Grateful Dead Lyrics Help Preview Super Bowl 50 Story Lines

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Words By: Ryan Dembinsky

With the Super Bowl upon us this weekend, we noticed a bit of a coincidence: it’s the 50th anniversary of the big game and it just so happens to kick off at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Furthermore, this year could be the last celebration of one of the great icons and improvisers ever to play the game. Sound familiar? In other words, this year’s Super Bowl 50 bears a striking resemblance to the Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years Of Grateful Dead concerts held at the stadium last summer.

Unfortunately, Trey Anastasio won’t be on hand to play quarterback and Bill Walton most likely won’t be up front throwing long limbed fist pumps to celebrate the guitar heroics during Coldplay’s “Fix You,” but nevertheless, there are more than enough reasons that Super Bowl 50 should be an entertaining game with plenty of interesting sub plots.

To gear up for the occasion, we’ve taken a page out of the Bill Simmons playbook and put together a preview with a host of associations to all of the key storylines surrounding Super Bowl 50 with lyrical nods to Jerry Garcia and the gang. Just like Simmons previewed the 2006 NBA playoffs using Pearl Jam lyrics in one of his best posts ever (back when the relationship with ESPN was still going strong and The Sports Guy was still just catching on as a widely known entity in pop culture), we’ll work through everything you need to know about Super Bowl 50, Grateful Dead style.

Going home, going home, by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul
Going to plant a weeping willow on the bank’s green edge
It will grow, grow, grow
Singing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go, the river will roll, roll, roll
Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul

Peyton Manning’s Storybook Ending – By far, the biggest story of Super Bowl 50 will be the fact that this could be the last game for Peyton Manning. Manning will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game – maybe the greatest – so his potential retirement after Super Bowl 50 is a big deal. Despite a rocky season marred by injuries, Peyton has the opportunity to close his career out with the perfect nightcap by winning Super Bowl 50 in his final game. It’s not easy to go out on top in such a physically demanding game, but a Super Bowl win would put Peyton in the rarefied company of Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis, and of course Broncos GM John Elway.

I had a hard run, running from your window
I was all night running, running, running
I wonder if you care
I had a run-in, run around and run down
Run around a corner, run smack into a tree

Defense – In terms of the matchup, Super Bowl 50 should be all about defense. Both the defenses for Carolina and Denver are among the best in the league in points allowed and will likely drive the pace of the game. Both allow less than 90 yards rushing on average per game and less than 250 yards passing. Denver allows the least yards per game in the NFL. In other words, get ready for a potentially super boring game. Both defenses made clowns out of their divisional championship round opponents.

Hipsters, tripsters, real cool chicks, sir, everyone’s doin’ that rag

Halftime Show – We won’t make this too soap boxy since the Super Bowl has to appeal by definition to the most mass market audience in the world, but it really bothers me that the Super Bowl never selects its halftime acts based on the geographic location of the game. This was obviously highlighted most painfully when they chose Nickelback as the talent in Detroit – which has effing Motown and Jack White at its disposal. This year, we get Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars when the obvious call would be Dead & Company who brings pop appeal in John Mayer and it would make the perfect tie-in with the San Francisco locale and the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead. Plus, even though I think they may have broken up, bring Katy Perry out there with Mayer and that’s better than Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, isn’t it? In all honestly, I don’t really care. I’d be more interested in seeing a Bud Bowl Where Are They Now segment on the Beechwood Backs and Budway Joe.

Several seasons with their treason
Wrap the babe in scarlet colors, call it your own
Did he doubt or did he try
Answers aplenty in the bye and bye
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
One man gathers what another man spills

Gary Kubiak’s Vindication – By many accounts, John Elway’s hire of Gary Kubiak as Denver head coach going into this season was considered a nepotism hire and an odd move to say the least. In his last year as a head coach, Kubiak’s Houston Texans finished an abysmal 2-11 before he got fired from the job. He also suffered from health issues that season and had to be taken off at halftime due to a blood clot in his brain that looked a lot like a heart attack. Furthermore, Kubiak’s pedestrian offense has been highly criticized as a major contributor to Manning’s statistical decline this season. Fast forward to the end of this season, Kubiak and Elway are looking for vindication as they have a shot at winning the Super Bowl.

Well, can’t you see that you’re killing each other’s soul
Well, you’re both out in the streets and you got no place to go
Your constant battles are getting to be a bore
So go somewhere else and continue your cream puff war

Media Spin on Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton – It’s no secret that the media is known to pop a collective Cialis boner over Peyton Manning, so whenever he plays in a big game you can guarantee there will be a heap of “Manning versus the other guy” coverage. The angles against Cam Newton will have a variety of looks, including young versus old, pocket passer versus athletic quarterback, and flashy versus buttoned up. I’m sure we’ll hear how – much like Randall Cunningham – Newton has changed the game forever with his athletic style of play while the era of the pocket QB is a thing of the past. That said, Newton is clearly one of the best in the game right now and should go down to the wire as a serious contender for the league MVP. Speaking of, keep your eyes peeled as the 2015 MVP announcement comes out on Saturday night right before Super Bowl 50.

When it seems like the night will last forever and there’s nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart begin to sever and stones fall from my eyes instead of tears
I will walk alone, by the black muddy river, and dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone, by the black muddy river and sing me a song of my own
Sing me a song of my own

Field Issues at Levi’s Stadium – Despite the hefty price tag of a $1.3 billion for the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara (more like $2 billion according to estimates), the actual playing field has been wrangled with problems all season. The highlight of mishaps came when Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker’s foot sank about a half a foot deep in the turf while attempting to kick a field goal. You would think everything would be in tip top shape for one of the biggest games in sports, but just last week it was reported that they painted the wrong end zone, so be on the lookout for more snafus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHbrOvsAJBE

All the years combine, they melt into a dream
A broken angel sings from a guitar
In the end there’s just a song comes cryin’ up the night
Thru all the broken dreams and vanished years
Stella blue
Stella blue

The Panther’s Have Never Won a Super Bowl – Believe it or not, the Panthers have already been in the league 21 seasons since joining as an expansion team in 1995. They have hardly reached the caliber of suck as say Cleveland or Detroit (six winning records, twelve losing records, and three 8-8 seasons), but the drought without a Super Bowl championship is getting long in the tooth. The Panthers did lose Super Bowl XXXVIII in a close one against the New England Patriots, but they have never been able to secure the Lombardi trophy and pop the champagne.

In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough
She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff
As I picked up my matches and was closing the door
I had one of those flashes I’d been there before, been there before

Meanwhile Denver Has Won a Couple but Lost a Lot More– Lest we forget, Denver also has a bit of a sordid past with the super bowl. They have certainly been to the dance many times and they alleviated their curse with wins in 1997 and 1998, but recall they got their asses kicked in three super bowls in four years in the late 1980s by scores of 20-39, 10-42, and 10-55. They also lost their most recent shot in 2013 by a score of 8-43 in a drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Finally, Denver fans fondly remember their Orange Crush defense of the late 1970s as one of their great teams in Bronco history, but they also lost that Super Bowl 10-27 to Roger Staubach and a stout Dallas Cowboys defense. Overall, Denver has just a 2-5 Super Bowl record.

It’s only fractured, just a little nervous from the fall

Thomas Davis Playing with a Broken Arm – The 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year broke his arm in the NFC Championship game and recently got about 12 screws in his arm. No big deal, Thomas Davis – one of the best linebackers in the game – is good to go and fully plans to play in the Super Bowl. This guy is amazing. He’s tough as nails and is a guy you should be rooting for. He gives out two full scholarships every year, helps thousands of underprivileged children with free programs, provides free school supplies and hosts a free kid’s football camp.

Same old story and I know it’s been told
Some like jelly jelly – some like gold
Many a man’s done a terrible thing
Just to get baby that shiny diamond ring

The HGH Scandal – Sorry, here’s the part where the Jerry/Peyton comparison gets dragged out way too far. Peyton and Jerry both changed their respective games with improvisation. If you think about the NFL before Peyton, it was a far more premeditated affair with a straight ahead run first mentality. Teams really didn’t stray far from their game plan in the moment. Manning mastered the art of improvisation in the NFL and has redefined the way a quarterback plays the game. He studies defenses and reacts before the play in the moment to seize opportunities (to say “Omaha”). Sadly, like Jerry, he also runs the risk of having drugs tarnish an otherwise heroic career as one of the best at his craft. Peyton finds himself in a late career HGH scandal where a journalist has linked him to an elaborate performance enhancing scheme that suggests he used HGH to recover from multiple neck surgeries in 2011 – after which he went to Denver and broke the all-time touchdown pass record.

Roll you down the line boy, drop you for a loss
Ride you out on a cold railroad and nail you to a cross
November and more, as I wait for the score
They’re telling me forgiveness is the key to every door
A slow winter day a night like forever
Sink like a stone, float like a feather

Peyton Can’t Throw Anymore – As a corollary to that last entry, you’ll also see that maybe it’s better if Peyton finds some more of that stuff. When he drops back to pass, you’ll be expecting to see the ball zip like it used to but instead it wobbles out like an oversized water balloon.

I can’t figure out, if it’s the end or beginning

Fast Starts, Slow Finishes – If you look at Carolina’s last three games, they have outscored opponents 79-10 in the first half. Denver on the other hand tends to win plodding boring games with a lot more threes than sevens in the box score. In other words, either this one drags out in a slow burner or it’s over before the first quarter ever comes to a close.

Come on boys and wager if you have got the mind
If you got a dollar boys lay it on the line
Hand me my old guitar pass the whiskey round
Want you to tell everybody you meet the Candyman’s in town

The Prop Bets – Finally, just like Deadheads loved the conversations of calling the “Truckin’” opener, the “U.S. Blues” encore on the 4th of July, or the “Attics” to close the book on the Grateful Dead forever in the final encore, football fans and degenerate gamblers will try their hand at correctly predicting every possible detail of Super Bowl 50.

You can bet on just about anything Super Bowl related from the basic prop bets like the coin toss and who will sing the national anthem, to far-out oddities like if anybody will catch on fire during the halftime show, if we’ll see a burning effigy of 49ers GM Trent Baalke, or if anyone will parachute into the stadium (surprisingly low odds at 9:1).

My personal recommendation is to take the over on the times someone says the “greatest of all time.” This bet is set crazy low at just 3.5 times. I’d take the over on that all day, we’ll hit 3.5 by the end of the first drive.