Green Bay and Pittsburgh are two of pro-football’s most successful teams. But the huge national attention on the Super Bowl is more than the two teams playing the game.
Football is such an American sport, played at the NFL level almost exclusively by Americans only. Black and white, tall and short, we see all types of Americans excelling at football from all parts of the country.
Green Bay, the first team to win a Super Bowl, featured on that team the sensational running backs Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, known as “Thunder and Lightning.” Taylor was from Louisiana and Hornung from Louisville, Kentucky, but he went to college at Notre Dame in Indiana. So did Jerome Bettis, the great Super Bowl back in recent years from Pittsburgh. So did Rocky Bleier, who won Super Bowls with Pittsburgh in the 1970s, but only after recovering from being wounded in Vietnam. Bleier’s backfield teammate was Franco Harris, whose father was black and his mother white. Harris was from New Jersey and played for Penn State, but Aaron Rodgers, the current Green Bay quarterback, is a westerner. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and was an excellent student in the classroom.
In the Super Bowl, whoever wins will have achieved greatness by hard work and attention to detail. No government grants went to players to play football, and no special privileges go to any players on the field. No teams had to take black players, white players, or players from any region or school. The motley crew that makes up a winning team has to learn to put aside egos and play effectively together. There may be some luck involved, but most teams win because they have reached the pinnacle of their craft, and they play as a unit.
In part, then, the Super Bowl is popular because we see a diverse group of Americans displaying marvelous skill, thorough discipline, and exquisite timing in a difficult and dangerous sport. We see American sports at its best.