This just in, another Bud Bowl Update:

Chris "It's Not Beer Man, It's" Berman, the effervescent ESPN sportscaster and part-time pitchman for Anheuser-Busch Inc., wonders how anyone could take offense at the brewery's clever $8 million advertising campaign -- "Bud Bowl 3" -- that will culminate with an animated football game between various-sized helmeted brown bottles during the Super Bowl telecast on Jan. 27.

"It's a fun thing," said Berman, who has approximately $125,000 worth of reasons to think so. "Anyone who's worried about it, boy, we might be bombing Iraq any day now. . . . It's beer we're talking about here, not amphetamines. . . . I never looked at this thing as 'Hey, let's go out and get a keg of beer and get drunk.' "

But many people do look at it in exactly that sort of Bud light.

Listen to Janet H. of suburban Maryland, a regular at AA and Al-Anon meetings since she learned her ex-husband was an alcoholic:

"I don't know anyone who is conscious about alcoholism who is not offended to see ads like this," she said. "And people who drink a lot love those ads. It reinforces their behavior. . . . The ads, however beautiful or clever they are -- the snow scenes, the horses on the beach -- promote a deadly chemical. Anyone who exposes themselves to alcohol is playing with fire. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit you are powerless. There's a reason for that."

And listen to Jean Kilborne, a visiting scholar at Wellesley, member of the board of directors of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and a longtime critic of alcohol-related advertising:

"When the bottles are animated, that appeals to young people, just like Spuds McKenzie did. They say it's designed only to encourage a switch in brands. That's hogwash. It's designed to get people to switch to their product, yes, but it's also designed to recruit new users and to increase consumption. I do not believe they are spending $8 million to get a few Miller drinkers to switch to Budweiser. And they want to establish brand loyalty before most people are even old enough to drink."

The people who have been bringing us the Bud Bowl obviously see it another way. "What's wrong with having a beer?" Berman asked. "It's not against the law to have a beer."

And of course, all the major breweries like to point out they have budgeted big money for public service ads that discourage drinkers from driving. Anheuser-Busch sponsors the "know when to say when" campaign and Steve Burrows, the company's vice president of consumer awareness, says he has no problem with the Bud Bowl.

"As far as {the ads} encourage abusive consumption, that's a link I fail to see," Burrows said. "The fact that a person would buy a six-pack of beer and drink it over three or four hours of a Super Bowl, to me, that's not irresponsible. But if you do that, you shouldn't drive. That would be irresponsible, and we are making a commitment to get that message out."

Still, there can be no doubt that the primary purpose of Bud Bowl 3 and all the rest of the industry's ads is to sell beer, and lots of it.

The Bud Bowl's slick press kit, complete with a notebook labeled as a "confidential official scouting report" and a videotape of sample commercials, trumpets this as "the biggest beer sales promotion ever." The "scouting report" boasts of a "17 percent increase in January sales" after the first $6 million Bud Bowl and "a new combined sales record for January" following last year's $7.5 million promotion.

And really now, wouldn't most reasonable people also have to conclude that the more beer sold translates into more beer consumed -- which could lead to problems.

Some would suggest that Congress ought to ban beer advertising -- a major sponsor of network sports events -- on broadcast media, just as it has done with cigarette ads. That's a step that probably would signal a death knell for TV sports as we now know it and almost certainly lead to many events going to some form of pay per view.

NCAA Executive Director Dick Schultz last year restricted the number of beer commercials during NCAA telecasts, and many people believe all college sports telecasts should be beer-ad free. Groups like MADD and SADD also are opposed to televised ads that appeal to minors, and Bud Bowl 3 clearly falls into that category.

It should also be noted that television is not the only medium that helps sell this product. This newspaper, for example, last year accepted $2.5 million in advertising from local and national alcohol-related businesses. And as long as we're in the mea culpa mode, we had some friends over for New Year's Eve last night, and the bar was not closed.

Still, we had no bottled helmets running amok, nor were guests exposed to an $8 million advertising campaign featuring a highly visible sportscaster available to update our game of charades at midnight, which brings us to yet another issue in this debate.

Reputable broadcasters like Berman, Bob Costas and Brent Musburger, all of whom shilled for Anheuser-Busch over the last three years, really shouldn't have. Professionals who usually insist on being considered journalists should not turn into pitchmen for products that may be hazardous to your health.

Berman says he knew he'd be criticized for the Bud Bowl campaign and adds that he did it because it was fun, would give him more national exposure and because he has a long memory. He points out that his primary employer, ESPN, owes its existence to Anheuser-Busch, the first significant advertiser to sign on with the fledgling cable network, and still a huge sponsor. "That was definitely a consideration," he said.

Nevertheless, Berman should have known when to say no.