Indianapolis is now on the clock in two ways. Sure, there’s the countdown to April’s NFL Draft. And now, with the conference championship games out of the way, the final countdown for the Super Bowl is on. In two weeks, a city where you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays1 will host America’s biggest single-day sporting event.

Anyway, a couple of great games on Sunday. Perhaps not artistic masterpieces, but tremendously entertaining. As an unaffiliated fan, you can’t ask for more than two games that go down to the final play. Two fan bases are broken hearted, and add new goats to their list of players to dislike. Two other fan bases are celebrating their good fortune and considering which team has the most luck left.

While America may be sick of another Boston-New York media love-fest, that matchup is probably a good thing for Indy. The national media has plenty of material to work with, between the rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl, the traditional rivalry between the cities, Belichick and Brady, and Eli Manning attempting to surpass his brother on his home turf. Compared to a San Francisco- Baltimore game there will be plenty of distractions from the weather (which I expect to be shitty) and the limitations of Indy to entertain people.

Don’t get me wrong: Indianapolis is a nice city to live in and raise a family. And it’s a decent place to entertain visitors for a weekend. But keeping the coastal celebrity contingents occupied for a week is another thing. I think I’ll just turn off the national media next week to avoid all the “Indy is boring” columns. And I’m not going anywhere near downtown.

Enough of that. Rather than talk about yesterday’s goats, I prefer to focus on Eli Manning. I’m not sure why he’s so maligned, although I guess some of it just comes with playing in New York, where no amount of success is ever enough. But that guy is a stud. He got hammered on play-after-play yesterday. Each time, when the camera returned to him, he was standing up, looking to the sideline to get the next play call while adjusting his helmet or tucking his shoulder pads back in. People talk about how guys like Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger hang in the pocket. You have to put Eli in that category. And you have to admit he’s one of the top five quarterbacks in the game right now.

Oh, and he makes the rooting interests for most Indianapolis residents easy. Colts fans hate the Patriots/Belichick/Brady. They may not love the Giants, but that is Peyton’s kid brother leading them. I would expect the Giants to be received warmly in Naptown.

Funny how times change. Each time they showed Alex Smith’s rather modest stats, I kept thinking how in the 1970s, Bob Griese was winning Super Bowls, Smith’s stats were perfectly reasonable. In fact, in winning back-to-back Super Bowls, Griese threw for less than 200 combined yards.

I also kept thinking about how technology changes our perspective. I was watching the game in glorious HD on our new TV. You could see individual rain drops, details in the crowd, and the bright hues of the uniforms. Contrast that to video of The Catch back in 1982. Montana-to-Clark was in HD, too, but only for those at Candlestick. Those of us at home were watching on small TVs with blurry pictures, and the remaining video from the game is grainy with muted colors.

Finally, for all the NFL does wrong (attempting to legislate fun out of the game, for example) one thing they get right is fourth quarters. All those touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial sequences in the first three quarters pay off with the continuous football they offer in the closing minutes.

  1. There was an effort to rush a change to the Sunday alcohol ban through the Legislature last week, but it failed. You can still buy all the beer you want in restaurants and at Lucas Oil Stadium, because it’s better to force people to drink-and-drive than allow them to get blitzed in the comfort of their own living rooms.