Super Bore: CBS drops ball more than Grossman

Prince might have been Super Bowl XLI's saving grace. Not necessarily because of the game, which became uninteresting after Rex Grossman completed his own folly video in just one series, but because CBS found a way to make the world's biggest and most watched sporting event as entertaining as one of its sitcoms.

In a column I wrote the other day, I took an unnecessary jab at Prince, this Super Bowl's halftime act. I would like to apologize to both Prince and his logo, and the lovely ladies that seem to accompany him everywhere.

(Now I know why Prince was selected. The guy was Bono-meets-Jimi Hendrix-meets-Kirk Hammett-meets Hugh Hefner, and remained oddly captivating but not in a weird, Michael Jackson sorta way. He even shredded his guitar -- while it was raining. Awesome.)

But Prince might have been Super Bowl XLI's saving grace. Not necessarily because of the game, which became uninteresting after Rex Grossman completed his own folly video in just one series, but because CBS found a way to make the world's biggest and most watched sporting event as entertaining as one of its sitcoms. No, Charlie Sheen, that wasn't a compliment. It was as if Jim Nantz and Phil Simms spent all of their energy on Devin Hester's opening kick-off return and then decided to just watch the game with the rest of us, taking turns to say, "It was beautiful all week, and now it's raining. Crazy, huh?"  For the first (and hopefully only) time in my life, I actually found myself asking, "Where is Terry Bradshaw when you need him?"

Which is cooler, Prince or his Logo-shaped guitar? We aren't sure, but we're glad he was there.

The hot topic before the game was the weather. The hot topic during the game was the weather. And the hot topic after the game? It wasn't the weather, but at that point, no one was paying attention anymore. And it's probably because they were sleeping.

Complaining about rain in 70 degree weather to people in the Midwest that, if you're like me, have watched the weather ticker on their desktop drop to minus 4 (and falling) isn't likely to register much of an impact. Personally, it would have been much more interesting (and helpful) to see a giant hand appear in front of the camera to occasionally wipe the condensation from the lens.

But that wouldn't be CBS's style.

Anyone that has watched any CBS football telecast (or, do what I do, and has flipped back and forth between FOX and CBS during commercial breaks) is aware of the profound difference of football coverage and the two network's respective entertainment value. With CBS, you get that soothing, "Murder She Wrote" ambience that can lull you into a deep coma. FOX is like a crack-induced grand theft auto with Carrot Top in the backseat screaming, "THE CARPET MATCHES THE DRAPES!" It became so mind-numbingly boring that, at one point during the game, my brother and I discussed why the very proficient Solomon Wilcots can never seem to hold down a gig, bouncing from one network to another, yet Shannon Sharpe has remained at CBS as long as he has (three years).

We couldn't come up with a viable answer, except funny comparisons between Sharpe's linguistics and Bam-Bam from the Flintstones.

To the network's credit, CBS has one really cool visual, where they superimpose a highlight reel onto the actual field. It is as high-tech and fancy as it is unnecessary, and they do it about once per game. At least with FOX we get those super cool militant, robot football players after every commercial break. And Terry Bradshaw.

Speaking of commercials, have we had a noticeable drop-off in regurgitation material? We've gone from talking frogs to talking lizards to 'Wassssup?' to Terry Tate to the really hot GoDaddy.com girl to ... Robert Goulet doing a nuts advertisement? The most comical ad was probably a tie between GM's suicidal robot and the axe wielding Bud Light hitchhiker (which I would like to think is a spin on the endless 'Hitcher' previews starring Sean Bean, who has fallen sharply since the Boromir days). Overall, though, the ads were disappointing. Thank God for YouTube.

(As a testament to CBS's clever plot to rip the geriatric demographic from the grasp of its competitors, in doing so collecting as many James Garner-insurance commercials as possible, I was so bored with the game coverage that I was actually looking forward to the rumored 'Proposal' ad. Apparently, some guy had talked his way into having his proposal to his girlfriend recorded live, and paid for by a commercial sponsor. I wanted to watch it for the same reason any other guy would: to see if she would say "NO" on national television. I hyped it up so much that everyone in my living room eagerly anticipated the event, only rushing to the bathroom whenever players were on the field. Naturally, I was disappointed when I learned via the poor sap's blog that the ad was pulled at the last minute. Apparently, CBS caught wind that people might have a reason to watch, and yanked it before its viewership would climb.

The fact that this didn't crack the ad line-up is confusing. Don't most networks rely upon reality television? Why not a reality-themed commercial? I think I'm onto something ...)

CBS managed to save their worst for last. As the final seconds of the game and Rex Grossman's career in Chicago ticked away, we didn't even get the clichéd "WORLD CHAMPIONS!" screech. Nantz, who I pictured at this point as the intoxicated, disinterested Harry Doyle from the Major League movie series, managed to mumble, "And the Indianapolis Colts are your Super Bowl champions." After that, the camera panned around the field a few times, focusing on no one in particular, the mics were cut from Nantz and Simms, and the rest was a blur of Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning (who were both tragically born without personalities) hugging and not giving nearly enough credit to Rex Grossman.

While Manning was as unexcitingly efficient as always, and because I need at least one more Grossman knock before I finish this column, the MVP should belong to the latter. If there was any one player on the field most valuable to the Colts, it was Grossman. His ability to prove every naysayer correct was achieved almost flawlessly, and he even made it humorous by dropping the ball between his legs (twice), backpedaling into a self-created sack (twice) and -- I don't know if anyone caught this or not -- but taking flight to tackle the Colts' Bob Sanders after his second fourth quarter pick -- and whiffing something terrible.

Dear Lovie and Rex: We told you so.

There was a post in the message board that begged an interesting question: was the game boring a result of parity in the National Football League? Afterall, how can a matchup of the league's top two teams feature one of the more maligned quarterbacks against the worst rushing defense?  Parity to me is a lot like global warming, until I see actual evidence, i.e., the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals improving/warm temperatures in Michigan, I'll be skeptical.

Nope. The fault lies with CBS. Apparently they never learned their lesson after Chicago Hope.

Thank God for Prince.

(Note to self: Get your own logo. ASAP.)


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