(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.)
Sunday was all about football. From noon until game time, it was a steady stream of hype for the biggest football game of the year.
But something happened on the way to XL. I’m not sure what, but it just didn’t seem like a Super Bowl to me. Sure, a championship was earned, but it felt more like a Monday Night Football game between two AFC teams.
The game has lost some of its grandeur while wallowing in corporate America’s muck and bathing in uninspired choices for musical acts.
The game has always been the thing to me. So here is one man’s quest to find the Super on Super Sunday.
5:09 – The Seahawks are introduced to the Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ and run out to a shower of boos, while the Steelers are greeted with much love from the crowd who is being properly pumped up by the song ‘Right Here, Right Now’ by Fatboy Slim.
5:18 – The Harrison Ford/Doc Seuss intro is cool, cool not because of Han’s earring, but because Hank Williams Jr. isn’t forced to sing. But one request I have by chance, is that we please stop using the music from True Romance.
5:25 – Tom Brady comes out to do the coin toss. Can’t we have a Super Bowl without being force fed the Patriots just once?
5:29 – Al Michaels and John Madden begin their quest to say the word “Polamalu” a world record billion times in the next three hours.
5:33 – Our first beer commercial of the night. And is it just me, or do the Burger King commercials keep getting crazier and crazier? This one has women dressed as condiments and buns, while the maniacal King stares blankly at his own insanity. We come back to the game as Michaels reminds us that beer is everywhere.
5:36 – Willie Parker gets the first handoff for the Steelers. If this is the Bus’ last game, why not drive him into the ground? He’s extremely girthy and has barely played all season. In the words of Mick Jagger, ‘Start him up’!
5:37 – Steelers nailed with a second false start penalty in their first four plays. Looks like their own crowd noise is hurting them. Either that or the fact that no one on the roster has ever played in a Super Bowl. They should have signed the Burger King.
5:39 – Another beer commercial, just a tad wittier than the first. The new Bruce Willis movie proves that the mismatched buddy flick where they learn to love each other is never going to grow old. To quote Roger Murtaugh, “I’m getting too old for this (expletive).”
5:40 – Al Michaels just revealed that even the footballs that are used for kicking aren’t allowed to hang out with the other footballs that get thrown or carried. They’re kept in a separate bag where the other footballs can make fun of them.
5:46 – Here’s a commercial for the new fuel-efficient Toyota Hybrid that features a Spanish father and son. While I’m thinking about America’s addiction to oil, a caveman trying to send a package by using a Tetradactyl instead of FedEx suddenly distracts me.
5:48 – Another beer commercial! It’s the third straight break with a beer ad, and this one features a guy choosing to save a can of beer instead of his friend from a bear attack.
5:50 – Madden just called the Seahawks defense the “Steelers”. Pittsburgh has yet another three and out and Bettis doesn’t have a carry yet. I think Bill Cowher is too busy admiring the juxtaposition between his chin and mustache.
5:53 – Polamalu is pictured in a photo studio holding the trophy before Pittsburgh has won it. Isn’t that a big ole jinx? This is followed by the Seahawks moving the ball at will through the air. Mike Holmgren’s heart attack meter holding steady at low.
5:55 – Seahawks have a TD catch called back due to a questionable offensive pass interference call. Holmgren’s heart attack meter climbs to 2.
5:58 – Seattle blows a prime chance to score a TD, but kicks a FG with 23 seconds left in the first. My leg just fell asleep from all the excitement.
6:00 – Here’s a beer commercial with guys getting drunk on the roof in order to get out of housework. Two beer commercials have taught me that beer is better than life.
6:04 – First quarter is finally over, and it’s 3-0 Seahawks. The Steelers have the privilege of being just the third team in Super Bowl history to not pick up a first down in the first. My pick is looking solid.
6:06 – The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ promo is way more suggestive than Janet Jackson’s breast being exposed. But I guess it’s ok because they’re dancing and not related to Michael Jackson.
6:09 – Michaels is gushing about how cool both quarterbacks are. He sounds like a little girl waiting to be asked to the prom. ‘Ben is so dreamy, I hope he asks me to the sock hop!’
6:12 – Guess what, another beer commercial! I guess it’s supposed to be cooler because horses are playing football and a naked lamb is streaking.
6:17 – Here come the Steelers. A reverse to Hines Ward picks up 17 yards, looks like we’ll finally see some offensive production. But then someone calls a timeout, while my legs start to fall asleep again, I’m entertained by a CareerBuilder.com ad with monkeys listening to Quiet Riot and lighting cigars with money.
6:20 – Steelers first play after the time out results in another horrible pass by Roethlisberger. Big Ben is showing his age while the balding Hasselbeck leads his team. Cue commercial, which is the trailer for Mission: Impossible 3. I’m not buying Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Truman Capote) as a villain, but Cruise is in full Ethan Hunt mode.
6:24 – Hasselbeck is getting months to complete a pass and is picking the Steelers apart. It’s a wonder the game isn’t 24-0.
6:25 – Madden wakes up long enough to reveal that Holmgren now has a crucial decision to make. By the way, they have a 3-0 lead with 8:34 left in the second and it’s a third and inches from their own 28-yard line. I’m assuming he’s referring to Holmgren’s choice between an aspirin or a triple cheeseburger.
6:28 – Another picture montage of a Steeler holding the Super Bowl trophy before they’ve won it. This time it’s Roethlisberger recreating his joy upon winning a game he had yet to play.
6:34 – After Grant Winstrom sacks Roethlisberger, Madden says that Winstrom’s motor is always running at 110-percent. Watch it Yogi, mixing metaphors is 100-percent of being half senile.
6:34 – Ward just comes up with a huge catch after Roethlisberger scrambles and just heaves it downfield. Ward catches it on the three-yard line and Holmgren’s heart attack meter rises to five. I’m feeling MVP vibes from Ward. Or is that just the pepperoni and cheese I just swallowed?
6:38 – They’re remaking the Poseidon Adventure. Is there anything that isn’t scheduled to be remade? Next thing you know we’re going to see Sean Hayes from Will & Grace as Dorothy in the remake of The Wizard of Oz.
6:40 – Roethlisberger scores a touchdown, but just barely. In fact, replays indicate the ball probably didn’t make it to the goal line. I smell a lengthy review and an overturn.
6:43 – Steeler fans catch a break when the refs uphold the faux touchdown. Looks like the choice of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ for the Seahawks music was selected by a precog from Minority Report.
6:48 – Michaels reminds us that the Super Bowl is being brought to us by Budweiser. I’m so glad he did that because I was starting to get a twitch.
6:49 – Seahawks just had a touchdown ruled an incomplete. The play was as close or closer than Roethlisberger’s dive, but they immediately rule it incomplete. The replay shows there should have been a replay.
6:52 – Madden says Seattle was “discombobled” after they ran too much time off the play clock with 22 seconds left in the first half. Then Seattle blows a 54-yard FG with 3 seconds left. They should have taken a timeout and combobled themselves.
6:55 – ABC’s trying to interview Holmgren as he’s walking off the field but he’s too busy griping at the official over Roethlisberger’s score. This is followed by a very awkward moment between Suzy and Mike.
6:57 – Sappy commercial with uplifting alt-rock about how important the Super Bowl is to our American way of life. The NFL thanks us for being a part of the family. Your welcome NFL, but it’s your turn to take out the garbage.
7:06 – Our much anticipated halftime show with the Stones begins with a montage of how both the Stones and the Super Bowl have aged over the years.
(I’m stopping the diary here to go on a mild rant. My question is: Would the Stones have even been invited to play the Super Bowl before say, 1985? Could you imagine them playing any of the games in the late ‘60s when their performances inspired the Hells Angels to kill a dude at Altamont? Why do we need all this anyway? Why can’t we just have a football game? If there has to be a halftime show, get a marching band like back in the day. The spectacle is vastly overshadowing the actual game and squeezing all the energy out of it. Besides, who wants to see the Stones play ‘Start Me Up’ again, which sounds incredibly awful by the way.)
7:26 – Seattle finally gets their shot to pose with a trophy they haven’t won.
7:31 – Roethlisberger starts the second half the same way he ended the first half. Not good. On the very next play Parker busts one for a TD. His 75-yard run becomes the longest rush in Super Bowl history. Parker might have the yardage, but Marcus Allen’s run was way more impressive.
7:38 – I think there was a stretch of game here where the Seahawks missed a 50-yard FG, I’m not sure though because my twitch had come back, and I was daydreaming of beer.
7:42 – A beer commercial; twitch gone! This emotional and introspective one features a young pony that wants to grow up and be a Clydesdale. He starts to tow the sled by himself until it’s revealed that two bigger horses are pushing from behind. So heartwarming. The Budweiser horses are so sweet. I guess I should give all my money to Budweiser.
7:46 – Your MVP Ward makes a huge third down reception. If he isn’t the MVP, then you won’t be reading this column three days after the fact.
7:52 – Roethlisberger throws a horrible pass that is intercepted by Herndon and returned to the Steeler 20. Roethlisberger saves the TD. Where are the keys to the bus?
7:54 – Seattle takes advantage with a 16-yard TD from Hasselbeck to TE Jeremy Stevens. It’s 14-10 with 6:45 left in third and the Mike jinx is in full effect ya’ll.
7:55 – CareerBuilder.com ad shows the guy working with monkeys talking to a chick who works with jack asses. When I say chick, I mean woman, and when I say jack asses, I mean co-workers.
7:57 – Hasselbeck poses with the trophy that he hasn’t won yet and says it’s the only trophy that awards team accomplishments (what?!).
8:03 – Through these commercials I’ve learned that Toyota trucks are indestructible and cell phones are from outer space.
8:11-8:22 – After another horrible Steeler series sans bus, Seattle begins a series that will take them from their own two-yard line to the Pittsburgh one. The Steelers then intercept Hasselbeck after the Seahawks self-destruct with a penalty and sack.
8:27 – The Steelers score on a reverse pass from Randle-El (ex-QB) to Ward (ex-QB).
8:29 – A beer commercial that implies everyone in the stadium loves beer. Of course, they do! Unless of course they want their twitch to come back.
8:35 – Another beer commercial that shows all of the world’s alcoholics – I mean people – saluting beer.
8:43 – Seattle’s forced to punt and Pittsburgh starts eating clock with the bus, but then is forced to call a timeout on third to avoid a delay of game penalty. Cowher just swallowed his own nose.
8:47 – Pittsburgh picks up the first. After Bettis rumbles for four yards, Michaels reminds us about Budweiser.
8:50 – Roethlisberger ices game with a first down, leaving Seattle precious little time to squander.
8:56 – Seattle begins the slowest two-minute drill in history as Madden says that if he were Holmgren, he would be a little “hoggy”.
8:59 – Holmgren is shown asking Hasselbeck if he has a play, Hasselbeck says he does, then the Seahawks fail to score or pick up a first. Steelers win.