That’s not too hard. It’s when they get into the “MC’s” and the “L’s” that we gotta find something else to watch on a Sunday late in January. There’s so little time, and especially this year — only a week between the playoff finals and the Super Bowl. Just one week in which to be assaulted by analyses into the night, encyclopedic statistics, the point-spread, and why it is a secretary always wins the office pool when grown men have spent lifetimes calculating the odds.
It occurs there are those who don’t even like football but who will be compelled to watch on Sunday either by a bullying spouse or a nagging sense of patriotic duty, heightened by the hype of this short week.
There are other collateral things to watch. The commercials in between the play on the field, and at half-time and a long-time before the kickoff. Super Bowl commercials are a study in themselves. This year ABC is getting more than $2 million for each 30 seconds, sponsors realizing that their efforts are an art work that will be remarked long after the lights go down low.
Some to watch for. Anheuser-Busch is again the biggest spender. For teetotalers there’ll be Pepsico, with nearly 3 minutes of ad time. And Gatorade, the very first time a Super Bowl advertiser, with Michael Jordan going one-on-one with a younger version of himself. You’ll notice the ball they use is round. And Jordan has another routine with actor Jackie Chan in a spot for Sara Lee.
For the irony set, there is the H & R Block tax-preparer ad starring a guy who knows more about the Internal Revenue Service than the current commissioner — Willie Nelson, the country singer whose tax liens once rivaled a small country’s budget.
Someone will sing the national anthem; prayerfully not the melismatic version so often perpetrated in these experimental times. And there will be musical entertainment at half-time.
Fans in the Washington, D.C. area will have a little mnemonic tug when the quarterbacks (they sort of run the team) are introduced. Like most grown men in America, they have played for the Washington Redskins at one time. Rich Gannon, of Oakland, and Brad Johnson, of Tampa Bay, each had the Wounded Knee experience in our nation’s capital.
Gannon is old for the game: 37. And he has produced for sports writer Leonard Shapiro the gem of quotes. Reflecting on his peregrinated career, Gannon says, “I took the road less traveled, if you will…” Now, this is not the talk of a cutpurse, is it, for the leader of the “Raiders,” as Oakland’s team is named? For sheer lawlessness, the other team yields nothing by its name, “Buccaneers.” Though in many cases, buccaneers did have the blessing of some government.
The highlights of the game will of course extend into crocus time on television. But the one to watch for, to record if you have the equipment, is that moment near the expiration of the game, when the winner is assured, and its sideline is exulting. Then the larger players are permitted to sneak up behind the about-to-win coach, and douse him with the entire team’s drug test. You will not see this anyplace in any other sport.
It is in fact a Super Bowl.
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