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The big one

The commentary soundbite of the night so far, from the BBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XLV, from Tiki Barber:

Do not go to bed. Work is not as important as this game.

It’s Pittsburgh 25 Green Bay 28, in the fourth quarter, after Pittsburgh managed what I believe is called a “safety” “two-point conversion” (see comments), Pittsburgh having earlier in the game been down by 18 points. Nobody’s ever won a Super Bowl having been that far behind, but this looks to be anyone’s.

Mike Carlson, Britain’s ubiquitous American Football expert, commentates for whichever channel has the games, be it Channel 4, Channel 5, or, as now, BBC 1, and so he’s with the BBC tonight, as he has been throughout the play-offs. I seem to recall complaining here about the snide little political digs that Carlson has in the past indulged in, when commentating for Channels 4 or 5. The BBC seem to have told him to cut it out. Usually, whenever any player is called Bush (I seem to recall there being a Reggie Bush) Carlson calls him “the Bush you can support”. (Yes, I mention this in the comments here, in connection with something Carlson said during last year’s Superbowl.) George W. Bush himself is actually watching this game, as is Condoleeza Rice, or that’s who it looked like to me. They showed a whole row of such people. Whatever Carlson may have wanted to say about that he kept to himself.

Green Bay win the Vince Lombardi trophy, 31-25. The grandstand finish that Tiki Barber had been saying might, if earlier games were anything to go by, be contrived by Pittsburgh’s hobbling miracle worker of a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, never happened, and it ended rather tamely, as American football games sometimes do, with guys kneeling down, and then … it was … over.

Now they’re saying that a play called Lombardi, about the great Green Bay coach of yesteryear that they now name the Super Bowl trophy after, just opened on Broadway. Blog and learn.

The Green Bay Packers are the “world champions”. Yeah. But now they are making a good point, which is that the Super Bowl has no exact parallel in British soccer. That has the FA Cup Final, but also the Premier League, and also a couple of European titles to shoot for. Every other year there’s either a European national tournament, or the World Cup. Only in the American version of football does the winner of the one big game win absolutely everything.

36 comments to The big one

  • Mike

    A “safety” is a defensive score, where the offensive team is tackled in their own endzone, or fumbles out of their endzone.

    Pittsburgh succeeded in executing a two-point conversion (instead of a simple “extra point” or one-point conversion by a kick through the goalposts.). This placed them within a field goal of a tie. A one-point conversion, even if successful, would still have required a touchdown to tie or win. So strategically, going for two in this case effectively had no downside.

    Now, what is the definition of “offsides” in soccer again? That always mystifies me, and whatever it is seems to make the game slower and less interesting 😉

  • Dale Amon

    A truly great game and it was the mistakes that lost it for the home team. Well, the home team if your roots go back 150 years in Western PA…

  • Andrew Duffin

    “Do not go to bed. Work is not as important as this game.”

    That’ll be the Stanley Cup final they’re talking about I guess.

  • Kevin B

    Carlson did get in one Bush dig when he called Green Bay safety Jarrett Bush ‘another Bush you don’t want to see’ just before Bush intercepted Big Ben.

    As for Carlson doing the rounds, it may be that American football, like Formula One, is covered by an independant company that then sells the coverage to whichever Channel has the broadcast rights.

    Whatever, Tiki left Mike for dead in terms of knowledge of the game and the ability to put it across to an audience.

  • Condi Rice is a big NFL fan, and has said in the past being commissioner of the league would be a dream job for her. So I presume that was her in the box with

  • RAB

    I found it deliciously ironic that the BBC was taking it’s live feed from Fox.

  • Laird

    Yes, that was Condi Rice; in the US broadcast they named her.

    I hope you Brits didn’t have to sit through that lame halftime show. Sorry about that!

  • RAB

    Yes I’m afraid we did Laird, but I turned the sound off after a minute and a half. That crew couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!

  • Laird

    There really wasn’t a tune there to carry, RAB, bucket or no. But the light show was interesting.

  • Dale

    A couple of weeks ago along with our Swiss friend, I watched the playoff game Steelers vs Jets with the libertarian supermodels. It was not easy being a Steelers fan in a bar full Jets, but there was free Pizza so I managed.

    Whatever happened, the Steelers are the greatest team ever to play the game, Bradshaw and Swann and the rest of those guys earned them that title.

  • llamas

    A bunch of drug-addled, spoiled-rotten caricatures playing a schoolyard ball game. A gigantic yawn. I last sat through this total waste of my precious life hours about 15 years ago, as an act of guestly politeness, and I hope to never have to waste another moment of my life on it, ever again. The only positive aspect to the whole laughable spectacle is that I was able to get in and out of Home Depot and my favourite coney island in record time last evening.

    But maybe my biases are showing . . . .



  • RAB

    I have a feeling that you may be at the bottom of a pile of armour clad and helmeted bodies quite soon llamas 😉

    So in an attempt to deflect the arguement, is it time to discuss the differences and merits of American Football verses Real Football, i.e. Rugby. Or am I being too Welsh already? 🙂

  • llamas

    RAB – it’s OK, I feel the same way about rugby, a game of eerily-similar uselessness.



  • RAB

    Do you like any Sports at all llamas, or do you consider them all a waste of time?

  • Mr Ecks

    Why is this crap even on British tv? Have we not enough idiot games of our own without importing twaddle from overseas? The Sky at Night was pushed back to next week to make way for this drivel.

  • Laird

    Mr Ecks, it didn’t come on until, what, after midnight local time? Surely crap programs on in the wee hours of the morning shouldn’t be of significant concern to you. (Over here we get informercials and the like.) So go to bed, already. And stop whining; it’s unbecoming.

  • Ahem, Taylor:

    The Steelers have only six titles. The Packers have 13.

  • Laird

    I don’t know where you got that, Ted, but it’s wrong. The Steelers have 6 Superbowl championships (the most of any team); the Packers only have 4 (including last night). See the list here. The Steelers are also tied (with the Dallas Cowboys) for the most SB appearances, at 8; Green Bay has only 5.

    Taylor is absolutely correct in his assessment.

  • Midwesterner

    Ahem, Laird. The Steelers have 6 Superbowl Championships. Green Bay now has 4.

    But the Super Bowl was only started in 1967. The Steelers were founded in 1933, and the Packers were founded in 1919. The NFL was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association and changed its name to the NFL in 1922.

    Green Bay has won 13 NFL championship including 4 since they NFL started calling it The Super Bowl. Pittsburgh has won 6, all of them since the name was changed to The Super Bowl.

    But not to worry, your team had a future Supreme Court Justice (Byron White) play for them one year. They signed him for the biggest (at that time) contract in NFL history.

    🙂 Is this the part where the obigatory “Packers won, Steelers lost, na, na, na-na, na” goes? 😛

  • Was there some sort of game somewhere?

  • JAWolf

    Midwesterner, small correction, the SB became the NFL championship following the 1970 merger. For the 1966-9 seasons, the NFL champion played the AFL champion in the Superbowl.

    The Pack joined the NFL in 1921 and won a number of championships even before the merger.

    The Steelers, BTW, before 1972 only had one playoff appearence and that was a tiebreaker.

  • Laird

    I don’t consider pre-Superbowl “championships” meaningful. So there! (Puts hands over ears and chants “na-na-na”.)

  • llamas

    @ RAB:

    “Do you like any Sports at all llamas, or do you consider them all a waste of time?”

    Oh, no, there’s plenty of sports I like to watch, and some even to participate in. It’s just that events like the folderol televised last evening don’t really fit the definition of ‘sports’ anymore – more like a multimedia marketing exercise featuring sideshow freaks, during which the occasional bit of ball-handling breaks out. The same goes for Association Football in the UK – maybe I was a bit hard on the rugger b*ggers, but even that has asssumed a lot of the commercial televised mantle and is far removed for the sort of sports that the rest of us could even consider participating in.



  • Sunfish


    The Cheese People owe us. If we hadn’t sent that spoiled little punk to Chicago, they might have been forced to resort to a GOOD QB sooner, and the NFC championship would possibly have gone differently.

    Weren’t you originally from the other side of the Cheddar Curtain? Because I think some places would call your post “apostasy.”

  • To me as an Australian, a Super Bowl like arrangement in which there is only one title to play for, that one title is everything, and every game you play in the season is ultimately in pursuit of that title seems the normal way of doing things. The arrangement that exists in European and particularly English soccer, in which in the course of a season teams play in as many as half a dozen different competitions and try to win as many of them as possible, initially seemed extremely odd.

    (Of course, what is different in Australia is that while there is usually only one thing to play for in each sport, no winter sport has anything like the interest of the whole country, so there is still no national unifying event like the Super Bowl).

  • Midwesterner

    Well, Sunfish, we owe you and I would offer to trade cheese for beer but I’m afraid you would send that Colorado Kool-aid. And as for the apostasy part, truth be said I am more a fan of good play than any particular team. I find one of the local teams that seems to have it together and then watch them and frankly GB has it together. I flipped back over to Chicago during the Forrest Gregg years. The conduct of the Packers under his ‘leadership’ was disgusting.

    And, JAWolf, shhhhh. I’m messin’ with Laird. I was hopin’ he wouldn’t notice that detail you point out. And you went and told. But don’t worry, he might not have heard. He’s got his ears covered and is making funny noises.

  • Joshua

    Actually, “Lombardi” has been playing on Broadway for over three months. It is considered one of the big hits of the Broadway season so far.

  • RAB

    The Cheddar Curtain?!!

    I swear these Yanks are speaking a different language already folks. 😉

    I live 30 miles from the one and only Cheddar, so who do you two fancy for next years Superbowl then? The Wokey Holers verses the Glastonbury Crystal Gazers?

    So what sports do you like to see and participate in then llamas? Ones not tainted by filthy commercialism of course.

    My family is big on Golf. My dad was a plus two handicap, which for those who have never heard of such a thing, he was deemed to have played two shots before he left the locker room, but still always came in under par. We both loved the game but hated the whole ethos of the “Club” mentality.

    All sports, to survive, have to have a large element of commercialism these days, surely?

  • Andrew

    Do they actually do any drugtesting at all in NFL? Looked like every single player out there was sweating steroids.

  • llamas

    @ RAB:

    ‘So what sports do you like to see and participate in then llamas? Ones not tainted by filthy commercialism of course.’

    Firstly, I have nothing against commercialism per se in sport – some of it is necessary, as observed, and sometimes even healthy for the sport. But these gigantic media-driven commercial-palooza events simply bore me – they’re about anything and everything but the sport. Beer and pizza, cars and shoes – all good things, nota bene, and I’m a big fan of each of them – but we should quit kidding ourselves about what we are being shown, and why. US college sports – certainly football – are an even-worse example of the genre.

    Me, personally? Well, I’m a 100×100 skeet shooter and the 16-yard champion at my club. I used to be a 598 PPC shooter but my eyes won’t do that for me anymore.

    I actually like to watch cricket, but at the village-green and county-fete level – the professional game has gone the same way as football/soccer. I don’t get much chances for that anymore ;-). But church-league softball is an OK substitute. I’ll watch clubmans’ motorcycle racing all day long, also hunting-dog competition, sheepdog trials and anything to do with field sports. And others besides.

    Sport is supposed to be ‘a pleasant diversion’, both for those participating and those watching. That is often not the case anymore for many different professional sports, where both the players and the watchers have gone to extremes neither pleasing nor diverting. In many places, following sports has become the modern equivalent of tribal warfare, sometimes literally. And many sports, in many places, have been corrupted by a vast influx of money. Sorry – that’s not for me. I’m fine at the turkey-shoot and Lewis-system level, thank you.



  • llamas

    I nearmost forgetted – me and Football.




  • Midwesterner

    Honest mistake, RAB. I think he meant to say Colby Curtain. Those flatlanders (as Cheeseheads call Illinoisans) don’t know their cheeses very well.

    Golf. My dad never played ‘real’ golf but he had some clubs and used to chase a ball around the pastures occasionally. I guess you don’t get a very good bounce out of a cow plop. Kind of brings a whole new meaning to “chip shot”.

  • RAB

    Oh llamas, thank’s so much for the clip. I had totally forgotten about that guy. Classic.

    I wasn’t having a go at you with the filthy commercialism crack by the way, just wanted to make sure you replied is all. 😉

    Shooting, yes well I love shooting, or did. My late father in Law owned two custom built rifles and a few handguns, a Beretta, a Colt 45 and a Smith and Wesson. I particularly liked using those till the Nanny State took our handguns away. He was a bit of a champion here…


    Many was the happy weekend I spent with him blasting away there.


    The course I learnt to play golf on starting aged six, was Caerphilly. It was a nine hole course in those days that you played twice for a full round. The Clubhouse was a tin shack and the greenkeeping staff were sheep. You could get a one clublength drop if you landed in sheep poo (local rules). Oh and it is so hilly you don’t get a caddie, you get a Shirpa. 🙂

  • jsallison

    I consider myself a packerbacker, but not a rabid one. I tuned in for the kickoff, sans all the pointless drivel beforehand so I missed the overstuffed whatshername blowing the anthem. Put in Chronicles of Riddick and returned for the last 10 minutes of game time, saw the Steelers score their last TD and watched through to the finish. A positive superbowl experience, all in all.

    Now, if I could just figure out a way to see limited overs cricket without paying a Pelosi’s ransom on this side of the salted puddle I’d call it a win. I do believe Old Blighty took the Ashes this time round, yes?

  • Kim du Toit

    ” Those flatlanders (as Cheeseheads call Illinoisans) don’t know their cheeses very well.”

    Actually, Cheeseheads refer to Illinoisans as “FIBs” — F*cking Illinois Bastards — but the cheese comment is true.

    Nothing beats the string cheese sold at the Brat Stop in Kenosha (intersection of Route 50 and I-94). Not even the Dutch make anything like it. We used to drive up from Chicago just to get some.