Oops: Super Bowl XLV Had Too Many Glitches
Super Bowls are, at times, quite interesting as big showy productions. Sometimes even the game itself is exciting, although not in the majority of Super Bowls.
But one thing has been consistent with the NFL for years. When it comes to the Super Bowl, greed is the guiding principle.
This time around, NFL voracity, Jerry Jones’ Texas-style macho and big egos were enough to nearly cause a complete fiasco. You might have thought the folks putting on Super Bowl XLV were the same people who came up with Broadway’s “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
But the game saved the day.
Had it not been for the Green Bay Packers battling the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was, after all, the real reason for Super Bowl XLV, this SB would have laid one gigantic egg.
Thanks to Aaron Rodgers and his injury-depleted Green Bay Packers teammates, along with a gallant but seriously lacking Pittsburgh Steelers squad, much of the day was saved. These prime actors in the big show provided the world with one of the best Super Bowl games in recent years as Green Bay won, 31-25.
This excellent SB game was witnessed around the world by a record television audience of 111 million people.
Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL can thank his lucky stars for such a wonderful game and the athletes involved because they helped offset the worst accumulation of snafus in Super Bowl history.
First of all, winter weather hit Dallas with a vengeance. Ice and snow hampered movement for millions of people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Flights in and out of Dallas were delayed or canceled for days prior to the game so ticket holders from all over the world were mighty frustrated.
Ice collected on the closed, sliding roof of Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium. In the process of cleaning off the roof so people would not be hurt by falling ice on Super Bowl Sunday, six workers were seriously injured when struck by large hunks of ice dropping off the high roof.
The NFL and Jerry Jones, grasping at every last chance to squeeze another few bucks out of the Super Bowl, sold $200 tickets to hundreds of people so they could stand just outside Cowboys Stadium and watch the game on gigantic television screens. Falling ice would have ruined that part of “operation greed.”
And to think the NFL has scheduled the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII for the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. This is the roofless home arena for the New York Giants and Jets. That part of Northern New Jersey was hit with one of the heaviest snowfalls in the region’s history the day after Christmas and has gone through a couple of severe winter storms since.
Also, Jones and the NFL sold $800 tickets for temporary seats that were not safe. As a result, 400 fans who spent hundreds and thousands of dollars for tickets, travel and hotel rooms just to sit in these jury-rigged seats, were told to go watch the game on TV screens in some back rooms of Cowboys Stadium. Many of these poor suckers got those tickets from scalpers, meaning they paid as much as $3,000 for one of those worthless tickets.
The NFL offered to pay these 400 folks three times the face value of the ticket ($2,400) and give them a ticket to next year’s Super Bowl at another roofed-in arena, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Snow has been falling heavily in Indiana in recent days. Good luck.
Then the NFL changed its offer last Tuesday and said those disgruntled 400 fans could have a ticket to any future Super Bowl along with travel and hotel expenses. But in that case, they would forfeit the $2,400 reimbursement for the Super Bowl XLV ticket. Actually, the avaricious NFL squeezed in 15,000 temporary seats in Cowboys Stadium and announced a near-record Super Bowl crowd of 103,219. But 1,250 of those temporaries were declared unsafe. The unlucky 400 never saw a bit of the game on the field while 850 people were reassigned to other seats. Also, many Cowboys season ticket holders who were promised decent Super Bowl seating ended up in obstructed-view seating on folding chairs.
Jerry Jones, often moved to err by his own huge ego, wanted to set a new Super Bowl attendance record come hell or high water. By forcing this issue, the NFL and Jones caused great damage to their reputations, exposed their uncontrollable greed, and created a glitch-plagued Super Bowl as Jones fell 766 short of the record Super Bowl crowd of 103,985 set at the 1980 Rose Bowl SB game.
As a result, the NFL, Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys were sued last Tuesday by a couple of disgruntled SB ticket holders for $5 million in a class action suit filed in Dallas Federal Court. The charges include fraud and breach of contract.
Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine, granddaughter of the Packers’ first president, was one of the unfortunate 400 with a ticket for an unsafe seat. She described her Cowboys Stadium experience as “a total disaster” and wrote a letter to the NFL insisting that the Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, never be allowed to host another Super Bowl.
Fox Network did not come through this beleaguered affair without egg on its face, either, in a consistently mediocre to poor coverage of Super Bowl XLV.
The network began last Sunday with 4 1/2 hours of the worst Super Bowl pregame show in memory. Fox did the usual network thing by promoting its other shows and having the likes of Michael Strahan and Maria Menounos asking inane questions of people who seemed to have no idea what a football game is all about.
Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Barack Obama came along after three horrible hours of this pregame nonsense. In keeping with the tenor of this bad lead into the Super Bowl game, O’Reilly was a blithering disgrace as he interrupted the president of the United States more than 50 times.
When it came close to kickoff we had to suffer through another outrageous insult to one of our nation’s iconic symbols when Christina Aguilera attempted to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As the world knows, she mangled it. She forgot the words. She is, according to critics, one of the best of the current pop singers. Obviously, she does not come to her work well prepared.
When will the NFL, Major League Baseball and other big-show sports organizations stop hiring pop singers to mistreat our national anthem? That mighty song of pride by Francis Scott Key should be played by a symphony orchestra or military band, or be sung by an operatic baritone such as the late Robert Merrill, who was famous for his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Whether or not you agree with a U.S. president, and whether or not you appreciate our national anthem, any American worthy of the name must treat both with respect. Fox, O’Reilly and Ms. Aguilera failed to do so and thus added to the blundering mess surrounding Super Bowl XLV.
The halftime show starred the Black Eyed Peas, who got a real black eye when the sound system in Jerry Jones’ mighty arena failed.
Madison Avenue even had potholes up and down its annual SB presentation of new TV ads. There were ads in very poor taste and just plain very poor ads. The only things that saved SB ads this year were an attacking pug, a mini Darth Vader and a three-word line that may last for some time as a ray of hope toward recovery from our current recession — “Imported from Detroit.”
Overall, it was just a bad day for the NFL and Fox, but a great day for Green Bay.
Gordon White served 43 years as a sports reporter for The New York Times. His e-mail is email@example.com.
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