2003 Football Playoffs 2003 Football Playoffs

Four hours later ...

Surviving Super Bowl Sunday an exercise in patience

Posted: Sunday January 26, 2003 11:52 PM
  Don Shula "Super Bowl? You guys have already lost nine times." AP

By Stewart Mandel,

Was the volume too low at your Super Bowl party? Get stuck refilling the salsa during a key moment? Lost track of time somewhere in the second quarter?

Here now is a helpful recap of ABC's Super Bowl broadcast.

6 p.m.: First off, I apologize to anyone who was hoping this commentary would include the pregame show. Thing is, I intended to catch some of it, but my TV is programmed to automatically shut off at the first sound of Chris Berman's voice. (For Stuart Scott, it actually zaps electromagnetic shockwaves at anyone within a 10-foot radius -- very handy.)

The night begins with a segment involving highlights of Bucs and Raiders players mixed with a promo for Arnold Schwarzenegger's new Terminator movie, Rise of the Machines. I look away after a couple of seconds out of fear my head might explode.

6:05 p.m.: After a good three minutes of stand-alone shots of Raiders fans (picture your stereotypical European soccer fan, with substantially more girth and teeth), ABC's Lynn Swann asks Tampa Bay's John Lynch, "What is it like to play in the Super Bowl in your hometown?" Unfortunately, Lynch isn't quick enough to say, "I don't know, the game hasn't started yet."

6:12: OK, who decided to let Celine Dion sing God Bless America before the biggest American football game of the year? That's akin to us sending Ja Rule to perform O, Canada before a Stanley Cup game.

• King: Bucs' defense rests its case
• Banks: Bucs' Johnson validated
• Banks: No. 1 D the difference
• Donovan: Raiders too slow
• Donovan: Controversy burns Raiders
• Statitudes: Havenots can have faith
• Statitudes: By The Numbers
• Mandel: Broadcast took its time
• George: Super Bowl ads fun again

6:23: To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Dolphins' undefeated season, Don Shula conducts the coin toss. Afterward, he turns to the captains and says, "Good luck, boys. Let me know if you ever want to play a real team."

6:28: On third and 5, Brad Johnson gets nailed and throws one of the ugliest ducks in the history of passing, resulting in an interception for Charles Woodson. John Madden, morphing into Bob Uecker in Major League for a second, describes the pass as "a little short."

6:33: Sebastian Janikowski's 40-yard field goal sails through the uprights in what Al Michaels plainly calls "the first points of Super Bowl XXXVII," and what I call "the first points in Super Bowl history by a bald Polish kicker with multiple drug arrests."

6:45: There's really nothing the Osbournes won't do for a check, is there?

6:59: ABC has miked Jerry Rice on the sideline for the sole purpose of airing such exclusive, behind-the-scenes moments as Rice telling teammate Jerry Porter, "We need to score some points." Coincidentally, in case you're curious, I just turned to the guy at the computer next to me and said, "I need to write some words."

7:10: Alert the authorities; Yao Ming is acting now. Sure, he said only six words ("Can I write a check?" and "Yao?"), but it's reason enough for concern. Kazaam II can't be far behind.

7:20: It's 6-3 in the second quarter, the teams have combined for roughly 9 yards of offense and thrown 24 interceptions. I'm about to nod off when suddenly, boom -- Jennifer Garner.

7:35: We have a touchdown! Mike Alstott pounds it in from the 2. Michael Pittman should have finished it off himself on a 19-yard run two plays earlier, but, as I learned from having him on my fantasy team this year, Pittman is allergic to the end zone.

7:42: As Rich Gannon throws yet another incompletion and Tim Brown drops another pass, you can almost hear the ex-Raider coach in Madden getting angrier and angrier. I'm half-expecting to see him down on the sideline in the third quarter grabbing facemasks.

7:59: It's now a good old-fashioned beatdown, folks, 20-3. ABC shows a mic'd up Lynch telling one of the coaches, "Every play they run, we ran in practice." From his luxury box, Al Davis sees this, calls down to the sidelines and yells, "Run some new plays, dammit!"

8:02: Mercifully, it's halftime. After a quick, one-question interview, Melissa Stark tells Raiders coach Bill Callahan, "Good luck, coach." Or, as she's really thinking, "Get away from me, loser."

8:12: The halftime show has begun, and there are not enough glowing adjectives in the dictionary for me to do Shania Twain's outfit justice.

Gwen Stefani, Sting The Super Bowl halftime show has come a long way since Up With People. AP  

8:19: Ditto for Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, who not only is smokin', but actually singing! At the Super Bowl! Somewhere, the guy who booked Up With People every year of the '80s is having convulsions.

8:24: Sorry, you've lost me for the rest of halftime. Berman.

8:39: I must say, as anticlimactic as this is, I really will miss football for the next seven months. Thank god for the Winter X-games.

8:48: As Tampa Bay closes in on yet another touchdown, Madden apparently has been replaced in the booth by Bill Walton. "This is for the championship of the world, people. Where's the emotion? Where's the urgency?"

8:55: Dwight Smith returns another Gannon interception for a touchdown. It is now 34-3. I haven't been this bored since the time I tried to watch My Wife and Kids.

9:10: I must say, as anticlimactic as this is, I really will miss football for the next seven months. Thank heaven for WUSA.

9:23: Someone just nudged me to say the Raiders blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. Oh boy, 34-15.

9:47: The Raiders just won't go away, as Jerry Rice catches a 47-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 34-21 with 6:06 left. "Why didn't you do that sooner?" Madden asks. "For the love of god, our ratings are plummeting faster than Jason Alexander's career."

9:53: Oh no, he didn't?! Al Michaels just referenced one of his own famous calls -- and well before necessary when he said -- "John, I never thought I'd be dusting off 'Do you believe in miracles, but ...'" That's a double whammy.

10:02: It's the two-minute warning, and the game technically isn't over. That is, until ....

10:06: Derrick Brooks returns Gannon's fourth interception of the night for a touchdown, sealing the deal. Needless to say, the only way Gannon is going to Disney World is with a ticket.

10:13: To add insult to injury, Gannon throws a record fifth pick on the last play of the game, also returned for a touchdown. Now even Six Flags might not let him in.

10:20: It's over folks, 48-21. Lynn Swann's microphone is going in and out, but fortunately it comes back just in time for Warren Sapp to tell the world, "We got hats!"

And there you have it. All the blood and sweat, putting their bodies on the line for 20 games, it's all to get the same hats anyone can go into Champ's and buy Monday.

10:24 : That's it for me, folks. I was planning to stick around to see the leprechaun .. er, Malcom Glazer, accept the trophy, but two things got in my way: Berman and Bon Jovi.

My TV will now self-destruct.

Related information
Bucs rout Raiders to win Super Bowl XXXVII
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