Mediocre Super Sunday…what have we learned?
I watched the Super Bowl. I can truly say I watched more of this Super Bowl than I have in a long time (can’t remember watching more or longer, but maybe I have).
Why? My first answer would be, “I don’t know.” It seemed like one of those movies where you think “this HAS to get better”, but it never does…and you find yourself watching the credits in stunned silence. I feel almost hungover from the level of disappointment of last night. I can’t think of a single aspect of the year’s biggest football spectacle that wasn’t disappointing to me, even if parts were somewhat pleasing.
I feel a ‘sort of’ kinship to both quarterbacks. They both profess a strong Christian faith, and one spent the better part of his career in my state. While I’m pleased that Wilson had a good game, I’m really let down that Manning set the record for number of completed passes in a Super Bowl yet still never even threatened to ‘make it a game.’ But that seems to be indicative of everything else about the game.
As a former radio guy, I pay attention to coverage. I usually prefer the ‘studio’ coverage on CBS and the ‘game’ coverage from NBC (I know a lot of people hate on Cris Collinsworth…I like him). I’ve never really like the Fox studio folks. I don’t like Joe Buck or Troy Aikman in the booth. Aikman seems like a class act, so I want to like him…just don’t. The pregame hype for this game seemed out of proportion to me compared to Super Bowls past. When the pregame studio guys ( my least favorite pre-game crew) take to a rooftop football field to run plays to demonstrate what would have been easier understood on a ‘telestrator‘, and complete passes to one of the greatest DEFENSIVE players of all time, we’ve lost perspective. The game was overhyped by mediocre coverage all afternoon.
Most of the pregame schmaltz was [channeling Charles Barkley] “turrible”. After seeing the SNL spoof of a Broadway Super Bowl Haftime, it looked like life imitating art. I know Chris Myers was a last-minute replacement on the red carpet, but…red carpet reporting? It’s an American holiday…but this is FOOTBALL! Even the ‘throw’ to Rob Riggle’s video for his pick was schmaltzy. Mildly entertaining falls short of the mark for the biggest game of the year in my opinion. Pass the Cheez Whiz.
Perhaps the audio was bad, or maybe I’m becoming Andy Rooney as I age…but the on-field festivities kicked off with a mediocre rendition of America the Beautiful by Queen Latifah. Not bad, but not memorable either. Then opera star Renee Fleming sang the national anthem beautifully, but (not being an opera fan)…was there emotion to it, or was it just another song to sing? I’ll give a pass since I don’t like/know the genre. She didn’t lipsync it , roll and trill through it, screech it like dying mice, or flub the words, and I can certainly appreciate that. (We all know 1991 Whitney was the best public version anyway, right?)
Next, the coin toss. Before the 1998 Thanksgiving Day game, no one ever thought a coin toss could be botched. Broadway Joe was no Referee Phil Luckett, but how do you flip a coin without asking what’s being called first? You grew up playing sports, right, Joe? Or, if it’s more convenient, feel free to blame the officiating crew for presuming an old Hall of Famer would know to ask and remember who is supposed to call the toss. Either way…more mediocrity. Although, props to Referee Terry McAulay for making a great catch. Maybe Joe was distracted because he thought he saw Suzy Kolber on the field.
Then, the game started. Wow! Denver runs the kickoff from deep in the endzone and gets buried more than 5 yards short of a touchback. First play from scrimmage, Peyton audibles at the line (something he hasn’t done all season, right?) and the center snaps the ball into the endzone for the fastest score in Super Bowl history. Downhill from there. Admittedly, the Seahawks’ defense was anything but mediocre (although some could argue about the ‘skill’ of corners holding receivers at the line).
Commercials! We’ll have some relief from mediocrity with the advertising industry’s Super Bowl presentation, right? Nope. My 9 year-old started predicting (accurately) “It’s a car commercial” as soon as something seemingly unconnected to anything started happening. Marketing execs should be proud that a 9 year-old could predict their next move like the Seahawks were predicting the Broncos’ next play.
There were a few commercials worthy of “goodness”, but lots of bad commercials and certainly nothing I would call “great”. Regardless of how bad the game is (and this is not the first blowout in the Big Game), the commercials never fail to deliver…until 2014.
The highlight of the night was indeed Halftime! While the Red Hot Chili Peppers seemed like a game-appropriate mismatch with Bruno Mars, even their song came off okay (if you like them). Bruno and crew were entertaining in their ‘throwback jerseys’, and provided a cross-generational fun experience.
The only thing to really talk about the day after was the level of disappointment, and perhaps the “controversial” Coke commercial. Yes, Coke stepped into an arena that many on the Right have not liked (to put it mildly). One of my friends posted that he would never drink Coke again after they aired a commercial transitioning “America the Beautiful” through multiple languages (albeit starting with English). I don’t get it. Here’s why:
I grew up in the 1970s. During that era, we were still celebrating the ‘melting pot’ aspect of America’s makeup. Today, that has spiraled down to drawn lines of us and them. This spot seemed in keeping with the spirit of Coke’s advertising history…perhaps their most endearing and enduring commercial ever had people of all races standing on a hilltop singing about harmony. One of the first great Super Bowl commercials (Coke again) depicted a limping black football player tossing his jersey to an adoring white kid fan.
The School House Rock song, “The Great American Melting Pot” has earwormed me today (and I haven’t even heard it…although I’ll probably watch when I go get the link for this post). I remember learning about certain neighborhoods all over the country where the main language was not English. My forebears settled in a little burg in Southern Indiana (Jasper) and I was always told that lots of the older folks there only spoke German.
If they wanted to get a drivers’ license, or file a government document, they had to know enough English (or get help) to navigate the English paperwork (which only seems reasonable to me). The cost of printing multi-lingual forms could grow to ridiculous proportions easily and quickly. If we want efficiency from our government (we do, don’t we?) a single language only makes sense. However, some folks who immigrate may never learn English! They may also lose the benefits of government services (citizenship for example), etc. unless they have some assistance (community assistance, not taxpayer) navigating the forms, and essential information exchange. I know that will anger people on the extreme Right because many of them want the government to dictate a single language (not sure how you regulate that without moving to fascism). I know that will anger people on the extreme Left because they want the government to accommodate every language on the planet (not sure how you accomplish that without selling more of our souls to ‘foreign investment’).
I think Coke was trying to tap into what “The Great American Melting Pot” touches. I don’t ever remember protests or complaints about School House Rock celebrating America as a place where bits of many cultures bring strength to the broth. Want a government that operates uni-lingually? I’m with you. Want to outlaw other languages and cultures within our borders? I can’t go there with you, brothers and sisters. That just leads to more mediocrity, and we have plenty of that outside of Super Sunday. One way of thinking, one way of advertising, one way of acting? Ask Denver’s coaching staff today how their “this is the only way” gameplan worked out.