NFL halftime shows ruled by indecipherable cacophony

Let me quote myself. … Permission granted!

For years I’ve written that in sports and TV, no idea is so inane that it doesn’t deserve to be duplicated and then perpetuated. I used to write this with a hint of sarcasm. No more. It’s a fact, Jack.

From proofreading rules to the Rooney rule, important decisions are made without foresight. Then, despite their obvious stupidity, they are supported and then copied.

A historical perspective, as described by Antony Beevor in “The Fall of Berlin 1945”: When Joseph Stalin’s Red Army in 1945 reached the outskirts of Berlin, someone had a great idea. The Soviets trucked in over 100 huge searchlights to blind the German defenders when the massive artillery attack that night was about to begin.

So when the invaders opened fire, the smoke from the guns rose against the beams of light, blinding the Soviets as to what they were shooting and who they were shooting at.

When the smoke cleared, the Soviet generals discovered that their initial bombardment had landed mostly on Russian front line infantry.

So they started again.

Conditioned by Stalin to view their soldiers as cannon fodder and blind to adjust range for accurate fire, they engaged in these searchlights to justify both their presence and Stalin’s military genius.

In recent years, the television football networks have been wedded to a similar, if less deadly plan, born of blind foresight backed by counterproductive stubbornness or simply habit-formed ignorance and neglect. :

The CBS NFL halftime team (left to right) Phil Simms, James Brown, Bill Cowher, Nate Burleson and Boomer Esiason had to try and shout over the stadium speakers during halftime of the Bengals game -Chiefs of Sunday.
The CBS NFL halftime team (left to right) Phil Simms, James Brown, Bill Cowher, Nate Burleson and Boomer Esiason had to try and shout over the stadium speakers during halftime of the Bengals game -Chiefs of Sunday.

For the biggest games, transport your insufferably mundane and boring pre-game and halftime shows from their regular-season studios, and at great expense, to the game site.

These in-house sessions, often unbearable because you don’t hear what is being said, become a colossal waste of time and money. Often the panelists, up to six, can’t even hear what the others are saying to each other, so have no idea when to force their usual forced laughter in the studio.

At the Bengals-Chiefs halftime show on Sunday, the five dispatched CBS panelists had to shout through their winter overcoats but were still indecipherable, drowned out by loud music from the PA system. Instant slapstick. Moe: “When I nod, you hit it.”

CBS, with previous opportunities to learn, didn’t see this coming? Or didn’t care?

Fox’s 49ers-Rams halftime — its five panelists standing on the sidelines in good weather — was more bearable, but it took effort to hear them, also through or over the music from the PA system.

Reader Chris Niemir: “Was it me, or did the two halftime shows spoil some good music with commentators trying to talk about it?”

How to distinguish racial symbolism from racial altruism? In the case of the NFL’s barren Rooney rule, we can’t.

Brian Flores must prove that the NFL, Giants, Dolphins and Broncos are consistently racist in their hiring practices — a tough sell in front of an unbiased judge or jury. That her feelings were hurt by rejections, even if they were predetermined, is not a credible legal complaint.

On the other hand, the Rooney rule would inevitably backfire because it logically fuels suspicions of symbolism. Well-meaning, it’s a terribly wrong and predictable rule – and from the start.

So even though Flores, as he claims, learned that the Giants had already decided to hire Brian Daboll as their next coach, the Rooney Rule required minority applicants to be interviewed. The Giants adhered to this rule, however absurd it was purely symbolic.

His accusation that the Dolphins are a racist organization seems slim because he was their head coach for three seasons, hired from New England, where he was an assistant coach. Giants ? Does it matter that they had a GM for almost 11 years, Jerry Reese, who is black?

Where Flores totally loses fair folks is when he brings up that cheap and banal claim that the NFL and its teams are structured to treat black people like “plantation” slaves. No slave had the right to resign, let alone sue.

But it could make for a great Nike ad campaign.

If I was King, I would lose all the “Keys to the Game” prologues. After “outclass the other team”, it’s mostly one size fits all.

On Sunday, CBS’ Tony Romo opened with the “key” that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes must remain “patient, patient, patient.” But this could only be achieved if he had the “time, time, time”.

Advising, for example, that Giants quarterback Daniel Jones remain “patient” flat chimes because he’s so often been forced to take the snap and then duck or sprint for his life.

Ahead of Cincinnati-Kansas City, CBS’ Tracy Wolfson gave the Chiefs “defensive keys” as she said she gleaned from KC coaches. In order:

“Limit explosive games.”

“Win contested balls.”

“To finish [Cincy QB Joe] Terrier.”

According to inside information, gamer favorite colors, pizza toppings, and Pixy Stix flavors would have been at least as useful.

FS1 statistic is empty

Idiots’ Picnic Graphic of the Week appeared on FS1 on Wednesday. In large print, it read “Villanova: Most points allowed in first half since 2020”. Knife point! We wouldn’t publish this at knifepoint!

Longtime reader and correspondent Richard T. Monahan now knows that ESPN’s sense of important context sucks — to be generous — zero.

As proof of the Florida Panthers’ success this season, ESPN noted their streak differential: First, plus-19. Second, plus-12. But beware, Chadwick, in the third period, they are plus-24!

Considering this is a first-place team, Monahan asks, “How many of those third-period goals are empty-net goals?”

Small steps, Richard. ESPN may not know what empty network goals are.

Peter Rosenberg
Peter Rosenberg
Jeff Skopin/ESPN

Does talkative, badass sycophant Peter Rosenberg take requests? How about today, as a regular on ESPN Radio-NY’s “Michael Kay Show,” he recites the N-word lyrics of Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl headliner Snoop Dogg, advocating cop shootings? Come on, tough guy.

First, Keith Hernandez’s No. 17 was described in a Mets press release as “iconic.” Now Mets announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Hernandez are described in a Mets/SNY statement as an “iconic” trio. Just follow the signs to Iconic Parkway.

This week’s rumors about Jim Harbaugh leaving Michigan to coach in the NFL echoed ESPN’s claim several years ago to have busted the story that LSU football coach, Les Miles was leaving to coach Michigan. Later that day, ESPN took credit for telling another story: Miles is staying at LSU.

I admit it. Last 2:13 Ohio State-Purdue Sunday on CBS took so long – 16 minutes – – I missed it, lost to a pound in one of the stoppages.

What to make of Novak Djokovic’s no-COVID-vax expulsion ahead of the Australian Open? From fellow reader, Bruce Calleri: “Say what you want about Australian tennis, but they sure know how to make a Serbian.”

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