Sunday, February 04, 2007


Yeah, Sure, Call it Super...

What a "nice" game: Sloppy, but exciting first-half (reminiscent of the Florida/Ohio State BCS championship game with the eventual losing team running back the opening kick-off for a touchdown -- and then being unable to do much on offense for the rest of the game); Manning overcomes his early jitters and manages the game; the Colts, amazingly turn out to be both the better rushing team AND the better defensive squad.

After years of halftime shows that wavered between T&A exercises (Janet Jackson's "Nipplegate") and musical acts for the Geritol set (Rolling Stones & Paul McCartney), The Artist Formerly And Once Again Known As Prince gave one of the best "live" performances (even allowing for the prominent backing tracks) ever: A mixture of classic hits -- starting off with "Let's Go Crazy", plus classic rock tunes ("Proud Mary" and "All Along The Watchtower" -- more Hendrix version than Dylan); taking the Foo Fighters "The Best of You" and making it his own -- and finishing up, of course, with "Purple Rain." We went nuts at my local bar.

The Man Upstairs must be a Prince fan, because while the players and the fans might not have liked the ongoing downpour during the game, it sure was fitting for His Royal Badness' finale. He may be in his 40s and he may have dropped the naughty stuff for God (Prince is now a Jehovah's Witness), but he proved that he can still "bring it" live, charismatic as ever, even in a huge football stadium, performing for millions across the globe.

And, then, the second half, it was just going through the motions: It was pretty evident from the middle of the first half that the Bears offense (Evil Rex showed up at quarterback) wasn't going to be scoring any points. Meanwhile, the Colts did just enough -- including two key interceptions (one returned for a touchdown).

After the game, with the Vince Lombardi trophy presented finally presented to the long-suffering Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, the coach once again made a comment that shows why he is so widely respected.

While CBS sports commentator Jim Nantz asked Dungy to speak to the "social significance" of becoming the first black coach to win the Super Bowl, Dungy adroitly stayed focused. I'm paraphrasing here, but he essentially said that while he was proud "on behalf of African Americans" to be in this role, he was even happier that he and Chicago's Lovie Smith had managed to make it to the Super Bowl coaching in a "Christian" manner without profanity or or negative behavior.

There you have it -- on the biggest televised event in America, the winning coach manages to make a statement that encapsulates the hot buttons of both sides of the political divide that has haunted the country since 2000: If you're living in a blue state, you've got to be happy that a proud black man finally coached a team to a Super Bowl championship; if you live in the red states, you should be pleased as punch that that man also testified to his Christian faith getting him AND the losing coach to that point.

Now, that is cool.

The ads, this year, to my mind weren't that memorable. My personal favorites were the Chevy ad with various celebrities singing verses from songs that mentioned Chevrolets, the bare-chested guys doing the car wash (just to get their hands on a Chevy); the Jim Gaffigan spots for Sierra Mist; and the subtle Coca-Cola salute to Black History Month (with its allusion to the Dungy-Smith event). None of them really had a "Wow" factor, but they were, well, pleasant. (The sole exception was the perversely clever Snickers ad with two heterosexual guys unnerved after they find themselves kissing after sharing a Snickers bar.)

In a sense, the ads fitted the game they sponsored.

UPDATE: Written last night after a long game (and a beer or two), this post -- particularly the blue state/red state passage -- could have been clearer: Generalizations are just that -- generalizations. I was speaking broadly about the stereotypical perception of a liberal "blue" state and a conservative "red" state. Obviously, there are people of faith living in blue states, folks very concerned about diversity in red states -- and combinations of both across the country.

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