Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year with a daily jab and needle at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald in years we remember to do it.
You probably know “Media Day” is the axis of SB excess, when thousands of reporters swarm upon both teams asking the same ol’ questions eliciting the same ol’ perfunctory answers. I mean, how many times can Peyton Manning insist he hasn’t decided if Sunday will be his last game even though he probably has?
Many “reporters” are clowns dressed as superheroes, turning it into an increasingly inane spectacle that probably should quietly be done away with.
So what does the NFL do instead? It rechristens Media Day as “Super Bowl Opening Night” and puts it on primetime TV!
It was held Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose (the arena where the Sharks play hockey), and broadcast live on NFL Network.
We immediately were reminded how lackluster this matchup is relative to last year, when we had the New England Deflatriots, the polarizing Belichick and Brady, the cartoonish Gronk and the comically recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch.
Some 7,000 fans paid up to $30 to sit in the stands Monday and watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos say as little as possible in their first interviews since arriving Sunday, reminding Smirk of that famous quote attributed to P.T. Barnum about there being 7,000 suckers born every minute.
▪ Sunday the Broncos arrived at San Jose International Airport just head of the Panthers. It is expected to be the last time all week Denver beats Carolina at anything.
▪ Wait. Denver did lead briefly in field logos. Workers at Levi’s Stadium painted the Broncos logo in both end zones before correcting their mistake.
▪ The NFL erected 1,600-pound statues at 10 Bay Area landmarks, but pranksters keep knocking them over or rearranging the letters in SUPER BOWL 50 to spell things like ‘SUP BRO 50’ and ‘UP R BOWEL.’ Smirk has not yet been caught.
▪ Super Bowl TV commercials will cost a record $5 million per 30 seconds this year, and every one of them will star Alec Baldwin or a donkey in a straw hat. Actually my favorite is a Honda ad in which sheep sing Queen’s Somebody To Love. Sheep: the perfect metaphor for gullible consumers swayed by cute TV commercials.
▪ The five-star Fairmont hotel in San Francisco is offering a $1 million party package that includes 22 tickets to the game and a four-night stay for six in a 6,000-square-foot penthouse. Smirk will be checking in Thursday.
▪ Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.
▪ EA Sports’ Madden video game is 9-3 on predicting SB winners, including an exact score one year. Now Madden ’16 has it Panthers, 24-20. With the outcome settled, the NFL on Monday quietly canceled Sunday’s game.
▪ The 1972 Dolphins had a rough week. Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season Fins only the ninth-best Super Bowl winner; the team lost in the round of 16 in a CBS Sports/Strat-O-Matic simulation; and only one Perfecto (Jake Scott) made the all-time Super Bowl Golden Team. Don Shula’s looking for somebody to punch.
▪ NFL security is tight throughout the Bay Area all week as league officials attempt to crack down on counterfeit merchandise and screenings of Concussion.
▪ Sirius XM satellite radio will offer 10 broadcasts of Sunday’s game in eight languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, an old crone standing before a simmering pot of goulash ponders whether the Broncos will deploy a “spy” defender to shadow Cam Newton.
Read Greg Cote’s blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.