From wardrobe malfunctions to Beyonce’s half-time show with more highlights than the first or second half, some are claiming the NFL is starting to use too much sex to sell football.
Hmmm. I am old enough to recall this little Super Bowl commercial from the early 1970s.
It didn’t warp me or cause me to buy Noxema. Or to become a bigger Joe Namath fan.
It did to me becoming a Charlie’s Angels fan a few years later at age 13.
I have a confession to make.
You know how some people say that for many women going to the Kentucky Derby is all about the hats?
Well….I have a similar dirty little secret.
I watch the Super Bowl mostly for the commercials.
Then the football.
And then the hats.
My personal Super Bowl story.
It wasn’t way back when. Actually, it was year ago last January. The NFL had helped successfully pass anti-concussion legislation in over 30 states (mostly states with NFL teams) and now was going to the remaining states hoping to make a clean sweep on this important health issue for our student-athletes. Kentucky was selected because the timing seemed ripe.
But the NFL needed a local public and government relations firm to help. And my firm was recommended as one for the NFL to interview. I was giddy with excitement as my partner, Laura Owens, and I prepared for our conference call interview.
The phone rang and I picked up and introduced myself and Laura and we seemed off to a good start. The person heading the NFL effort was a former NFL player himself that I hadn’t heard of and wasn’t in a place where I could Google him, but knowing his background didn’t seem important and the interview continued and seemed to wrap up about as well as we could have hoped.
I began to feel hopeful that there was a real chance we might actually get to represent the NFL. That’s right, me, at 5 ‘8 1/2 who retired from football after 3 seasons of little league flag football and one painful and unpleasant season of little league tackle football, looked like we had our newest client.
And then came the question. “So, who do you like in next week’s big game, John?”
Me: “Huh? Oh….yeah. That is right. The big game is coming up ….just around the corner isn’t it? Next week? I can’t believe it’s here.”
I knew it was that time of year when the Super Bowl was about to be played but didn’t know the actual Super Bowl (you know, with touchdowns, great commercials and R-rated half-time shows? That one!) I didn’t know it was next week. And I sure as heck didn’t know who I was for. Since I didn’t know who was even playing.
At the same time I was buying time by trying awkwardly to change the subject without revealing my hand, I was simultaneously spun into a self-reflecting spiral of shame for being a man and not knowing these common knowledge facts that most anyone within a three mile radius of me would know. Except the one being interviewed by the NFL.
And then…I was taught the lesson once again why it is so great to have great partners you work with. Laura Owens chimed in, after realizing I was clueless about the Super Bowl, “I don’t know about John, but it is no secret who I am for!” And Laura went on a riff about the New York Giants and New England Patriots that made me proud (and grateful). The two kept talking as if they were still in the locker room and I had left to warm up the car for them.
Finally, I jumped back in with, “Well, Laura and I don’t always agree on everything, but this time I think she’s absolutely right!” Whatever it was she was saying.
We were told we would be the NFL’s KY firm and we hung up and I high-fived Laura. (That’s a jock thing you see athletes do after a successful or inspired play.) Laura said, “Look, you are the lawyer so you draft the contract.” And paused before adding, “And I will be responsible for all sports related conversations going forward. OK?”
She had a deal. And I swore I’d never let that happen again…I had always been a sports nut growing up and stat head. What happened? Oh well…just a simple lapse for a single year.
Oh yeah, and the NFL got their anti-concussion legislation in KY, thanks to the leadership of the wonderful Rep Joni Jenkins, who was the champion and sponsor for the bill..and a host of others too long to name.
And then earlier today, in a conversation with a friend, I was asked exactly one year later, “So, who are you for tonight in the Super Bowl.”
And this time Laura wasn’t anywhere nearby to save me. And I had to admit, as I dropped my head in shame and my voice trailed off, that I mostly was looking forward to watching the commercials.
OK, I’m gonna go a little old school now. I’m a progressive and all—but some things are just common sense or, well, just easier for me to understand. And so I take a stand for these things.
1) I’m for staying on the US Standard measurement system rather than switching to the Metric System.
2) I’m for making English our nation’s official language.
3) And I’m for the NFL starting next Super Bowl using Arabic (with rhymes with America, sort of) numerals instead of the obsolete Roman numerals.
What is up with that? Is someone just too afraid to tell the NFL–who’s average athlete has the size and strength of a small rhinoceros —for fear of being mauled? Or maybe the NFL knows something the rest of us don’t about Roman numerals making a comeback soon. Or maybe it’s just a symbolic thing, linking top football players and the Super Bowl to gladiators at the Colosseum in ancient times.
Regardless, kudos for not staying consistent and using Roman Numerals to keep score of the football game. And more kudos for using a scoreboard instead of an abacus. And a digital clock instead of a sun dial. You are truly more modern than you think, NFL–except for this one little Roman numeral thing.
So next year please save those of us time from trying to figure out during every commercial break what number is represented by XLVII (and allow us to relax and focus on the brilliant commercials during these breaks), it would be appreciated a lot by a simple American Super Bowl Commercials fan like me. ; )
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