It’s been five days since the Super Bowl, just enough time to give us a little perspective on the whole thing. Was it a football game? A concert? A competition for the Clio Award? Or some bizarrely American combination of all three?
Let’s start with the least important: The football game. You might have caught bits of it, squeezed between the ads and the show. How could you tell when the game was on? Those were the people who ran really fast, and wore clothes.
For the Super Bowl’s first 30 years, most of the games were boring blowouts. I suspect even the players can’t recall the scores of those snoozers.
But the ads and the halftime shows were hard to forget, and often featured a member of the Jackson family having his hair ignited or her wardrobe mysteriously malfunction.
But lately, it’s been the other way around. Ten of the past 16 games have been barn burners – and the rest of the stuff is putting us to sleep.
This year’s Super Sunday delivered another exciting game, showcasing two big-time quarterbacks battling to the last second. The game even featured a first: one team scored a touchdown against its will. The New York Giants had the ball on New England’s 6-yard line, but they wanted to kill more time off the clock before they scored, so New England wouldn’t have any time left to mount a comeback.
But the Patriots didn’t want the Giants to do that, so they got out of the way like matadors avoiding a raging bull, and let Ahmad Bradshaw run into the endzone untouched. But he didn’t want to score, so he stopped on the one yard line, turned around, all but begging the Patriots to tackle him, and fell backwards into the endzone like Jacques Cousteau flipping into the ocean.
It was almost as strange as the halftime show, when Madonna put forth even less effort.
As a commentator, one of my favorite subjects to address is anything but Madonna. I’ve always considered her a mediocre singer and songwriter, whose main talent is somehow becoming rich and famous with less actual talent than the karaoke singers at your local bowling alley.
So it’s given me great pleasure to ignore her. But this time, I just can’t.
I used to think the worst Super Bowl halftime show had to be the one in 1989, when an Elvis impersonator and magician named Elvis Presto – get it? – managed to both befuddle and bore the crowd at the same time. Which, it now occurs to me, is actually a pretty difficult trick.
But no, Elvis Presto’s musical magic show was positively scintillating compared to Madonna’s performance. I discovered something worse than Madonna singing, and that’s Madonna lip syncing her way through her worn out repertoire and dull dancing. Let us never speak of it again.
The most authentic element of this year’s Super Sunday extravaganza – when the team with the ball did not want to score and the team that didn’t have the ball did not want to stop them, and the women paid millions to sing didn’t sing at all – was an advertisement, of all things, that they’d filmed weeks earlier.
Once again, Chrysler came through with the best two minutes of the entire event, this time thanks to Clint Eastwood.
When Eastwood said, “People are out of work and they’re hurting, and they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback. People of Detroit…almost lost everything,” he delivered the most honest line of the day – then followed that up with an equally convincing declaration: “We find a way through tough times. And if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one…. This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and, when we do, the world is gonna hear the roar of our engines.”
When he finished, I was so riveted I was ready to do some actual riveting.
So, a year from now, if you want to see a heartfelt performance, you’ll have to skip the game and the halftime show, and wait for the Chrysler ad.
For the second year in a row, no one did it better.
About the author: John U. Bacon is the author of “Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football.”
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