By Anthony L Hall
The National Anthem
Whitney Houston set what might be an unsurpassable bar with her rendition at Super Bowl 25 in 1991. But, arguably, Lady Gaga came as close as any singer has since then.
Of course, you can be forgiven if you were surprised – not just by how elegant she looked, but also by how well she sang. I was not.
Lady Gaga literally personifies the triumph of packaged and formulaic acts over talented performances. Which is rather a shame because this girl can sing….
(“2011 MTV Music Video Awards,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 30, 2011)
Truth be told, there wasn’t much to cheer, or even jeer; except that the jeering Tom Brady got during the pre-game introduction of previous Super Bowl MVPs was an unexpected treat.
But the boring nature of this game vindicates my abiding contention that:
Real Football fans will tell you that the most exciting day of the NFL season is Conference Championship Sunday, not Super Bowl Sunday -- as casual fans might say.
(“Historic NFL Championship Sunday,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 22, 2007)
Frankly, the most exciting thing for me was thinking of gamblers having conniption fits after the Broncos jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. After all, the Panthers were not only odds-on favorite to win, but had never trailed at any point in any game during the playoffs.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
Instead, they looked like nerve-wracked rookies unable to cope with the pressure of playing on this global stage. And none more so than their superstar quarterback and regular-season MVP, Cam Newton. In fact, he was throwing childish tantrums after bad plays far more often than doing signature dabs after good ones.
More to the point, given their feckless play over the first three quarters, Panthers fans had no reason to hope their team would overcome a 16-7 deficit going into the fourth. They didn’t: the Broncos won 24-10
Still, it’s not as if the Broncos played like champs. That they won is mostly a measure, with all due respect, of how badly the putatively invincible Panthers played.
To be fair, the Broncos proved the counterintuitive maxim that defense wins football games. Because their defense did to Panther Cam Newton what it did to Patriot Tom Brady (in the AFC championship); that is, pressured, harassed, and sacked both quarterbacks so relentlessly it rendered them hapless and hopelessly frustrated. Not to mention that Denver’s defense accounted for most points in both games.
No doubt this is what quarterback Peyton Manning meant when he said that he was just along for the ride. And it’s why linebacker Von Miller was so deserving of being named MVP of Super Bowl 50.
Incidentally, Manning played coy when asked if this was his “last rodeo”. But I’m convinced he’ll be riding off into the sunset as the oldest player (at 39) to win a Super Bowl. Never mind that he’ll be leaving a trail of allegations about taking human growth hormones to help him perform these last few years.
On the other hand, there was nothing coy about the way he plugged Budweiser beer in every post-game interview. It’s a wonder he didn’t slice in a plug for Papa John’s pizza too; mind you, he probably compensated by making a show of kissing Papa John before his wife after the game.
Manning is known as a class act. But there was nothing classy about this shameless shilling. What’s more, it should disabuse anyone of the belief that he’s too classy to take steroids.
Meanwhile, talking heads on TV, sports radio, and social media will be yakking about this game for days, if not weeks to come. But I see no point in commenting any further.
The Halftime Show
Chris Martin and Cold Play are no Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, or Bono and U2, for that matter. Still, why book them as the main event, and then invite not just Bruno Mars but Beyoncé too to upstage them?
Even so, Bruno and Beyoncé should have left well enough alone. Because their Super Bowl guest performances did not, perhaps could not, live up to the memory of their respective headline performances. The whole show – with its we-are-the-world vibe – seemed, well, overplayed.
Which is why I propose this rule: One Super Bowl performance, and that’s it! You know, spread the exposure/wealth around. No more of this rich getting richer BS – complete with Beyoncé using this stage to announce her new world tour: she was self-righteous, greedy, and shameless.
And, by the way, I can think of far better ways to honor victims of Katrina and police brutality than with the video this opportunistic self-promoter dropped the day before, which features more of her twerking than their suffering. Yet, sadly, her loyal subjects will just lap it up. Just sayin’, Queen Bey.
Apropos of overplayed, here is what I wrote two weeks ago – in “NFL Conference Championship Sunday…” January 25, 2016.
I would be remiss not to comment on the annual hype surrounding Super Bowl commercials -- for which companies are paying $5 million for a 30-second spot this year. Frankly, we are treated to so many previews that, by game time, they hold about as much interest as those eye-rolling commercials for erectile dysfunction.
I gather that companies release them early to become a trending topic online. Except that, like most topics on social media, people suck them up and spit them out in a viral flash.
Not so long ago, even die-hard fans waited with bated breath to see them air during the game; and the best ones trended, in real life, for days and weeks thereafter. These days, most people just see them as opportunities to go to the toilet.
Which raises the question: Why pay millions to run a commercial on TV during the Super Bowl, only to have people ignore it, when you can pay pittance to release it online during Super Bowl week, and generate viral interest? Surely it’s only a matter of time before this fact dawns on companies.
Then, of course, there’s this: I have watched many funny, even interesting Super Bowl commercials over the years. But none has ever moved me to purchase the product being advertised. You…?
That said, I must confess that watching Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins hawk an app for TurboTax made me laugh out loud. Therefore, it gets my vote for best Super Bowl commercial.
Indeed, this year’s commercials were notable for actors like Dame Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Walken, and Harvey Keitel all “selling out”; so much so that you’d have thought we were watching Japanese TV. Easy money for retirement, I suppose.
* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on Sunday, February 7, at 11:09 p.m.