All the Super Bowl hype is over-the-top

Are you as fed up as I am by the over-the-top Super Bowl hype we've been subjected to over the past two weeks? Enough already! I'm ready for some football after enduring the annual advertising blitz.

I know it costs big money to produce the Super Bowl for television, but the pre-game hype is out of control, it lasts forever, and very little of it has anything to do with football. This year's Super Bowl network, CBS, is producing a 24-hour pre-game show featuring everything from a Cirque du Soleil performance to perky news anchor Katie Couric interviewing Pittsburgh Steelers all-star wide receiver Hines Ward, a Korean-American. Does this mean that Ms. Couric, who's mired in third place in the nightly news wars, knows anything about football? No, because it's all about hype and ratings.

Among the more colorful pre-game events is the annual Playboy Super Bowl Party hosted by 80-year-old Hugh Hefner himself surrounded by a bevy of blonde babes and wearing his best silk bathrobe. By now, "Hef" is a living testimonial to Viagra, which isn't all bad since some of my friends (who shall remain nameless) swear by that miracle drug for senior playboys.

It will cost you at least $2,000 to attend Hef's party, but you can buy a Super Bowl ticket for "only" $600 or $700. Here's how Playboy describes its bacchanal: "Partygoers' sexiest dreams will come to life with after-dark surprises that include a seductive aerialist, a stargazing lounge, midnight munchies, a bedtime story area filled with pillow-fighting models, a stiletto seduction bar, and more." See what we're missing - and you thought it was about football. By the way, What's a "stiletto seduction bar?"

When the game actually begins in Miami at 3:30 p.m. today, we'll be bombarded by even more silliness, including the usual barrage of rap "music." Piano Man Billy Joel will sing the National Anthem, and the halftime show will feature the weird performer occasionally know as Prince, who may experience a Janet Jackson-type wardrobe malfunction since his sequined outfits seem to be at least two sizes too small ... or maybe not. We report; you decide.

Once the game gets under way, there'll be commercial breaks after every play. Kevin Federline, the former Mr. Britney Spears, will flip burgers for Nationwide Insurance, while "singer" Jessica Simpson will strut her considerable stuff for Pizza Hut. For us seniors, Alka Seltzer will introduce a new variation on its old "pop pop, fizz fizz" jingle. And to think that advertisers can buy a piece of this exciting action for a mere $2.6 million per minute.

"If you're trying to reach 30 million potential clients, the Super Bowl is the best way to reach them," explained one advertising guru. OK, now I understand. We're a captive audience. We tune in to see a championship football game, and they assault us with nonstop advertising. Unsurprisingly, the biggest Super Bowl advertiser is brewery giant Anheuser-Busch, which will once again promote the dubious notion that things like dating and romance actually go better with Bud. I like the Budweiser horses, but screaming drunks don't do much for me. It must be a generational thing.

Now, if you think the 24-hour CBS pre-game show is a bit excessive, you should know that the new NFL Network is producing a 65-hour pre-game show to compete with CBS and the 90 hours of pre-game programming on ESPN. Not to be outdone, Fox Sports will treat us to "Florida's hottest models jumping into vats of goop." I can hardly wait.

Back on CBS, guests on this morning's "Face the Nation" political interview show will include Super Bowl broadcasters Dan Marino, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, who may, according to USA Today, tell host Bob Schieffer "whether they'll form presidential exploratory committees."

They don't have a chance, however, not with Dennis Kucinich in the race for the White House. But if Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning decides to run for president, it's a different story.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the game itself. Manning's high-scoring Colts will play the defensive-minded Chicago Bears - the "Monsters of the Midway" - in what should be a pretty good ballgame, if CBS takes the camera off Katie long enough to show us the actual game down on the field.

I expect the long-suffering Manning to win the "big one" and pick up his first Super Bowl ring in his ninth year in the league. Let's call it Colts 31, Bears 21.

One interesting and encouraging Super Bowl 41 sidebar is the presence of two out- standing African-American coaches, Tony Dungy of the Colts and Lovie Smith of the Bears. Although race shouldn't matter, it does because while most NFL players are black, most of their coaches are white. So this game represents a step forward in race relations and professional sports, which is a good thing. Enjoy! I know I will.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a lifelong sports fan who wants to be a Seattle Rainier when he grows up, if he ever does.


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