a little late.