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All of the focus on the Packers and the Steelers this week has gotten in the way of the one story that everyone who really cares about football has been following: Who will be the referee of Super Bowl XLV?
What's that? It hasn't been what everyone cares about and most of you haven't even thought about who would be wearing the black-and-white striped shirt come Sunday? I'm not sure I like what's happening to the Super Bowl. Time was that all anyone cared about was who flipped the coin and now our country just cares about who wins and loses the actual game.
We kid, we kid. Our country actually cares about commercials, complaining about the weather and obsessing over what time Ben Roethlisberger chooses to sing Billy Joel songs. Let's all cool down, people, it's not like he was singing "Just the Way You Are." If you're at a piano bar and aren't singing "Piano Man," then you've got a headline, but Big Ben's Tuesday night activities don't really warrant a mention.
Most people certainly don't care about the referee, but it definitely has more to do with the game than anything in the preceding paragraph. Walt Anderson has been given the honor of overseeing Sunday's game, the second time he's been the man with the microphone for a Super Bowl. His previous outing, Super Bowl XXXV, was a blowout win by the Ravens that didn't feature any calls that people remembered the morning after the game.
That might be more difficult to avoid this season than in years past. Much has been made about the NFL's crackdown on illegal hits, with a lot of the noise coming from the Steelers because of the way James Harrison has been fined regularly for hits to the head. Either team could find themselves picking up a crucial call like that, however, which could make Anderson a lightning rod for one side or the other.
Anderson was toward the bottom of the list when it came to calling penalties this season, but the Super Bowl is worked by a crew full of officials deemed the best at their job over the course of the season. Some of those guys might be a bit flag happier than Anderson and some might be more lenient, but you'd hope that they live up to their reputation without adversely impacting the contest.
You're now free to go back to thinking about the football game.
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