NFL

A jaded view of a hyped football game marketed as The Super Bowl; Perhaps most riveted finish ever!

 

Solomon

I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of the pre-and-after Super Bowl programs on CBS. Not doing so proved to me that I still have my sanity, despite what my wife says.

But maybe my wife has a point. I did watch, from beginning to end, the entire more than four hours – long program of commercials, interrupted by several minutes of actual football, known as the Super Bowl. That meant that I had to endure the over-hyped commercials, which cost marketers about $7-million for a :30 second spot, not counting production and talent costs. without their knowing how many people are actually paying attention to the commercial when their multi-million dollar ad is being aired. And my wife says I’m crazy.

So much for my opinion about the commercials on mega-sporting events, except to say that sports marketers have told me privately that they really don’t know if their costly ads on the events do them any good.

I didn’t have a pony in this year’s Super Bowl. But over the years I’ve attended all sorts of mega-sporting events at which I did – the Super Bowl, Olympics. MLB’s All-Star Game and others, some of which I enjoyed, especially the parties and renewing acquaintances with people I hadn’t seen for years. But the truth is that no matter what they call it and how it’s promoted the events are designed as advertising or promotion vehicles. So it is. So it will be in the future, even if all sporting events become pay-as-you-go telecasts, which is slowly, but assuredly, happening.

Because I was invited to so many Super Bowl parties, not wanting to insult anyone by choosing one over the other, I decided to decline all invitations and at 6:27 p.m., Eastern Time, powered on my television to be certain not to miss the most hypocritical aspect of the Super Bowl game — the NFL’s patriotic salute to “honor America,” which I always thought was more appropriate for July 4 celebrations than ball games. Hypocritical because  a 2015, report released by  Sens. John Flake and John McCain revealed that America’s sports leagues charged the Pentagon almost $7-million to allow “paid patriotic” displays at games, with NFL teams receiving the largest chunk of the taxpayer’s pie — more than $6-million, according to a USA TODAY article on Nov. 4, 2015.

The league itself returned $723,734, which it deemed inappropriate use of the Pentagon’s money. Said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that an audit uncovered that over the course of four seasons $723,734 “may have been mistakenly applied to appreciation activities rather than recruitment efforts.” Of course. Mistakes happen. Of course.

But prior to the beginning of what arguably is the most violent major American sport, I jotted down a few things to look for, while munching on healthy snacks, not necessarily those advertised.

Since this was the first Super Bowl played in Las Vegas, known as “Sin City” before the NFL planted a franchise there, because, I assume, the powers that rule the league decided that one person’s sin is another person’s enjoyment and anyway, it’s a sin not to make money. 

There were many aspects of the game to look for that were highlighted in my notebook. The top one was in the color red, because red is seen as a symbol of danger and destruction and evokes a sense of rage and anger, like football itself.

My second note was highlighted in yellow, a color that represents greed wealth and avarice, like the NFL and its team owners. Beside my note, were a few things I should look for — like how many times during the telecast betting commercials and alcoholic beverages ads were aired, with ludicrous tag lines, drink and bet responsibly. But what interested me most was when a referee would cite a player’s number for committing a foul. Would the referee just say, “Holding, #13” or because the game is being played in Las Vegas change the announcement to, “Holding, #13, and the odds of the player being cited for another hold call this quarter is….?” Alas, that didn’t happen. So much for considering that as the basis for a story.

Now for my analysis of the two lead CBS announcers, play-by-play caller Jim Nantz and analyst Tony Romo.

In the past:

Jim Nantz: What I’ve always liked about his broadcasting is that, unlike so many other play-by-play callers, he doesn’t make each play sound as if it is the first time it ever happened. On the downside, he’s not above singing the praise of players without mentioning their run-ins with the law, And during the early days of CTE reporting he remained quiet on the subject, which elicited the following comment to me from a national sports writer: “He’s just an apologist for the NFL”. Substandard reporting by Nantz.

Tony Romo: Never my favorite. Too often describes some plays as if they are the first time they ever happened and his analysis can leave novice viewers puzzled. Also, like Nantz, he’s not above singing the praise of players without mentioning their run-ins with the law. Substandard reporting by Romo.

On the Super Bowl telecast:

Nantz: He did his usual workmanlike job, nothing to write home about. But he still acts like an NFL PR person, praising Las Vegas as “a magnificent Super Bowl host.” And at times, I thought I was hearing Romo speak in another voice, when it was Nantz echoing what Rome just said. 

Romo: I thought this was one of his better broadcasts this season. But his analysis is still short of Cris Collinsworth, Troy Aikman or Greg Olsen. And Romo still describes multiple plays as “great” or “unbelievable,” even though there were similar plays several hundred times this season. On the plus side, he didn’t make any scratch your head comments.

Game analysis: Like every other football game I’ve seen over the decades, this one had some outstanding plays, some dreadful plays, some exhilarating moments and some lackluster intervals. But there is one thing that no one can dispute: Super Bowl XVIII will be remembered as the best Super Bowl ever played on Feb 11, 2024! And you can bet your entire bankroll on that.

About Usher’s half-time show, all I can say is that I’ve seen better ones.

If the NFL really wants a half-time show that will be one for the ages here’s my suggestion:

They should arrange a wedding that will be remembered for as long as football players receive life-changing concussions and other injuries: A half-time marriage between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce at next year’s game. And in keeping with the NFL’s embrace of sin products, they can have their legalized bookie partners take prop bets on the length of the wedding kiss, the price of the marriage rings and if Kelcy’s brother will take off his shirt in celebration.

And yes, Taylor Swift was there, along with Beyoncé, Lady GaGa and other A – list celebs.

Many people have accused me of being cynical about sports. And that’s true. But I wasn’t always. My attitude changed when I became a sports reporter and then the sports marketing guru at Burson-Marsteller.  I witnessed that it didn’t matter how you played the game or who won. The most important facet was the P and L summary. That and the NFL’s enthusiastic partnerships with gambling and alcoholic entities is the prime reason for my change.

 

 

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Arthur Solomon

Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications and consults on public relations projects. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com.

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Michael Green
2 months ago

Well, I’m a Las Vegan, and we DO big events well, though I wouldn’t have expected Nantz or any other play-by-play broadcaster to say, “I had a rotten time this week.” Well, ok, Al Michaels in a crusty mood might have, but after all, he loves to talk about gambling.

The interesting thing to consider is that Las Vegas long has been called sin city, but the sin it is guiltiest of, gambling, is now legal in some form in 48 states, and sports betting has joined in.