Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Whodathunkit?! The Three Best Things You Want To Know About This Years' Super Bowl (Super Bowl 2010!)

You know what one of the most impressive things about the NFL is, to me?

They can get closed-captioners to do what they want.

There are organizations that you assume have some power -- Wal-Mart, the people who make Zhu Zhu pets -- and then there are organizations that really have power, like the NFL. They don't go around showing how much power they have all the time, not in an obvious way. (Unless you count "suing everyone in sight about everything imaginable" as an obvious way of "showing how much power they have" but I don't count that, because I don't want to get sued by the NFL.) No, the NFL is so powerful that it doesn't need to advertise its power, and it does not need to make blatant attempts to mis-use its power, by, say, using its position as a newly-elected famous Senator to get its daughter a record deal.

Here's a question for you: Let's say you are a newly-elected Massachusetts Senator whose election was so improbable that it made national news and propelled you into the national spotlight, inviting comparisons to another newly elected Senator whose own election from a high-profile state had shortly thereafter springboarded him to higher office. Would you, if you were in that position:

(A) Try to live up to the hype by learning as much about national issues as you could so that you could 'hit the ground running,' or

(B) Use your national position to really push those issues you think are important and 'set the agenda' for a big political year for your party, or

(C) Immediately blow what little credibility you actually had by making your first official act be an attempt to use your office for personal gain by attempting to intimidate American Idol into having your daughter come back on?

If you're Scott Brown, the choice is obvious: Opt for (D), which is the secret hidden correct answer and which is "Use the office for personal gain through American Idol," and also pimp out my daughters and make jokes about how they might be whores."

Here's Scott Brown's idea of an appropriate joke:

But he made it up to Ayla by this past weekend telling Barbara Walters that his daughter's not a whore; instead, she's a disappointed American Idol contestant who would have won but she had never even worn make-up before, so she definitely deserves another chance or maybe the Senate will be investigating Fox a little more closely, if you get my drift.

The NFL does not need to pimp out its 17-year-olds or use its office for personal gain. It's already powerful enough, as I said, to get what it wants, as evidenced by the fact that this past week, I was watching TV while jogging on the treadmill at my health club, and the TV was set to a channel where the people on it mentioned something about the Super Bowl. I don't listen to the TV; I listen to music while I work out, so I had the closed captioning on, and when the captions got to the part of the Super Bowl, they read:

Super Bowl XLIV.

Keep in mind that closed captioning doesn't always spell Obama right -- I've seen it Oh Bamma -- but they used Roman numerals (the NFL's Numeral Of Choice, and the subject of a lawsuit the NFL once filed against Romans, trying to get the numerals called NFL Numerals) to number this Super Bowl.

That's power: Even if you're deaf, or listening to Karen O's All Is Love while you jog:

You'll know it's Super Bowl XLIV, and not Super Bowl 44. Or forty-four. Or Oh-Bamma.

The NFL wants to make sure that people get it right because the Super Bowl is big -- annually, more articles and television news stories are written about the Super Bowl than the next top 10 entertainment and sports stories combined, according to the website "Statistics That Sound About Right".

Don't go look for that site. I just made it up. But that would be an awesome site, wouldn't it? I call dibs.

So the NFL can't just leave things up to chance; they've got to ensure that their army of goons... I mean entertainment lawyers ... keep on top of things and control the message and stay focused and present the best possible story and do all those other things that somehow have completely eluded the Obama administration's capabilities so far, all to make sure that the NFL rakes in billions and billions of dollars... I mean presents you with a quality football game.

Unfortunately for the NFL, I'm not part of their media machine. Not for lack of trying; I'd love to be part of the NFL's media machine, making tons of money while sitting in Miami talking to Joe Montana about whether it's the catch or the throw, as Dan Patrick gets to do this week. Who wouldn't rather be doing that, instead of what I'm doing, which is sitting in my cold office, listening to Karen O's soundtrack for Where The Wild Things Are and getting ready to drive to Merrill, Wisconsin to argue about mortgages?

Not that this

Is bad, but it's no Miami-Plus-Joe-Montana, is what I'm saying.

Because I'm not part of the NFL's conglomerate, though, I am free to present to you the only article about the Super Bowl that's not sanctioned by The Man, that doesn't toe the NFL's corporate line, that doesn't just rehash all the tired press releases that Roger Goodell forces down the throats of those drones and lackeys who call themselves real sportswriters.

I don't do that, because I don't get paid by the NFL to do that.

By the way, Sweetie thinks Roger Goodell is hunky, but I don't see it:

Instead of meekly parroting back the NFL's tired stories like all the other "sports" guys do, I go out on a limb annually and present to you:

Whodathunkit?! The Three Best Things You Want To Know About This Years' Super Bowl (Super Bowl 2010!)

And you can tell I'm not afraid of the NFL, or beholden to them, because I don't use Roman (NFL) Numerals. I call the Super Bowl what I want, dang it!

(NFL, I'm sorry. Please don't sue me. I don't want to end up crying and destitute like the 72-year-old woman sued by the Redskins for not buying season tickets:

Pat Hill: Grandmother, real estate agent, and
deadbeat season ticket holder.

Daniel Snyder: Redskins owner,
billionaire, and the man who decided
to sue Pat Hill. Also, according
to insider knowledge I just made up,
Snyder asked the judge if he
could "eat her heart while
it's still warm.

But enough of this talk of lawsuits and billionaires eating people's hearts! It's time to get to the point of this post, which is those Three Best Things You Want To Know About This Years' Super Bowl (Super Bowl 2010!). Here they are:

After all this time, nobody knows what the stadium is actually called. Where is Super Bowl 2010 going to actually be played? Who knows? Not the NFL, which says it's going to be played at Dolphins Stadium. Trouble is, "Dolphins Stadium" doesn't exist. It's called Sun Life Stadium now, and like everything else in creation, Sun Life Stadium has its own website. Which also doesn't know what the stadium is called. Witness this very first line from the "History" page of Sun Life Stadium:

Entering its 22nd year of operation, Land Shark Stadium, originally known as Joe Robbie Stadium, was the first of its kind to be constructed entirely with private funds

So, on a page labeled "Sun Life Stadium..."

...the stadium is called something else.

The confusion is understandable: Call-It-What-You-Want Stadium has been, in its time, called "Joe Robbie Stadium," "Pro Player Stadium," then "Dolphins Stadium," then finally it was called Land Shark Stadium to celebrate a partnership with Jimmy Buffett, who not only still exists but who also is the secret force behind this Super Bowl, apparently, given that last week he had dinner with Saints' coach Sean Payton and now he's responsible for renaming the stadium the game is held at.

Don't be surprised to see Jimmy Buffett filling in for injured Dwight Freeney in the second quarter.

I'm not sure how much Jimmy Buffett, or Sun Life, or any other company or person paid to name the stadium whatever it's called this minute, but I suspect whatever it was, they overpaid. An article in the Journal Of Sports Economics (we all subscribe to that, right?) suggests that there's a 1.65% rate of return on the investment... for three days, beginning with the day before the official announcement of the naming rights being bought.

You may be thinking to yourself: How can there be a return on an investment before that investment is announced? Wouldn't that hint that insiders are secretly spreading the word that MegaCorporation has just bought naming rights, and doesn't that mean insider trading, and isn't that illegal?

If you did think that, though, then you're part of the old world where investing and banking was regulated. In the new world, regulators date lobbyists, and Senator-elects get their daughters onto American Idol.

Amongst other legislative priorities.

The bottom line of that article -- the article I mentioned before all the nudity, remember? -- includes several startling conclusions, and by "startling" I mean "not at all startling if you remember that business executives have shoe polish for brains." Those conclusions include:

"marketing executives acknowledge that they have no way to measure the value of naming rights to the firm..."

"companies that own naming rights saw their stock values decline more than twice the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2002..."

"our main finding is that naming rights offer no economic value."

Whew! No wonder Sun Life doesn't want their name on it. The study also includes a table showing that of 12 companies who bought naming rights prior to the study, all twelve had run into financial trouble, including 10 of the 12 filing for bankruptcy. But to be fair, it probably wasn't the naming rights that drove them into ruin; it was the fact that they were run by morons.

I'm sure things will go better for
YOUR company, Jimmy.

Did you ever wonder if there truly is a "stadium naming curse?" You probably did now, and, having now wondered that, consider this: The Dolphins were 9-7 in 2005. In 2006, the stadium was renamed "Dolphins Stadium" and they went 6-10. In 2007, renovation of "Dolphins Stadium" was complete and the new stadium was unveiled to the world. The Dolphins went 1-15 that year.

If they'd kept the name, the odds are that the Dolphins would have ceased to exist as a legitimate football playing operation (you know, the way the Buffalo Bills have). Luckily, in 2008, a new guy bought 95% of the Dolphins, and in 2009 the stadium was renamed. The Dolphins went 11-5 in 2008 and 7-9 in 2009, winning as many games in 2009 alone as they did the entire time the stadium was named after them.

Are naming rights truly overrated? If you want to find that out, don't look at some study published by academics. Just take anecdotal evidence, which worked just fine for Ronald Reagan. To do that, you only need to look at the Detroit Tigers, who are a terrible baseball team playing in a city that is so bad off that it is used as a stand-in for the Katrina-destroyed New Orleans in movies. The Tigers, not long ago, lost their own corporate naming rights' sponsor, Comerica. Instead of selling new rights over the fountain at the park, the Tigers donated the spot to the Big 3 automakers. The result -- an outpouring of support by the community and a pretty good year for the Tigers.

What Would YOU Do For Super Bowl Tickets? Remember the lady who tried to trade sex for World Series tickets? Didn't you kind of think her real crime was in making her offer too explicit? What if she'd told those cops, "Look, I just want to go to the World Series, have a beer or two, and, by the way, my friends say I'm really trampy?" What crime would be committed then? If it's no crime to decide to sleep with someone after the date, why is it a crime to let them know up front how the date will end up?

Or is it a question of how subtle she was in letting them know? There are are other ways of advertising the same message, the message that if you take that person out, you'll be getting some:

Last week, this read "Sun Life Stadium."

Anyway, because of that crack police work by Philly cops who apparently think the biggest threat to their city is sleazy Phillies phans...

Book 'em, Danno!

... the world is safe for people who don't want other people to trade sex for tickets. Instead, enterprising Craigslisters are playing on guilt and other emotions to get their tickets. (No, sex is not an emotion.)

Like this guy who wants to take his wife to the game for their 15th anniversary. That's sweet, right? Oh, and also, he's a policeman! So, you know, you kind of owe him your tickets, 'cause of 9/11 and all. But just because he's a cop with a wife doesn't mean he needs a bunch of spam from you. Or, as he says: "I don't want spam or fraud so keep that shit to yourself."

Too bad you other posters didn't think to tell people not to defraud you. Caveat poster!

That guy is almost trumped by the fellow who wants to take his dad to the big game, and feels compelled to tell you that and reassure you that the tickets are not to resell. He even plays on your sympathy by noting he'll trade you his start/finish line Daytona 500 tickets, and pleads: "I hope that everything on C/L is not a scam." Expressing that hope makes it so, I'm sure. (But he didn't warn you not to fraud him, so feel free to at least try.)

Haven't started on your resolution to get in shape for the New Year? Why not trade those practically-worthless Super Bowl tickets for some fitness equipment? This guy owns a bunch of fitness stores -- but can't afford to buy his own tickets, so he'll trade you a Jumpoline for yours.

Those were all from the South Florida Craigslist. Things get weirder if you go elsewhere. This chef will trade his cooking services on Super Bowl Sunday, and says he's "looking to trade my time for anything of value." I know lots of movies that start out that way. Movies I'm not supposed to have watched.

I'm especially not to have watched
them at work.

In New York, you can trade your tickets for a Blonde Ibanez... but don't get excited, it's just a guitar of some sort. Also, in New York, we're back to guilt and emotion:

Looking to turn misery into something happy. Looking to trade a Diamond Engagement ring with platinum setting for 2 Super Bowl tickets. Ring is appraised for $13,000. Willing to meet at any jeweler for exchange if trader wants ring verified. Email me for more details/questions.

Maybe if she'd stayed with the guy who could afford to buy her a $13,000 engagement ring, she'd have been able to get him to buy some tickets to the game, too?

TV Saves The Day, As Usual: The NFL may want to crack down on realtors, as well as on churches that want to show the game, but it certainly has no problem with convicted drug offenders referencing its work. Home Improvement is among the many TV shows that have made references to the Super Bowl or built episodes around the game. In Super Bowl Fever, hijinks no doubt ensued when Tim Allen invited friends over to watch the game... but Jill got the flu! Here's a sample exchange:

Tim (about his Super Bowl party): I've been planning this for a long time, it's a tradition, honey.

Jill: You've never had one before.

Tim: Well, traditions start someplace.

Everybody Loves Raymond went to the Super Bowl, too, when Ray took Gianni to the Super Bowl, but then felt bad about not bringing Debra, so he ends up [SPOILER ALERT!][REALLY?][YEAH, SOME PEOPLE MIGHT NOT HAVE SEEN THIS YET AND MAY CARE][WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE, EXACTLY?][I DON'T KNOW, MY DAD, MAYBE?][OKAY. CARRY ON.] inviting Debra down, and then tearing up his tickets to the game just to show how much he loves her.

Debra then goes on to place an ad trying to trade her engagement ring, and maybe some cooking, for Super Bowl tickets.

Not offered: Exercise equipment.

Charlie Brown went to the Super Bowl, and the NFL had no problem with it. Just like the NFL had no problem with The Girls Next Door airing an episode in which Hef and the girls hosted a Super Bowl party in Arizona.

Why does the NFL let TV get away with so much, when grandmothers, churches, and other so-called innocents are sued into submission for merely mentioning the Super Bowl? Maybe it's because TV has saved the day for the NFL, as shown in the movie Two-Minute Warning. In that movie, which might just be a documentary, a sniper who hopes to shoot fans at the Super Bowl is revealed on television by the Goodyear Blimp camera, leaving the SWAT team -- headed by Charlton Heston -- not much time to try to take him out before he can wreck everyone's day.

[SPOILER ALERT! FOR REAL THIS TIME] They fail. (So I guess TV didn't save the day, after all. But it did show us how cops and the NFL failed to save the day, which is worthwhile.)

That wasn't, by the way, Heston's only brush with Super Bowl fame: He also, as it turns out, played "Cat" Catlan, a quarterback who had previously led his team to the Super Bowl, but now, at age 40, ignores a tempting job offer (executive at an auto-leasing company! Sweet!) and comes back to try one more run for glory with his old team.

That team? The Saints. So after Jimmy Buffet lines up for the Colts, expect to see this as a surprise late fourth-quarter play:

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