There’s one main thing you need to know about this latest Super Bowl: the State of the Union quarterback won, heroically. Advantage George W. Bush. Tom Brady, shortly after front-running John Kerry had claimed Brady’s New England Patriots team as his own, had avoided the Democrat’s blitz by attending the SOTU address as the president’s guest. Duly inspired, he went on to new greatness. Just don’t expect ESPN or the sports pages to delve too deeply into this central feature of last night’s game, which deservedly is going down as the greatest Super Bowl ever, give or take 10 others.
Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t the greatest, assuming you did other things while the ads were on. If not for Drudge, I wouldn’t have known what Janet Jackson was up to. Perhaps she was reaching out to her better known brother. The one fine thing about CBS’s coverage of the game — apparently Jackson had inspired a few imitators just before the second-half kickoff — is that it pretends nothing untoward is going on if it isn’t game-related. One can assume real fans watch the game, while fair-weather fans prefer everything but the game. We remain a badly divided country nonpolitically as well.
Reid Collins has done heroic work capturing the brazen decadence of the advertising and halftime show. My son had pointed out the ads warning children not to smoke or drink or do drugs or a lick of work around the house. So why was there a Pepsi ad glorifying the young Jimi Hendrix, purchasing a Pepsi and guitar instead of a Coke and an accordion? Maybe if he’d chosen the latter he wouldn’t have died an early death from drugs and habits those earlier ads found objectionable.
It’s come to the point that the only cleancut action is on the field during the game (give or take a mean chop to the ribs of the celebrating Carolina QB from a Patriot after the former had thrown another touchdown pass). One had to feel sorry for the players having to play the second half in air cancerously polluted by the halftime show. Surely the hazy picture on my TV screen couldn’t be blamed on Panasonic.
And notice all the slipping players from both teams did at the most inopportune times. That’s what games on the latest confection that passes for an artificial surface are likely to produce. Wonder why there was so much scoring in a game that was a defensive standstill for its first 26 minutes? No doubt because by then both defenses were wiped out by the increasing heat of a game played indoors.
It didn’t have to be that way. The Houston stadium has a retractable roof. The weather outside was fine and a lot cooler that the sauna-like conditions that built up inside. But the geniuses who run things for the NFL and CBS were reportedly afraid of a possible thunder storm (in February?). So let the players die rather than play in conditions football is supposed to be played in.
All these distractions notwithstanding, the play of both teams was stupendous. I’m serious. For a time it appeared special teams play would clinch it for Carolina. New England had missed two easy field goals, punted anemically, and botched a squib kick. But then just when it mattered most, Carolina’s kicker hooked a kickoff out of bounds, giving Brady all the extra yards he’d need to win in the final seconds.
Carolina didn’t deserve to lose, which is what makes Brady’s achievement that much more memorable. When late in the game his team fell behind for the first time in months, instead of folding as 99.9 percent of players would have in these circumstances he found a way to produce a go-ahead touchdown — and a two-point conversion the other team twice failed at. After Carolina amazingly came back to tie the score, he did it all over again.
It’s early, but this is one they’ll be talking about forever. That, and Y.A. Tittle’s appearance at the pre-game coin flip.