Going Deep

On Super Bowl Sunday, we check in on the other kind of gridiron

Published February 11, 2024

Across and down: They’re crossword instructions and football route directions. Even if you’re not a football fan, there’s a good chance you’ll be gathering this Super Bowl Sunday to eat some food and talk about Travis and Taylor… and maybe check out Adesina O. Koiki’s Wednesday Vox puzzle, which features very timely football clues. Either way, let’s get on to the rest of the puzzles!

Clues you can use

Monday, Feb. 5 (Atlas Obscura, constructed by Natan Last)

Unusual structures in Los Angeles built entirely by hand by Sabato “Simon” Rodia = WATTS TOWERS

Children participate in starting work on art center for children adjacent to Watts Towers, 1961
(image credit: Los Angeles Times)

Named for their neighborhood in South L.A., the Watts Towers are an impressive feat of engineering. Italian immigrant Simon Rodia spent more than 30 years making them by hand from rebar, concrete, and other found items, finishing in 1954–a total of 17 towers, the tallest just a few inches shy of 100 feet. When asked about why he made it, Rodia responded, “I had it in my mind to do something big, and did it.” Today, Rodia’s towers are the namesakes of L.A.’s oldest jazz festival, and a State Historic Park

Wednesday, Feb. 7 (New York Times, constructed by Daniel Mauer)

___ Air, electric vehicle that was named Motor Trend’s 2022 Car of the Year  = LUCID

Interior of a Lucid Air (image credit: Lucid Motors)

Founded in 2007 by former Tesla executive Peter Rawlinson, Lucid is an electric luxury car manufacturer headquartered in Newark, California. The company’s first and signature car is the Lucid Air, a four-door sedan with an electric battery. Designed to compete against the Tesla Model S, which Rawlinson helped engineer, the Air was first sold commercially in 2022. According to their website, the Lucid Air starts at $77,400, so start saving now–or wait for their second model, the Gravity SUV, which is scheduled for later this year.

Thursday, Feb. 8 (Vox, constructed by Will Nediger)

“It’s in the game” company  = EA SPORTS

DOS version of Madden, 1988

Electronic Arts produced its first sports video game in 1988 with “John Madden Football,” featuring the namesake coach on the cover. From that initial game, an entire franchise was born–and it’s still called Madden, even though the coach died in 2021. Other notable series: EA Sports FC (formerly FIFA) featuring the other football, PGA Tour (formerly Tiger Woods), and NCAA Football, which hasn’t been seen since 2014, but is making a return in the era of NIL. But back to the pros: If you’re still looking to bet on the Super Bowl, the annual Madden simulation predicts a 30-28 win for the Chiefs. Call your bookie now!

Championship puzzles

We’ve got a few pieces of puzzle news from around the country (and one from the north country):

On Feb. 3, the Westpoint (Conn.) Library hosted its 25th Annual Crossword Puzzle Contest. For the fourth year running, first place went to Glen Ryan, who’s also known for taking a bunch of photos during crossword tournaments. Many of my Facebook tagged photos were taken by Glen, and I’m sure this is true for many other puzzlers. Congrats on the victory!

The Great Black-and-White North is getting into puzzles, as The Atlantic reported on a New York Times puzzle tournament going on within the Toronto Raptors organization. The article also discusses the game Poeltl, an NBA player-guessing game named for Raptors center Jakob Poeltl (who–spoiler alert–also went far in the tournament).

SFGate published a glowing profile of crossword constructor Juliana Tringali Golden, whose puzzles on Vox have been highlighted here! The profile was written ahead of her new book “Pause for Puzzles: Easy Crosswords for Relaxation,” which you should probably order. Everyone deserves an easy puzzle sometimes!

Thank you all, and happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s all share a little love, however we can.

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday.