It’s Superbowl Sunday and any self-respecting, sports-loving Northwesterner should be rooting for the Seahawks when the game kicks off in a few hours. As with all sports, I’m basically a homer, but I try to be a knowledgeable homer. I’ve astonished myself by learning about one and two gap defenses, zone three pass coverages, and the meanings of “Omaha.” I’m going off to a party with friends today, something I never do, but when your home town team is in the world’s championship of American football, that’s what I should do. So I’m hoping for big days from Marshawn Lynch and the O’line to take pressure off Russell Wilson. I’m hoping from big games from the defensive front and the Legion of Boom, with Richard Sherman picking off a Peyton Manning pass and running it back for a score.
Now that I’ve made my feelings clear, the Super Bowl weeks just make me nauseous and demonstrates why football is a game for the masses. Case in point, media week. Because football is only played on the weekends, there is gobs of time between games, and for the SB weeks its gobs X 2. The teams go to the hosting cities and subject themselves to interrogation by whatever media outlet shows up with credentials and asks whatever ridiculous questions they wish. Often there is some sort of controversy that erupts during the process and that becomes the chief distraction for the media to harp on throughout the week.
This week the focus of the media’s eye wasn’t on how the Seahawks force Peyton Manning to move out of his comfort zone, or how the Denver Broncos will stop the Seahawks’ rushing game, it was on Marshawn Lynch and his performance at . . . wait for it . . . media day. Lynch stayed for as short a time as he could get away with, said as little as possible as politely as he could, and made himself scarce as quickly as possible. Or be fined by the NFL up to $100,000.
Meanwhile, the media paid little attention to Richard Sherman. He made clear that he loves talking to the press, fully enjoyed media day, and managed to avoid saying anything disparaging about Colin Kapernick or Michael Crabtree. Or Peyton Manning, the Broncos receivers, Jim Harbaugh or President Obama. No story there despite the fact that Sherman spoke from beginning to end of all three days.
See there isn’t really any media story about this football game. It’s two very good, very different football teams walking out at 3:30 to play what should be a great game. Yet, ever mindful of its public image, the NFL imposes ridiculous rules intended to protect the sensibilities of its television audience while they anticipate-before actually watching-what is essentially a blood sport. If you doubt that, just check out the injury to 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman during the NFC championship game.
Think of all the other stupid rules the NFL has in place to prevent on-field activities by player from seeming “inappropriate” to the viewing masses. No “taunting,” no “celebrations.” These are things that should be taken care of on the field. Celebrations on the field in baseball get you a high hard one. Believe me, Kam Chancellor is quite capable of taking care of excessive celebrations.
One of the sport’s problems is that it is possessed by its obligation to television. Understandable when the game is primarily a game for television, and the networks pay the league a great deal of money for the privilege, the NFL will defer to its sugar daddy’s interest. But it often seems as though football, the professional game and increasingly the college game, have prostituted themselves for the big money.
Though baseball is not immune to this charge, it has the advantage of playing every day. There isn’t the time between games to embark on this endless speculation about little of importance, essentially suffocating the on-line and print media with non-story stories. It’s ridiculous that this most important game of the year is subsumed in media-made distractions. Get rid of the second week between conference championships and the Super Bowl, and end the media circus. It serves the media, and it serves Roger Goodell, but does nothing for the players or the fans..