The Super Bowl has become a happening event in American culture, even transcending the game itself that's played on the field.

This year's 45th edition had its share of not-so-great storylines leading up to Sunday's kickoff. First there was the terrible Texas weather which caused a mess at airports, delaying many fans from getting to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for the pre-game hoopla.

There was also a major ticket fiasco. Seats were sold in six temporary sections but the storms set back work on the temporary sections. Since they were sold late, the fire marshal didn't have time to inspect them and the NFL ended up having to find last-minute replacement seats for 850 fans.

Some 400 who had purchased $200 tickets were forced to sit in seats inside Cowboys Stadium which didn't have a view of the field. The league promised to pay back the 400 fans with a big refund – three times the face value of the tickets – but that didn't appease many who traveled great distances, laying out thousands of bucks for their dream weekend at the Super Bowl.

Just before kickoff, fans also saw Christina Aguilera, a Pittsburgh girl who began singing the national anthem at pro games when she was 11, mess up the lines to the Star Spangled Banner.

Female solo artists do not have that great a track record for performing at prime-time football games. Besides Aguilera this year, we recall Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 at Super Bowl 38, and the Ashlee Simpson debacle at the 2005 Orange Bowl National Championship in which she was booed after performing in the halftime show.

While the pre-game activities leading up to kickoff left much to be desired, two stars really outshined their peers to rescue Super Bowl 45. On the field it was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who was clearly the best player in the game.

And in the competitive world of Super Bowl commercials, 6-year-old Max Page was the clear-cut winner. Along with 100 million viewers of the game, the commercial which Max stars in has received 15 million (and counting) hits on You Tube.

Page plays a mini Darth Vader in the Volkswagen commercial. After a series of failures in the super powers department, he finally uses the force to start the family car, (thanks to the help of Dad and his remote keys). Max's reaction – a recoil of amazement – is priceless.

What's amazing is that the little guy never saw a Star Wars movie. And what's most inspiring is that Max was born with a defective heart. He had his first operation when he was just 3 months old and now wears a pacemaker.

Talk about overcoming life's obstacles. The darling of Super Bowl 45 has other commercials to his credit, including one for Walgreens, and he's also appeared on the soap opera The Young and the Restless.

The Super Bowl traditionally attracts the biggest celebrities in the entertainment business. Advertisers pay tons of money to make commercials they hope make a lasting impression with us.

Leave it to a cute, blonde-haired boy named Max to steal the show – inspiring us while spreading sunshine in a great many lives.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]