So says Don Steinberg, creator of the online America Bowl showdown between the U.S. Presidents and the Super Bowls. I read about Steinberg’s web site in a recent issue of The New Yorker and had to check it out.
This all began as Steinberg was thinking about Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th president, and he wondered about the connections with other famous 44s – like Hank Aaron who wore the number for the Atlanta Braves.
Steinberg soon realized there was a football echo, too – that the 2010 Super Bowl…would be the forty-fourth, or, rather, the XLIVth. This alignment, like the Rapture, will happen only once.
So a web site – complete with logo featuring a pony-tailed George Washington going head-to-head with a football helmet – was born over Thanksgiving. The idea is to pit each President against his corresponding Super Bowl. Presidents are judged on their accomplishments; Super Bowls on their competitiveness.
If you remember anything about the founding fathers and the early Super Bowls, you just know that the Presidents took an early lead. But you’ll no doubt remember that string of Presidents that led us up to the Civil War, so the games bounced back.
One thing you’ll notice, as you peruse the matchups, is that this country has had to endure a parade of unexceptional chief executives and championship football games. The Super Bowl, few will disagree, is a bloated, overhyped spectacle, and, more often than not, an anti-climax; this may also be true of the Presidency.
Today, as we enter Super Bowl weekend, we’re at game 41: George H.W. Bush vs. the Colts/Bears in 2007. Steinberg makes some telling remarks about dynasties in both politics and football. Prescott Bush made it to the Senate, but he had to wait for a son and grandson to became President. Archie Manning was a great quarterback for the Saints, but it took Peyton and Eli to win championships. Steinberg gives this battle to the Super Bowls, and they lead by a 21-20 margin with three to go.
There are little gems throughout. Super Bowl 37 (when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for crying out loud, were champs) top Richard Nixon because they avoided scandal. Super Bowl 3 vs. Thomas Jefferson was an epic, but Steinberg eventually awards it to TJ over Broadway Joe. It isn’t until Super Bowl 4, when the Chiefs top the Vikings and go up against James Madison, that the Super Bowls finally get a win. What, you may ask: How does the Father of the Constitution lose, even to Hank Stram and his boys “matriculating the ball down the field”? Well, Steinberg limits accomplishments to the time these men were actually Presidents, and Madison had that unfortunate thing with the White House being burned by the British against his record.
So, if you want a laugh on Super Bowl weekend head over to The America Bowl and see how your history and sports knowledge hold up.
More to come…