Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl For Once Lives Up To Its Hype

Well, there was a real football game this year. That helped. The commercials ran the usual gamut from clever to "O.K.". And the half-time entertainment... over-the-top as necessitated y the occasion. In short, Super Bowl LI was good to the last drop.

You have to really be a fan to watch all those hours of pre-game, and I missed most of it, but I did catch the one segment about how the Falcons brought in Navy Seals to teach the players the meaning of teamwork. Back in the 70s, sports psychologists were in vogue. The Seals and others of their ilk definitely embody the insights of psychology as they build team morale, motivation and resilience.

Bill Belichick's Patriots have been the embodiment of the word "teamwork" for a decade, so their competition is required to do what it takes to catapult their game to another level.

The Coin Toss
Wheelchair bound George HW Bush gave it his best shot, with Barbara standing over his shoulder. He didn't look comfortable. The flip left his hand and rolled into the midst of the Falcon players. Patriots called head. The coin read tails.

The Commercials
Normally I watch the commercials in advance when possible and read the teasers. USA Today provides plenty of pre-game coverage of this important segment of the Big Show. As usual the commercials proved to be a mixed bag, from memorable to quickly forgotten. I liked the Avocados from Mexico spot with the secret society (Illuminati?), though I do not know what the point was. The Skittles spot was funny, with no secret messages. Hollywood has films they want us to see including Logan and A Handmaid's Tale. The Honda spot with celebrity yearbook photos talking was engaging. I'd buy a Honda after watching that. The Fabreze spot was perfectly timed to remind you that when everyone takes that mid-game bathroom break, their product will be put to good use. (Noteworthy: There were numerous commercials with a political theme. This may require a second blog post. Timely and sensitive. Coca-Cola is an international brand.)

The Game
These two high powered offenses had one difference. The Patriots have been to the big dance numerous times and the Falcons were seriously lacking in experience as regards the pressures of the big game. Nevertheless, that Falcons defense -- which has been defined by speed more than size -- tore into the Patriots like cheetahs hunting down gazelles. Speed kills, and amped with adrenaline the Falcons weren't messin' around. The Falcons flew into the face of Tom Brady like air through a wind tunnel, tossing aside linemen like paper dolls.

The Patriots, however, appeared to hamstring the Falcons in the same manner and rather than a rout it started to appear that this would be a defensive battle. Until the dam broke. Suddenly the Falcons were up 14. Then 21. And as the half ended the Pats settled for a lame field goal to get on the board.

You can read about the comeback elsewhere. By the end of Lady Gaga's halftime show I imagine that some folks believed the drama was over and that it was time to channel surf. If you gave in to the temptation you missed a dramatic and memorable second half. In fact, I can't seem to recall the commercials at all. The second half was all about the game. Tom Brady achieved his fifth Super Bowl ring. Bill Belichick affirmed his legacy.

The Pepsi Halftime Show
I know at least one fan from Clear Lake, Iowa who couldn't give two figs about the game itself. How did Lady Gaga do? "Awesome bananas!! Loved the patriotic lead-in and the rooftop leap!" (A former president from Iowa talking.)

I watch these massive choreographed halftime shows and wonder who puts these things together. Does some outfit approach lady Gaga and suggest sets. "Back to the drawing board, team." This one had shades of Michael Jackson written over it... Leaping into the stadium from the rooftop, she proved she not only has pipes but athleticism. Cirque du Soleil has nothing on Lady Gaga. Fireworks and spectacle, lightning and wonder.

At the end of it all, the Patriots succeeded in producing a thrill ride for their fans. Falcons fans cringed as the game went into overtime, another Super Bowl First. The Pats won the toss, and several plays later... Game Over.

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Most dramatic Super Bowl ever? Certainly one that will be talked about for a long time. At least until the end of the dayTuesday.

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