If you don’t know what’s going on, the Super Bowl can be boring as hell. You get dressed up and go over to your friend’s house in your cutest outfit, thinking it’s going to be like a normal party, only to realize that anyone there with a penis is more interested in abnormally large men in tight pants than your new Zara peplum. Sure you have the commercials and the halftime show to look forward to, but not understanding the game itself will almost ensure you will spend most of your time in a corner with other clueless partygoers complaining and eating too much sweet onion dip, which means that when the game’s finally over and you get some attention your breath will be rank. And nobody wants that.
So, what better way to make a game you may not understand more interesting than by breaking it down to a different battle of men in tight pants, a battle the female race is generally much more familiar with: the battle of the boy band. Specifically, the battle between ‘NSync and the Backstreet Boys.
Baltimore Ravens – The Backstreet Boys
For starters, the Backstreet Boys rose to fame when their first album, Backstreet Boys, debuted in 1996, the same year the franchise of the Baltimore Ravens was born. You cannot make this stuff up people. By 2000, BSB had released Millenium at No.1, skyrocketing them to superstardom, while the Ravens won their first Super Bowl. In 2012, the Boys reunited, and the Ravens returned to the Super Bowl. Here’s how to understand this year’s Baltimore squad.
Ray Lewis – Nick Carter
An obvious choice, Ray Lewis is Nick Carter because both experienced sketchy paths which people tend to ignore if they like them, and both appear to have turned their lives around and have become leaders of their respective teams/vocal harmony groups. As you should probably know, Ray Lewis was involved in a fight in 2000 that resulted in the stabbing and murders of two people. He was indicted on aggravated assault and murder charges, but was acquitted on the murder charge because he testified against his two good ol’ pals. Thing is, neither of them were charged, and Lewis remains the only suspect not investigated in the incident. Sure Nick never
killed was tried for the murder of anyone, but he has had ongoing struggles with drug and alcohol abuse which amounted to a dark time in his life. Now, Ray Lewis is the heart of the Ravens team, and Nick is back to leading his Boys.
Bryant McKinnie – A.J. McLean
Back in the day, there was almost no question that was more telling about someone than, “Who’s your favorite Backstreet Boy?” And if you asked and the answer came back A.J., you knew she was the type who would go to college and pierce unimaginable parts of her body while drunk and high on ecstasy. Okay maybe not that far, but she liked the bad boy. Another group member who has overcome drug and alcohol addiction, A.J. also has an altar ego, Johnny No Name, who performs at hard rock/metal clubs and has been to prison. Meanwhile, Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie is that bad boy for Baltimore. He was kicked off the Pro Bowl team for skipping practices, has demonstrated some serious anger management issues in scuffles with people who offend him, and was a participant in the “Love Boat” incident, which is a euphemistic way of saying he went down on a girl in the middle of a party on top of a bar on a cruise ship, and had the favor returned later. Again, in front of everyone.
Joe Flacco – Brian Littrell
The only quarterback in NFL history to have taken his team to the playoffs five years in a row, Joe Flacco is a guy that knows how to win. While still not recognized as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, there’s no denying his consistency. And yet the poor guy has been criticized time and time again for, basically, being too even-keeled. Sure interviewing him is probably many sports journalists’ nightmare as he regularly answers questions with responses like, “Nothing really. I just went home and watched TV,” but at least he’s a nice guy. Like Flacco, Brian was always the sweet little evangelical Christian who was cute in a little-brother kind of way. Both gentle, kind, consistent, and under appreciated.
Ed Reed – Kevin Richardson
Another no brainer, Kevin was always the father figure of BSB as its oldest member. When he left after 13 years (only to return a few years later), he referred to Nick, Howie, A.J., and Brian as his “little brothers,” and both Nick and A.J. credit him specifically with helping them overcome their substance addictions. Aww. A similarly paternal figure in the Ravens’ locker room is safety Ed Reed, a veteran who has been at Baltimore for all 12 years of his career. Like Kevin with Nick and A.J., Ed helped teammate Torrey Smith through difficult times, when he tragically lost his brother this past September. Ed had lost a brother himself in 2011, and knew just what to say to help Smith through it. He’s also one of the most dominant safeties currently playing in the NFL, so there’s that.
Ray Rice – Howie Dorough
Ray Rice is the Ravens’ second all-time leading rusher (clueless terms: he runs really fast and long), but he’s also a stand up guy with one of the more inspiring stories in the league. You should probably just read it – because imagining those hulking figures smashing into each other as actually human beings with pasts also helps make football more engaging – but basically, he lost both his real father and cousin who was like a father to him, became the man of the house at a very young age, and has taken care of his mother ever since. He is quiet in the media, often overpowered by bigger personalities in the league, never gets in trouble, but is generally well-loved by his teammates. I know, I’m basically describing Howie right now. He’s the sweet quiet member of the group, and he actually also lost his father and his older sister.
San Francisco 49ers – ‘NSync
Though the 49ers have a much longer history than the Ravens so we don’t have the founding date comparison to build on, it still works. I mean, they did win their fifth Super Bowl the year of ‘NSync’s formation – a prophesy of great things to come no doubt. Sadly for us all, ‘NSync went on a “hiatus” on 2002 that extended…forever. Which, naturally, kicked off a string of six consecutive losing seasons for the 49ers from 2003-2008. Clearly, these two groups are inextricably linked you guys.
Colin Kaepernick – Justin Timberlake
Colin Kaepernick was picked in the second round, didn’t start at the beginning of this season, and really only got in because the starting QB Alex Smith got hurt. And now…well he’s killin’ it. He brought the 49ers to their first Super Bowl since 1994, on the way setting an all-time NFL record for most rushing yards for a quarterback. He was that kid in high school that you hated – a star in three different sports, a 4.0 student, and undoubtedly the guy all the bad girls wanted. So yeah, now he’s quickly becoming recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Much like…our good buddy Mr. JT, the man who has it all. Is it hard to see the comparison here? He started out as just the pretty face of the group, but quickly started being featured in…everything. And now…well when you’ve won six Grammys, four Emmys, and are married to Jessica Biel, I think you’re doing alright. Oh, and you’re performing before this year’s Super Bowl. So meta.
Justin Smith – JC Chasez
JC was commonly thought of as the main talent of ‘NSync, that is before the world became JT obsessed. He has now become a pretty successful song writer and producer, despite a flopped solo album. In his ‘NSync days, he didn’t try to steal the spotlight, he just did work (i.e. he sang really well.) Justin Smith is a defensive end with four consecutive pro bowl appearances (that’s for the really good guys!) Both are talented, both are men of few words (Smith more so), and an argument could be made for both as the most crucial member of their groups.
Frank Gore – Lance Bass
No, Frank Gore is not gay. Although that is now the first thing anyone thinks about when Lance is mentioned, back in the day he was just the genuinely nice (slightly effeminate) guy of the group. (I mean, it’s not like we had no idea.) Anyway, running back Frank Gore is a great guy, known as a hard worker, a great success story, and a mama’s boy – he took care of her until she lost her battle with kidney disease in 2007. I’d be willing to bet Lance is a mama’s boy himself. Also, Frank’s nickname is The Inconvenient Truth, which could very well be the title Lance’s autobiography. Ba da CHING!
Randy Moss – Chris Kirkpatrick
I’m almost not sure who this is more insulting to…but let me explain myself. I don’t think Chris Kirkpatrick is a bad guy by any means, and it seems to me fairly implausible that he ever get accused of abuse, but everyone knows he was just the oddball of the group. What the hell was ever going on with his hair for starters? Dude was a mystery wrapped in a pineapple, who knows what the hell was going on in that pointy head of his. What we know about him too, is somewhat of a series of unfortunately bizarre events, from starting out in a doo wop group at Universal Studios to participating in the CMT reality show Gone Country 2. Yeah, I didn’t even know there was a first one either. Similarly, Randy Moss’ personal life is… odd, to say the least. Some incidents: he was about to make an illegal turn, a cop noticed and stood in front of him, and he kept making the turn, knocking her over. During the last game of the regular season in 2004 with two second left on the clock (that’s a lot in the sports world) he was just over it, and walked off the field. He “mooned” New England fully clothed during a game, for which he was fined. He also smoked a joint right before turning himself in to the police, and admitted in an interview that he still smoked. I think the extend of this connection is that these are two oddballs, whom I do not understand.
Moral of the story: Sports are easy. If boys can understand them, how hard can they possibly be right? And by putting just a little bit of effort in and reading a ridiculous extended metaphor, the Super Bowl becomes more engaging, you have a better time tonight, and your breath doesn’t smell like onion.