Staying up late on Sunday

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                First off, congratulations to the New Orleans Saints for their 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, a game much closer than the final score would have indicated. The Saints were making their first Super Bowl appearance, having been a franchise since 1966, and much of that time were so bad, their fans wore bags over their heads at games. The team was often referred to as the New Orleans “Aint’s.” Those days appear to be in the past, as a community devastated 4 1/2 years ago by Hurricane Katrina has something to celebrate, and most likely, even though it is after 5:00 in the morning there, they’re still out and partying.

                      I don’t know when the changeover occurred, but was surprised to see that UK’s coverage was on BBC, not Channel Five, where they used to show all American sports, usually on direct feed from ESPN. They could only show the game and the halftime show, but not the commercials, which the Super Bowl is notorious for the astronomical amounts that companies spend on their ads, sometimes airing only that one time. There’s always been a few classics, usually for Budweiser, but the lot I saw on other internet sites was a bit disappointing. There was a Snickers bar commercial that featured Betty White and Abe Vigoda (who one would have assumed was dead by now) in a neighborhood football game that was quite funny, but nothing else I saw grabbed me.

                     The coverage for BBC was in studios, one in London, the other in Miami, and it seemed the British announcers, though they may have truly had an interest in American football, clearly deferred to their American partners, particularly the Miami announcer, who was paired with Rod Woodson, a Hall of Fame defensive back. In the London studio were two announcers, one from each country, and San Francisco 49’ers quarterback Alex Smith, obviously there to promote the fact that the 49’ers will be playing at Wembley Stadium in a regular season match next October. He did well enough that there may be a career after football for him, maybe sooner than later, as he still hasn’t appeared to be the one to take this team back to the Super Bowl, where they are the only five-time winner that has not lost one. One bit of wit came from the other American, whose name I don’t know, referring to Saints receiver and kickoff returner Reggie Bush as “The one Bush it’s OK to like.”

                    The game itself was tense until 3:12 remaining in the 4th quarter, when Tracy Porter’s interception of a Peyton Manning pass, the only turnover of the entire game, put the Saints out of reach. Until then, even though the team was leading, and got an extra two points after a disputed call on a point-after play was overturned, it was still anybody’s game. (For you British readers, I’m not going to take the time to explain any rules or terms, sorry) The Saints also showed some moxie with the kickoff to start the second half being an onside kick, something which is usually saved as a desperation move in the closing minutes of a game. They were also helped by three field goals from kicker Garrett Hartley, all over 40 yards, a yardage he’d never done once during the regular season.  

                     Ah, then there was that halftime show. Since the 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, the halftime shows have opted to feature older acts that can just play their hits and nothing else. In recent years, they’ve had Paul McCartney, Prince and The Rolling Stones. This year it was The Who, or more specifically, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend with anonymous backing musicians, and just to be safe, some original backing tracks. Even with those safety nets, there was still one moment where they were off. Both men looked old, and trying to disguise it as best they can, wearing shades and Townshend wearing a hat to cover the baldness. To their credit, they sang a medley of their hits (no “My Generation” though, probably for the hypocrisy its lyrics would show now) in their original keys, but cutting vocal corners where they could. Lots of windmilling, a bit of the mic-swinging, and you had a reasonable facsimile of The Who, something above a tribute band. It certainly wasn’t The Who I saw in 1970, with the four originals who went on for three hours, but the material was there, the lights and effects around them kept it interesting, and the 70,000 spectators, though mostly over 30, still sang along in full voice to the chorus about the teenage wasteland. 

                   Overall, a good game, not like so many of those late 80’s and 90’s games that were so one-sided that by the second half, people on the west coast were opting to catch up on house and yard work.  

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