CHARLESTON, S.C., Feb. 3, 2016 — While political junkies focus on South Carolina because of the race for the White House, the Carolinas are also ground zero for those who love football. The Carolina Panthers, led by phenom Cam Newton, are taking on the Denver Broncos in what may be Peyton Manning’s last rodeo. Super Bowl 50 features two teams with defenses that hit hard. This is what football is supposed to be about.
Long before the very first Super Bowl, grown men named Vince Lombardi and George Halas growled and scowled on NFL sidelines. During the Super Bowl era, these men were joined by legends Chuck Noll, Don Shula, John Madden and Tom Landry.
The players were just as tough. From Dick “Night Train” Lane to Deacon Jones to Chuck Bednarik to Ray Nitschke to Dick Butkus to Mean Joe Greene to Jack Tatum, only the strongest and toughest men played the game of football.
Even in the 1980s, the alpha male ethos still had legs. Bill Parcells told a player complaining about a minor ailment, “Don’t tell me about the pain, just deliver the damn baby!” Mike Singletary could scare opposing players with his eyes before the opposing quarterback even snapped the ball.
The National Football League was the one place alpha males could go to avoid the global metrosexualization of God’s creation Adam. The beta male sensitivity movement that began with Phil Donahue in the 1970s had yet to infect football.
Now, the last refuge for real men is dying. The National Football League decided that the Super Bowl had to be more than the world’s greatest sporting event. It had to be an entertainment event, as if football itself were not entertaining enough.
Those who watch football every week know how phenomenal football is. In the last few days alone, leatherheads were treated to an overtime classic in the Denver snow, the Hail Mary Motor City Miracle, and a psychotically entertaining game that ended on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.Shakespeare said “The play’s the thing.” Even Shakespeare never got to see the beauty that is football. Football does not need outside entertainment. Unfortunately, the NFL is still convinced that it should cater to people who watch football only one day a year. These people attend Super Bowl parties, babble during the game, demand silence during the commercials and are the reason we have the abomination known as the halftime show.
The NFL wants to have it both ways. It wants to have an entertainment spectacle during halftime, but it does not want to take any risks. After Janet Jackson had her wardrobe malfunction in 2004, the NFL demanded that all performances be safe, non-controversial and inoffensive. The blander, the better.
For Super Bowl 50, the NFL went ultra-bland by selecting Coldplay as the halftime act. This has to be the worst decision since their hiring of Katy Perry one year earlier. Coldplay is the epitome of blandness. Their music stands for nothing. It is the perfect tonic for jelly-kneed women and effete men. Football is guys beating the daylights out of each other. Coldplay is the perfect safe space for college millennials afraid of ever hearing a tough word. Perhaps Coldplay will bring children on stage dressed as puppies and kittens who will then hug each other. Maybe Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and his bandmates can perform their entire set while dressed up in their Snuggies. Gwyneth Paltrow can then come on stage with one child from each nation and sing an updated version of “We are the world.”
Coldplay has sold millions of albums that cater to its demographic, people who like something slightly more passionate than elevator music but with zero percent of the rebellion found in hard rock. Even by bubble gum pop standards, Coldplay is dangerous for diabetics. There is only so much sugar and sweet, syrupy saccharine a real man can take.
Anyone who has ever played football knows what type of music is played before the game starts. ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” is more popular than the lyrics to “Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, and everything that’s wonderful” for a reason. This is football.
People remember the Janet Jackson debacle when they should remember one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. Last year’s Super Bowl did not need Katy Perry. The real excitement was both teams in the final minute separated by one yard.
Forget Coldplay. Cancel the entire halftime show. Permanently get rid of it. Stop catering to people who do not appreciate football and are a nuisance to those who love it just the way it is and always has been.
During the halftime intermission, show the greatest plays in NFL history. Show the Immaculate Reception, the Sea of Hands and the tackle. Show the coaches, players and contributors who made the game what it is today. For those needing to see dancing as entertainment, show Billy “White Shoes” Johnson doing his funky chicken touchdown end zone dance.
Forget Coldplay. Show the ultimate cold play. Show the final touchdown in the Ice Bowl. Show that before metrosexuals decided that the Super Bowl had to be played indoors, real football was played in ice and snow with a field that was a block of granite. Show video clips of Lombardi and Halas yelling on the sideline. Any NFL Films documentary narrated by “the voice of God” John Facenda would do just fine.
The NFL does not need to cater to non-fans. It should introduce its real product to people just the way it is and gain new lifelong fans that way.
They can bring in Coldplay. For Super Bowl 51 they can bring in Teletubbies or Minions.
A better approach would be to make the Super Bowl about football, and only about football.