Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Marketing

Okay, after yesterday's post, I'm sure everybody is ready to lighten up a bit. I know I am. So, big game this weekend, but as Duane Thomas said, "If it's such a big game, why do they play it every year?"

When did the Super Bowl become such a major megacelebration? As usual, I am way behind on this one. When I was in college, twenty years ago. I worked in the office responsible for the fundraising phonathons for the Athletic Department, the ones that you've screened and dodged ever since you got Caller ID. Sunday nights were always considered great for catching people at home, but my boss made sure that we didn't schedule anything for Super Bowl Sunday. I remember wondering what the big deal was.

I think that was the same year the Giants beat the Broncos (maybe the greatest New York sports year, evah, with the Mets winning the World Series and the Islanders beating the Caps in a four-overtime playoff game). One of my roommates was actually angry at me when I told him I hadn't watched the game. Actually, I did watch it, I just wanted to annoy him, but I was taken aback by his vehement reaction.

This was two years after Apple's "1984" commercial for its new Macintosh computer, which most experts and blowhards point to as the beginning of the rise of the Super Bowl commercial era. In 1986, Refrigerator Perry used his Super Bowl fame to become the Peyton Manning of his time, appearing in a multitude of national TV spots. And in 1988, a reporter at Media Day asked one of the Denver Broncos, "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" All of these nuggets apparently combined into a large boulder that began rolling downhill, and we have all fled its path of destruction, heading straight for the nachos and chicken wing platters.

So who do you like this weekend, Colts or Bears? Good guys in white hats or black-helmed Monsters of the Midway? All-American, milk-drinking, commercial-filming Super Manning or the antihero, Gross Man? The coach with the ordinary first name and funny last name, or the one with the funny first name and ordinary last name? (Have I mentioned that both coaches are black? Apparently, that's required by Internet publishing law. Great article this week about how that same circumstance went virtually unnoticed when Al Attles' Golden State Warriors swept K.C. Jones' Washington Bullets in 1975). Anyway, like I was saying, dome-stadium, offensive juggernaut or snowy, bare-armed, hard-knock defense?

Me, I'm going with the Bears. The Colts are favored, always a reason to pick against them. After living here for 12 years, some of the Baltimorean hatred of the Team That Left in the Middle of the Night has rubbed off on me. There's not much else to hate about Indianapolis, really, but it is my least favorite American -polis, well behind Minneapolis, MN, and Coraopolis, PA, home of the fabulous Knotty Pine Diner. The rest of Indy is similarly unoffensive - the Indy 500, the NCAA headquarters, ummm, that's it, right?

But, what's not to love about the Bears? The defense, the tradition, Papa Bear Halas, "Brian's Song" (always the original, never, ever, ever the remake), Da Bears, Urlacher (even the name is right out of central casting). And of course, "The Super Bowl Shuffle." There are so many versions of this beautifully awful classic available online that I'm not even going to bother posting a link. Not one, but two Saturday Night Live spoofs. The rapping and dancing of the all-star cast of Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, et. al., has held up just horribly over time. I could watch it again and again.

Alright, in case I forget: Bears 23, Colts 17.

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