That left ABC with 166 minutes to fill. Here's how the network filled a good chunk of that time:
Blimp-cam: 13 shots totaling three minutes. 57 seconds.
Replays of the evening's TD: six of them, totaling 55.0 seconds.
Close-ups of coaches. Parcells got six minutes, 38 seconds to 49er coach George Seifert's three minutes even. Seifert, a stoic, is not as telegenic as Parcells, whose expressions ranged from worried to disgusted to nauseated. With his team facing fourth-and-goal from the nine in the fourth quarter, Parcells looked as if he had just sampled some new carp-flavored variety of Ultra Slim-fast.
The imbroglio between Simms and Niner safety Ronnie Lott: 67 seconds. The two had words toward the end of the fourth quarter, and again after the game. Replays showed that when they began jawing, Simms buttoned his chin strap, proving again that he is one of the league's smartest quarterbacks.
The odd commercial: I counted 99, which gave the telecast an 11-to-9 play-to-plug ratio. Of these 42 minutes and 36 seconds of ads, ABC was its own best customer with 27 pleas—totaling five minutes, 42 seconds—to tune into its various programs. ABCs self-promotions ranged from seven reminders to watch next Monday night's game, to one pitch apiece for Sunday night's Columbo Goes to College and that night's Night-line, which promised to hurl its investigative machinery into a discussion of the burning issue of Madonna's racy new skin flick/music video, Justify My Love.
It would have been more interesting to hear ad execs justifying their selection of actors for the telecast's 10-plus minutes of car commercials. The ads—for Cadillac, Dodge, Ford, Nissan, Pontiac and Toyota—featured a total of 33 drivers and spokespersons, exactly four of whom were black, and two of them played a married couple in one commercial, for Dodge.
Or to hear the creators of the lour beer spots explain why they chose to depict beer as being a ticket to some fantasy dimension where snow falls during summer, taut-fleshed young people shoot come-hither looks your way, and nobody arrives late to work with a hangover. The one that spoke to me, the one that got up in my face, Lott-like, was Bud Dry's. It posed a series of rhetorical questions, only to answer them with the anti-intellectual dictum "Why ask why?" I started wondering what I was doing—and why—sitting up until midnight, right thumb aching from clicking the damned stopwatch, watching Anderson run off tackle for the umpteenth time. Why ask why? The answer came later, when I found out how much football one gets for one's three-hour investment. I now know what to do next time: chuck the stopwatch and curl up with a good book.