Ah, Super Bowl Sunday, one last chance to take in the spectacle that is NFL football before the 2016 season comes to a close. Of course, this year is different because the hometown Atlanta Falcons are facing the New England Patriots, so we couldn’t resist putting together a preview of everything Jewish in Super Bowl LI.
Yes, both Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Patriots owner Robert Kraft are Jewish. It will be the first matchup of Jewish owners in the big game since the New York Giants, co-owned by Steve Tisch, defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
But it’s a friendly rivalry. When Blank purchased the Falcons in 2002, he has said, Kraft was one of the first owners to reach out and give him advice. He now considers Kraft his “best friend in the league.”
After it was certain that the Falcons and Patriots would play in the Super Bowl in Houston, Blank again called Kraft, whose team has been to seven Super Bowls, to ask for advice.
For what it’s worth, Kraft is 1-2 in Super Bowls against Jewish owners. The Patriots owner has two losses to the Giants and a victory over Jeffrey Lurie’s Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Although the Falcons have a Freeman (Devonta) and a Schaub (Matt) on the roster, neither is Jewish.
The Patriots, on the other hand, have two Jewish players who will take the field on Super Bowl Sunday: top wide receiver Julian Edelman, expected to be a big part of Coach Bill Belichick’s game plan, and special teams ace Nate Ebner.
Ebner, 27, made headlines in July when he became the first active NFL player to participate in an Olympics, competing in rugby for the United States.
As for other Jewish geography, New England quarterback Tom Brady’s sister, Julie, is married to former Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who, despite being called “the Greek god of walks” in “Moneyball,” is Jewish.
Want another far-out connection? Patriots offensive lineman Ted Karras III is the great-nephew of former Detroit Lions lineman Alex Karras, who played Mongo in Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic western, “Blazing Saddles.”
The Halftime Show
For the last time, Lady Gaga isn’t Jewish.
Super Bowl commercials are often more entertaining than the game itself, and a few ads this year have Jewish ties.
“Saturday Night Live” alum Jon Lovitz appears in a hypnotic ad for avocados from Mexico (no reference to 20 percent tariffs).
Israeli “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot kicks some butt in a spot for Tel Aviv-based website development platform Wix. Gadot and English action star Jason Statham team up to fend off attackers in a bistro where they are on separate dates. The brawl destroys the restaurant, but the owner uses Wix to create a website for his new food truck.
An Israeli tech connection also plays a part in an ad for Intel featuring Tom Brady. The ad uses technology acquired from Israeli company Replay Technologies in 2016 for $170 million that will be used for replays during the Fox broadcast of the Super Bowl.
Founded by Aviv Shapira and Matteo Shapira in 2011, Replay Technologies’ 360-degree video system allows replays to be flipped around à la “The Matrix.”
You Can’t do That to the Lombardi Trophy!
After Robert Kraft’s Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon invited him to visit Israel with the Lombardi Trophy. When Kraft and his group got to the prime minister’s office, most of the guards had no idea who he was, had never seen the big metal trophy and were at a loss whether to let it through.
Their solution? Take apart the trophy and make sure nothing was hidden inside.
Luckily, one guard was American-born, and when he saw what was happening, he told them they couldn’t do that to the Super Bowl trophy.
The trophy made it through intact, and Kraft and his group spent the next hour with Sharon and Olmert.
Kraft has since donated more than $100 million to Israeli causes, including promoting the game of American football in Israel. He paid for Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, where the Israel Football League (featured in a documentary at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in 2015) is played.