February 07, 2005
John Molori's Media Blitz
BY: John Molori
- Fox hole
Super Bowl filled with jabs, jeers, joy and jiggle.
Jacksonville, FL -- Super Bowl Sunday had its usual dose of hype, hope and happiness, with a few horrors thrown in for good measure.
Fox’s pregame offerings outclassed their game broadcast team. Howie Long’s “Tough Guys” segment cemented the ex-Raider great as the equal of John Madden in selecting the game’s true warriors.
Long, in fact, has more credibility than Madden because he, himself, could have been on his team. He doesn’t just talk about being a tough player. He was one.
High marks go to “Buck, Aikman and Collinsworth-All Access,” an interesting backstage look at Fox’s broadcast team. In addition, the information offered by Long, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson in “Untold Stories of the Super Bowl” was terrific.
Fox debuted its new Turf Cam during Super Bowl XXXIX. The angles have potential, but as with all technical innovations, it has to be better assimilated into the game’s flow.
From the complexity of technology to the simplicity of the ABC’s. Aikman, Joe Buck and Collinsworth are all talented broadcasters, but they painted an erroneous picture in Super Bowl XXXIX. Listening to the NFC-slanted trio, you would have thought that the Eagles were the defending champions looking to win their third title in four years.
When Philly went up 7-0, it was as if the Lombardi Trophy was going to be handed to Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie three quarters too early.
Fox became the NFC Network even as New England built a ten-point lead. Instead of discussing the Patriots’ surge, the trio plotted Philly’s comeback strategy. None of the Fox announcers were critical enough of Andy Reid’s failure to go into some form of hurry-up offense late in the game.
Aikman, especially, seemed to be outwardly begging for Philly to succeed. While Aikman knows the game and is a clear, concise and accurate analyst, he needs to work on his big game performance. There is a difference between calling a game in mid-November and calling the Super Bowl.
Postgame analyst Jimmy Johnson again brought credibility to the proceedings by stating that even if Bill Belichick won’t admit it, the Patriots are indeed a dynasty.
I had a chance to catch Joe Theismann’s thoughts on this year’s Patriots at a pre-Super Bowl speaking engagement. The ESPN analyst and former Redskin and Notre Dame legend had some interesting things to say about the World Champions.
On the beginnings of a dynasty: “I was in the stands for Super Bowl XXXVI (Patriots v. Rams) and the Pats chose to be introduced as a team. I thought that was so cool. For fifty-eight minutes, New England held “The Greatest Show on Turf” to nothing. In the last two minutes, it was up to Tom Brady to give Adam Vinatieri a chance to win the game. This team goes for it. They didn’ t get conservative like the 2004 Chargers or Jets.”
On Bill Belichick: “I could sit for hours and listen to men like Bill Belichick. Try losing 60 percent of your personnel every year at work. That’s what happens in the NFL. Belichick has been able to keep a core group of unselfish players together. He told me that it would never even cross his mind to acquire a selfish player like Randy Moss.”
On Charlie Weis: “He can restore the glory to Notre Dame. I worked hard to get Weis the job at ND. He was my guy. Charlie will do at Notre Dame what he has done in New England, build an offense with no real star players, and he won’t compromise the school’s academic standards to win games.”
On the Patriots place in history after winning Super Bowl XXXIX: “I rate them right up there with the Steelers of the 1970s, the Packers of the ‘60s and the 49'ers of the ‘80s. They are above the Giants and Redskins of the 80s. Three years ago, the Patriots paid twenty-two free agents a total of $17 million. Peyton Manning’s bonus was $34 million. New England is a dynasty because of Bob Kraft.”
This was the worst year ever for Super Bowl commercials. The NFL Network again takes home top honors for their “Tomorrow” campaign. Watching players and coaches who failed to make it to the Super Bowl sing the famed “Annie” number was hilarious. This year’s Grammy goes to Bucs’ coach Jon Gruden with Curtis Martin a valiant runner-up.
The only other ad worth noting was Pepsi’s panoply featuring P. Diddy, Cindy Crawford and Eva Longoria, the circulation-stifling beauty from ABC’s “ Desperate Housewives.” Of course, I must remove the journalist cap here and plead a lack of objectivity. Longoria could appear in ads for bubonic plague, rickets or scurvy, and I’d still give her kudos, as well as my heart, soul and the sporty vehicle and luxurious home of her choice.
WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” again proved that no one trashes a pure moment of joy better that they do. The morning after New England’s win, the morning duo reduced the postgame hug of Bill Belichick, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to rubble making a vulgar sexual allusion. Forgetting about the fact that these beloved coaching brothers are parting perhaps for good, D and C took the low road.
The day before the Super Bowl, Dennis offered some incorrect information. In discussing Philly’s late night carousing this year, he stated that the Steelers did the same thing before Super Bowl XVI v. Minnesota. He also stated that Pittsburgh had three rings at the time. The fact is that Pittsburgh didn’ t play in Super Bowl XVI and they played Minnesota in Super Bowl IX. Dennis may have been referring to Super Bowl XIV v. the Rams.
WEEI provided the best local coverage leading into Super Bowl XXXIX. The scene was covered and all the obligatory big names were heard. Kudos also to Fox Sports Net New England’s “New England Sports Tonight” and Super Bowl updates during Celtics’ games. Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson were excellent all week.
WEEI’s top Sports Flashers went in different directions. Pete Sheppard scored big with great sound bites from Super Bowl press conferences, while Jon Meterparel tried to again carve his niche by going against the grain and picking Philly. As the WEEI boys say, “How’d that work out for you, Jon?”
Both Fox’s Chris Myers and ESPN’s Ed Werder filed reports from the Patriots team hotel, The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine, FL. The resort is beyond lush and is the site of The World Golf Hall of Fame.
ESPN’s postgame fare was, as usual, information-packed, but like Fox’s broadcast trio, they made Philadelphia the main story. ESPN harped on Terrell Owens Super Bowl performance. Owens deserves much credit for playing superbly in pain, but hello, didn’t New England just make history?
ESPN’s Michael Irvin showed great class after being snubbed by this year’s Hall of Fame vote. He offered great praise to colleague Steve Young who was inducted.
ESPN Radio host Mark Madden was horrible in his pregame analysis. Madden stated that Bill Belichick had very little to do with New England’s playoff wins over Indy and Pittsburgh. He ignorantly said that Corey Dillon would be a Super Bowl bust because he is a former Bengal and labeled New England’s secondary as “not very good” and “weak.”
Ex-NFL coach Jim Mora did a nice turn on Fox Sports Radio’s “Super Bowl Sunday React” postgame show. His postgame commentary labeled the Patriots as a dynasty. He also said that Bill Belichick’s image belongs on the “Mount Rushmore of coaches.” Mora stated that, despite losing both coordinators, New England will be good for a long time.
The incessant media whining about Jacksonville as a Super Bowl site was unfounded. Leave it to the predominantly pampered and petty media to unfairly judge a great city in a few days. The atmosphere was lively. Security was tight and public transportation was effective. Special thanks to cabbie Gary who saved me from my fruitless wandering on Sunday and delivered me on time to Alltel Stadium post haste.
Alicia Keys and Charlie Daniels highlighted pregame entertainment and Paul McCartney showed why he is a legend by delivering what might have been the greatest halftime show in sports history. McCartney still has his chops, churning out kicking renditions of “Hey Jude,” “Live and Let Die” and other hits. He even comically alluded to last year’s Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” by feigning to take off his shirt. Combined with a spectacular light show and fun audience participation, McCartney again proved that music tames the savage beast, or in this case, Eagles’ fans.
John Molori’s Media Blitz column is published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, PatsFans.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, RedSoxNation.net and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.
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