That Bootleg Guy 01.28.04

We’re just a few short days from the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XXXVMxyzptlk. On February 1, 2004…40 million Americans will celebrate Groundhog’s Day Eve with enough deep fried snack treats and assorted pork products to kill the thousands of Ethiopians who will go to bed hungry tonight. As one of those soulless gluttons, how does that make me feel…?

Proud to be an American.

This year’s contest promises to be an epic affair between two of the more defense-oriented teams in the NFL. Of course, that’s pretty much media-speak to cover up the fact that the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers are the league’s equivalent to a Natural Disasters vs. Bushwhackers match.

All the pine-scented car fresheners in the world can’t cover up the obvious stank that this game promises to unleash upon our fair nation. But, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to look forward to this Sunday. In fact, one of the things that make Super Bowl Sunday so great is that there’s something for everyone.

The Game

This category only matters to the respective populace of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and North Carolina. The other 46 states and commonwealths will need to find other reasons to tune in. Hell, the game itself might be a tough sell in a New England stronghold like Connecticut, too…considering that Rebecca Lobo and Jennifer Rizzotti aren’t involved.

I think my disdain in this match-up is rooted in the fact that these teams don’t exactly bring decades of tradition to the table. New England Patriots…? I think of Steve Grogan, a man who had a neck like a giraffe and the quarterbacking skill set to match. Carolina Panthers…? Who else but Rae Carruth? The disgraced former wide receiver who was the mastermind behind the murder of his girlfriend and was found by the police…hiding in the trunk of a car in Nashville.

These Patriots feature Tom Brady at quarterback. And for those of you who doubt the power of the media…somehow, someway, this toad has become a sex symbol for every female in the Eastern Time zone. Never mind that these are the same women who swooned for 5’4″ Doug Flutie and don’t shave their legs from October to May.

Brady and the Pats haven’t lost since Roger Clemens was still an active ball player and with Rodney Harrison laying down the law on defense, there’s no reason to think that their winning streak will come to an end this Sunday.

Let’s not sell the Panthers short, however. They’ve got…nice uniforms. Oh, and Holly Robinson of 21 Jump Street fame will surely be in the stands to watch her husband and sixth-string QB Rodney Peete hold that clipboard and wear that ballcap as only he can. Quick aside: is there any other profession where clipboards are used anymore?

Seriously, Stephen Davis ran for over 1,400 yards this season and if Carolina can establish the ground game early and often, they could stay in this thing. That doesn’t mean they’re going to win (they’re not) but, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Panthers gave the Pats an early scare before New England pulls away in the second half.

Prediction: New England Patriots 24, Carolina Panthers 9

The Commercials

For the bargain basement price of two million dollars, you, too, can have your own Super Bowl ad air…unless you’re one of those lunatic fringe political groups looking to say something bad about The President. But, if you’ve got a summer movie to pimp, a new teeth-rotting soft drink to shill or a $200 cross-trainer to sell…then Super Bowl Sunday is your time to shine.

The rumored ads that are getting the most buzz are the exclusive new trailer for Spider-Man 2, an IBM spot with Muhammad Ali and a wrinkly old couple fighting over a bag of potato chips. Man, what I wouldn’t give to hear the words “Bo Knows” just one more time.

The commercials have taken on a life of their own, as they’re now overanalyzed past the point of their own effectiveness. Newspapers pull together focus groups to breakdown each ad and rank the best and the worst, as if this is supposed to tell America which spots “won” and which ones “lost”.

Quick Quiz: Name the product or brand that these recent Super Bowl Commercials represented…

1. Cola delivery guy tries to sneak a taste from the competitor…the entire display comes crashing down on him and is captured on the surveillance camera.

2. Chimpanzee promotes a popular internet trading site.

3. Passenger in a truck is choking on a piece of beef jerky…the driver speeds up, then immediately hits the brakes, forcing the dried beef from the passenger’s throat.

4. Comedian Cedric The Entertainer inadvertently sprays his girl with a bottle of beer.

5. Guy evades a bear attack by throwing honey on his friend.

The bottom line…if you spend two million bones on a commercial and no one remembers what the hell you’re selling…you’ve lost.

The Halftime Show

We’re going to keep the negativity flowing with this shocking revelation: all halftime shows suck. There’s just something about them that drains the talent out of legitimately skilled performers like Aerosmith and Mary J. Blige and turns them into shrill shells of their former selves.

This year, Janet Jackson gets center stage in an MTV produced halftime event. I’m sure she’ll be better received than her brother was 10 years ago. He silently stood at the 50-yard line for nearly two minutes during his Super Bowl performance…with his hand cupped gingerly against his shaved crotch.

Seriously.

Plus, if you’ve seen Janet live, it’s common knowledge that she’s gone down J-Lo Road and lip-synchs everything she “performs”. So, for eight minutes, we’re going to be blessed with the sounds of someone spinning a CD, a lot of bad dancing and no one paying attention to any of it. Wow…just like my wedding reception.

Everything Else

Like I said, there’s always something for everyone during the broadcast of the biggest sporting event of the year and we’ll cover those items right here…

Deion Sanders – He’s one of CBS’ pre-game analysts and he brings the unintentional comedy like no other. Try to count the number of times his fellow co-hosts try to completely ignore one of his incoherent rants.

Greg Gumbel – The play-by-play man and the only brutha still rockin’ the afro-perm in 2004.

The National Anthem РTwo minutes of Beyonc̩ on my screen = good thing.

Survivor Promos – I’ve never, ever seen the show…but they’ve apparently got some ‘tournament of champions’ like event after the game. If you like self-promoting white folk and token minorities…

Pre-Game Introductions – I’ll never understand why the networks feel the need to have live mics on the field for this. Here’s a sample of what you’ll hear from the players…”Yeah, this is our f*ckin’ house! They can’t f*ck wit’ us! Muthaf*ckin’ defense on three…one, two, three…DEFENSE!”

President Bush – C’mon…Super Bowl in Texas? Bush will be there in some capacity. Either in attendance or as part of some maudlin “tribute” to the troops.

Bonnie BernsteinNuff Said.

The Wife Beatings – I once read that Super Bowl Sunday was one of the worst days of the year for spousal battery. Which, of course, begs the question…what’s considered a good day for spousal battery?

Tug at the Heartstrings – There’s always one good human-interest story that the networks push down our throats in an effort to appeal to women. The linebacker’s junior high coach, who was like a father to him, has a cold or something…so he’s dedicating his performance to him. Oh, and make sure the kid says something like, “He would’ve wanted me to play.” I’ve already told my wife that when I die, she’s not to leave the house or have any fun for one calendar year.

So, there it is…your Super Bowl preview and my first foray into the murky waters of 411 Black. I think I could get used to this.

Aaron Cameron’s Bootleg column can be read every Friday in the Music Section. He’s an occasional contributor to 411 Black and former leader of the Irish Republican Army.