Super Bowl XLVIII (Euro edition)
The Super Bowl takes place way too late on a school night for all but the most ardent fans on this side of the pond. This is not to say that there are no such fans over here. The Germans and British both had full coverage, with the British channel Film4 having gotten Terrel Davis and Mike Carlson to assist the Scottish announcer Colin Murray, who started off slowly but got steadily more hilarious as the game unfolded into a slaughter of Denver by Seattle. There were plenty of people willing to stay up until 04:30 in the morning to watch the Super Bowl. It might be nice if the NFL moved it to the afternoon so that more of us could watch it live. I recorded it and watched it on 23-hour delay.
The first snap set the tone for the Broncos. It sailed into the end zone and gave Seattle a safety in the first twelve seconds. Two interceptions and a fumble rounded out the first half. The second half opened with a Seattle kickoff return for a touchdown—again, within twelve seconds. Denver’s defense was ardent in the first half, but forgot how to tackle in the second, two times in utterly embarrassing ways that led to two touchdowns. Maybe they grew disappointed that Manning kept throwing the ball to the other team or that when he miraculously managed to get the ball to a teammate, he fumbled it. Demaryius Thomas certainly gave his all—-his was the only Denver name we heard in a positive light.
At every intermission , the coverage switched back to the booth to let the Scot lambaste Terrell Davis (former Bronco), who took the ribbing good-naturedly. Midway through the third quarter after the latest fumble by the Broncos, Terrell admitted that “there might be no saving this one” to which Murray replied that “Terrell was probably the last person watching the game to admit that”. Later, Davis was forced to admit that Denver was “being taken out to the woodshed”. At the end of the third, Murray glances sidelong at Davis and allows that it was nice that Denver “would not be the first team to be shut out in a Super Bowl” to which Davis could only reply that that was “something positive…good news…I guess”. And when it came time to start thinking about the game MVP, people were encouraged to consider “any number of players on the Seattle Seahawks”.
The British announcers only showed up during pauses in the game—of which there were enough; the in-game announcers are the same as from the video feed from the States (Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, I think?). The guys in Britain had some good analysis, saying the Aikin’s claim that Manning’s legacy is not damaged by this pummeling but, had he won, it would have been reinforced. Davis responded that “you can’t have it both ways like that” and Murry pointed out that this game just “underlines Manning’s post-season question marks”, which I found to be relatively trenchant and spot-on analysis.
I’d heard from a few people that the game was boring but I have a feeling that they were Broncos fans. Because, objectively, the game was pretty interesting for Seahawks fans and the unaffiliated. Seattle was really firing on all cylinders defensively and offensively. They were fun to watch, by all rights. Sure, it was a blowout (or a “washout” as the Brits kept calling it) but the action was pretty good, for a football game.
The other advantage we have on this side of the pond is that there were very few breaks in the first half and almost none whatsoever in the second. That alone made the experience much more enjoyable. This is similar to the way that Olympics coverage will likely be relatively unadorned by commercials whereas it is almost certain that NBC will ruin the Olympics as usual. This, even more than what will probably be near-constant references ot the US quick-exit plane on standby—because of supposed terrorist threats—or having moved US military presence into the Black Sea, because of same.
And speaking of military presence, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Super Bowl coverage started with a few shots of troops in Afghanistan (because that has anything to do with football?) and the national Anthem ended not only with the by-now obligatory Blue Angels flyover but also a medley of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters hovering over the stadium, a move that must have engendered its share of flashbacks and PTSD horrors in many veterans. But the militarism stopped there, presumably because of the aforementioned lack of US advertising during the game. In previous years, there were nearly incessant ads for various branches of the US military or for movies bought and paid for by the Pentagon, like, say, Act of Valor.
To end on a positive note, the half-time show was not as bad as previous years and Bruno Mars was not as terrible as I expected. I thought the red Hot Chili Peppers were decent, especially for a half-time show. Kudos to Keidis and Flea for going out in the NJ cold shirtless.
The game ended in washout, with the final 10 minutes dribbling by scoreless, which comes as no surprise to anyone, with Denver having all but given up and Seattle just grinding out the clock, forcing another fumble—this time directly from Manning—but otherwise not doing much else of note. Other than being a stone wall to Denver. It was nice to see an outcome that went totally against predictions.