So, did you savor the Super Bowl?

Did you revel in every replay?

Did you bask in Joe Buck’s pomposity?

Did you double-dip that last nacho chip, sip that last beer, and let that last buffalo wing burn your tongue just a little longer?

Did you marvel at Troy Polamalu’s mane?

Did you actually miss Brett Favre, even for a fraction of a second?

Then you, my friend, know what may be coming next, and you’ve cursed the gloom that set upon us after 10:15 last night.

No one knows if there will be NFL football six months from now (or at least its absurd facsimile, the preseason). Or real football 10 months from now. Or if there will be a Super Bowl XLVI. But we do know the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires next month. Millionaire players and billionaire owners will be competing for our sympathy until a new one is reached.

If this was indeed the last NFL game we’ll see until past the normally-allotted offseason, at least it was a respectable way to go out. Not one of the top five Super Bowls. Probably not even one of the top 10. But a good show, nonetheless.

It helped to have a rooting interest. And as has been the case here in New England for the last 10 years, we had a rooting interest Sunday night, even though the Patriots weren’t involved.

Given their playoff history, Patriots fans are sworn enemies of the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the schadenfreude was palpable in our little corner of the country last night.

Some didn’t want Ben Roethlisberger to win his third ring and enter the Brady/Manning stratosphere. Some just don’t want to accept the fact that the Steelers have surpassed the Patriots as the NFL preeminent franchise. And some are just sick of hearing the Steelers and their fans whine about Spygate.

Nevertheless, the Steelers are synonymous with the Super Bowl, and you couldn’t pick a more classic match-up than the Green Bay Packers, whose franchise legend matches, if not surpasses, Pittsburgh’s.

The Packers were the NFC’s 11th different Super Bowl representative in the last 11 years, but they played like the more poised and experienced team in the first half. Roethlisberger looked more like Neil O’Donnell than Terry Bradshaw, let alone Tom Brady, with two interceptions. The Packers had an 11-point lead at intermission.

Following a halftime show which left some longing for the days when Bruce Springsteen would crotch-slide into the camera lens, the Packers’ James Jones dropped a sure touchdown pass that might have broken Pittsburgh. Then the refs handed the Steelers a blatantly incorrect penalty (never thought we’d see that in a Super Bowl, uh, again) and suddenly, we had a ballgame again, one that kept us glued to the set through every cliched Bud Light commercial.

If you were a football fan in the 1980s, you’re old enough to remember when we would have killed for just one competitive fourth quarter in a Super Bowl.

Now, we almost take them for granted. The last eight games have been decided by two touchdowns or less, 10 of the last 12. It probably isn’t a coincidence the NFL now enjoys it’s greatest popularity ever. Yet the league’s owners seem prepared to cook the goose that laid the golden egg and stomp on the egg.

Super Bowl XLV ended up pivoting on Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble, and Green Bay held on to win its fourth Lombardi Trophy. Number five may not be far behind. The Packers are young and, due to a spate of injuries this season, didn’t have close to their best team on the field Sunday.

Even the most ardent Packer haters in Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit should look forward to the day Green Bay raises its Super Bowl XLV championship banner. Let’s hope it happens on schedule, on the yet-to-be frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.


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