The America Bowl: Presidents vs. the Super Bowls

The America Bowl pulls together all of my favorite ways of wasting time.

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…


Searching the Internet and Finding…The Edge of the American West

In yet another of my posts on very interesting web sites found while searching the Internet, I bring you today The Edge of the American WestThis is a site that contains writings by historians and philosophers, leading the site to suggest that “History is Philosophy teaching by examples. ”

The interests of these men and women run the gamut, if recent posts are any example.  They do a regular This Day in History type of post, one of the most recent being about the day that Richard Nixon declared he wasn’t a crook.  To give  you a sense of the politics here, the post is entitled Yes You Are.  And Also a Liar.”   There are posts on camel metaphors (having to do with choosing cabinet members), and the day in 1972 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average first closed above 1,000.  (We may be headed back there!)

But I knew this was a website worth checking when I read Aw, that could have been MY headHere the writer tells the story of how he “taught the future professional wrestler – and now Heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Champion – Brock Lesnar.”  It is a very funny post, where the writer notes that he, “was less than impressed with Lesnar’s academic potential; his essay on Kant’s anthropology of race was likely not his finest work.”

After noting that Lesnar had wrestled in college, the writer goes on to say  that:

Lesnar parlayed his amateur glory into a three-year run with World Wrestling Entertainment, during which time he evidently vaulted to the top of his profession, wrestling the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock on his way to becoming the youngest WWE champion in history. As I understand it, he was known for such moves as the “spinebuster,” the “scoop powerslam,” the “rear naked choke,” and something mysteriously known as “repeated turnbuckle thrusts.” His signature line, Wikipedia tells me, was “Here comes the pain!” — a phrase that I suppose I could have utilized whenever returning Mr. Lesnar’s written work.

You just can’t make this stuff up.  Check out The Edge of the American West.  You’ll probably find more than a few things of interest.

More to come…