As Saturday night with slow retreating steps departed, dawn broke like thunder on Super Sunday and on the sterile violence of indoor football in air conditioning on plastic grass on the banks of the Father of Waters. Turn up your rhetorical rheostats, America, it's gonna be a Stroh's Light Night.
But first, at 3 p.m. EST, the sauna of spectacle will get steaming with a two-hour pre-game show during which commentators will plumb the shallows of the subject, explaining that on any given day any team can beat any other team because all the players have come to play and they all put their pants on one leg at a time although Willie Gault's speedy legs, well, when he's dashing down the field he and his quarterback are in different ZIP codes and both quarterbacks are gamers and role models and everyone will be giving 150 percent like Sweetness who goes for the gold when he gets near the goal line like all the money players who know that intensity is the name of the game when there is no tomorrow, especially with the 12th man in the game, those great fans from the two great cities who have enjoyed themselves so good like haven't we all in this great city of New Orleans where this great game in spite of all the glamour will be decided in the trenches where the blue- collar boys of the offensive line will establish the running game so they can establish the passing game because defense is the name of the game because good defense beats good offense and vice versa so special teams are the most important ingredient as is the kicking game and the offense because the other guys can't score when you've got the ball, so key on the seam-splitting nose guards who are flooding zones with stunting nickel defenses to see who can be most opportunistic about turnovers with both quarterbacks audibilizing over the roar of this crowd that knows, oh sure, there is money at stake but by golly there is a lot of little boys in the big men who play hurt not for money but for a little thing called pride, which is why there is such a lot of America in this great game of football.
Now this: tastesgreatlessfillingflamebroiled. Now back to . . .
It must have been someone who saw a Super Bowl telecast who said he preferred rogues to fools because rogues sometimes take a rest. Having had the brass to begin, the wonder is that the broadcasters ever stop. They won't, until they have stomped the last vestige of shape from the mother tongue.
Charles Krauthammer has well-described the "absurd Augustan ritual" of the Super Bowls: flags the size of Rhode Island or the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport or the West Bank (whichever is biggest), military honor guards, presidential coin tosses, platoons of vestal virgins (well, vestals, anyway). The Super Bowl is a movable feast unanchored to anything except the core principle of commerce: the highest bidder (among cities) gets it. As Krauthammer says, "It would be played in Krakow, if the Krakow Bowl had enough skyboxes."
Bits of football will be slipped between "officials' time outs" and "two-minute warnings" and other excuses for commercials. Then come the male bonding scenes -- the towel-snapping thrill of victory in the winner's locker room and the bluff, hearty, bravely borne agony of defeat in the other. The game itself will be interlarded with 25 minutes of commercials, fifty 30-second spots sold for $550,000 apiece. It was born in the U.S.A. -- the $1.1-million minute.
The best minute will be NBC's 60-second "intermission." It will be 60 seconds of blessed nothingness. It is supposed to help make the other 25 minutes worth what advertisers are spending.
In the otherwise silent watches of the night, advertisers sit bolt upright in bed and scream in terror: Suppose when their beer commercial comes on, 50 million fans (about half the viewers) head for the kitchen or the bathroom? This does happen during what broadcasters call "a break in the action" -- as though football is not mostly such breaks: six seconds of grunting followed by committee meetings called huddles.
During NBC's blank minute there will be nothing on the screen, in the hope that viewers will make themselves comfortable before the serious stuff (no, silly goose, not football -- commercials) begins. This will take a great weight off advertisers' minds that are buckling beneath the burden of getting their message noticed in the cacophony.
For this event, Timex spent $1 million just to produce a commercial for a $34.95 watch. The commercial features a 60-foot watch 50 feet beneath the surface of the Red Sea. The commercial has the delicacy and nuance suited to the day.