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Friday, January 30, 2004

Pro Picks, Super Bowl Edition: Fortnight of Anticipation

I've made a running theme this entire football season of the excessive coverage the NFL gets in the media. Sure, I'm adding to it myself through this little column, but I think there are some points that are worthy of making in this regard, and the two-week break leading into this year's Super Bowl gives us some of the most inane sports reporting you're likely ever to see. Not that I'm bothered by it all, mind you, I just think I enjoy it more because of its ridiculousness than anything else.

Boston.com has truly been leading the charge in this regard, with too many zany Super Bowl angles covered in the past two weeks to count. There was a contest on the message boards to figure out the number of times this season Bill Belichick has called an opponent "explosive" (it's a lot, as anyone who has watched a Belichick press conference knows). There was another message board set up for people to submit haikus about Tedy Bruschi. And another today to list the top ten things Paul Revere would say on a ride through Houston. And yet another asking what people were doing to pass the time until the big game. "Participating in Internet message boards" I felt tempted to respond. All their stuff is here.

The latest to come out tonight is an AP story on local colleges preparing for possible violence Sunday night. Nice, huh?

The other staple of the Super Bowl week diet has been Bill Simmons and his SuperBlog from Houston on ESPN.com (that's the latest entry, which also links back to previous days). In his inimitable, pro-Patriots style, Simmons has been in his element all week, mocking the overhyped event and all the silliness it has brought to the city. The highlight had to be Simmons' annoyance at the video game simulation of the Super Bowl that has become a staple of the week (scroll down the Thursday link above for this entry). This year, Carolina defeated the Patriots, and the winner of the video game has actually been undefeated in the real game for eight years running. Simmons gets really riled up about Stephen Davis somehow running for 300+ yards, even complaining bitterly to a video game rep at the event, and he's humorously upset with Troy Brown, the Pats' man at the joystick, for his tactical moves. You don't see much writing like it elsewhere. Tuesday was great too, including some shots at Roger Clemens and a description of the NFL Experience, which sounds pretty crappy (scroll down).

Pops linked earlier in the week to a Yahoo article that in turn linked to all the bets you could ever want to make (PDF link). For example, you can find within the 30 pages of propositions the odds on whether Allen Iverson will have more total points, assists and rebounds in Sunday's NBA game than the distance in yards of the Super Bowl's longest field goal. This must be like Christmas for the Pete Roses of the world (DK and Pro Picks do not advocate sports betting of any sort!).

At least thus far John Kerry and John Edwards have refrained from making a bet on the game. I'm actually rather amazed that Kerry, who has tried to serve his own political fortunes by appealing to Red Sox and Patriots fans, hasn't thrown down the gauntlet on this one yet. Perhaps having seven primaries on Tuesday has squeezed this non-essential publicity stunt off the schedule.

Then we've got the ads that everyone will be going nutty over. The reporter must have had fun with this assignment about the dueling commercials for impotency drugs.

Two recently approved pills designed to help guys score big in the bedroom will compete for penis supremacy during Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots.

Newcomers Levitra and Cialis have each purchased 60 seconds of air time during the game, which kicks off on CBS about 6:30 p.m. According to Ad Age, industry leader Viagra will also keep up with the Johnsons and purchase a 30-second spot, purchasing a spot.

At roughly $2.3 million a pop for a 30-second ad, drug-makers are expecting a lot of bang for their buck.

The highlight of Tuesday's Media Day had to be when a reporter asked John Fox, "Viagra or Levitra?" The worst was the spectacle of the Nickelodeon guy dressed up as a super hero asking players how to spell words. Too bad Simmons didn't give the event as full a treatment as he did two years ago (worth the flashback).

Back on the TV spots, though, for some reason, people seem more excited about getting to see a certain Pepsi ad than the impotency ones. You can drop $2 at this site and watch a bunch of historical SB commercials (via Sports Filter).

Janet Jackson is doing the sure-to-be-crappy halftime show. If you want to blow $20, you can tune in to the much-discussed Lingerie Bowl instead.

I guess there's actually a football game on Sunday too. Anyone who has read my football commentary before probably knows where I'm headed with this, so I won't bother breaking down every aspect of the game (I'm pretty sick of that stuff too--I think SportsCenter was analyzing which team had a better holder on field goals earlier tonight). Let's just recall, though, that the Patriots have won 14 games in a row, the best streak in pro football in three decades. That's not a team you want to pick against, and yet plenty of prognosticators are picking the Panthers on a whim, it seems. They've been thinking too hard about this. If New England loses, it's a huge upset. Did these morons see the Colts game, by chance?

I'm expecting the Friday newspapers in Boston to include no Carolina picks by any of the local writers. If the scribes do go against the home crowd, I foresee much anger being directed their way. Sports radio, for example, has been an inhospitable place this week for anyone who even entertains the notion that the Panthers might have some sort of success come Sunday. Ron Borges is still taking flak for predicting a Rams blowout two years ago (73-0!), remember.
And then, once the game is over, I'll be sad. Another football season is coming to an end, and we'll be left with the dreaded dead period in the sports-viewing calendar until March Madness arrives. Then we get baseball starting, NBA and NHL playoffs, and it's all good again. But until then, maybe I'll have to read some novels or something. The NBA isn't appealing to me much at the moment either since I'm upset about Jim O'Brien's departure from the Celtics. In any case, I'll be resuming more regular sports coverage next week in a concerted effort to help readers (OK, myself mostly) cope with the extra time on their hands.

I've enjoyed writing up my half-assed NFL picks and lame jokes in this space for the past few months and, God-willing, I'll be back for more in September. Just to confirm, I'm going with the Patriots to win Super Bowl XXXVIII. I'm 6-4 in the playoffs so far (1-1 in the conference championships) after a 163-93 (.637) regular season.