2010-02-11 / Sam Bari

The football game was fabulous – the Super Bowl extravaganza, not so much

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Without a doubt, last Sunday night’s Super Bowl football game was a heart-stopper. This is a good thing, because the game carried the brunt of the load for Sunday night entertainment.

That being said, congratulations are certainly in order for the New Orleans Saints, who gave fans of both teams a spectacular performance. America loves to see the underdog win, and the Saints won handily against a formidable opponent, the Indianapolis Colts.

Nonetheless, the history of the game followed the formula of a Greek or Shakespearian tragedy. Archie Manning, the first quarterback for the New Orleans Saints so many years ago, never got his team close to the play-offs.

They were so bad that their fans called them “The New Orleans Aints.”

The fans wore brown paper bags over their heads whenever they donned team jerseys. On numerous occasions, Archie said that he would love to see the Saints win the Super Bowl before he died. This year’s game was a classic example of “Be careful of what you wish for.”

Archie Manning got his wish on Sunday, but the price he paid was high. His son, Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback, was the field general for the losing team. To add to the pain, the name of the Saints’ coach, Sean Peyton, became a household word.

In the Manning family, the wrong Peyton won.

However, that wasn’t the first time Archie Manning experienced emotional pain at the football Mecca. In 2006, Archie watched his sons, Eli and Peyton, collide in the ultimate contest. Eli quarterbacked the New York Giants, while brother Peyton led the Indianapolis Colts to victory. Dad couldn’t root for either son as he watched brother battle brother, which, in his eyes, was son against son.

For Archie, it was an emotional quandary at best.

Fast forward to this year. The supporting cast of the Super Bowl seemed to lack the luster of previous productions. Everything from the geriatric rock band to the sometimes difficult to understand, lifeless commercials seemed to distract from the excitement of the game.

Last year, Adriana Lima, dropdead beautiful Victoria’s Secret model, seduced men around the globe with “The Real Game Starts after the Super Bowl” television commercial. That was followed by an additional heart-throbbing 30-second spot for a Victoria’s Secret Valentine’s Day. Those spots are indelibly etched in the memory banks of every heterosexual male who saw them.

This year, we got Megan Fox sitting in a bubble bath up to her neck while she spouted statistics about her Motorola cellular phone. What were the sponsors thinking? Even Megan Fox couldn’t pull off making hard ad copy sound seductive while she sits in a bathtub covered in bubbles. If she can’t do it, then it can’t be done.

This was followed by a weird commercial for TruTV featuring Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, Troy Polamalu. He was a midget imitating the infamous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

The Career Builder spot with the “average” – and I mean “very average” – people running around in their underwear was sure to have caused massive cases of gag reflex.

I’m not saying that all the commercials were terrible. They were not.

However, the entries that fans have counted on since the inception of Super Bowl Sunday were not quite up to snuff. That seemed to be the consensus of the commentators on the three major networks the morning after the game.

The yearly Budweiser Clydesdale commercial, a fan favorite, appeared to be a re-hash of an old idea that didn’t quite make the grade. It didn’t pull at the heartstrings like the one of the Clydesdale colt growing up aspiring to be a lead horse on the Budweiser beer wagon.

The Bud Lite commercial was similar. Traditionally, it was always good for a laugh, but the models had forced smiles and were working too hard at celebrating to make the spot believable, which is too bad.

The Who gave a good performance, but they are an aging rock band. Weren’t Mick Jagger and the Stones enough to compensate for the sin of a nanosecond flash of Janet Jackson’s bare breast in an accidental wardrobe malfunction?

Apparently not.

Come on Madison Avenue – we want Mean Joe Green, Victoria’s Secret and a macho Detroit metal commercial that doesn’t emasculate men.

I hope the Super Bowl has not become another undependable fixture in a system we can’t understand.

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