Here are the Major Story Lines for Super Bowl LI (Remember Matt Schaub?)

Remember this guy? He could be a Super Bowl Champion next week.
Remember this guy? He could be a Super Bowl Champion next week. Groovehouse
We’re six days away from the Super Bowl at NRG Stadium. The Texans may have missed out, but the game is still worth watching. Here are the major story lines to pay attention to.

The Tom Brady Revenge Tour:

Several years ago, Tom Brady may have deflated a bunch of footballs a bit too much. Nobody’s ever been able to adequately explain how this aided Brady. Nobody’s actually been able to prove Brady had the balls deflated. Yet the NFL went after Brady like Wikileaks went after Hillary Clinton’s emails. The result was that the NFL got to trash Brady’s reputation, and he was suspended for the first four games of this season. Since his return Brady has essentially destroyed the league, throwing for 3,554 yards in 12 regular season games, completing 67.4% of his passes with 28 touchdowns versus just two interceptions. And he’s done this without his best receiver for most of the season. It’s almost as if he wants to be on that stage after winning the game and being named Super Bowl MVP just so he can tell off commissioner Roger Goodell face-to-face.

The Patriots/Texans Connection:

Hey, did you know that Bill O’Brien was once Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator? Did you know that Tom Brady once let O’Brien shout at him on the sideline? Don’t forget that deposed defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was once Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator. And assistant coaches Larry Izzo and Mike Vrabel formerly played for Belichick and the Patriots, as did maybe-retired defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.

Homecoming for the Falcons:

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith were formerly the offensive and defensive coordinators under Gary Kubiak's Texans. But wait, there’s more: The backup quarterback for the Falcons is Matt Schaub. That’s right, just like David Carr, Schaub is in great position to get a Super Bowl ring.

The Lady Gaga Experience:

Does anyone remember what happened the last time Houston hosted the Super Bowl? Janet Jackson exposed a boob and nearly destroyed the country. This year’s halftime performer is Lady Gaga, who is supposedly promising the most expensive halftime show in Super Bowl history. There’s also talk she’s going to do part of the show from the NRG Stadium roof, and there’s a rumor that the NFL has ordered her not to use her time to discuss politics. Nobody’s ever going to top Prince’s halftime show (though Katy Perry’s Left Shark came close), so maybe the NFL should just end this half-hour distraction once and for all.

The NRG Stadium Roof:

The NFL wants to open the NRG Stadium roof. The big question is whether the retractable roof even works since the Texans absolutely refuse to open the damn thing after demanding that it be built. Opening the roof is all dependent on the weather, of course. And the NFL says the decision will be made shortly before kickoff.

The Parties:

There are lots and lots of parties the week of the Super Bowl. Most of these parties don’t allow normal people, only celebrities, though there are some, like Playboy and Maxim, that let people pay lots and lots of money to just mill around the edges of the party eyeing the rich and famous and semi-rich and semi-famous. It’ll be cheaper just to buy a last-minute flight to Las Vegas, go to a Vegas strip club and then just sit in the sports book and watch the game while getting drunk and betting your last paycheck.

Traffic and Lots of Confusion:

Do you live in downtown Houston? Do you live by NRG Stadium? How about do you work in downtown or near NRG Stadium? Good luck — your life is going to be awful. Downtown streets, already torn up with tons of construction, are now even more chaotic thanks to streets near Toyota Center, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Discovery Green and Minute Maid Park being shut down, narrowed or rerouted to deal with parties and events. Medical Center employees who park in lots south of the Med Center and take the train are being forced out of the parking lots.

The Game Is Secondary:

The Super Bowl is no longer about the actual game. It is about the experience. The experience of going to the parties. The experience of being in the stadium. The experience of watching Lady Gaga. It’s about the commercials. The quality of the game doesn’t matter. It’s nice if it’s a good game, but in the overall scheme of things, the game is just the excuse for everything else.
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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal