Super Bowl all about football, ads and twerks
Time once again for my annual roast of the Super Bowl, that selfishly American spectacle in which we subject our best athletes to potential lifelong brain encephalitis so we can name a 'World Champion,' as if any other nations were invited to play. This year's game was relatively exciting, as these things go, but nobody really cared about that as long as the New England Patriots weren't involved. Really, the country is already divided enough, the last thing we need is to watch Bill Belichik sneer at rainbows.
This year's game in Miami kicked off at 5:42 p.m., according to my watch, or 2 minutes late. Now that might not seem like a big deal, but in terms of Super Bowl TV advertising revenue, that's about $20 million. To put that in perspective, the amount of money that Google spent on one 90-second commercial spot would have been enough to buy school lunches for 73,000 povertystricken children for an entire year.
Well, no, I didn't do the math. But I could have Googled it. See, advertising does pay.
Super Bowl 54 Fun Fact: The Kansas City Chiefs were in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970, when they beat the Minnesota Vikings. No, you're right, that's not all that interesting, but I never pass up a chance to type 'beat the Minnesota Vikings.'
Kansas City got the ball first in this year's game, but had to punt after just three plays. And then, thanks to a 32-yard run by Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers, they scored first, on a field goal. Incidentally, Mr. Samuel's real name is Tyshun, but his daddy nicknamed him 'Deebo' after a character in a movie. Good thing it wasn't the one about the flying elephant with giant ears is all I got to say about that.
This year's big game was really a matchup of conflicting styles. The Chiefs, on the one hand, led by brilliantly talented quarterback Patrick Mahomes, rely on big-play strikes to score oodles of points. Chiefs' wide receiver Tyreek Hill is widely regarded as the fastest player in the NFL, and can get to the end zone more quickly than Mitch Mc-Connell can say 'no witnesses' to start an impeachment trial.
San Francisco is more your three-yards-and-acloud- of-rubberized turf, preferring to hand the ball off to its running backs and take its time moving down the field. 49er quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is rather ho-hum as a personality; if Mahomes is a 2020 Lexus with chrome trim and a turbo engine, Garoppolo is a 1974 Ford Galaxy with an AM radio and cloth bench seat.
Despite those differences, the teams were rather well-matched, and the official Las Vegas line for betters was less than a 2-point spread. And indeed, the game was close, until a late Chief touchdown made it a 31-20 final score.
Super Bowl 54 Fun Fact: With 2:57 left in the first quarter, my oven timer went off to indicate that my Shake 'N Bake chicken legs were done, yet my microwave baked potatoes still had 5 minutes to go. And I thought timing a slant pass was tricky.
The Nielsen Company announced this week that this year's Super Bowl viewership was the highest in five years, at 99.9 million sets of eyeballs. I'm thinking they could have gotten that last 100,000 to crack an even 100 million were it not for TBS's shrewd move to air the Mike & Molly rerun episode in which Molly punches a drunk chick in a bar. I know, talk about your unsportsmanlike conduct, huh?
Truth about the Super Bowl is, the ratings are always higher for reasons other than interest in the football game. First, there are those ubiquitous TV commercials, but for this game, with such a huge audience, advertisers spare no expense. Annual heavy hitters include Bud Light, Doritos and Wal- Mart. This year's cast was joined by what could have been an effective ad for Porsche's new line of electric vehicles, but the only people who can possibly afford one were sitting in the Super Bowl stadium luxury boxes. I'm guessing that the spot for new Cheetohs Popcorn hit home with more potential consumers.
Super Bowl 54 Fun Fact: Kansas City special teams star Byron Pringle is the only championship game player ever to share a name with a snack chip. Nope, no Frank Frito. Looked it up myself.
The other big draw for the Super Bowl is the halftime entertainment, which is the most overhyped, over-produced, over-everything production that isn't a Star Wars sequel. FOX pitched this year's show as 'music's biggest moment of the year,' which is sort of like saying a Donald Trump Tweet about Crooked Hillary is a literary masterpiece. This year's halftime began at precisely 7:02 CST (yeah, my watch) and lasted until 7:33, and included pop stars Shakira and J-Lo (pronounced Jell-o, I think), singing and dancing in costumes that had less thread than an empty bobbin. Pepsi sponsored the show, and for making all of us sit through it, should be sending everyone a case of free soda soon.
Super Bowl 54 Halftime Fun Fact: After 30 minutes of play, the Chiefs and 49ers had amassed 332 yards of total offense, which, in an incredible display of coordination, was the precise number of twerks and butt-thrusts from the performers. San Francisco built a 10-point lead in the second half of the game, only to allow Mahomes to perform his usual magic and rally the Chiefs for the last 21 points. San Francisco did have the ball at its own 15-yard line, down 24 20 with 2:39 to go, but couldn't pull it out. A key play in the final quarter was an interception by the Chiefs' Tarvaris Moore, which was the first ever Super Bowl takeaway by a player named Tarvaris. I mean, it had to be, right?
Other second-half highlights of the night's production included a commercial by Turkish Airlines, whose motto of 'Widen Your World' seemed just a bit puzzling since the former Ottoman Empire's main activities these days include international terrorism, cross-border genocide and extended prison stays for any journalist who dares tell anybody about it. I also liked the trailer for the 25th James Bond movie, 'No Time to Die,' which is what 49er head coach Kyle Shanahan said to Garoppolo after that final drive.
And speaking of head coaches, the Chiefs' Andy Reid -- who would be mistaken for a walrus with a thick mustache if he wasn't wearing a baseball hat -- was doused with Gatorade by his players as time expired. In an on-field post-game interview, he said nothing of relevance or importance. No one ever does.
Super Bowl 54 Fun Fact -- If 49er safety Jaquiski Tartt's nickname is not 'Pop,' I'm gonna be really disappointed.