Saturday, January 30, 2010
(Above: Joe Namath after Super Bowl III)
Are you ready for our real national holiday?
I'm talking about the Super Bowl, of course. Thanksgiving is a time when you get together with your family, but on Super Sunday you get together with your friends. It's a lot less stressful, and there's a lot more beer.
Not that the game is likely to be any great shakes. Most Super Bowls are stinkeroos, with one team blowing out the other by the end of the first half.
And the halftime show is even worse. Yes, they've come a long way since Super Bowl I, which featured the Anaheim High School Band. But be honest: What is the only halftime show anyone remembers?
Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," of course. And you can bet the NFL will make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
I must have been the only person in America who didn't see Janet's big moment. As soon as the first half ended and they said the entertainment was going to be her and Justin Timberlake - two people I have absolutely zero interest in - I switched over to the Animal Planet and watched puppies cavorting in the Puppy Bowl.
The best part of the Super Bowl is the annual Media Day, when the nation's best sportswriters vie for the honor of asking the dumbest question. Among my favorites:
* 1981 to Raiders QB Jim Plunkett, whose parents are disabled: "Lemme get this straight, Jim. Is it blind mother, deaf father or the other way around?"
* 1988 to Redskins QB Doug Williams: "How long have you been a black quarterback?"
* 1991 to Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith: "What are you going to wear in the game on Sunday?"
* And, of course, that divine moment in 2000 when a reporter asked Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse about the religious symbol dangling from his neck: "What's the significance of the cross?"
As part of the month-long pregame show, last week the NFL Network showed a replay of the most famous Super Bowl of them all, Super Bowl III, when the Jets upset the Colts, XVI to VII.
I was amazed that neither the Jets' not the Colts' uniforms have changed at all in the last four decades, but everything else has:
* The onscreen graphics were few and far between, and the few that appeared were incredibly primitive.
* The zebras weren't miked, so each penalty call was illustrated with extremely exaggerated gestures.
* Both kickers used the old-fashioned, straight-ahead style, not the soccer style that's universal today, which probably explains why there were five missed field goals in the game.
* This was before the NFL started pitching itself to female viewers, so there were no heart-tugging human interest stories about the players.
* Curt Gowdy did an OK job with the play-by-play, but Al DeRogatis and Kyle Rote were absolutely unintelligible as analysts. Everything that came out of their mouths was jargon and gobbledygook. It makes you appreciate the revolution that John Madden wrought.
Anyway, enjoy the game, but don't take the hype too seriously. To quote Duane Thomas, the Cowboys running back who rushed for XCV yards in Super Bowl VI, when Dallas beat Miami, XXIV to III: “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re going to play another one next year?”