(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
Since the four of you out there that read this column enjoyed last year’s running diary of the Super Bowl, I decided to try and recapture the magic this year.
I must have been one of the few people who actually picked the Eagles to win. Even dogs on late night talk shows were picking the Patriots. I guess my love for the underdog blinded me to the reality of the Patriots and their dominance. Besides, if I had been convinced that New England would win, I probably wouldn’t have watched.
Like last year, I elected to skip the hours and hours of hype and chose to watch Houston and the Lakers play in between reading ‘The Dirt’ by Motley Crue – which I couldn’t put down by the way.
I did take a time out to go get some deliciously fattening Super Bowl snacks and was treated to a Jim Gray interview of Sylvester Stallone on the way to the store. Stallone was giving insight on the Eagles defense and said that Mickey came to him in a dream and told him Philly would be champs.
So here is my take on not necessarily just the Super Bowl, but also the entire spectacle in and of itself and what it was like to watch in Casa de Gaines.
5:00 p.m. – After switching to Fox, one of the first images I see is the new NASCAR commercial, that has racecars flying around a roller coaster. If the racing circuit featured the Zippin’ Pippin’ 500 or the Space Mountain 750, it would probably be my new favorite sport.
5:15 – Both teams choose to be introduced as units instead of individuals. Which is great, except Bill Belichick makes his way to the Eagles bench instead of his own afterwards. I think he was looking for his missing personality.
5:38 – The kickoff finally happens and the Eagles start the game with a nice return. While watching, I can’t help but parallel this game with the fight in the first Rocky. The Patriots are the defending, well-respected champ who has dominated the competition, and came to the fight wearing red, white, and blue. While Philly is the upstart no one believes in who is just hoping for a puncher’s chance. All they’re missing is Burgess Meredith.
5:40 – Put this Terrell Owens thing to bed. Not only does TO start, but he also catches a pass on the second play and shoves his defender out of bounds. Paging Willis Reed, Mr. Willis Reed please report to the ‘You’ve just been topped zone’.
5:45-6:04 – I actually forgot I was doing a running diary and neglected to write down the times for a while. The Patriots look pretty good on their first drive, and the Eagles defense looks a little nervous for a minute, especially when Tom Brady is getting a couple of months to complete his picture-perfect spirals.
While I’m pondering Brady’s status among Super Bowl QBs, I’m distracted by the first funny commercial of the night, and it’s no surprise that it’s a FedEx ad. The next spot they show is an ad for godaddy.com, which features a girl almost losing her top and exposing ample cleavage to a room full of men. I’m thinking the NFL and the FCC put the Hippo in hypocrite.
6:05 – The game is finally getting a rhythm on the Eagles’ next possession. Owens just made a leaping catch and ran for 30 yards. Philly should just abandon the run and throw every time. Just as I wrote that McNabb took a 16-yard sack.
6:09 – Commercial for the Longest Yard remake starring Adam Sandler in the role Burt Reynolds perfected. I like Adam Sandler, but I’m just not buying him as a football hero. At least Burt actually played college football, unlike Sandler who cut his teeth on MTV’s ‘Remote Control’.
6:11 – Just when it looks like Rocky has the champ on the ropes, New England counters with a haymaker as they force McNabb into his first red zone interception all season. Somewhere, Stallone is pounding a punching bag in a dark, lonely basement with Pauley.
6:15 – Another block of ads, the Marvel superhero Visa check card is funny, the Ameriquest ads rock, but isn’t the Quizno’s talking baby commercial at least six years old?
6:17 – After holding the Pats, McNabb shows just how much Campbell’s soup he had by throwing his third bad pass in a row.
6:20 – “Get up Rock!” The Eagles turn it over again.
6:22 – The first quarter finally ends with a gratuitous cheerleader shot. The NFL doesn’t mind as long as they are league sanctioned breasts half-exposed. Fox informs us that this is only the sixth scoreless opening period in Super Bowl history, and the second in a row. And you wonder why I loathe the Patriots.
6:24 – Second period begins with Brady being sacked. “Down goes Creed!”
6:26 – Philly still insists on running. I think the only running they should do is after they catch the ball. Another run play as I was typing that last sentence results in a one-yard gain.
6:32 – Eagles strike first with a McNabb touchdown pass to Smith and the Pats trail for first time in postseason. Feeling good about my underdog Eagles. “C’mon Rock!”
6:36 – McNabb looking a little like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. If Danny Glover had braids and had just thrown a touchdown to Riggs.
6:37 – Is it just me or is Pepsi trying too hard to be hip and cool? Does John Travolta have to dance in every movie now?
6:39 – Patriots finally awake, Apollo realizes he’s in a fight. Cue orchestra and cut to Adrian alone in the locker room.
6:42 – Pepsi, trying to be cool again. So far, the commercials, with the exception of a few, have been mediocre. I thought you had to step your game up on Super Sunday.
6:46 – My buddy Dan, who is a Steelers fan, has sworn off the Super Bowl and just e-mailed me to tune into the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. Brady then actually fumbles on the 10-yard line and the Eagles recover. I think the Puppy Bowl will have to wait.
(I actually changed it to Animal Planet for a second and it had a toilet bowl vantage point looking up at two thirsty dogs while lounge music played in the background. I could dedicate a whole other column to Dan and what makes him tick, except it would probably make better copy for the Journal of Psychiatric Disorders.)
6:50 – Eagles can’t take advantage of Brady miscue and promptly shank the ensuing punt, followed by another set of riveting commercials. How does a Taco Bell commercial make the cut, and what kind of idiot would put a greasy Taco Bell bag onto a pile of priceless sports cards? Someone asking to be kicked, that’s who.
6:53 – I’m not sure what to think when Jeff Gordon and Paul McCartney are mentioned in the same breath.
6:56 – It finally happened, the coolest part of the game so far: The Batman Begins trailer. My inner geek has taken over and I can’t concentrate, I just made a fist and smiled when Bruce Wayne said, “Does it come in black?” Yes, I think it will Mr. Wayne.
6:59 – Patriots just tied the game with a Brady pass and I just tied the record for most expletives used in a game I could care less about.
7:04 – Patriots lose another defensive backfield player. They’re so thin in the secondary I think Belichick is going to suit up.
7:10 – First half ends in a tie, the second first half tie in Super Bowl history. It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better. There was more action when my dachshund-basset hound mix was playing with one of my chihuahua’s puppies.
7:11 – Now there’s a Nascar commercial with Jeff Gordon as a pirate. I’ll let you make up your own joke.
I just did some quick math and determined that the first half featured 21 blocks of two-minute commercials. Who says the Super Bowl has sold out? Not the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch.
7:20 – Paul McCartney starts halftime 10 minutes after the second period ended with a Beatles song. My wife Maggie remarks that finally they have some quality entertainment, but I think these halftime concerts where artists might perform a couple of songs or a medley, are pointless.
Who are these things for and what does it have to do with football? I’d rather watch the moronic Blue Man Group mime ‘The Immaculate Reception’ or Bart Starr’s Ice Bowl dive. If these ‘concerts’ are for the people that normally don’t watch football, does it work?
Years from now are those people going to say, “Wow! McCartney performing old Beatles songs during that Super Bowl that one year is something I’ll cherish forever!” At least last year Ms. Jackson gave us something we’ll remember.
7:41 – Second half kickoff. The sideline reporter said Belichick wasn’t very talkative at the half. Pretty soon she’ll tell us that Jacksonville is in Florida.
7:48 – Pats just scored with a Vrabel touchdown pass and then he does the dirty bird dance at least three times to make sure the cameras catch it.
7:53 – Napster free for 30 days? Yes, thank you.
8:10 – A McNabb ‘falling backwards on one leg in the backyard’ pass to Westbrook with 3:35 ties the game. The Pats’ Bruschi is shown shaking his head with a ‘golly, we couldn’t stop them at all’ look on his face.
8:13 – I love AC/DC, but I could live the rest of my life without ever hearing ‘Shook Me All Night Long’ again.
8:20 – First ever Super Bowl tied after three quarters. The Motorola Alltel Million Dollar giveaway commercial was creepy. Maybe it was because it looked like Pat Summerall was one of the weird androids from Westworld.
8:29 – After a New England TD, the Eagles are sweating a little bit, as McNabb desperately throws bomb to covered receiver; Creed smells blood.
8:33 – Eagles D still showing some life and stuff Dillon for 3-yard loss, but on the next play Deion Branch catches a Brady pass that was going to be intercepted. Creed off the ropes.
8:40 – Eagles hold Patriots inside 10, and Collinsworth insinuates that the Patriots were glad about it. 24-14 Pats after field goal.
8:45 – TO with a big catch. Hurt ankle or not, I’d throw to him every other play. McNabb follows it up by trying to force it over the middle and throws an interception to Bruschi with 7:20 remaining. Should have had your Chunky.
8:53 – After the Eagles defense bails the offense out yet again, TO starts the next series with 8 catches for 112 yards. Owens then makes his ninth catch for big third down conversion with 3:36 left.
8:56 – Eagles taking their time about getting into the plays with less than three minutes remaining. It’s not like it’s the Super Bowl or anything.
9:03 – Mitchell catches a touchdown pass. Most of the crowd starts the Philly fight song. I hope the Eagles don’t try the onsides kick, there’s plenty of time.
9:04 – They tried the onsides and it went straight to a Patriots player. D’oh!
9:10 – The Eagles defense holds once again, and Philly gets the ball with no timeouts and 46 seconds on the clock from their own 4. McNabb’s first play was complete for a yard, and he follows that up two plays later with an interception.
9:15 – New England 24, Philadelphia 21.
Ok. I was wrong. There was a part of me that knew New England was on a roll and would be hard to stop, but I held out hope for the Philly upset.
The Eagles were close, but unlike Rocky, I think they wanted to do more than just go the distance.
There’s always the sequel to look forward to.