The Super Bowl pits two of American football’s best teams against each other for a competition extravaganza like no other. This year being the 50th Anniversary of the inaugural matchup, proved to provide a super-sized portion of all things American pop-culture (and Coldplay). I found it difficult to write about the entire production as it included a three-hour pre-game show, an epic Half-Time Show, commercials in which companies spend millions on, and then there’s the game itself. So, in an effort to condense the review, I decided to categorize three things in which I enjoyed (Touchdowns) and things that I wish were different (Turnovers) of the entire production.
Betty White “Dabs”
If you’re like most people, you probably weren’t paying much attention to the pre-game show. At three hours long, it contained much of what you’d expect. There was plenty of commentary from former NFL players turned TV personalities. There was plenty of speculation and introspective dialog. If you missed all of that, hopefully you didn’t miss a special piece that was made to present a sense of anticipation of the game and apparently directed by Hollywood legend, Ron Howard. It featured several A-List celebs talking about what the game meant to them but comes of superficial as Howard decides to “take it a different direction” and focus on the players. What made this mockumentary entertaining is witnessing Betty White talking nonsense about the sport but successfully pulling of Cam Newton’s signature move, “The Dab” while Howard tells her that the scene isn’t going to work. You don’t have to be a comedian to know how funny (and eventually ironic) this is. Betty White relating to anything modern pop culture is just pure gold as far as I’m concerned and she’s the true winner of the game.
Lada Gaga’s Star Spangled Banner
It was announced not two weeks prior to the big game that Lady Gaga was invited (yes invited) to sing the National Anthem. The internet was instantly on fire about the subject. The pop icon is known for being a bit outrageous and many of critics claim that her talent is purely manufactured. What most don’t know is that in the past year or so, she’s been going through some sort of personal transformation. The nay-sayers were still not appeased. The Star Spangled Banner is one of the toughest, most complicated pieces of music ever composed. Some of best vocal artists in the world have tackled it and failed miserably. Although dressed up (perhaps purposely) like she was at the presenting ceremony of The Hunger Games, Lada Gaga absolutely smashed it on stage. I can go into how she executed every note precisely and timed the verses with excellence. I can tell you how this flawless human rendition of the anthem ranks up there with one of the best to put her in the same company as the late, great songbird, Whitney Houston. I could even tell you that I qualify this statement by noting that as a veteran and sports fan, I’ve seen it perform hundreds of times. That wouldn’t do it any justice, though. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube. You won’t be sorry and your perspective of Lady Gaga may even change a bit.
Jonathan Stewart’s Touchdown
Yes, the Panthers lost. Yes, Cam Newton was supposed to pull off “Superman” feats. If you look at the game stats, though, Carolina dominated the field of play. Despite the ominous Denver defense, the Panthers moved the ball up and down the field with conviction. The end result on one of those drives resulted in one of the only two touchdowns to be made the entire game. In fact, it was the ONLY touchdown as a result from a field drive (Denver’s only TD was from a fumble recovered in the end zone). Stewart rushed and leaped, yes leaped, nearly six feet in the air for an over-the-top landing into the end zone. This TD was an amazing feat of atheism and truly the greatest sporting highlight of the game itself. This is why fans of the sport watch. Old school football at its best.
More specifically the lead official, Clete Blakeman. In a clearly biased calling throughout the game, he threw the yellow flag on the Carolina Panthers more in that single game than they’ve had nearly all year. I don’t know about you, but the logic is unclear to me. Carolina was clearly the best team of the year. Not only statistically but in performance. You don’t take a season losing only one game to lose the Super Bowl on penalties. It doesn’t make sense. There was a retracted call on the field where they basically told the Panthers, “Ooops, our bad!” on a reception call that could have helped them. How does an official retract a holding call from a player (Talib) that has been consistently unabashed in committing fouls towards receivers? Furthermore, after a clear statement from the NFL Officiating authority stating that such fouls will not be tolerated in any game, how is it that Talib remained in the game?
I’m not even going to get into their play because, in all honesty, I think both future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and MVP Cam Newton did as much as they could. I will say that watching Newton back up his fumble was disconcerting but if you watch the replay, I think he may have done so because he thought that his lineman (#96) had the ball covered. Nonetheless, it’s really the QBs attitudes that got to me the most. Cam wasn’t his normally cheerful self for the entire game. Maybe he got a memo before the game stating that this was Peyton Manning’s show, I don’t know. Maybe, he was simply nervous for his first Super Bowl appearance. It just seems like even when they did well, Cam was still off. No dancing. No “dabbing”. Not even a smile. Cam wasn’t having fun and believe it or not, this is crucial to this team. As for Manning, he was his typical smug self. Now you can call it being humble but I think even his team wanted to know his future. Instead, he just kept mentioning that he was going to “go home and hug his family”. Whatever, dude. You just won the Super Bowl. A task that has been eluding your for years and there’s rumor of your retirement. Instead, you give your sponsored endorsements a shot out. Gotta keep those residual checks coming in…
Just face it. While many of us are truly about the game. Many are about the sideshow commercials. This year’s commercials were nothing spectacular. Yes, we got some new movie trailers. But they were for movies in which we already had trailers for. Nothing new to see here. Christopher Walken being all serious about a Hyundai was amusing while that Mt. Dew commercial was just outright creepy. I mean, if you’re going to combine the (and I quote), “Best things of the internet.” You could at least choose the outright “best”. Babies, I’ll give you that but monkeys and puppies rank lower than say kitties, girls, and epic failures. Not a dry eye was in the house when the Audi commercial aired with a millennial taking the aging astronaut on a “rocket ship” ride while playing David Bowie’s, Starman (along with a dedication to Bowie in the end). Budweiser got savage on drunk drivers in a very serious ad and I got a chuckle out of Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan. The problem is that the good commercials weren’t really Super Bowl commercials. Starman and Schumer/Rogan actually aired the week prior on the interwebs.
With all the hype around this game, I feel that it’s going through an identity crisis. Around the world events like this are taking either a purist perspective or an entertainment perspective. I think the NFL, in its 50th year, is trying to ride the fence of both. The game itself was rather boring, when you look at it and pick it apart. Both teams were equally matched in skill and it came down to the officiating staff to be the deal breakers. The side show entertainment was good in places but most of the highlights building up to the game itself seemed to overshadow the main event. Perhaps this is a sign of the times. We’re a society that puts value in the temporary high of the buildup. We like the preconceived notions of the concept but then falter when it’s time to deliver. Nonetheless, as a fan of the sport, I was a disappointed on a couple different levels. As a fan of pop culture, it was like a super bowl size of Skittles. Sounds like fun at first but you know it’s too sweet to take it all in at once. Oh, and speaking of Skittles… what was up with Steven Tyler looking like he just came out of Tijuana Auto Body Shop?
Betty Ford Dabs – http://www.ew.com/article/2016/02/07/super-bowl-50-betty-white-dab
Panthers’ TD – http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/02/jonathan-stewart-hand-jive
Super Bowl 50 Refs – http://www.today.com/popculture/so-who-was-hot-ref-calling-super-bowl-50-social-t71901
Super Bowl 50 Commercials – http://www.eonline.com/news/737823/why-were-the-super-bowl-commercials-so-damn-creepy-this-year