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Our Bowl Runneth Over

Dave Randall

Posted on January 23, 2019 23:37

2 users

You don't have to know football to get a kick out of the bowl.

Full disclosure: I'm a Ram fan, so I have a preternatural rooting interest in what happens in Atlanta on February 3. The Super Bowl is more than a football game. It's arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, a purely commercial holiday, and the biggest party day of the winter months, save New Year's Eve. You don't have to know a First Down from an Ingrown Toenail. It's a communal TV viewing experience shared by a third of the nation's 300 million citizens, soaked with beer, filled with nachos, promoting stuffed bellies and pickled livers as much as the NFL itself. 

It wasn't that way at the outset, January 15, 1967. Only 64 thousand-plus filed into the L.A. Coliseum to see a hungover Max McGee (who didn't think he'd be playing) catch two TD passes in Green Bay's win over Kansas City. The game was televised by both CBS and NBC -- and blacked out by both in Los Angeles. 

As difficult as that may be to believe, it's true. In the 52 years since a Super Bowl means millions for a host city's economy. The half-time entertainment has taken on the characteristics of hosting the Academy Awards: no matter who performs, regardless of the pyrotechnics, the artist, for one reason or the other, will be vilified in real time on social media. There seems to be no way to please 100 million half-soused Americans and most of the known world, waiting for a second half of football -- much the same as no single entertainer can satisfy the parameters of the Hollywood Glitterati during an Oscar telecast.

Half-time acts went from Up with People, a favorite of the late NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, to Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, et al. This became problematic when, in 2003, Janet Jackson's breast sprang forth like a jack-in-the-box, and part of the country lost its collective mind. I worked for CBS Radio, at the time. The political pressure put on the company (then headed by Mel Karmazin) trickled down to everyone who opened a mike on a CBS property. For those who have forgotten, that was the post-9/11 "W" era in America, now gazed back upon so wistfully. 

About a decade before, official memos at all media entities started arriving from company lawyers, eagerly earning their heavy retainers by laying out the dos and don'ts of addressing "The Big Game" on the air. All references to NFL properties like "Super Bowl," NFC, AFC, team nicknames, etc., in conjunction with promotions, parties or contests were strictly forbidden. One guy I worked for wouldn't let us call it The Super Bowl at all, just to be safe. Another had us give away tickets to a musical on the day of the game (I throw up a little in my mouth when I recall that day). 

Remember this: regardless of whatever issues have you ginned-up, America, you love this game, by any name.

Dave Randall

Posted on January 23, 2019 23:37

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Source: Yahoo Sports
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