Ah opening night.
A nationally-televised concert, fireworks … and, oh, yeah, there’s some football too. Pretty fair matchup.
I guess we’ve come a long way from when halftime shows meant calling up the university band whose team had a road game within two hours’ drive and asking whether they wanted to come down and perform a halftime tune or two.
Let’s see … they’ve got John Mellencamp, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson and Hinder. I know the first two; rather like Mellancamp, actually. Plenty of his stuff in the Morsels’ iPod. Clarkson? Can’t recall a song she’s sung; just know that she’s got a good voice, she’s cute and she probably wants to slap you if you remind her of her performance in From Justin to Kelly, which I think was seen by fewer people than your average rec-league slow-pitch softball game.
Then there’s Hinder. What in God’s name is Hinder?
It’s a band, moron. Here’s the Wikipedia link.
Wrong, it’s a verb. (And as Robert Goulet once said of Tim Duncan’s surname, it’s a “baaaaad verb.”) It can also be an adjective.
Oh, well. Come 6:30 p.m. MDT, the sideshow can step away and leave us luddites the game.
I know why they have this stuff, and it won’t keep me from watching. If you don’t like it, that’s what remote controls are for; you know when the game starts and you don’t have to watch the concert. But for me, there’s too much hoopla.
I take my football the way Dunkin’ Donuts serves its coffee — straight up.
No cream and sugar; no frills and pomp. But I understand why the hubbub’s all there; it’s to entice and draw in an audience besides the die-hard, stat-reciting, plan-my-life-around-the-game, football-centric demographic in which I have been entrenched since the salad days of Lindsey Nelson, Frank Glieber, Charlie Jones and Don Criqui.
Wait? So you say Don Criqui still calls games? All right! Just kidding — I’ve been a member of the Church of Criquiology for quite some time.
Those dulcet tones add such palpable drama to your average Cleveland-at-Arizona contest, and for years, he was the de facto television voice of the Cincinnati Bengals. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Criqui was to the Bengals what Tim Ryan and Dan Jiggetts were to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of my youth. Now, the Criqster is just everywhere. When you want Patriots preseason football, he’s there. When you want Notre Dame football on the radio, he’s there. When you want Titans-Jaguars, he’s there. When you want ESPN-Plus regional coverage of a Rutgers-at-Providence basketball game, he’s there courtside at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center along with approximately 6,219 witnesses. (That’s two Dunkin’ Donuts references in one blog. Somebody’s hungry.) Yes, Don Criqui, if you’re somewhere reading this, I’m a fan.
Some of those 1970s/1980s-era telecasts didn’t have more than three or four cameras to chronicle the action. The NFL installed instant replay for a six-season stint beginning in 1986 — which was when the term “after further review” dropped into the pop-culture lexicon — but if you needed clarification on a call during one of those Bucs-Lions games with 40,000 empty seats that was beamed only to Tampa, Traverse City, Mich. and Cedar Rapids (because Iowa alumnus Chuck Long was quarterbacking the Lions in those days), then you were out of luck.
There wasn’t as much to illuminate the NFL in those days. No Sunday Ticket meant that you had to go trolling for a bar with a satellite dish in order to watch your favorite team if it wasn’t on locally. No Web sites like this fine official Broncos site meant that news on your team was limited to the occasional mention on SportsCenter and the AP blurb in your local paper if you happened to be living out of a team’s market. And not having as many cameras or accoutrements of the 21st Century like high-definition television meant that the viewer’s experience was limited, at best.
The pomp and circumstance and the all-canvassing scope of the coverage are symbiotic; more attention on the game means more opportunity to promote it to new audiences with musical acts, celebrities and others who want to promote their own work.
I might not be the one the NFL’s targeting with their pre-game show, cheerleaders or whatnot. But I’m not going to demand it goes away, either. The NFL is one of the last cultural entities standing in this country whose appeal crosses the demographics, so not everything in an opening-night production is going to appeal to you or me. But it might bring in someone who’s never paid attention; it might create a new fan; and it does underscore the NFL’s growing status with games as events, which then only heightens the coverage and makes the game a little grander.
Sure, I won’t be watching all the pre-game concerts. But I will be watching at kickoff.
So, rock on.