Monday, February 7, 2011

Final Notes on Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLV

The buildup to north Texas's Super Bowl XLV seemed to last for years. Correct that: it did last for years. So, it was hard to keep the actuality from being a letdown compared to the anticipation. But it's hard to imagine a bigger letdown than what north Texas experienced over the last week. One Steelers fan was asked where the Super Bowl XLV experience ranked compared to the previous 44 Super Bowls and he replied, about 47th. And that was before the outcome of the game was known. Ouch.

(For Packers fans, on the other hand, the final score probably made up for whatever disappointments they experienced in the lead-up to the game. But they are cheeseheads still in the warm afterglow of victory, so they are a poor judge of the week's happenings.)

After the jump, my own final notes on Super Bowl XLV.

You can't blame the weather on Super Bowl organizers. But you can blame the response to the weather. North Texas responded the way we always do to sleet and snow -- by sanding (not salting) critical intersections (at least some of them) and waiting for the sun to come back and do its job on everything else. It's done this way once or twice a year, year-in and year-out, and natives put up with it. Trouble was, the rest of the country was on hand to witness it this year. The rest of the country is used to more and north Texas failed to live up to their expectations.

The fiasco with the stadium is entirely man-made. Ice falling off the roof onto the heads of people below is an architecture fail of the first order. Trying to cram in enough temporary seating to set an attendance record was an act of hubris that backfired badly. The potential bragging rights never justified the risk of embarrassing failure. One upside to the stadium fiasco? Jerry Jones did a disappearing act. No Jerry Jones is always good.

Commercials? For the most part, I didn't see them. I had too much invested in the game this year. I remember something that looked like it was either satirizing or paying homage to Apple's famous "1984" Super Bowl ad. But I wasn't paying enough attention to tell. I also remember one commercial about a man sucking another man's finger and one about a man licking another man's pants. Gross! I remember a talking baby and thinking, isn't that a little stale by now? And there was one in which the camera lingered over every inch of a model's body. I think it was selling tennis shoes to women, but I can't imagine how that was designed to work. The Ozzie Osbourne/Justin Bieber commercial was clever ("What's a Bieber?"), but for the life of me, I can't remember what product it was advertising. Same for the monkeys in the parking lot. Coke told some short stories well -- a castle saved from a dragon with Coke and two border guards letting their guard down for an instant, but just an instant, to share a Coke ("Share the happiness" or something). Come to think of it, I saw more commercials than I thought I had. Will I remember any of them next week? Probably not.

Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas are coming in for some pretty heavy criticism. Give them a break. Sure, Aguilera botched the national anthem, but so what? Almost everyone does, sometimes even when they get all the words right. And Super Bowl halftime shows long ago became a self-parody of wretched excess. Even if it was simply about the music, I can't imagine any act pleasing everyone when you have an audience of 111 million, most of whom tuned in for the game, not the halftime show.

Referees were not a factor in the game. Yay! There were very few times the refs had to huddle to get the call right. There was only one coach's challenge and even that was not, in the end, controversial. George Will famously said that football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings. He was probably referring to player huddles, not the referee huddles that are even worse in my mind. This Super Bowl still had the violence (witness the injuries), but at least the committee meetings were held to a minimum.

Aaron Rodgers was named Super Bowl MVP, but that doesn't begin to indicate to just how big his performance was. The Packers had no rushing attack. They lost a top receiver to injury in first half. Other receivers had some really crucial drops. Still, Rodgers threw for over 300 yds, 3 TDs, and 0 picks. All against the Steelers highly-ranked defense.

The Cowboys and Steelers are two of the most storied franchises in the NFL (the Packers being another). It must have been an honor for Packers fans to see Cowboys legend Roger Staubach carry the Lombardi Trophy to Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw for presentation to the Packers in Cowboys Stadium. Packers fans appreciate greatness and the franchises these retired greats represent have a history of success.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were a class act in defeat. To a man, they gave credit to the performance of the Packers, they acknowledged the shortcomings in their own performance, and they did not point fingers at the referees, at the condition of the field, at their coaches' game plan, at each other, at anything. Classy.

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