A few thoughts from the laptop as I nurse a cold and watch football...
Instead of listening to the game, I have the TV muted and am instead have my iPod going. I happened to be listening to a guilty pleasure song, “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears For Fears, as the game started. Which felt kind of funny, hearing this kind of flowery love song and watching all these pituitary cases running around pumping their fists.
The home team is the Philadelphia Eagles, and before the game they were showing Sylvester Stallone being introduced to the crowd from his luxury-box seat. Stallone was acknowledging the crowd by hoisting his arms in the air not unlike how he does in the original Rocky movie. You could see the Philly fans going wild, and it seemed like kind of a cute moment, albeit of course a cheesy one. But then I remembered Stallone is currently in the midst of promoting the latest Rocky sequel, and the moment was kind of ruined. No doubt it was all pre-arranged as part of the film’s promotion.
I miss that Monday Night Football no longer does the player introductions where each player is filmed saying his name and college. (This tradition has been carried over, however, to NBC’s new Sunday night telecast). Seeing the players with their helmets off and speaking humanizes them. Plus, even within those constraints of just saying your name and school, you could see players’ different personalities come out. The only problem was, ABC sometimes allowed players to get away with saying something other than their college name, such as the name of their high school or elementary school. Or other players would name some slangy variation on their college name, like “The U” for Miami, or “THE Ohio State University” for Ohio state. That stuff used to be a real pet peeve of mine, but only because I loved the format otherwise.
The Monday Night Football broadcast team this year is announcer Mike Terico, former quarterback Joe Thiesmann, and journalist Tony Kornheiser. I love the fact that they’re using a non-player as a commentator. When they did it with Dennis Miller a few years ago, it had mixed results. Miller could be really funny or insightful sometimes and embarrassingly forced and annoying others. I like the idea of a journalist doing the show, be it a print writer or TV guy. Kornheiser happens to be both, but he comes from the print world as a Washington Post columnist.
But the only problem is that Kornheiser is starting to drive me crazy. And what's particularly weird about it, considering I’m a journalist too, is that the annoyance comes precisely from his media instincts. He tends to really harp on whatever the biggest ongoing drama or storyline seems to be involving that night’s teams or players and return to it ad nauseum. With the Eagles playing tonight, for example, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be talking a great deal about Terrell Owens, the controversial wide receiver who used to play there. Sometimes listening to Kornheiser on MNF, I’ve wanted to scream, “Let it go!” Hence the iPod.
Speaking of which, I’ve found that if one has the regular sound on with football, it’s just astonishing how many commercials there are. For the last couple years as Valarie and I have got in the habit of watching English soccer, where entire 45-minute game halves go by without a single commercial, it’s really hard to sit through scores of commercials over a potentially 3-to-4-hour broadcast. Granted, getting rid of or significantly reducing commercials would surely mean that the advertising would simply be moved to the players’ jerseys, as it is in soccer. And with my love of sports uniforms, that would drive me crazy. (I’d love to have an Arsenal jersey or certain other ones, but you can’t get them without the advertisement, so I refuse to do it.)
Currently my favorite NFL team uniform is the Indianapolis Colts. I’m very old-school when it comes to uniforms. I’m reminded of a great Chuck Klosterman essay for ESPN in which he came to the horrific realization that despite being politically a liberal, he was a unequivocal conservative when it came to sports. I feel the same way, and uniforms are just one example. Other uniforms that I like are the Cowboys (although they’re traditionally my least favorite team), the Steelers (my longtime favorite team), the Cleveland Browns, and the Chicago Bears. I really hate the Seattle Seahawks uniforms. Or as my dad and I have called them since I was a kid, the “Seaturkeys”.
I just saw Steve Smith score the game’s first touchdown, but I hadn’t watched one play in the entire game because I was writing this. Speaking of Steve Smith, though, it’s good to see him scoring touchdowns and not throwing up into a garbage can, as the cameras showed a couple weeks ago when the Panthers were playing. Luckily I missed that one, though. But since I’m sick with a cold, I must admit that football is the ideal TV to watch. I can pay half attention and if there’s anything good I miss there’ll be several replays.