BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- I don’t know what I expected from the Mall of America.
I guess I expected it to be a kajillion times bigger and way different from the Hanover Mall, where I spent Friday and Saturday nights in the 1980s. Back then, I’d spend an hour hanging by the fountain, slamming through the poster rolodex in Spencers, eating at Orange Julius and then I’d head to Starland to ride go-karts. That was living.
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The Mall of America isn’t that different at all. It’s a mall. It’s bigger, yeah. But it’s still a mall. It even has a Spencers. It has a Game Stop. A T-Mobile store. One of those eyebrow salons that stink like rubbing alcohol.
Radio Row is in the damn food court.
And I don’t hate it. If the Super Bowl is a uniquely American holiday, isn’t a mall -- that uniquely American gathering spot -- the kind of place that should be at the epicenter just once?
Besides, I take personal pleasure in knowing that the NFL’s self-important owners ( . . . everybody needs a Mr. before their name . . . don’t forget it . . . ) have to walk past the Gap and Aeropostale to get to the schmooze spots on NFL Network. To see someone try to buttonhole Goodell and try to hawk him a cell phone cover would Make. My. Week.
Those guys haven’t been in a mall since they were half-billionaires. They have to give ‘em a Purell hosedown when they leave.
Even better, both the Patriots and the Eagles are staying in hotels attached to the mall. This means virtually everything except the game is going to revolve around this massive structure plopped on the site where the Vikings and Twins used to play.
Downtown is a rumor.
They keep talking using the catchphrase “Bold North” when referencing where all this is going down. I hear “Bold North,” I think Yukon Cornelius-looking motherscratchers. Not some rotund dude in a Chad Greenway jersey waiting in line at the falafel restaurant.
I was supposed to write this column and file it Sunday night. But I didn’t because it was hard to write a “vibe of the city” column when the whole joint was vibeless. So I waited until there was a vibe. By the end of Monday, I’d gotten what passes for one.
After a library-quiet start to Super Bowl Opening Night, where fans who paid up to $70 to sit and watch people be interviewed, there were stirrings among the natives when the Eagles showed up.
The goodhearted folks of Minnesota would like to drive a stake through the collective eye of Eagles fans. They also are rooting against the football team.
Why?! Because Eagles fans were mean to Vikings fans when the teams played in the NFC Championship last week.
Revenge is a dish best served cold -- it was 4 degrees today -- and Vikings fans were mean to Nick Foles at Super Bowl Opening Night.
Foles, put on a dais with a couple of fellow Eagles captains and three Patriots captains, was booed mercilessly when he tried to spit out a few words during the awkward en masse intervierw.
Since Foles is a non-offensive and unremarkable guy who’s just the backup for crissake, it was simultaneously amusing and painful.
Meanwhile, sitting to Foles’ left, was Tom Brady. He looked like he felt bad for Foles. Which was ironic because all Foles was getting was some good-natured booing while the story of the day prior to Opening Night was the moronic, look-at-me-aren’t-I-edgy disparagement of Brady’s five-year-old daughter by WEEI’s Alex Reimer.
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By day’s end, Brady had deftly parlayed Reimer’s idiocy into a personal win, saying he didn’t want Reimer poopcanned. Which will further piss off the people who reflexively hate on everything Brady does, including charity work and helping the developmentally disabled.
Really have our finger on the pulse of the fans, don’t we?
That, to me, is one of the stories underpinning this portion of the Patriots run. The yawning disconnect between consumers who follow the team for enjoyment and people paid to talk and/or write about the team who are bored with the winning, sick of the deifying and exhausted with a perpetually persecuted fanbase.
It’s not as much New England vs. Everybody anymore. It’s New England and Vikings Fans vs. Everybody (including swaths of the New England media).
I get the Super Bowl fatigue. This isn’t the matchup we waited all season for -- Foles vs. Brady; Pederson vs. Belichick; Van Noy vs. Ajayi, and Chung vs. Ertz.
The Steelers game in early December was a bigger deal and it probably will wind up having been more dramatic.
This isn’t the Super Bowl you asked for. But it’s the Super Bowl you got. Enjoy it. You’re gonna miss them when they’re gone.