THANK GOODNESS I’m no longer skimming past headlines about the Super Bowl. And I’m not even talking about the embarrassing second half played by the Atlanta Falcons in Houston. What an embarrassment.
No, I‘m talking about my fatigue from the media blitz starting six weeks before kickoff, without even turning on a TV. I would pick up the morning papers from my doorstep and wonder, “How are they going to out-hype this hyperbole when The Second Coming actually gets here?” I kept thinking, “It’s just another football game. The world will go on, with its flashes and its famine.” And then there was all the post-game analysis, which can be distilled to this: Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called stupid plays in the second half that led to the Falcons losing a historic lead. The very day after that Super Blotch on his resume, Shanahan became set for life, financially, when he was hired as head coach of the San Francisco football team. That would be like me being sued for libel, then being hired as managing editor of The New York Times. (Aside: I’ve never been sued for libel, and the NYT has my resume.)
Granted, some of the pre-game reporting was about the economic benefits of hosting the Super Bowl. Houston, this year’s host city, was projected to reap $500 million in revenue, but those benefits are temporary, and, frankly, illusionary. (Don’t you ever wonder why it’s always a nice, round number?) Let me tell you how those projections usually work: A consulting firm or the business school at a major university, in concert with the National Football League (objectivity be damned!), calculates some relatively hard numbers, like hotel revenue from projected visitor numbers, and soft numbers, like what restaurants or taxi drivers might receive in tip money. But on the front end, taxpayers wind up paying millions to build flavor-of-the-month sta-diums to attract the Super Bowl or other marquee events, and, if they come up with the right gimmick, get a little walking-around money. But afterward, those taxpayers still have to pony up to put their kids through school or their parents in hospice.
Along those lines, Atlanta will host the 2019 Super Bowl, in brand-spanking-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, slated to replace the perfectly fine Georgia Dome this summer. (If you’re inclined to contribute, just drive down to Atlanta for a weekend this summer, stay in a hotel rather than with friends, dine out five or six times, and you’ve done your part via a higher bar tab than you’ve ever paid in your life.)
A good dozen or more Georgia mucky-mucks were in Houston prior to this year’s Super Bowl in order to glean insight on how to host the 2019 event, just as they were in San Francisco last year. Somebody paid for that, and it wasn’t the mucky-mucks.
But here’s what most got my goat in all the pre-game hype: A story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman, in explaining his attempt to renegotiate his $676,000 per annum contract, in which he said, “I’ve got a family to feed.”
Excuse me, Mr. Freeman, but just how large is your family? Chattooga County? Say that you want to be paid like a premier running back (which you are). Say that you want to make the world a better place with a multi-million-dollar contract. Say you chose a profession with a short shelf life, and you need to get the bucks while you can. Hell, even say that you want the jewelry, the cars and the babes.
Just don’t say you can’t feed your family on $676,000 a year. I’ve heard better rationale from streetwalkers.
Hey, the Super Bowl is a grand excuse for a party, and I hope all of you had fun and weren’t horribly hungover (from booze or the outcome or both) the next morning. Just remember why the deities came up with football in the first place: To briefly amuse themselves in the bleak chasm between the World Series and Opening Day.
Baseball, after all, is the sport that the gods themselves follow.
This year has already marked some notable celebrity deaths: First, Carrie Fisher, mainly remembered as Princess Leia of Star Wars and memorized by generations of adolescent males in her skimpy, metallic bikini. She went on to be-come a best-selling author. Next went Mary Tyler Moore, the only woman who ever looked good in those ‘80s business pantsuits, which was too bad because she had fabulous legs. After her acting ca reer, she became a highly successful television producer. I saw her once in an off-Broadway play called “Sweet Sue.”
The saddest obituary news to me, though, was that of Butch Trucks, founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. His drumming, you could argue, did as much to as much to define the merger of Southern blues and rock as Duane Allman’s guitar riffs or Gregg Allman’s whiskey-toned vocals.
The best night out in these parts, at any time of the year, in my opinion, is this month’s annual Pot Luck o’ the Irish, sponsored by the Loch and Hills Celtic Association of Rome. Good food, and great music at a reasonable price. You get corned beef and cabbage, Irish potatoes and soda bread. You are asked to bring a side dish, salad or dessert; and the cost is just $10—$5 for those 12 and under. Entertainment is provided by the Ceilidh Celtic Ensemble and the Drake School of Rome Irish Dancers. This year’s event will take place March 18 at 6 p.m. at Heritage Hall. Reservations are re-quired (706-324-6317 or email@example.com).
If you’re not Irish, well, bless your heart, but you can still enjoy good food, music and dance.
J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.
*The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.