Hail to the Giants! Super Bowl XLVI (That’s 46 to the Roman Numerically challenged) is in the books and America’s most populated city has yet another championship to annoyingly rub in the noses of less fortunate, however far more deserving professional fan bases. That’s not to say they didn’t earn it, Eli Manning didn’t play well and Tom Coughlin can’t coach, but more so that if I’ve tired of any particular act, it’s the one which tries desperately to sell a New York City franchise as an underdog.
There you have it, I’ve kicked-off my soon-to-be diatribe of negativity with an obvious cheap shot at the city whose franchises offer the largest built-in rooting section, along with an even larger sect of wannabes. I’m never amazed, but often disgusted by the indestructible army of Giant, Yankee and even Jet fans who seem to multiply at the rate of Gremlins in a flash flood. You don’t see too many Browns fans in these parts, even fewer Marlin fans, and I’m relatively certain I’ve seen nary a Jacksonville Jaguar hat, shirt or bumper sticker anywhere around town. But Giant, Yankee and even Jet gear…check, check and check again.
So no, I wasn’t happy with the Giants win, but that’s just scratching the surface of my disdain for a handful of activities which have become regularities of the production we call “Super Sunday.”
I’m old enough to remember somewhere in the ballpark of 30 Super Bowls. Beginning with the Steelers in 1980, through dynastic runs by the 49ers of the 80’s, Cowboys of the 90’s and Patriots of the 00’s, the NFL and its crowning achievement has been permanently etched in my brain. Not in a way which randomly brings a smile to my face or keeps me up at night, but more so in a manner triggered by a player, a highlight or often a fan reveling in what was for him and the team he puts his weight behind.
I vividly remember “the catch,” “Joe Cool,” and “The Triplets.” I could never forget San Francisco’s domination and Denver and Buffalo being dominated. Not to mention players like Swan, Montana and Brady who the Super Bowl will fondly remember, while Jackie Smith, Scott Norwood and for now Wes Welker…not so much.
The Super Bowl has become an American tradition and due to such a target for those who take pride in going against the grain…and I hate that. If you don’t like Football, fine, but don’t dislike it merely because everyone else does. Your sport isn’t better, your fans aren’t better and you in general aren’t better simply due to a self-dubbed high-brow-adoration for the less popular. I learned long ago that just because I may not like something, doesn’t mean it isn’t likeable. It just means I don’t like it. So get over yourself.
I’m done with the commercials. Fifteen to twenty years ago it became hip to launch products before during or after the Super Bowl game, and to do so in a new and unique manner. Budweiser took the reins, Doritos climbed aboard and car companies, dot-coms and seemingly anyone else willing to pony-up the seven figure asking price was along for the ride. Call me a purist, but I actually watch the Super Bowl for the game. I’m not tuning in for the commercials and would consider my viewing experience significantly more pleasurable without the influx of talking babies, retread celebrities and computer-generated-animals telling me what to eat and drink, let alone where to put my money. Are they more entertaining than your run-of-the-mill Sunday afternoon advertisements? Sure, but I’ll take fewer garden variety ads over more higher-end productions, more less imaginative and regurgitated ideas, and more Monday morning discussions revolving around the hierarchy of a thirty-second marketing campaign. I hate that!
The level of hype surrounding this game has reached such a heightened level; the English language is putting to a vote whether or not an exclamatory version of the word itself is now necessary. There are currently two weeks separating the conference championship games and the Super Bowl itself, and the media is now taking advantage of every one of the 20,160 minutes to overwhelm us with every minute detail involving every city, team and person with a dog in this fight. It was bad enough twenty years ago when the network televising the game would spend three hours of a Super Bowl pregame show crunching “meaningful” data, but now every network with an ounce of sports is putting down roots in the host city for a minimum of a week, broadcasting within field goal range of the host stadium, and recycling the same guests previously or soon to be seen or heard on every other broadcast within that same field goal range.
I understand they want to cover every possible angle of football’s greatest game, but some stories are best left untold. Frank Caliendo’s football expertise lends nothing to my experience. David Feherty is a golfer who spent the bulk of his life in Ireland; he’s probably not all that proficient in the ways of an NFL quarterback. And while attractive and quite possibly far more “attached” to professional football players than I, Alyssa Milano’s midweek prediction is likely akin to a coin flip, spin of a bottle, or which bowl “Bumpers the Cat” chose to eat from the morning of the game. Sometimes less is more, I just wish these networks would agree.
Sigh…halftime. I’d consider giving-up beer if it meant I’d never have to watch another one of these over-the-top productions of a formerly great artist, lip-syncing and dancing in front of a few hundred pre-positioned fans acting interested in front of a stage. The Rolling Stones, Prince (Or whatever the hell you call him), N’Sync, now Madonna? What happened to the marching band, dance squad or any of the other things I never saw because I was relieving myself, making a sandwich or literally anything else I distracted myself with in an attempt not to see what they were trying so desperately to shove down my throat? What’s next, a live episode of “that” show the network televising the game is running teasers for every other commercial break before, during and after the game? “Stay tuned, for as soon as these pesky players get off the field we’ll be filming episode one of “The River”.” Or, “The NFL and the Super Bowl present, “South Park on Ice”.” I understand they’re trying to entertain the non-football percentage of their audience; you know, the people in Bangladesh who couldn’t tell you the difference between a fumble and a forward pass, the girlfriend or wife who’ spent the better part of the first half explaining to your girlfriend or wife how she made the onion-wraps everyone’s been devouring for the last 30 minutes, and the 10,000 engineers still in their seats because they forced their family to the restroom and concessions at the 7-minute mark of the second quarter because they’d read a study in “Popular Science” about the optimum time to maximize such efforts. But if I never see another one of these overproduced and underperformed sideshows it’ll be too soon.
I’m a bit torn on this one. You see, as much as I hate the on-field trophy presentation, the interviews with which it coincides can often be entertaining in a morbid kind of way. After-all, if not for the on-field trophy presentation, we would’ve been deprived of Pat Bowlen’s “this…one’s…for…John” debacle. In addition to Barry Switzer’s “we did it our way, baby” and Steve Young’s ridiculous suggestion that “someone take the monkey off my back.” While entertaining, said entertainment bores “boring” and gives obvious a bad name. I could script the questions these guys ask, and likely the answers these players give. Just give them their hats and t-shirts, the trophy and a handshake from the commissioner and let them about their business.
The Super Bowl’s an intriguing game and has become a worldwide symbol of American sport, but it’s not without its faults. I’ve pointed out several of my gripes along those very lines, knowing full well that my dislikes, are in many instances liked by a large percentage of viewers. I understand that my disdain for the fluff surrounding this game will fall on deaf ears, for this has become far more than a sporting event, and more so and event in general. It’s big money, big business and big exposure for the league, the network on which it airs, and the sponsors who pay big dollars to play a part. It’s a great game, but much of what surrounds the game I still hate.
And I know that’s a strong word.