Super Bowl Llll is baked, and so are all the ‘old man’ jokes lobbed at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The latest Super Bowl tried the patience of many, as the game played out in a defensive display with the Patriots finally putting up a touchdown towards the end of the game. Punters ruled and field goals made up 9 of the total points scored by both teams. This was one of the quirkiest Super Bowls ever, and if you compare it to the first, you’ll see just how this match has evolved over time. For starters, competing media outlets had a ‘wall’ of sorts erected for the first Bowl.
On January 15, 1967, NFL champs the Green Bay Packers dueled with AFL champs the Kansas City Chiefs. Coaching legend Vince Lombardi guided his Packers to victory that day. As game day approached, another rivalry was taking place off field.
NBC had rights to broadcast the AFL team. CBS had rights to broadcast the NFL team. Both networks broadcast the game simultaneously. There was a great deal of competitiveness and aggression between those two networks, so much that they ended up erecting a ‘wall’ of sorts between them. Charlie Jones, an analyst with NBC, described the situation in an interview with The Chicago Tribune:
“It was very competitive all week long, and I can remember there was a fence up between the trucks in the compound. It was the first time for a pool feed in sports, and it got to be like the space launches. There were meetings every day between the two networks, and they were hysterical. It was like your first high school dance, remember, where the girls were on one side of the room, the boys on the other. They were those kinds of meetings. Then we`d go and try to figure out how to screw CBS, and you knew they were doing the same thing. There was as much a rivalry between the networks as between the leagues.”
That first Super Bowl had one celeb lined up for entertainment: Al Hirt. Hirt and his trumpet were the draw, and bands from Arizona State and Grambling State provided halftime and other entertainment. Had a man or woman bared breasts, intentionally or not, during that first broadcast, the US would’ve had a collective heart attack. In Sunday’s Super Bowl, entertainer Adam Levine was naked from the waist up. It took only seconds for Tweeters to go nuts over that after singer Janet Jackson’s partial breast fiasco in 2004 sparked coverage dubbed “Nipplegate.” Naturally lots of Tweeters wanted to know why it was ok for Levine to bare all but not okay for Jackson to allegedly by accident have one breast uncovered.
As the defense-dominated 53rd Super Bowl played out, a sense of tediousness prevailed. The entertainment was, as usual, pretty boring. I confess I cannot remember a single Super Bowl halftime act that really impressed me. This one was no exception. Even the commercials fell short, with one ad featuring the late Andy Warhol eating a hamburger. I have to wonder where these large corporations find ad men and women so dense they think now-dead Andy Warhol eating a burger would make me want to buy that kind of burger. They did think to make the catsup Warhol shook flow slowly like it used to before activists made catsup “healthier” and runnier.
Before Sunday’s game, media published various predictions from an assortment of sources. Animals were popular with pundits, with the Cincinnati Zoo’s hippo Fiona somehow picking the Rams to win. Fiona was not alone. Maverick, a sea lion at the zoo in Columbia, SC, also picked the Rams. Both creatures are young, so their accuracy may improve with age.
Despite lackluster entertainment and a largely unexciting game, there was a very bright moment in Sunday’s pageantry. Gladys Knight delivered the US National Anthem in a remarkable way with the voice she has crafted into a mighty instrument. Knight faced criticism from ‘social justice’ groups for doing the anthem, but she took it all in stride and sang the song that unites us as a nation. She was, for me, the greatest standout of the day.
With Super Bowl Llll done, football junkies will be going through withdrawal and many of us will begin to anticipate a different kind of sports experience as March Madness nears. We’ll see how that unfolds and we’ll see how accurate all the prophesiers are when it comes to college basketball.
For my family and me, the best thing about this past year’s football season was college ball. I figure we’ll feel the same way, most of us, about basketball.
I glanced at our dog Bear while the Super Bowl was on yesterday. The look on his face summed up the tenor of the game–basically a snooze fest.
Featured photo: We like to toss the ball out back during halftime, or when the games get boring, or just when we feel like tossing a football. (Photo: Indie Art South)
(Kay B. Day/Feb. 4, 2019)