Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday - The Live Blog

Super Bowl XLI - February 4, 2007

10.45pm ITV coverage starts with a Foo Fighters tune, a whimper and a reminder that, all across the States, people are partying. I open a packet of Butterkist and a bottle of Budweiser, which will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the NFL's sponsor Coors. Mickey Rourke, the old Hollywood lag, appears on screen. "I live here," he slurs to camera, adding that he's actually at the game to track down a woman.

10.55pm Cirque Du Soleil appear to have acquired at least 200 new members just in time for their pre-show fandango, which, as ever at these occasions, involves the wafting about of long lengths of brightly coloured fabric.

10.59pm ITV have an American presenter on the touchline - the typographically challenged Danyelle Sargent. She is wearing a piece of Bacofoil to protect her from the rain.

11.06pm Dwarfish host Gary Imlach is already getting on my nerves. He has not improved as a presenter since he hosted the NFL shows in the early days of Channel Four. Why not?

11.09pm Indianapolis Colts take to the field. To The Who. Is this irony? Surely not - what with two black head coaches in the final that would just be a step too far for the USA in a single day. Irony will have to wait until Super Bowl XLII, surely?

11.11pm Chicago Bears take to the field. It would appear that the majority of the 70,000 crowd are Bears fans. Their tune is an indistinguishable tribal thump. Apparently, the Fridge has retired.

11.17pm Billy Joel sings the national anthem. Disappointingly, he keeps the vamping to a minimum - I half expected him to drift off into Piano Man and Tell Her About It at the mid-point. God bless America. Joel is bald. It is raining quite heavily now and Danyelle has put the hood up on her Bacofoil.

11.20pm "Rain does favour the Bears," says Martin Johnson, former England rugby union player, author of Martin Johnson - The Autobiography and, along with former Pittsburgh Steeler Meril Hoge, Gary's sidekick for the evening. I want him to add, "they shoot horses, don't they?" in reference to the Colts. But he doesn't.

11.22pm Coin toss. Bears win the ball. That means the Colts kick it to them. As if you didn't know that.

11.25pm Kick-off.

11.25pm #2 92 yard kick-off return for a touchdown by Devin Hester. This could be a busy night. Point after by Robbie Gould is good. Bears 7 Colts 0 with a mere 14 seconds off the clock.

11.34pm On their first drive Colts quarterback (that's the bloke that throws the ball. They're stereotypically tall, thin and good looking) Peyton Manning throws an interception. D'oh. Is it too early to predict a big Bears win?

11.46pm Colts threaten to tie game as Manning hurls a whopper of a 53 yard pass to Reggie Wayne for a touchdown. Then they miss the extra point. The rain is blamed.

11.46pm You'd think that I'd be pleased that ITV's team have handed over play-by-play commentary to international commentary feed duo Spiro Dedes and Sterling Sharpe. But no, these must be two of the most boring men in the commentary business. They also make John Motson sound like the Dalai Lama.

11.51pm Fumble. Colts gain possession.

Fumble. Bears gain possession. These well-padded men are making this game look difficult to play.

11.53pm "Who could have predicted this kind of start to the game?" says Dedes. See what I mean? Anyone could have predicted that, couldn't they? Surely that's what a prediction is. No sign of any Madden & Summerall funnies from the commentary team.

11.54pm Muhsin Muhammad scores for the Bears after a four yard pass from Rex Grossman. The point after is good making it 14-6 to the Bears and providing broadcasters across the universe with another opportunity to air an advert. Online, I keep getting bombarded with adverts for Wendys. Which is making me hungry. I've eaten the Butterkist. What next?

Midnight CBS's main game camera appears to be suffering humidity problems. Either that or I need to give the television screen a wipe.

00.02am "One billion people watching tonight," Dedes informs us. Well be more fucking entertaining then! In lieu of humorous commentary I have started to get very excited about Prince's half-time show. What will he sing? My money's on something obscure - if anyone can blow a public appearance in front of a cool billion it's Prince.

00.04am Fumble with 2.46 left in the first quarter. Colts ball.

00.12am Play analyst Sterling Sharpe has started to pepper his commentary with obscure references to British television programmes starring Kirstie Allsopp. "Location, location, location," he screams as a Bears pass goes wayward. Perhaps I don't give this guy enough credit. If he can squeeze in nods to Location Revisited and The Property Chain and read a few bits and pieces from Homes & Gardens Magazine, to which Allsopp is a regular contributor, then I shall retract all my doubts and criticisms. The first quarter draws to a stuttering end - a quarter all about turnovers, disasters and rain. "Where do you start?" says Imlach. Oh, fuck off. We cut to Danyelle, still in the Bacofoil. "Look at my hands. They are wet. The players hands will also be wet." I imagine that Imlach and Danyelle will go on a Bacofoil-fuelled rampage throughout Southern Florida straight after the post-game press conferences.

00.22am Good field position for the Colts at the start of the second quarter leads to 29 yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. 14-9 Bears.

00.35am A 58 yard drive leads to Dominic Rhodes falling over the touchline to score in the rain. Extra point is good, thus the Colts take the lead 16-14.

Dedes again tells us that a billion people are watching. By his math, that's two billion. That, my friends, is cultural imperialism.

Sharpe comes out with some weird analogy involving cliffs and pushing and shoving. The Colts needed pushing and now they're the pushers, the Bears are now on top of the cliff. Will they jump before they're pushed? I prefer him when he's going on about Kirstie. The two minute warning comes as a relief.

00.49am Sharpe won't stop. We return after the ad break and he's still going on about these cliffs, only he's talking slower. "The Bears are on top of the cliff. On top of the cliff." I'm thinking about getting on top of the cliff and jumping off it myself when the Colts fumble the ball.

00.50am On the following play, with the Bears off the cliff and back in possession, thus rendering Sharpe analogyless for a second, quarterback Rex Grossman fumbles the ball. The rain is blamed again. Sharpe asks, "Could he wear a glove?" What, like Michael Jackson?

00.54am Two seconds left. Suddenly, everyone on the field is drying their hands with towels. Adam Vinatieri has a 36 yard field goal attempt. Bears take a time-out. Prince's Black Sweat can be heard. He's got so fed up he's on early, it seems. Now Sharpe is whittering on about mountains. Vinatieri - a perfect kicker thus far in the post-season and the praise piled on him before the kick by Sharpe and Dedes, hooks the balls left. "Wow," says Sharpe. First half ends. Not a very good advert for the game, as the lads wot do soccer on the BBC are prone to say a lot. I am reappropriating that cliche.

Half-time. Prince is up next. This is the shit. If anyone can create a Janet Jackson-style half-time furore it's our Prince, who's liable to interrupt his Purple Rain by lopping out his chopper and waggling his purple vein at the cameras. No doubt ITV will prefer to show us Gary Imlach and his clipboard.

I was wrong. We get the Super Bowl XLI half-time show in its entirety. The stage is a big Prince symbol. There's a flash and the little guy rips into a singalong Let's Go Crazy. He is protected from the rain by a rather old-ladyish black head scarf. He never ceases to amuse me. And, ooh, now he's doing Proud Mary and a marching band's joined him on the pitch. He's strapped on a blue Strat and now he's doing a sexy, pervy All Along The Watchtower which segues into The Best of You (fucking Foo Fighters again! What gives tonight?!). And now there's a purple guitar and he's doing Purple Rain, and he's ripped the black head scarf off and everyone's battling to get their lighters going in the actual rain as the Minneapolis midget shreds his fretboard. "Y'all wanna sing tonight?" he asks a billion people who'd forgotten he existed. And they all "woo hoo hoo hoo" in response. He's the man. They will buy his back catalogue tomorrow.

1.25am Second half underway. It may as well be all square, such is the tightness of the scoreline. And it's been such a topsy-turvy, error-prone baffling mess that I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy come 3.30am. Colts are on the move again and they seem to be looking the best bet at the moment.

1.30am Sharpe informs us that the wind has picked up and is blowing in the direction the Colts are heading. No more mention, as yet, of the Allsopp woman. I have placed some fish fingers under the grill. How very working class of me. Wind-powered Colts continue to drive up the field.

1.35am Colts throw a red challenge flag suggesting that the Bears don't have 11 players on the field. Sharpe repeatedly counts the players out loud during a replay, and counts 11, suggesting to me that he might have 11 fingers and that's the maximum number he can count. Amazingly, Sharpe is proven right and the Colts lose a time out, and settle for a field goal, making the score 19-14.

1.37am I turn the fish fingers and, in honour of Prince's fine half-time display, crack open a bottle of Bud.

1.42am I read something perverted and fruity into Gary Imlach's voice to camera saying, "Let's go downstairs to Danyelle Sargent on the sideline."

1.46am Bears get a rare chance with the ball. Almost immediately, Rex Grossman is sacked (jumped on by Colts defensive players before he's passed the ball). The following play, Grossman lets the ball fly past his hands at the snap. Pathetic. Effectively, it means the Bears have just given the ball back to the Colts.

1.47am The fish fingers are ready. I shall serve them between bread. It's all about presentation - this much I have learned from Gordon Ramsay.

1.54am Colts field goal. Penalty flag on the play against the Bears for running against the kicker. Colts decline the penalty and take the three points. Colts 22 Bears 14.

1.57am Sharpe: "I'm tired of watching the Bears defence. That's how tired their defence is." No, Sterling, that's how tired you are. But the Bears defence is tired. Luckily, for the Bears, they're still only eight points behind and, with a stroke of luck and the ghosts of Mike Ditka, Walter Payton and Jim McMahon's headbands breathing down their necks, they can get back in it.

2.03am Robbie Gould field goal for the Bears with 2:02 left in the third quarter. Just five points in it now.

2.05am "Some of our friends are watching tonight in China," says Dedes. "I know all of mine are," says Sharpe. "You're big in China?" "Huge." It is patently obvious to me that neither of these men have friends in China.

2.07am With 29 seconds left in the third, Colts successfully challenge an out-of-bounds call to continue a drive up the field.

2.12am Cheerleaders look amazing when they're very wet and shaking their pom-poms.

2.13am Fourth quarter under way. Not long now. Colts have the ball and could finish the game soon, although I think a twist could be about to occur, cos it's sport and sport does that.

2.16am "There's one billion people tuned in tonight," says Dedes. Deja vu, anyone? Will he say it again? Will half a billion have had more sense than me and have gone to bed?

2.20am Here we go. Grossman hurls the ball down the field at 12.04 in the fourth for a 21 yard gain.

2.21am No we don't. Colts intercept the next play for a touchdown.

2.22am Bears challenge, claiming that the Colts player was out of bounds.

2.24am Kelvin Hayden's TD stands. Sharpe bangs on about cliffs again. Point after good. 29-17 Colts. More shots of soggy cheerleaders. "They're very happy," says Dedes. They now look completely fed up to me.

2.30am "Bears keep moving the chains," says Sharpe. On the next play Grossman throws another interception. That could, as our commentator friends also point out, be that.

2.32am Commentary shifts to the Bears obituary. There are nine minutes left, so it could be a tad premature.

2.33am "Let's go down to Danyelle, who can see something the cameras can't show us," says Dwarf Imlach. Sadly, it's not Prince's throbbing royal member inching through her protective Bacofoil sheath but Bears fans leaving Dolphin Stadium early. Quitters.

2.37am Colts turn the ball over on downs thanks to the Bears defence. This surely is the last chance saloon for the Chicago team. All they need is to shift the ball the full length of the field and score, regain possession and do it all again. How difficult can that be? Go Bears go.

2.40am Colts QB Peyton Manning is pictured taking a touchline call on a 1970s-style red telephone. It dawns on me that, given that mobile technology is the norm these days, he could be in an episode of Quantum Leap. Bears switch to hurry-up offence. Which doubles their chances of throwing the ball to the wrong team. Oh dear.

2.44am Fourth and 9 yards for the Bears. The pass is incomplete. I like underdogs. But the Bears look dead and buried now.

2.58am Game fizzles out slowly and Colts win, 29-17.

3.06am Handshakes, fat players with digi-cams and young children on their shoulders and Imlach and his team attempting to sum it all up. It's still raining, the rest is academic. Frankly, I've had enough. For tonight. I've followed American Football since I was ten, listening to dreadful washing machinesque commentaries on AFRTS long before Channel Four and ScreenSport managed to bring me real pictures of this once mysterious game. I remember being surprised that they never used a real shotgun. The Super Bowl never fails to be a massive anti-climax, the New York Jets never repay my blind faith but still I come back for more, every year. Super Bowl 41? How did that happen? I'm 41. I'm the same age as the Super Bowl. I've never realised the correlation before. Oh well, it don't mean owt. Amazing to think how far and fast technology's moved in such a short space of time though - from desperately tuning and retuning to pick up a shoddy short wave signal to having NFL Game Center stats, a host of post-game facts and figures and play-by-play info at my fingertips on the laptop, terrestrial television screening the game and the Indianapolis Star and Chicago Tribune Super Bowl coverage landing straight in my inbox. Amazing. And well done African Americans, a long overdue victory - you shouldn't have had to wait so long.

3.10am Cripes, this was harder than I thought it would be. Don Shula hands the Colts the Vince Lombardi trophy. I slurp back the last of the Bud and go to bed.

Final Score: Indianapolis Colts 29 Chicago Bears 17 Fish Fingers 0


Kate said...

Are you really staying up til 3.30 to watch this?

The opening ceremony was quite hilarious!

Why on earth are ITV showing it?

The sad thing is, I actually know and understand the rules........

Dave W said...

Of course. I know the rules too, really, as you will find out when you read all this nonsense in its entirety.

More Chips (with gravy) on my shoulder said...

I loved the opening cermony. It was like Metropolis meets It's A Knockout. A great piece of live blogging, Mr W. Now, will someone do the same thing for Curling and the Gloucestershire cheese roll?

Dave W said...

Curling and the Gloucestershire cheese roll are, by an amazing coincidence, next on my list!

bazza27 said...

Fantastic job, young man. "Cheerleaders look amazing when they're very wet and shaking their pom poms". I can't get up from my desk now.