Having served as an Official Mainstream Media Sports Journalist for a long time, I can tell you that we do indeed know that all this Super Bowl coverage is overkill.
No, most people wouldn’t admit that. Certainly not when they’re deciding how many people will be going to Media Day or the several press conferences each coach will endure throughout the week leading up to the Biggest of Big Games.
But deep down — yes, we know. We know Media Day has become a circus in which people writing about the spectacle now outnumber the people creating it. When MTV VJ “Downtown” Julie Brown got credentialed, Media Day officially ceased to be a useful event for Official Mainstream Media Sports Journalists.
And we know the coach’s press conferences, though giving NFL Network a bit more programming, are relatively useless. You might get one or two injury updates as a result of 15 questions all worded slightly differently.
“So, Coach, has Gronkowski’s ankle improved?”
“Well, he seemed OK yesterday, but we’re taking it day-by-day.”
“So was he able to practice?”
“Yeah, he ran some routes.”
“So is he better?”
“We really don’t …”
“Do you have before-and-after X-rays from Monday’s practice and today’s?”
ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning addressed Gronkowski Overkill on their show yesterday morning, so you know it’s serious. But when you don’t have an injury to ask about, things get weird. You get the questions from the back-row guys with very specific feature assignments: “Coach, can you talk about how your linebackers play differently when the ball is on the left hash mark instead of the right?”
Fact is, not much changes between Wednesday and Thursday of Super Bowl week. Each team practices for the umpteenth time. Each team has known the opponent for 10 days. Each team has known for months that Madonna is performing at halftime, and contrary to what Lifton thinks, that’s not a bad thing.
(Seriously — the Rolling Stones and the Who can drag their dessicated bodies onstage to pretend they can still hit all these notes, but we’re all in a huff about a woman who dares to look good in her 50s? Oh, the horror!)
And if you’re in one of the 30 million or so households that watched last week’s games, chances are pretty good that you already know all you need to know about these teams.
What we don’t want to admit is that our target audience should be the extra tens of millions who don’t watch a lot of football during the season but will tune in Sunday. And they just need a little guide to remind them which QB dates models and which QB is the little brother of the really good QB they’ve heard about — Walter Payton or somebody?
That’s not as much fun for Official Mainstream Media Sports Journalists. We want to tell you how much this means for Eli Manning’s legacy. Or how many celebrities we spotted when some dude decided it would be fun to bring an Official Mainstream Media Sports Journalist to an Official Celebrity Super Bowl Party.
The bottom line is that it’s one game. It’s not the Olympics, where someone’s lifelong dream is realized every few minutes. It’s not the World Cup, where some team of nobodies is going to come from nowhere and surprise one of the world’s big powers in a group-stage game. It’s one game between two well-known teams and a whole lot of expensive ads, of which USA TODAY readers will select the stupidest and declare it the “winner.”
(No, I don’t know where USA TODAY gets the AdMeter people, either, but I’m guessing their TV preferences lean away from Arrested Development and toward Two and a Half Men. So maybe they get Nielsen-rating families?)
It’s a great occasion, absolutely. It might be the only thing that brings people together in this multicultural country with a lot of loud political fringe groups and poor public transportation. It would be a little hypocritical of me to enjoy the celebration of Australian culture in each year’s Australian football Grand Final and not enjoy the uniquely American Super Bowl. Some people might be a little queasy with all the military-industrial rhetoric, but we can always watch Puppy Bowl until game time if we prefer.
So please forgive Official Mainstream Media Sports Journalists if we’re fishing for angles leading up to the grand occasion. It may not lend itself to quite as many good stories as the NFL thinks. But you wouldn’t want to miss it.