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Super Bowl fever hits America

SUPER BOWL XLIII: Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida Date: Sunday 1 February Kick-off: 2315 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website (UK only)

Jake Humphrey
By Jake Humphrey
BBC Sport's Super Bowl presenter

I feel very spoilt. I have only been to one Super Bowl and what a match it was.

I enjoyed one of the best seats in the house for one of the greatest upsets ever, and spent the evening with two class acts in studio analysts Rod Woodson (he knows how it feels to win a ring) and Mike Carlson (he knows how it feels to know everything).
A young Pittsburgh fan gets ready for the Super Bowl
A young Pittsburgh fan gets ready for the Super Bowl

Back in early 2008, as the Giants beat the Patriots in the Arizona desert, I had one of the greatest nights of my broadcasting life and this Sunday I get to do it all over again!

I've witnessed World Cup and European Championship finals, watched a couple of FA Cups and soaked up the genteel air of Wimbledon.

But regardless of your thoughts on American football, as far as I'm concerned, none of them generate the sweaty-palmed, heart-racing excitement of seeing the two sides take to the field ahead of the Super Bowl.

It's hard to explain how much this game dominates the agenda in the States. Cup final day is special over here, but nothing like Super Bowl Sunday.

Freeways are deserted, restaurants closed, and entire TV networks given over to the single news story of the weekend.

The post-match analysis on US TV lasted for some time last year.

You won't miss Troy Polamalu - a guy from Samoa who reckons he hasn't cut his hair for nine years!

As I awoke the morning following the game, a cheery reporter was relaying the precise sleeping arrangements and breakfast itinerary from her live position, outside the Giants' hotel.

I hope she didn't disturb their pancakes and maple syrup!

I love the intensity of it all: a cornerback sneezes and America get's a replay in super-slo-mo from four different camera angles. They simply can't get enough!

Well this Sunday that scrutiny gets going again as the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers meet in Tampa for the right to be crowned winners of Super Bowl XLIII.

I know Rod and Mike are once again excited about having to fill every one of the copious ad-breaks, end of quarters and half-time, along with a little help from Bruce Springsteen of course!

606: DEBATE

I actually love the test of a broadcaster that comes with being thrust live on air with very little warning and alarming regularity, it also gives us plenty of time to chat about the big stories around the game.

And there are plenty of stories this year.

Barack Obama will be rooting for his boyhood club as the Steelers go in search of history, and a record six Super Bowl wins under four different presidents - can you name them?(Answers at the bottom)

They have huge momentum having won nine of their last 10 games, they are led by youngest coach to make the Super Bowl in 36-year-old Mike Tomlin, and you won't miss Troy Polamalu - a guy from Samoa who reckons he hasn't cut his hair for nine years!

The Steelers have good stories but the story is the Arizona Cardinals.

Several US newspapers have joked that there was always more chance of having a black president than there was of the Cards making the Super Bowl.

Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner has rolled back the years for the Arizona Cardinals

After being dubbed "the worst team in the play-offs", the team have now defied the critics, found form, scored points, and are now just a win away from immortality.

Their team is littered with fairy tales too.

Quarterback Kurt Warner was saved from stacking shelves by the St Louis Rams and inspired them to the Super Bowl, and after being considered past his best a few seasons back he's now looking to do the same again with the Cards.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt is a former Steelers offensive co-ordinator, and in a team that's all about offense, keep an eye out for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who is in blistering form!

I can't wait to see how things unfold in Tampa.

The second live Super Bowl on the BBC has a lot to live up to, but rest assured, if you can stay awake until the wee small hours it won't disappoint.

And the answer to the question on presidents is: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and possibly Barack Obama.

see also
Cardinals & Steelers seal titles
19 Jan 09 |  American Football
American Football on the BBC
05 Feb 08 |  American Football


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