When you were a child, a trip to the circus was an awe-inspiring spectacle. The huge, brightly colored tent. Loud music, and ferocious beasts. Bags of peanuts and spun balls of cotton candy.
And of course...The clowns.
But as you get older, you start to notice the mildewed smell of the canvas. You realize the elephant spends most of his time pressed against the bars of a cage in a trailer, the candy is sickly sweet and none-too-fresh. And the clowns are just people in costumes, going through the motions, day after day.
Are you ready for some football?
NBC Sunday Night Football kicked off the season last night, with a highly anticipated match-up between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers last night. Eventually. TV listings gave the game's start time at 8:00, 8:15 or 8:20.
What actually happened at 8:20 was a circa 1982 style video of Faith Hill, shimmying in a sort of Mini-Thunderdome cage, amid a flurry of graphics and credits (Hi Dick Ebersol!) extolling the excitement and pagaentry of watching a football game four hours later than usual.
After Faith Hill's voice reverberated off the last wall, and the pyrotechnics abated, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth stepped in to assure that this was, in fact, going to be an exciting game of football. Cris then went on to repeat verbatim, the things he'd been saying about both teams since the beginning of the preseason. He REALLY likes Aaron Rodgers!
If you're reading here, chances are you're a fairly serious football fan. You know how the teams did in preseason, you've garnered insights and opinions from a variety of sources, as well as your own experiences as a fan. If that's the case, Al and Cris had nothing worthwhile to offer you last night. And Andrea Kremer, from the sidelines, did little to help.
While you waited for kick off, a feral looking Andrea Kremer was interviewing Brian Urlacher. Her first question was "How has Jay Cutler impacted this defense?" Urlacher responded politely, carefully crafting a PR worthy answer.
What he should have said was, "Well Andrea, I'd have to say that as we've yet to play a single down in a regular season game, he hasn't impacted the defense in any way."
Kick off began promptly at 8:31
Series opening plays were given almost microscopically small camera angles, so that NBC could provide graphics of the starters' heads, in which the players told you what college they played for, in their own voices! And if that wasn't enough of a distraction, there was accompanying music further drowning out the action on the field. These overlapped the action on more than one occasion.
There were a myriad of other broadcasting sins, including a stilted, scripted interview at halftime with Jay Leno. Did you know he's got a new show? It's got all of the elements you loved about his old show, but there's no desk! Crazy, right? The interview was also hampered by a delay that made Bob Costas lose his place more than once.
But aside from all of these poorly executed distractions, the biggest sin against football fans was the commentary. Collinsworth in particular. He has a tendency to try to make the action fit his pregame talking points rather than discuss the actual game. It obscures the reality of the events taking place. Collinsworth is so far removed from objectivity, that at one point when Aaron Rodgers was tackled for a safety, he repeatedly praised him for not fumbling.
Next week on Sunday Night Football, the Giants play the Cowboys. Always a good game. If you're in New York or Dallas, and you know football? Turn off the sound and put on the local A.M. radio broadcast.
Otherwise, turn your attention to the center ring!