Super Bowl time again, but wait ... there's more

January 23, 2003|By KEVIN COWHERD

SO HERE WE are again, just days away from the Super Bowl, the Siegfried and Roy of sports events in this country.

Steeped in the usual industrial-strength hype and excess, this year's big game is expected to draw 130 million viewers in the United States and another 670 million from around the world.

It's nice to know the first peek foreign viewers get at our culture may be that classy Miller Lite commercial where two bosomy women get in a cat fight over whether the beer tastes great or is less filling and end up ripping each other's clothes off and mud-wrestling.

Yes, I think I speak for all Americans when I say: Brothers and sisters of the Global Village, welcome!

Bienvenidos! Bienvenu! And rest assured: Many beer commercials will follow that Miller Lite spot, some even more tasteless!

Of course, in between all the glitz and hoopla in San Diego we may actually see the Raiders and Buccaneers play football - well, when we're not sitting through all the interminable pauses for instant replay.

Tell me something: Haven't we all had it up to here with instant replay?

It's always the same depressing scenario, isn't it? Just when a team is mounting a ferocious drive and the excitement reaches fever pitch, a coach throws that stupid red flag.

And suddenly the game grinds to a halt.

First the referee trots to midfield to announce the coach is challenging his call.

Then the ref trots over to the sideline and sticks his head inside a draped camera that looks like a peep show.

And what follows is minute after excruciating minute of, well ... nothing.

As the ref takes his own sweet time checking out the replay, the viewer at home has to endure the usual 127 replays of the contested call taken from every conceivable camera angle except maybe the Voyager II orbiting Jupiter.

And if you're actually at the game while all this is going on, there's nothing to do but stare up at the sky, twiddle your thumbs and order another watery $5 beer.

I say get rid of the whole thing. No more instant replay. Have the ref make the call and live with it, just like the old days. What's wrong with human fallibility?

So the ref blows the call. Big deal. Nine out of 10 times, the referees make the right call. And if they don't get one exactly right, too bad. Nobody died, right? It's better than all these ridiculous, boring play stoppages.

(This rant brought to you by: Tostitos. And by Chevrolet, proud sponsor of ... whew, lost it there for a sec.)

Speaking of corporate sponsors, we'll also witness the usual debut of new commercials Sunday, with an H&R Block spot starring notorious tax scofflaw Willie Nelson generating the most hype.

Thankfully, it appears we might get a break from all those annoying spots for Campbell's Chunky Soups, where NFL stars like Jerome Bettis of the Steelers and Michael Strahan of the Giants, along with their moms, inexplicably foist steaming bowls of soup on unsuspecting Average Joes.

Tell me something: Have you ever seen anyone get this excited about soup?

Here you have pro football superstars making millions of dollars a year, and they're going crazy over a $1.09 can of soup. And the people in the commercials eating the soup act like it's the greatest thing that ever happened to them.

Hey, pal, it's not like they're bringing you lobster tails or filet mignon.

It's just soup!

If you get this worked up over a can of old-fashioned vegetable-beef, you must go absolutely nuts over a Caesar salad.

Turning to another subject, this year's Super Bowl halftime show stars Shania Twain and promises to be the usual over-long, over-produced extravaganza with the requisite 400 smiling dancers gyrating in front of the stage.

Twain is being billed as "one of country's music's biggest cross-over artists," which, as a buddy pointed out, means she no longer sings country.

See, when they call you a cross-over artist, it basically means you hit it big, then abandoned your original art for something sleazy and fast, something that promised even more money and fame.

It's a polite way of calling you a sell-out.

But of course you won't hear the announcer at Qualcomm Stadium intone: "Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Mercury Nashville recording artist and world-class sell-out Shania Twain!"

Anyway, if you think the halftime shows are over-the-top right now, just wait.

Believe me, it's just a matter of time before they stage the final round of Joe Millionaire or Survivor or Fear Factor on the field at halftime of the Super Bowl.

Are you kidding? The Super Bowl and these tawdry reality shows were practically made for each other! They're like Daytona Beach bars and tattoo parlors.

Pretty soon the halftime show will feature contestants climbing into terrariums full of rattlesnakes to win $500,000, or bachelorettes in slinky black dresses snidely rejecting tanned and toothy young executives as beered-up fans in the stadium stand and roar their approval.

I bet they'll bring back John McEnroe to host it, too.

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