RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Now let's get another view of the big game. This is Super Bowl 44, or as the NFL likes to put it, Super Bowl XLIV. Football has a fondness for Roman numerals, and so does our commentator Frank Deford.
FRANK DEFORD: While baseball is the sport most identified and submerged by numbers, the Super Bowl as a game has always been mightily number conscious since the first day it took on that Roman numeral affectation 44, or shall we say quadraginta quattuor years ago. Super Bowl numbers are invariably large, huge, monstrous, spectacular. It's always more people watching, more dollars paid, more of everything. The Super Bowl may be many things. Less is more it is not. So let us look at some intriguing Super Bowl numbers in this year of duo milia decem.
We begin, simply, with unus. Should Peyton Manning lead the Colts to victory, he will absolutely have surpassed Tom Brady as the number one quarterback of this generation. Already Manning is being unanimously celebrated as the most cerebral quarterback of all time. Next, novem. This is really an amazing statistic that's been generally overlooked. For the last nine years, nine different teams have represented the National Conference in the Super Bowl. What are the odds that in any 16-entity tournament nine different winners in a row would appear? And none of them, by the way, are the Dallas Cowboys, America's team, but 20th century limited.
That leads us to quinque semis, which is what Indianapolis is now favored by, five and a half points. The line started lower, at three and four, but it's moved up significantly, at least in large part because the Colts' American Football Conference is so much stronger.
The AFC has, in fact, won five of the last six Super Bowls. Nine NFC champions in a row may be celebrated as parity by a league that worships at that altar, but where bets are placed, parity equals mediocrity. The AFC seems to be as dominant in the National Football League as the American League is in baseball or the Western Conference is in the NBA. And finally, 51 to 49. Oh, please, I so seldom get the opportunity to speak as Caesar did, so let me try and say it, quinquaginta unus to undequinquaginta. Thank you.
Yes, a Nielsen poll actually purports to say that 51 percent of viewers prefer the Super Bowl commercials to the football. That is so much nonsense, it gives polling a bad name. In fact, I'm a little tired of the hoopla that is annually made over Super Bowl commercials. They're just like so many azaleas at the Masters. Let's stop fussing over them. They're like the Cowboys, yesterday's fashion.
The truth is, football on television only gets more and more popular. The Super Bowl is football, and the commercials and the halftime show are mere bagatelles. When in Rome, whatever. When in America, football on television.
MONTAGNE: And when it's Wednesday, we hear from commentator Frank Deford.