An ESPN employee was the first of many to scold me for missing one of the best TV commercials of Super Bowl Sunday, the NFL Network ad in which Cowboys coach Bill Parcells told owner Jerry Jones that he was down about not being in the Super Bowl and Jones tried to cheer him up by singing the opening lines of "Tomorrow," the showstopper from "Annie."
"Just thinking about Jerry Jones serenading Bill Parcells is making me laugh," wrote the employee, who asked not to be identified further. The ad continued with NFL players singing the sappy song as they did offseason stuff -- Warren Sapp playing golf, Terrell Owens pushing a cart down a grocery store aisle, Michael Strahan eating in a diner and flashing his gap-tooth smile on the word "grin," etc. It concluded with "Jones" doing backflips across the Texas Stadium turf and the tag line "As of tomorrow, we're all undefeated again."
Sapp singing off-key from a sand trap was my favorite moment. I'll just go ahead and say that was the best commercial of the day, and I did miss it on Sunday. That's because it aired during halftime, and I had TiVo-zipped past halftime so I wouldn't have to sit through the boring entertainment. It only occurred to me after my Monday column was live and I was half-dead in bed that I must have missed some ads too.
In the interest of journalistic professionalism I had backed up to review the Janet Jackson incident after a friend called and asked the question being asked in a million phone calls at that precise moment: "Did I just see what I thought I just saw?"
None of the other halftime ads were remarkable, though I forgot to mention Monday that I found the series of Cadillac commercials insufferably smug and pretentious. But then I suppose that's just about the right tone for Cadillac ads.
When I went back to look at the commercials I steeled myself and sat through the halftime show. Gosh, I know the MTV generation has a famously short attention span and everything, but what a pointlessly frenetic few minutes that was. Here's what whizzed across the screen: Jessica Simpson screeching something about partying, then songs by the Houston and Texas Southern marching bands, Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, Jackson again, and Jackson with Justin Timberlake. In 11 minutes.
I don't mean that short-attention-span comment as an insult, by the way. I fast-forwarded through most of the music myself, even though I like some of it.
It dawned on me that one of the reasons these big-glitz MTV-style halftime shows don't work for me is that I'm not in the mood for them in the middle of a football game, even when I like the performers. Kid Rock, Nelly and Jackson have all made records that I've liked, but when I'm watching football, I guess I'm a slightly different guy than when I'm listening to their music. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not interested in them at that point.
The good news about the frenetic pace is that the days of the hour-plus halftime seem to have passed. Sunday's intermission was 31 minutes, and it would have been 30 if not for the streaker who delayed the second-half kickoff. Fifteen minutes would be better, but I'll take 30.
For all of the millions spent on these halftime extravaganzas, no one has been able to improve on the best halftime entertainment in the world: a really fast dog chasing Frisbees.
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Extra! Excloo scooped! [PERMALINK]
In a shocking development, I got scooped on the Janet Jackson breast interview.
A very funny blogger named Bunsen had an interview with Ms. Sunburst posted before the Super Bowl even ended.
Right here is where I was going to write that a certain publicist is not going to get calls to me returned for a while, but Bunsen beat me to that joke too. OK, Bunsen: What am I thinking right ... now?
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How the experts fared [PERMALINK]
At the start of the season I collected the predictions of 26 national experts to compare their picks with mine and yours. I later added Sports Illustrated's Peter King, whom I'd forgotten to include. The criteria for inclusion: "You have to be a national commentator, you have to make preseason picks, and I have to have found those picks without too much hunting around." Never let it be said that I don't have standards.
The panel mirrored the picks of this column and its readers by collectively predicting the Titans and Buccaneers would meet in the Super Bowl. You readers thought the Titans would win that game. I took the Bucs just to disagree with you all, and the experts did the same, though presumably not for that reason.
There were too many e-mails from readers for me to go back and find the people who picked the Panthers, the Patriots or both as conference champs and the Pats as Super Bowl champs, but I assume you know who you are and you'll accept a blanket congratulations.
Among the 27 experts, not a one of 'em thought the Panthers would win the NFC, which isn't surprising, though Peter King did have them going to the conference title game. Six experts took the Patriots to win the AFC, including Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, our regular-season champ. Joe Theismann, Andrea Kramer and Randy Mueller of ESPN, Cyd Zeigler Jr. of Outsports.com and Street & Smith's Pro Football 2003 Yearbook also had the Pats winning the conference.
Banks, Mueller and Ziegler were the only ones who picked New England to win the Super Bowl. They're the champs of our little competition, and for that they're entitled to the usual prize offered by this column: dinner at my house, home cooking neither guaranteed nor implied.
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