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Eddie Adelman is a writer who lives in Belfast. His collection of columns and short essays is called “Don’t Get Me Started.”
It’s Super Bowl time again. As a red-blooded American male, my pulse should be racing. Yet, all I can generate is lukewarm interest. Even so, I’ll probably end up at some Super Bowl party, because that’s what I’m trained to do on this, the holiest day in sports.
There is an upside, though.
You have to admit that the food at Super Bowl parties has gotten a lot better over the years. When Green Bay played Kansas City in the first Super Bowl, it was pretty much beer and chips. Maybe bean dip, if you got lucky.
But nowadays, an enterprising mooch can show up at several parties and sample some great food. Last year, I watched the first half of the game at a party serving Tex-Mex. At halftime, I bolted for another party serving shrimp cocktails. Touchdown! I prayed for overtime. I still had room for dessert.
The only downside to all this activity is that at some point I’m obliged to watch the game. But if I time it just right, I can sit down just as the real action gets underway. Of course, I’m talking about the commercials.
As the quality of the food has gotten better over the years, so has the advertising. It’s been estimated that up to half the viewers regard the commercials as the true highlights of the game.
During the 1980 Super Bowl, there was an ad that featured “Mean” Joe Greene and a young boy.
The boy follows a hobbling Greene into the tunnel under the stands and offers him a Coca-Cola. After initially declining the offer, Greene accepts the drink, and in return, throws the boy his game jersey. The ecstatic child says, “Wow! Thanks, Mean Joe.”
That was perhaps the greatest ad I’ve ever seen on television.
But there were other contenders. Like the Betty White Snickers commercial in 2010 where she struggles to play tackle football, then eats a Snickers bar and turns it all around. I miss Betty White.
And then there was the 1999 monster.com ad where a young boy looks into the camera and says, “When I grow up … I wanna claw my way up to middle management.” Me too, kid.
Let’s see. I can quote Super Bowl ads verbatim from decades ago, but I can’t remember the final score or even who played in last year’s game. I think one of the teams wore blue.
So, is there anything we can do about this state of affairs? Wait a second. I just had a wacky idea.
What if we shrink the NFL to just 12 teams. We’ll start by kicking out all the teams that play in domed stadiums. Then we shorten the season to 12 games. The championship game would be played in mid-December with the winner of one conference hosting the winner of the other conference.
All tickets would be $35. No corporate logos. No fireworks. No rock bands. No 6-foot tall chickens. No choreographed touchdown dances. And best of all? The game would end in two and a half hours. Hallelujah!
You know, this idea is just crazy enough to work.
And if I’m not mistaken, a similar experiment was tried once before in a country much like our own. The players had names like Unitas, Brown, Luckman, Robustelli and Van Brocklin. And there was a coach named Lombardi.
There’s just one drawback to this bold new vision. Why, the food, of course.
Goodbye Tex-Mex. Goodbye shrimp cocktails. Looks like it’s beer and chips once again.
“Hey! Anyone seen the bean dip?”