Super Bowl Report Card.
For some categories I’m going to give a letter grade, for some categories I’m going to declare a winner, and … if there’s anything that doesn’t cover, I’ll explain when I get there.
First, the winning team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although the defense let Oakland get close at the end, the Raiders were always several scores away. It never got close, and it was never really even exciting. Tampa Bay’s offense also delivered more than it promised. After Brad Johnson threw a pick on their first possession, he never panicked, and he never looked back.
Bucs’ grade: A
Next, the losing team – the Oakland Raiders. Two words: Five interceptions. In most football games, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. That trend continued in Super Bowl XXXVII. Oakland’s defense never impressed, and its NFL ranked #1 offense never generated anything until the game was out of reach. The Raiders scored 21 points, but their only real bright spot was the punt block and touchdown return.
Raiders’ grade: C
Now, Halftime entertainment. First, Shania Twain. From what I could tell, her songs were lip synched. She didn’t look like she was singing, and when her guitarists threw their guitars into the crowd — while the guitar music was still playing — that confirmed it. Also hurting Shania’s grade: She’s a native Canadian, and she moved to Europe.
Shania’s grade: D (Should have been an F, but she’s hot.)
No Doubt. I’ve never been a big No Doubt fan, but they played “Just a Girl,” which is … maybe their biggest song ever. (Brown could correct or confirm me on this.) Their recent music hasn’t been … as good. It hasn’t really been good at all. So what do they do at the Superbowl? They play their best song. Nice move. Gwen Stefani sounded very flat, and a little old, so that didn’t help. But, when I saw that Sting’s band was still No Doubt, I was impressed. When Gwen came out and sang with him, I was very impressed.
No Doubt’s grade: B-
Sting. I’m kind of a Sting fan, which is odd, because I only own one Sting album. Okay, two – but one is his best of album. I like the fact that he teamed up with No Doubt, and I like the fact that he sang “Message in a Bottle.” He’s had some relatively popular songs lately, but I’m not sure he ever had a hit quite as big as some The Police had. Finally, good song choice. He didn’t perform anything inappropriate for the Superbowl, and “Message in a Bottle” seems like it’s not too popluar, but popular enough to be recognized and enjoyed.
Sting’s grade: A
The Commercials. Apparently something like 40% of Superbowl viewers watch not for the game, but for the commercials. These people deserve to be hit over the head with a tack hammer. Anyway. I thought some of the commercials were good, but none were laugh-out-loud funny. I also thought that there were a lot of commercials with prime first half slots that had already aired in the past week or even earlier. One that comes to mind is the “Jordan vs. Jordan” Gatorade commercial. This is a recent trend, and it’s kind of disappointing. Still, I think I watch every year more and more for the game and less and less for the commercials. I’m just not sure I’m in the majority on that one. I also didn’t notice (or can’t remember) any commercials that used complex computer special effects. It’s a relief. Remember the Pepsi commercial from a few years back in which the kid at the beach sucks so hard on the straw in his Pepsi bottle that he sucks himself into the bottle? I thought it was a little much. (This leads me to another question — and possibly another post topic: Ten or twenty years from now, will we look back at film and television and commercials from the 1990s and 2000s and think that computer graphics were overdone?) I did like a few commercials, and I’ll get to them. Overall, I think they did not live up to the best commercial years, which may have coincided with the Bills Superbowls.
Commercials’ grade: C+
Special Award for Merit: Given to ABC Sports for replacing Eric Dickerson with Lynn Swann. Did they switch back to Lynn during this season of Monday Night Football without me noticing? Was Swann there this whole year? Either way, it was a mistake getting rid of Swanny and it was the right move bringing him back.
Best Commercial. This was tough for me. It boiled down to two spots that stood head and shoulders above the rest. My top two commercials were the Matrix Reloaded/Matrix Revolutions commercial (I still fully expect Matrix Revolutions to get pushed back to 2004 after Matrix Reloaded makes a ton of money) and the Reebok commercial featuring Terry Tate, the office worker who acts like a linebacker. It was tought. The Terry Tate ad was the only commercial that I noted based on its own merits. I paid attention to the Matrix commercial because it’s the Matrix and well, M47R1X R0XXORZ!!! The Reebok ad was funny; the Matrix ad was compelling. The Reebok ad was new; the Matrix ad spotlighted new chapters to an existing, but popular, story. So who gets the Iverson Bobblehead?
Best Commercial: Reebok, “Terry Tate”
Finally, I’ve got to rip on Bon Jovi. First, why the hell is there “postgame entertainment”? WTF? Just hand out the trophy, name the MVP, and let’s get to Jennifer Garner in skimpy lingerie! But no, we’ve got to listen to Jon Bon Jovi sing the same song he’s been singing since the Devils won the Stanley Cup almost three years ago. New Jersey sucks! Get over it.
Finally part II. Alias. Yeah, I watched. I wanted to see Jennifer Garner in skimpy outfits. It looks like next week she’s gonna be in a bikini. I’m only human.
PS – I didn’t talk about the music industry like I said I would. I think I’ll add a To Do list. If it’s no good, I’ll get rid of it.
PPS – The Don Cheadle “Playoffs” commercials suck. “They made Joe … Joe.” “They made roman numerals … Roman Numerals.” Don – you were good on Picket Fences, but … get off my TV screen.