Saturday, February 2, 2013

Super Bowl

There is big football game tomorrow. A "world" champion will be crowned. Even though it's an American sport, and no international teams compete.

Wretched excess. Glitz. Huge money. A halftime concert. Between three and four hours of being bombarded with it all. Oh, there'll be 60 minutes of football in there, too. That's why we watch, right? Not the commercials. And not an excuse to gorge ourselves into a stupor.

It really was, just a football game at one time. Most sports were just that. Games. Until someone figured out it was the business of sports. Not the sports business. Someone figured out what we really wanted, and gave it to us.

If my facts, and memory, serve me correctly, the first Super Bowl was not sold out, and was carried by two, if not three, of the major networks.

And, even though I was a Packer fan in those for those first two games, I was also too young to be interested in sitting in front of the television for the afternoon. Afternoon, with emphasis on afternoon. A prime time slot, and more revenue for the networks and NFL, was still years away.

I think dad watched the first and second ones. I finally had the patience and interest to join him and watch the Jets defeat the Colts in the third game, in 1969. Memory is fuzzy on this one.

When Bart Starr and Jerry Kramer retired from the Packers, I jumped on to the Cowboys bandwagon in 1970. They were up and coming. Those blue stars on those silver helmets were a draw.

The fifth game, in 1971, was my breakthrough game. Old enough to be a huge fan, to follow, and understand the game in detail. My Cowboys played the Baltimore Colts. My buddy, Donnie Bradburn, was a big Colts fan. There was a lot of trash talking and taunting between two 12 year olds that week at school.

Jim O'Brien, of the Colts, made that field goal with 16 seconds left. The Cowboys and I were screwed. I was so disconsolate, dad took mercy and loaded me and my mini-bike into the back of the station wagon. Even though it was January, there was no snow on the ground. We went over to a big, open lot near Higbee Junior High School, and I rode around to take away some of the hurt.

I had to face Donnie the next day at school. I don't remember any black eyes. In fact, I think he was generally a very good sport about it.

Two pages from my scrapbook. The 1971 game

The Cowboys beat Miami the next year, 1972, and I was a happy boy.

The 1973 game, between the Redskins and Miami, was memorable too. Not for the game, however. My friend, Jim Barrow, came to the house to watch the event. As dad sat in his rocking chair, Barrow and I were sprawled out on the floor. A commercial came on regarding home owner's insurance. A house was shown, fully engulfed in flames. "Just a little smoke damage," Barrow deadpanned. Good humor for an 11 year old.

And the beat went on... The Cowboys got to the big game a few times more. Only to be smashed by Pittsburgh. I got older. More interest in cars, music and girls, led to indifference to the game.

There have been a few great Super Bowls. The Rams vs. Titans game was awesome. And, the Giants ruining the perfect season for "coach hoodie", "pretty boy" and the rest of New England was epic! But there have been more "clunkers" than great games.

I threw the Cowboys under the bus soon after the end of the Emmitt Smith era. Michael Irvin, Jerry Jones... how could anyone cheer for a team of thugs and felons? I've generally lost interest in all professional sports.

And now, the game has become what it has. Approximately 3.8 million for an ad. "Nosebleed" seats going for $2,000. Do you really believe it's about the game and the fans?

And push for big time, halftime entertainment in the last 10 years or so. The Rolling Stones played the 2006 game in Detroit. The original "bad boys" of rock and roll. They rolled over, played for the money, and sold out for Corporate America, 37 years after they played a free concert, with security provided by the Hell's Angels. That is a long, hard fall. Money talks.

Tomorrow. To watch, or not to watch? If my laundry, taxes, and everything else is caught up, why not? It would be "Un-American" not to do so. And I'd miss all the cool commercials.

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