Monday, February 04, 2002

Random Thoughts On Super Bowl 36

Congratulations to the Patriots. I’m sure their fans all across New England are still feeling good about their victory in Super Bowl 36. And I'm sure their players felt good during the post-game celebration as they were buried in confetti made up of shredded Enron documents.

Unfortunately, I live in Missouri and root for the Rams. So I’m a little cranky. Seems like the perfect time to vent about a few things I observed during the game, both on and off the field.

In all the years I’ve been watching football, I can’t remember ever seeing the “prevent defense” actually prevent anything. You saw Sunday night how the Rams prevented the Patriots from marching right down into field goal range, didn’t you? A coach telling his team to play the prevent defense is about as effective as a nutritionist telling a fat guy to load up on fried food.

Here in St. Louis, many people were disappointed that the Rams Victory Parade was canceled. True, the fact that the Rams were not victorious would have put a damper on the celebration. But their argument was that we should still have a rally to show the team that we love them and they shouldn’t feel sad about losing the Super Bowl after such a good season.

Now, I love football and support the team, but is it really necessary for us to cheer up a few dozen millionaire athletes because they came up short on their big night? In the real world, if some sales guy lost an account, or a construction worker was laid off, would he expect Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner to call and console him? It should be enough that we go see their games in person by the tens of thousands, purchase their merchandise, and root them on.

Let’s also keep this in perspective – by losing, the Rams did not instantly become the worst team in the NFL. They were second best out of thirty one! In the Olympics, competitors are rewarded for that, but we don’t host therapy sessions for the silver medalists, do we?

Memo to the NFL officials: when a field goal goes through the uprights, the clock stops. When Vinatieri hit that 48-yard game winner and the refs put their arms up, the game clock should have stopped with two seconds to go. I’m not saying the Rams would have scored a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, but let’s remember that the Titans advanced to the Super Bowl two years ago in exactly that circumstance, with the Throwback Downtown Touchdown, or whatever it was called. And in 1972, in the Gold Medal basketball game in the 1972 Summer Olympics, the USSR got two seconds put back on the clock and managed to score a basket to win the game as time expired. Again, I’m not saying the Rams were ripped off, but the rules are the rules. Get the photographers off the field and kick the ball.

Aside from the game, a lot of people watch the Super Bowl to see the multi-million dollar commercials. This year’s crop was just so-so, with the exception of the Budweiser/Bud Light commercials and the one with Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

There were a couple of commercials that linked drug use to terrorism. Last fall, there was a campaign encouraging you to eat out at a restaurant, or the terrorists would win. Now the message is: if you use drugs, you’re supporting the terrorists. This is pure preaching-to-the-choir advertising. It certainly wasn’t aimed at your average crackhead. These spots will not change the mind of an addict. “If only I’d known Al-Qaeda was profiting from my habit, I’d have tossed my needles, unwrapped my arm, and gotten off smack a lot sooner!” That's about as likely as getting Mike Tyson to stop identifying himself through dental records left in his opponents’ flesh.

Even less effective were the ads for M-Life. At first, no one had any idea what it was. Now that we know that it’s not an insurance product but some new deal from AT&T Wireless, does anyone care? Yawn!

The question every year is how effective the advertisers were in getting you to recall their products and brands. This year's crop failed.

Other impressions from the Super Bowl telecast...

I like Paul McCartney. I like Terry Bradshaw. They’re both talented, they’ve both done some amazing things, and they’ve both done some lame stuff, too. So I like them both, just as I like milkshakes and ketchup -– but not together. That’s why I’m still cringing after seeing them singing “Hard Day’s Night” together on the Fox halftime show. Especially with, as Cris Collinsworth noticed, Bradshaw singing the wrong lyrics. Terry, where in your life did you hear the expression “...and I was working like a log”? Must’ve been during one of those $1 twenty-minute phone calls.

While we’re on the subject of McCartney, let’s admit that his song, “Freedom,” is not the most sophisticated tune he’s ever produced. Nice message, but musically and lyrically impaired. I put it up there with Paul’s worst-ever song, “Let ‘Em In,” which contained these brilliant lyrics: “Someone’s knocking at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell, do me a favor, open the door, and let ‘em in.” If you’re not familiar with it, you’ll find it on his solo album, “I Think The Pizza Guy Is Here, Do You Have The Money?”

Time now for a HarrisOnline.com insta-poll: “Should Fox knock it off with those incessant instant polls?” Every time they posted the results onscreen (almost a full minute after asking the question!), I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of losers were sitting in front of both their TV and their computer at the same time. And would they really stop downloading porn long enough to vote on a silly poll?

Come to think of it, the porn part of that goal was accomplished at halftime when TVs everywhere flipped to the Playmate edition of “Fear Factor.” If you missed it (you didn’t really sit through that whole U-2 performance, did you?), let me recap: the Playmates were locked in a room with Strom Thurmond, and the first to stimulate him without the aid of Viagra was the winner. Unfortunately, halftime only lasted 23 minutes, so the show had to be continued after the game. At last check, they still haven’t been able to wake the Senator up. If NBC really wanted to see fear in the eyes of the Playmates, they would have asked them to do some math. Maybe a word problem like, “When your breasts were enlarged from 34C to 38DD, what percentage increase in saline volume did that represent?” The women would have gone screaming out of the room faster than Fox executives meeting with Pat Summerall’s agent.

Finally, these words from a caller to my show on Monday: “Since we’ve always heard that the only way the Rams can lose is if they beat themselves, I’d like to congratulate the Rams on beating the Rams in the Super Bowl.”

I'm sure that makes the Rams players feel a whole lot better, and that's what counts, isn't it?