This is of course, the weekend on which the identity of the two participants in the Super Bowl is to be decided. If you think the preceding statement was made with a certain listlessness, you're right; it's not easy to get all that interested in these things when the home-town bruisers aren't participating.

No doubt there are some major questions we should be worrying about: for instance, will the New England Patriots, having been forced to play one more postseason game than their opponents, show up in Miami totally exhausted? Perhaps, but there are those who say that not having had a weekend off since August will give the New Englanders the all-important advantage of momentum, which could, however, be dissipated in the heat of Miami, where the Dolphins enjoy the equally important home-field advantage and yet may face the greatest of dangers, which is overconfidence. Another question is how all of this can be so precisely evaluated as to say that the Dolphins are favored by 41/2 points. Moreover, will the sun-loving Los Angeles Rams be up to playing a game in frigid Chicago, or will they be paralyzed by fear at having to go up against a team with the legendary nickname Monsters of the Midway?

These are big questions, but somehow not so compelling when they don't involve your own team. At times such as these we return obsessively to another football question, one that has bothered us for years: what do they say during the two- minute warning?

We suppose a referee trots over to the sidelines and shouts to one coach:

"Hey, Jack, only two minutes left."

"Oh, wow, thanks for the warning, ref," says the coach. "I was busy plotting strategy and clean forgot about the time. Say, while you're at it, you should warn Coach Briggs over on the other side. What with his contract not being renewed, he might have been preoccupied and not noticed the time, even though it's up on the scoreboard in brightly lit numerals 10 feet high."

Perhaps that is what happens, but sometimes we think the two-minute warning is just an excuse for a strange exercise in which the TV network runs off as many commercials, and the trailing team as many plays from scrimmage, as humanly possible. This is the sort of sour thought that occurs to you when your team doesn't make the playoffs.