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For better or worse, we remain obsessed with Super Bowl

Think of the Super Bowl as a circus, a series of performances on and off the field that take place on what has become a stage far grander than anything P.T. Barnum could have envisioned.

The good thing about this LIV edition — that’s 54 to all of us who never grasped numerical notations via the Romans — is that it won’t include the evil clown with his chalk-white face and grubby hoodie.

Bill Belichick was sent home early this year.

It will instead be the 49ers and the Chiefs battling for a Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and — wait for it — the anticipated action has a wonderful chance not to make us feel like we all ingested a bottle of melatonin shortly after kickoff.

Workers string wire outside of the Hard Rock Stadium Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Miami Gardens, F ...
Workers string wire outside of the Hard Rock Stadium Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. in preparation for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Or have you forgotten sleeping through Patriots 13, Rams 3?

But while San Francisco and Kansas City meet in what many believe could challenge the game’s history for excitement and intrigue, the Super Bowl long ago became so much more than Xs and Os and the Z position Tyreek Hill is sure to burn the 49ers from time and again.

That can be a good and bad thing, though most agree not having creepy Belichick around is good.

Super Bowl Sunday is part marriage vow: For better or worse.

What do you think the most dangerous act of a circus is? The knife thrower? The lion tamer? The human cannonball? The flying trapeze artist? The tightrope walker?

The Super Bowl also offers pretty high-risk theater each year. It’s a massive champion of capitalism.

I understand it. Accept it. Have little problem with it.

Our most important sporting event is more and more built on our ideal of free markets. Make what you can in life.

Problem is, the whole concept about fair prices has been disintegrated by the Super Bowl.

Meaning, while Patrick Mahomes is an electric star quarterback and the Chiefs haven’t been to a season’s final game in 50 years, an average ticket price for Sunday is now more than $9,000.

It speaks to the unrestrained enthusiasm of many, dollar signs be damned.

But will there ever be a price tag, both with our wallets and our obsessive interest in this game, that we refuse to pay?

I’m guessing not.

Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates a touchdown pass during the second half of the N ...
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates a touchdown pass during the second half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

It’s remains one big manifestation of greed. A 30-second commercial for Sunday will run those producing it $5.6 million.

That’s up from $4.5 million last year.

Ah, but for the good ol’ days of 2010, when you could combine Betty White and Abe Vigoda with a Snickers bar for a paltry $3.1 million.

I’m not sure who sits in a dark room crunching numbers on the latest edition of an iPad for the NFL, but know that each of us spends an average of nearly $100 on the Super Bowl, which works out to billions of dollars for Roger Goodell’s red, white and blue shield.

And that’s fine with most. Even welcomed. It’s believed that more than 50 percent of those at your Super Bowl party won’t care in the least which team wins, but only about the craziness those pushing Doritos might offer over those 30 seconds.

Shakin’ in Miami

It’s the biggest television production in the world, with more than 100 million folks expected to be watching Sunday, which is close to the number of body parts sure to be shaking once Jennifer Lopez and Shakira hit the stage for the halftime show.

On one hand, being totally preoccupied with something as common as a game can allow us to escape the realities of everyday worry. On the other, is it a good thing we’ve been talking more about 49ers-Chiefs than an impeachment trial?

It’s that strange sense of balance between global consequences and 60-plus pages of prop bets, though I’m sure the person who put down $684,000 on San Francisco considers his situation to be of universal importance.

For decades, a traditional circus would begin with a ringmaster introducing a variety of choreographed acts set to music, and fans would instantly become fascinated with the drama and suspense.

For good and bad, for better or worse, that’s the Super Bowl.

A show unlike any other.

A majority of us remain — my hand is raised — all-in.

No matter the cost, to our wallet or otherwise.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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