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DEAR JON LETTERS
Sort 416: Super Bowl Review
And its commercials too

by Dear Jon
February 9, 2010

How about them Detroit Lions?

For decades fans of this historic franchise were able to console themselves with the knowledge, "At least we are not the New Orleans Saints."

But now the Saints join the 18-team caste of Super Bowl winners, a group that does not include the following 14 teams: Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Tennesse Titans, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns (new franchise), Cincinatti Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, and the Detroit Lions.

Of particular distinction for the Detroit Lions is that they are the only historic NFL franchise not to make an appearance in the Super Bowl. By contrast the Philadelphia Eagles have appeared twice. In fact there are only four teams never to have appeared: The Houston Texans which is the league's newest team, the Cleveland Browns which inherit an historic franchise logo but which are actually an expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars which have only been around since the 1990's, and the Detroit Lions.

It's kind of like being a fan of the Chicago Cubs, only worse because it's football.

Super Bowl 44 was a tight and tense game which the Saints were still able to win with style points and a two-possession advantage. Sean Payton is the toast of the league for his gutsy coaching. I was a vocal critic of his choice to go for it on fourth down from near the goal line towards the end of the first half, but if I cannot get inside his head I can at least bow to genius. If he kicks the field-goal he gives Manning the ball back with time for a two-minute drill. If not they get the touch-down so the worst Manning can do is cancel it out. If the Saints are stopped, they have the Colts pinned deep. On a three-and-out they get the ball back with time to try a field-goal anyway. That is how it turned out. Brilliant.

It did not look like this was going to be New Orleans' day, with the Colts dominating the first quarter with two possessions for two scores, including a 96-yard touchdown drive. But if Coach Payton's going for it at the goal line and failing was enough to enter Super Bowl lore, the onside kick to begin the second half is elevated to one of the all-time great Super Bowl plays.

Might as well kick it onside, since four of the other greatest plays ever are kick-off returns for touchdowns: The Packers in January 1997, the Bears in January 2007, and the Giants and Ravens with back-to-back kick returns in what is the greatest sequence of plays ever in football--three straight plays, three touchdowns (it started with an interception taken all the way) in January 2001.

For all of the offense and special-teams tricks, it still came down to a great read on defense, and a break on the ball by a defensive back named Porter, who marched it in with all the Saints and their fans in that number. I am reminded of the Rams Super Bowl win 10 years earlier, when the greatest show on turf won the Super Bowl because of a tackle made by a line-backer.

It is refreshing when Super Bowls upstage their commercials, and on the whole I thought the game was better than the commercials and the half-time show. Not that The Who embarrassed themselves or anything like that. It is just that we have gotten a lot of old guys rocking out their dusty hits in recent Super Bowls. Do you think the NFL might line up someone younger than Mick Jagger next year?

Now to the commercials: The Betty White commercial for Snickers was great. The Budweiser commercials got better as the game went along, and that had nothing to do with the amount consumed since I was at a "dry" Super Bowl party (which I hosted). I liked the Doritos commercials on the whole, with the best one being the crazy guy at the gym. My biggest laugh was for the ad comparing down-load speeds, with two guys facing a sumo wrestler and trying to find on-line the phrase in Japanese for "I surrender." 

Sumo wrestlers are, of course, men in their underwear, and we saw a lot of that this Super Bowl. To be fair, one sleep-walking guy was in boxer pajamas, and some other guys were in swimming trucks. The commercial for Dockers was just stupid. I thought the "casual day at work" commercial for Career-Builders was good but over the line, however I respect them for showing real women in their underwear rather than the model-perfect tramps that a few tasteless commercials featured. Did Motorola really need to advertise internet pornography? GoDaddy has always been just stupid in an inanely chauvinistic way.

Note to self: Tell my young daughter that she can be anything she wants in life including a race-car driver; pray that another female racer comes along that is a lot more of a role model than Danica Patrick.

The Bridgestone tires commercial which abandoned a "wife" was completely tasteless. The old joke it refers to was never all that funny to begin with. On the whole, that one might have been the worst commercial of them all.

I have not seen my favorite commercial make any of the other favorites list that I have seen. It is not the "spineless man, get him a hand-held t.v." commercial. Puh-lease. That has made some favorites lists and as far as I am concerned it misses the mark in a big way. I, as Dear Jon, absolutely positively rate the Dodge Charger commercial as number one. That is the one commercial that nailed the whole gender gap perfectly, did it tastefully (i.e. without dumb dudes in underwear or hussies in lingerie), and delivered the punch-line: "Because I do these things, that is why I get to drive."

Advertisers: Get the clue.  A man in his underwear feels ridiculous because he has already been told a thousand times that he looks ridiculous. A man who shuffles around watching a palm-sized t.v. feels either pathetic because he is clutching another gadget like a toddler's security blanket, or like a zombie hypnotized by too much information, or like a "Star Trek" Borg hooked into the collective without any personality at all. You want to take the spine out of a man? Give him a t.v.!

Because I put down the toilet seat and because I put my underwear in the hamper, I am not spineless. I get to drive. Get it? And by the way, I happen to drive a Dodge. It's not a Charger but now I really wish it was.

I hope you advertisers wake up and get wise. If not, let me cheer you up with a Coke. I've got the next round for any fans of the Detroit Lions that are left.




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