BOB WOLFLEY 39 reasons to love sports' greatest event
There were exactly 39 observations to make about Super Bowl XXXIX between New England and Philadelphia televised on Fox:
I: Joe Buck called his first Super Bowl and if you didn't know it, you'd have thought he was calling his 10th one.
II: Given the way Fox promoted it, you'd have thought the game was just a backdrop for the halftime show.
III: If you think about the "Levitra NFL Play of Year" for more than four hours, do you need to seek immediate medical attention?
IV: Shaky technical start to begin the game. The audio went mute for a bit during the team introductions. We could not see Donovan McNabb's fumble that wasn't a fumble because of a bad camera switch. The announce crew and the replays didn't give us a hint that McNabb's knee was down.
V: In touting its new Fox Soccer Channel, Fox said soccer was "the nation's fastest growing sport." But in terms of the fastest growing TV audience for a sport, it's NASCAR.
VI: Buck said the first half was "sloppy." He was right. Second half was better. But it wasn't the most entertaining Super Bowl in recent years, even though Greg Lewis' touchdown catch almost made it a game.
VII: You knew there were two Beatles songs Paul McCartney was not going to perform at halftime: "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Why Don't We Do It in the Road."
VIII: Anything called "Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam" screams can't-miss TV. Viewers were told: "These skateboarders consider this their Super Bowl."
IX: Who knows? Viewers may be told about the teams in a future Super Bowl: "This is these players' Boom Boom Huck Jam."
X: For one terrifying moment there I thought for a second that actor Will Smith actually was going to sing "America the Beautiful."
XI: Any weekend Michael Irvin gets a lesson in humility has to be a good one. ESPN's Irvin was not voted into the Hall of Fame. On air he had to fake being humble. He had to fake graciousness.
XII: Game analyst Cris Collinsworth tells us "truth be told" McNabb can overthrow receivers to begin games. But in the build-up, that element wasn't mentioned.
XIII: The Fox studio guys had two weeks to work up their opening greeting lines and Jimmy Johnson found a winner. "I'm back in the Super Bowl," Jones said. "And Jerry Jones said I'd never make it!"
XIV: Best names: New England's Patrick Pass (a fullback), Matt Light (305 pounds) and Roman Phifer (comfortable with Roman numerals); Philadelphia's Koy Detmer (don't be Coy) and Sam Rayburn (speaker of his house).
XV: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Brett Favre had a reaction to Donald Driver's opinion that Favre had decided to retire. Favre "was amused."
XVI: Hey, haven't the Patriots been sold as the model of professionalism and sportsmanship? Then what was receiver David Givens doing after he caught his first-half touchdown pass? Flapping his arms, mocking Philadelphia's Terrell Owens.
XVII: You know you're at a Super Bowl when pregame co-host James Brown says over a shot of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton walking into Alltel Stadium that he will be speaking with them in a few minutes, "But first let's get the weather report from Jillian Barberie," Brown said.
XVIII: There are lots of moments in Super Bowl pregame programming which make you say: "Really?" For example, ESPN's Mike Ditka said. "Players make plays." Really?
XIX: ESPN's Stuart Scott, before interviewing Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, told us "The Longest Yard" was a "classic." Classic? Here's a movie rule of thumb. Anything starring Burt Reynolds by definition can't be classic.
XX: Rock, who stars in the remake of that movie, was asked about playing basketball games on the set. "What's the most dangerous play in all of basketball?" Rock asked. "The open white man." Now that's classic.
XXI: One of best parts of the game was the kickoff. At that point we didn't have to read or hear another word about Owens. That story nearly killed America. However, Owens contributed big time.
XXII: We got to see Vince Lombardi at the chalk board explaining how the Packers' power sweep works twice on Sunday. Never gets old.
XXIII: Said Fox's Tim McCarver, who co-hosted a celebrity golf event at the No. 17 hole at TPC at Sawgrass: "And what better way to get ready for the game than to come out to the most famous par-3 in golf?" Oh, I don't know. There are about 10,000 things football fans would rather do than watch guys hit golf balls into the water.
XXIV: Chris Berman did a much better job than McCarver shilling his network's programming. He had some fun. After ESPN's pregame show ended, Berman said: "You know what? You don't need any more pregame information. After this, you need bowling!"
XXV: Andrea Kremer's ESPN feature on the late Reggie White was too cloying, but it was interesting. White lost faith in the institution of the churches he found himself preaching in over the years, so he started a quest to strengthen his personal faith. He remained Christian but began to learn Hebrew so he could read scripture in the original.
XXVI: It's not enough we have had to endure images of players' buses going to the stadium, now we had to watch Fox's studio crew actually walking into Alltel. They took an escalator.
XXVII: Former Packers tight end Mark Chmura made one of the edgiest comments we heard all day. On his WAUK-AM (1510) show, he said he would have voted former Washington receiver Art Monk into the Hall of Fame before he would have voted for San Francisco quarterback Steve Young.
XXVIII: Turf Cams? MIA.
XXIX: Kenny Mayne's "Mayne Event" bit was funny. He went to find out who took Jeff Thomason's roster spot at the construction company Thomason left to join the Eagles for the Super Bowl. The company chose Mark Bavaro. One of Bavaro's new teammates said: "Size-wise we came out about even getting Bavaro, but he's no Frank Lloyd Wright , if you know what I mean."
XXX: Prediction for the next Super Bowl. Eminem won't be the halftime act.
XXXI: The trouble with the "all access" concept is you have to give viewers access to something worth accessing. That was the problem of Fox's "NFL Films Presents: Buck, Aikman & amp; Collinsworth -- All Access."
XXXII: Suggestion to Fox for a way to dial up the "all access" concept. Make it more like "Taxicab Confessions," where Collinsworth complains to the driver about how tortuous it is to share the booth with Troy Aikman.
XXXIII: The best thing Buck said all night came right before the game: "I can officially promise you the kickoff on the other side of this break. Let's get going."
XXXIV: Steve Sabol of NFL Films made the wildest comparison when he was explaining Andy Reid's coaching style to Al Hunt, who interviewed Sabol for CNN's "Crossfire." Sabol said Reid as like a "giant Tums."
XXXV: So are we supposed to feel grateful that some us can see Gretchen Wilson in high definition, but all of us can't actually hear the beginning of her song?
XXXVI: James Brown said his set was surrounded by "corporate revelers." Is that a species of the genus "revelers"? Do corporate revelers revel differently from regular revelers revel?
XXXVII: If Fox sponsored the Broadway revival of the musical "Damn Yankees," it would do so only upon the condition it was renamed "Darn Yankees."
XXXVIII: Not to flog the issue of the Patriots not all being the models of sportsmanship, but wasn't that Mike Vrabel repeatedly flapping his arms after his score in the third quarter? Model professionals don't do that.
XXXIX: Super Bowl XL is to be played at Ford Field in Detroit. You thought the press whined about Jacksonville as a site. Just wait.
XWolfley writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
& copy; 2005, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel