Greg Cote

Shh! Why headlining stars of Super Bowl halftime show would rather not talk about it

Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with the third of five daily needling jabs at the self-important NFL and the oversized 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 years we remember to do it.

Maroon 5 and lead singer Adam Levine on Wednesday canceled a scheduled news conference to discuss its Super Bowl performance — the first time a halftime performer has done so. It’s pretty bad when even the halftime act wants to distance itself from the NFL.

“The artists will let their show do the talking,” said the NFL in a scrambling statement.

Future halftime acts may wish to appear onstage in disguise, like in ”The Masked Singer.” Not a bad idea for game officials, too. That way the guy who blows the next blatant, game-changing pass interference call will be anonymous in a giant papier-mache rabbit head.

The NFL spun this as a mutual decision, but a league source tells Smirk the real reason Levine, judge of “The Voice,” lost his voice to promote the show. Maroon 5 has come under fire for aligning with the league despite Colin Kaepernick suing the NFL for collusion over his apparent blackballing for instigating the anthem-kneeling social protests. Other artists — including Rihanna and Cardi B — have declined invitations to perform in support of Kaepernick. Like Levine, fellow halftime performers Big Boi (of OutKast) and Houston rapper Travis Scott also bowed out of the halftime-show press conference.

National-anthem performer Gladys Knight has even been criticized on social media for participating in the NFL’s grand finale.

(“Guess my invitation to join Gladys got lost in the mail,” said the Last Surviving Pip).

Smirk was happy to learn “Maroon 5” was a band, by the way. I thought it was a clandestine Roger Goodell initiative to separate and ostracize the league’s remaining handful of players who are still kneeling.

Speaking of Goodell, the commissioner held his annual state-of-the-NFL media session Wednesday, a 48-minute bloviation accentuating the positives despite repeated questions about the NFC Championship Game officiating gaffe that (oops) sent the Rams instead of the Saints to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots.

In New Orleans, fans are boycotting Sunday’s game and referring to Super Bowl LII as Super Bow LIE.

Goodell admitted his officiating crew blew it (“The call should have been made”), but dodged questions about repercussions or corrective measures. He also said “absolutely not” to whether he’d considered backing a replayed game.

“We understand the frustration the [Saints] fans feel right now,” said Goodell, and it was amazing. He sounded almost as convincing as the silver-spooned politician who says he feels the pain of The Working Man.

CBS analyst Tony Romo predicted a 28-24 Super Bowl final score but declined to say who would win. It was the most useless prediction since Nostradamus told us the world would end but didn’t say what year.

Pats owner Robert Kraft said he might extend the contract of Tom Brady, who’ll be 42 when next season starts. And what’s ridiculous is, that doesn’t sound ridiculous.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook is taking 442 prop bets on Sunday’s game. Smirk suggests a 443rd: An over/under of 2 1/2 on number of misspellings included in Tweets sent by President Trump during the game.

NFL Security held a media press conference Wednesday but no reporters attended,. as the event was held at a secure, unannounced location for security reasons.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank held a media availability on Wednesday despite a universal lack of demand. Reporters assigned to cover referred to it as “drawing a Blank.”

No lie, somebody was selling a Super Bowl ticket for $8.37 million on StubHub Wednesday. Aside to my Herald boss: Smirk’s next expense report may be tad high.

The ninth annual Ditka and Jaws Cigars With the Stars” party is Thursday. Other than the unhealhy haze of acrid cigar smoke and the risk of bumping into grumpy Mike Ditka or Ron Jaworski, sounds like fun.

Super Bowl officials have put out a counterfeit tickets advisory. If you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems unusually small and reads “Muvico / Mary Poppins Returns / Admit One” — it may be a fake.

Via SB Nation, headline verifying the game needs to start because we’re already straight outta things to talk about : “I Ate And Ranked Every Food Item At Super Bowl LIII.”

Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: In homage to the first-ever Super Bowl 53 years ago, surprise your party guests by showing the game on a 1966 Admiral Concord 23-inch black-and-white console TV set.

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Greg Cote is a Miami Herald sports columnist who in 2018 was named top 10 in column writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Greg also appears regularly on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews.