Yesterday on PBS two sports writers were interviewed about the game while others were asked who they predicted would be the winner. David Brooks the NY Times columnist and frequent Friday guest pretty much said he really didn’t care but Mark Shields a former Weymouth MA altar boy told us he was cheering for the Patriots and inexplicably explained to Brooks that Foxboro and Taunton and Brockton were blue collar neighborhoods as if that somehow had something to do with his pick.
The sports writers were Kevin Blackistone from ESPN and Christine Brennan who is connected with ABC, one of the three networks proud to be able to share carrying the Super Bowl. Blackistone reaffirmed all that I have been saying about deflategate noting: “In fact, I think it worked out to be a somewhat of a nice carpet ride for the NFL to keep the conversation going about this particular Super Bowl matchup, and gave one team a black hat and the other team a white hat. It’s amazing that we get to the end of the season talking about something as ridiculous as deflated and inflated footballs, . . . ”
Brennan who must have been wearing an NFL cheerleader uniform said: “I think the TV ratings may well be higher than they have ever been before, because, as we know, controversy will bring more people to their television sets to see what this is about, if that’s possible, that there could be more people watching the Super Bowl. I do say I agree with Kevin. It is ridiculous, but it’s been a distraction and it’s kept the NFL in the news in that week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl itself.”
I noted early on that the NFL hucksters are coming up with more and more scams to increase the television audience because more watchers means more money so why not invent a fake scandal. It will give one team, as Blackistone puts it “white hats” – I assume that is Seattle and the Patriots end up with the black hats. You’d think the Americans were stuck in a perpetual juvenile mode of cheering for the cavalry riding to the rescue of the pioneers in their covered wagons. Who knows what gimmick will be used next year to gin up the excitement.
The interview turned to domestic violence. Brennan had this to say: “And, unfortunately, that adjective “domestic” is such a terrible word before the word violence. It softens the word, domestic violence. If there were another name for it, I think it would be better.” I couldn’t quite figure that out. Would she prefer “spouse slamming” or “partner pummeling?”
She didn’t say but did go on to tell us:”But, in general, the NFL is doing more than any other pro sports league on this issue, and certainly any other international league, for that matter, on this issue or sport.” Of course she failed to mention it is the NFL that has more of a problem with it as we saw with the video of Ray Rice knocking down his soon-to-be wife for the count.
The reason I said Brennan was wearing a cheerleader uniform was this statement: “Fans come, and this is America, and this is our football. . . . And so, if there’s any doubt that the NFL is going to thrive and survive no matter what, there should be no doubts based on what you see on the streets in Phoenix.” I half-expected the Marine Corps band playing John Philip’s Sousa Stars and Stripes Forever to march across the set and Brennan to take out her baton and do a few twirls.
Maybe the brain numbing coverage of the scam is getting to me thinking of all the American lemmings who like Brennan believe:“this is America.” True, it is our football as compared to the football played by the rest of the alien world but it’s not as unique an American sport as basketball or baseball.
Al Michaels who will announce the game told us that deflategate “brings into question. I guess, the morality of the Patriots” but he continued on saying “I have to believe that Bob [Kraft] believes there is nothing there.” He said that during the broadcast he will refer to it “but it won’t be belabored.”
The one thing Michaels said that was unusual was: “I’d love to be able to do the first ever Super Bowl overtime. And as long as we’re going into overtime, let’s make it triple overtime.” The NFL/Network play book I was able to see had it that Seattle would break out quickly but the Patriots would close the gap with the teams neck and neck at the half mile post; then the Patriot would pull out ahead in what looked like a commanding lead but Seattle would get its second wind and close fast so that it would be like a photo finish with the Patriots getting the win. Maybe the updated play book has the race coming out a tie. That would be good for ratings.
It wouldn’t be good for me. By the time the game ends without overtime I’m exhausted and ready for bed. Let’s hope the tie and overtime is in next year’s playbook when the Patriots aren’t in the Super Bowl and I don’t have to watch it.