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The Superest Bowl Of All: Random Thoughts On The Big Game
This being a visual media website, infintsimally detailed information about sports is going to be hard to come by. So if that's your particular brand of butter, you're more than welcome to read on, but realize I speak as a football fan first, and a fact-hound tenth.
Let's have some fun, shall we?
Super Bowl Sunday is a non-holiday celebrated with more religious jubilance than its Sabbath Day counterpart. Though more meaningful for cities of the participating teams, football fans everywhere usually tune in whether or not invested, to get that last taste of professional football until the fall. People who care nothing for football watch because it's celebrated with fried foods and plenty of hops and barley. Oh, and there's always those fucking commercials. I'm not going to talk about those, because I don't pay attention to them until they come on the screen; and this year, I'm going to be too busy talking about my motherfucking Saints to care too much. I guess I let my flag fly right there. Oh well. And by the way, Cinema Blend and I, Nick Venable, both know that we don't have any rights over NFL clips, but nobody's selling anything, except the drama. NFL Films is one of the reasons football highlights are so eye-caressingly awesome. These are YouTube clips, and we don't own those either.
The NFL has a lockdown on television, and they have for decades. The shorter season and ridiculously high current level of competition make most games make-or-break, even early in the season. It's a good thing this year's Super Bowl teams, the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the crop's creamery, both top-seeded teams. That doesn't happen as often as you'd think. Number ones get drowned out most of the time by the underdogs. Not only are they the best, but both went into the final four games undefeated. The Saints fucked it up against the egotist Dallas Cowboys, and the Colts flubbed a future Championship match-up against AFC sleeper New York Jets. And it fell mostly at the hands of rookie coach Jim Caldwell for pulling his starters at mid-game. He then had the nerve to say in a press conference that perfection wasn't that important, which is the antithesis of goal-keeping as a coach, but whatever.
Indianapolis and New Orleans are cities that thrive on football, but have only seen success in small doses, though Peyton Manning's stoic cockstrength as the Colts' quarterback has been a godsend to their city for the last decade, as was Mensacoach Tony Dungy, who taught Caldwell well... well well. Ahem. Oh wait, that's right. The entire Indianapolis Colts offense is astounding, in large part because of Manning's masterful command over a multi-talented squad. Reggie Wayne and newcomers Pierre Garçon and Austin Collie, not to mention über-target Dallas Clark, are nearly impossible to cover all at once, but if they are, then you can bet Joseph Addai or Donald Brown has the ball. They try to avoid that though, because the Colts' running game is like a bus without tires. The offense stays on the field so long, the name-checked defense is consistently well-rested and well ready to put ball-handlers on their asses.
In only the most recent years, the Saints organization from bottom to middle has finally pulled the plastic over the paper bag heads of their past. Oddly enough, this success is also due to a quarterback and coach whose acquisitions couldn't have come at a better time. Add defensive coach Gregg Williams, who was picked up for the 2009 season and finally gave the Saints a reason to believe they had a secondary, and a balance was formed. Solid passing, a three or four-pronged running squad (Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell, Lynell Hamilton) always under a microscope, a kaleidoscope of talented receivers, solid cornerbacks, and a decent special teams make this the best Saints team in franchise history, in record books and beyond. And they're still only slightly nipping at the mighty Indianapolis Colts' heels.
So enough about the game itself. Let's talk about how obsessed television is with itself, and how sports channels surpass news channels in number. Well we won't really talk about that, but sports channels are so much more coherent and to the point than news channels are nowadays, so maybe it's a good thing. Enough sports coverage ends up getting you your own network, and for the past few years, the NFL Network has proven to be top-quality shit. Their America's Game series, which covers every Super Bowl in individual in-depth episodes, is some of the best looking material in HD, and this year's game is going to make a fantastic future episode, I'm sure. Both the Colts and the Saints appeared on the channel's exclusive Thursday Night Football games over the second half of the season. As well, both teams competed on NBC's Sunday Night Football (N.O. once, Indy thrice) and ESPN's Monday Night Football (N.O. twice, Indy once) primetime games.
All those multiple instances of national coverage solidify the importance of each team as attention-drawing markets. Or, money in people's pockets, to depersonalize things. But from a ratings standpoint alone, both teams drew large numbers in their individual markets, with an uncanny amount of New Orleans residents tuning in. Particularly for the NFC Championship game, which was the second highest rated Championship game after 1982's masterpiece where the 49ers took the Cowboys out thanks to "The Catch." Over 80% of televisions in New Orleans were tuned to the game. A lot of people say Hurricane Katrina's effect is what's behind all of the fandom, but I'm pretty fucking sure it's because being a Saints fan has been a taxing chore for the past forever. Those Colts fans are pretty spoiled now, so they're used to it.
Peyton Manning has been a strange entry into the pop culture canon, but he's a welcome one, because he's one of the most affable celebs out there. He's been in over a dozen commercials, sponsors many charities, and even took on the double Donald Trumps, with the help of brother Eli, in an Oreo cookie licking competition. Reggie Bush is the "star" of the Saints, but mostly because of his college career and high profile relationship. His baby face probably doesn't hurt that. I doubt Matt Groening ever calls him up, though.
Speaking of The Simpsons, they have the distinction of being the only fictional television show to appear twice following the Super Bowl. Due to the enormous ratings the game usually gets, network try to retain the huge numbers, usually with pilots or more popular shows. Family Guy and American Dad each premiered following those Simpsons episodes. (Whooptie-do.) Other notables include Friends, The Wonder Years, Grey's Anatomy, and The Office. This year, CBS is hosting the broadcast, and I don't mind saying that CBS blows when it comes to NFL games. The colors are always washed out, and the camera-work is duller than butterknives. Their past post-Bowl shows include three 60 Minutes, two Survivors, Hard Copy, Air Wolf, and Archie Bunker's Place. This year, we'll have the utmost privilege of viewing Undercover Boss, about workplaces where the boss hangs out with the workers without them knowing. My boss hangs out with the workers anyway. Can't wait to (not ever) watch this.
This has little to do with TV, but here it is. Music loves the NFL, though never more blatantly and metaphor-less than rap, as shown there. The Dirty South loves making completely literal Saints songs, and it's fun sometimes, but it's kind of a ridiculous genre. And this is what I found for the Colts. It offers up something else entirely, though I kind of think it's a more personal effort.
Whoever wins on Sunday, they're going to be the only ones feeling good, because the rest of the nation will be in some sort of a headache-ridden stupor. (The cool people anyway. We wear our sunglasses indoors and at night.) It will be an amazing game no matter the outcome, because that's what always happens when the best of the best come together. James Earl Jones can attest to it. If you in fact do not watch the game, you still won't be able to escape it for days afterward, because that's how the NFL works: as unsubliminally as possible. Thanks for reading. In closing, I leave you with Jim Mora, who coached both the Saints and the Colts at different times, so it's fitting, and awesome.
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