The first Super Bowl I remember clearly was Super Bowl IV. Being an NFL fan, I was rooting for Joe Kapp and the Purple People Eater defense to prevail over the Chiefs from the upstart AFL. While there was some glitz with the likes of Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen engaging in a trumpet duel, and Carol Channing singing at halftime, the fact of the matter is that there was no doubt that the game was the thing. No more.
Somewhere in the 80s, the luster of the Super Bowl got tarnished for me. That patina grew to rust in the 90s with the advent of free agency (which I still contend is more harmful to sports than otherwise). Football ceased to be about the game. With a commercial break after every play (seemingly), the length of a regular season game on TV has grown from a manageable 2 1/2+ hours (rarely lasting 3) to 3 1/2+ hours . When you watch the continuous play of more taxing sports such as hockey and futbol (soccer), the NFL game becomes a joke second only to Major League Baseball.
I lived in the Washington, D.C. area for twenty years. Needless to say, I also lived and died by the Redskins. It was like a law or something. From earliest kiddom through all of my 20s, I loved football. Now? The only event I watch is the Super Bowl, and I wouldn’t do that if it weren’t for the halftime show and the commercials.
Yep, that’s right. I’m one of those who only makes the Super Sunday effort to see what sorts of ads we’ll be served up, how good or yawn-worthy the halftime concert will be, and to eat some food I probably wouldn’t during other events.
What happened? Many things. A big one was moving away from the DC area to a non-NFL city. My team, the Redskins, were rarely on the regional coverage, so it became harder to follow them (this was before NFL packages on cable and PPV and the like). Then free agency came along and scrambled the personal of all of the teams. I quickly realized that I was no longer rooting for a team but for the design of the uniform they wore. That struck me as being particularly silly, so it was easy to free up 3-6 hours on Sunday for other activities.
It didn’t help that more and more money-grubbing divas started infecting the game. Though Jerry Maguire was a mediocre movie at best, it did trump up an aspect of the game that I increasingly found to be unsavory for my taste. Then the games grew to be too long. Then coaches took away play-calling from not only their quarterbacks, but from their defensive captains as well. Frankly, it all became a shadow of what had once been a more accessible sport. It ceased to be entertaining.
Which is why I tune in to the Super Bowl to watch the entertainment, and not the game. The game is beside the point. I only hope it’s halfway decent so all the good commercials don’t get wasted in the first half. But, that’s usually the case. I understand why advertisers pretty much book their new stuff for that period between pre-game and the start of the 3rd quarter. And, to be honest, since we’ve already endured about 483 hours of coverage to that point (at least it seems that way), I’m more than happy to catch up on the ads in the second half via my DVR. It all goes so much faster when you don’t have to muddle through another uninspiring contest between juiced-up prima donas who make more in one game than I see in years…many years….years and years.
So, bring ‘em on Budweiser and Pepsi and Pedigree and Coca-Cola and CareerBuilder. Give me a rockin’ halftime, Boss. Bro, serve up some great snacks. It’s Super Sunday, after all.