Super Bowl LVIII Preview

By Mark Nagi

The final football game of consequence of the season is set for this coming Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

Yes, I know the XFL/USFL merger brings us something called the UFL starting in March, and spring football is coming up for the Vols as well… but this is the last dance until late August. Let’s make it count.

In efforts to make sure that you don’t sound like a bozo at your Super Bowl party, I have some information about the big game. Feel free to slip these tidbits into conversation.

This is a rematch from four years ago, when the 49ers blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead to the Chiefs. Atlanta fans certainly remember, as San Fran’s head coach, Kyle Shanahan, was the Falcons offensive coordinator when they blew a 28-3 lead and lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Speaking of the Pats, the Kansas City Chiefs are the modern-day version of the New England Patriots. The Chiefs are a team that everyone is sick of watching win games, and they also feature an all-time great QB in Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls since February 2020, including last year’s victory over Philadelphia.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that KC’s all-pro tight end Travis Kelce is dating pop star Taylor Swift. She is one of the most popular musicians in the world and gets approximately 45 seconds of airtime during a typical broadcast, mostly after Kelce makes a big catch. If you can’t handle that much Swift, I’d suggest reading a book or taking a walk, because she will be on your TV.

Swift will be flying to the game in Las Vegas following her concert in Tokyo, so “Swifties” will be following the lead of college football fans who track airplanes during a coaching search.

If you are a Vols fan and want to find a reason to root for the Chiefs, look no further than offensive right guard Trey Smith.  He slipped to the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft due in large part to fears about blood clots he suffered through in 2018. But Smith has proven to be quite the steal and is a starter for an offensive line tasked with protecting Mahomes.

As for the San Francisco 49ers, they have five Super Bowl wins on their resume, but it’s been 29 years since they lofted a Lombardi Trophy.  The 49ers have the best running back in the sport in Christian McCaffrey, and a second-year QB in Brock Purdy who went from Mr. Irrelevant in 2022 (the nickname given to the last player selected in the NFL Draft) to an MVP candidate. He’s only 24 years old and will be the third youngest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl.

If you are a Vols fan and want to find a reason to root for the 49ers, look no further than wide receiver Jauan Jennings. He was one of the most beloved Tennessee players in recent memory, not only for his game-winning TD grabs against Florida and Georgia in 2016, but for his passionate nature. Jennings plays hard every snap and has made some huge catches for San Francisco during this postseason run.

No matter the outcome, it is good to know a Tennessee alum will get a ring. With the influx of UT players into the NFL, this likely will continue to be a common occurrence. Five Vols were taken in last year’s draft and more will hear their names called come April.

So, watch the commercials, don’t have too much guacamole, and enjoy the game. It should be a good one.