It’s all so stunningly stupid, so backward. At a time when decent-minded folks are abandoning the NFL because they can no longer indulge the increasingly anti-social and even criminal behavior of players, the NFL keeps flooring it in reverse.
Sunday during the Bills-Cardinals telecast on CBS, studio host James Brown appeared to deliver “Exciting news: The NFL, Pepsi and Roc Nation have announced that international phenomenon and Grammy Award-winning artist The Weeknd will be headlining the Pepsi Super Bowl 55 halftime show in Tampa on Feb. 7!”
If that’s the case, Brown would have no trouble reciting some of the lyrics written, produced, sung and sold by Mr. Weeknd. Much of it is standard gutter garbage, sexually explicit and vulgar including a reliance on the N-word to reference black men. Thus I’m sure Brown is not only legitimately excited — delighted — for CBS to certify his presence, but Brown, a black man, would have no trouble looking into a CBS camera to recite those lyrics.
Once again the NFL is stuck for any direction to go other than down. And that course was extended when Roger Goodell, a shameless panderer, embraced X-rated, women-degrading Jay-Z as the NFL’s Minister of Social Standards, and engaged Jay-Z’s athletes and entertainers rep firm, Roc Nation, in a blatant conflict of interest.
There may be no greater evidence of a sport in diminished capacity than the “family entertainment” — the Manson Family? — during Super Bowl halftimes under Goodell’s “guidance” — from an exposed breast, to crotch-grabbing, pole-dancing, twerking, grinding, edited profanities, and even a dance salute to the murderous Black Panthers.
There should be a two-drink minimum.
During last February’s telecast from Atlanta, Goodell made sure to be seen on tape solemnly visiting the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was ordained, and now a national historic site.
But at halftime, the NFL went out of its way to degrade the Rev. King and his legacy, inviting two vulgar, N-wording, women-denigrating, boasting, no-upside, backward-pointed rappers, Travis Scott and Big Boi, to perform.
So now it’s time to politely request that CBS’ Brown accept the challenge by proving the courage of his on-air conviction. If he sincerely believes that The Weeknd is an appropriate choice — a great choice! — to entertain tens of millions during this Super Bowl’s halftime, he’ll have no trouble reciting some songs recorded by The Weeknd.
And he should do so in a public forum, such as on CBS, where he made last week’s cheerful announcement. Same goes for CBS Sports president David Berson. Sing it, fellas! Start with one titled “Ebony.” Go ahead! Give it a Google!
But I fully expect that Brown and Berson will join Peter Rosenberg, Roger Goodell, Jemele Hill and Mets management — it twice honored Queens-born rapper 50 Cent between his many arrests — and just walk on by.
Securing win gonna hurt Browns’ red-zone stats
In what TV and the NFL must regard as a statistical calamity last Sunday, the Browns became 10-7 winners over the Texans when Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield ended the game by taking two knees at the Texans’ 1-yard line.
Though that ensured the win, it has already been listed as a colossal failure in the all-important red-zone success percentage department.
NFL telecasts are not insulting enough, it now seems as if “Monday Night Football” play-caller Steve Levy is under orders to forget the game to sell ESPN as a free-standing, nonaligned entity. Thus MNF is now loaded with references to players as separate achievement and statistical realities, as in QB “Kirk Cousins’ first-ever win on ‘Monday Night Football.’ ”
Wow! He has finally broken through!
Save it, fellas, it’s just another transparent con and unnecessary insult to viewers.
Last Sunday on Fox, an “instant replay” challenge of the obvious in Bengals-Steelers led to a bunch of commercials and an instant delay of 3:30.
Also last Sunday in a game that included Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and Cincinnati rookie QB Joe Burrow, a large Fox graphic noted that Roethlisberger is 21-2 vs. rookie QBs — though neither was in the game at the same time, as if 22 players moving at once is irrelevant. Roethlisberger once put it best: “It’s not tennis!”
Players seem more out of touch with game circumstances than ever. After returning a punt Sunday, the Giants’ Jabrill Peppers rose and gave that tired “first down” arm signal. Was he unaware that after the ball carrier is tackled, all punts are followed by a first down?
But that’s OK, a new IBM commercial boasts about “new innovations” — as if there’s another kind.
Adidas ad gets it backward
Leave it to a sneaker company to delight in an ad campaign that would further diminish the sport within a sport.
An adidas ad that promotes young Padres star Fernando Tatis as an attitude-enriched, bat-flipping, me-first showboat features several elderly men complaining about how he chooses to play baseball, once a team sport:
“Who does he think he is?” “What happened to respect?” “He’s making a mockery of the game.”
Oh, how hip, how clever, ridiculing those old fools who prefer modest athletes to braggarts. According to Rob Manfred and MLB Network, we’re all supposed to prefer home-plate posers to those who run to first base. So we remain mired in sells that pitch bad as good, worse as even better, so much so that MLB’s oldest, most loyal fans are belittled.
Perhaps adidas will provide follow-up ads upon Tatis igniting a bench-clearing brawl.
While we’re on the subject, Dodgers star Cody Bellinger last week had surgery to repair a shoulder he injured in an excessive high-five celebration during the NLCS.
And reader Dick Dimuro notes that Robinson Cano is now available as a full-time mentor to the joggers.
As Seen On TV:
Allen Iverson, a longtime casino regular with lifetime banishments from at least three casinos — as the No. 1 attraction, he missed a Big3 League game to all-night gambling — now appears in a TV ad for a gambling operations. Should help him pay off his gambling debts.
Iverson joins Charles Barkley as an ex-star athlete with profound gambling issues to be hired to appear in TV ads promoting gambling.
Johnny Bench, in ill health, last week auctioned his career memorabilia. Sad, when it comes to that. But there might have been a long-ago clue. Years ago, when he was a regular on the home shopping TV circuit, Bench was cited and fined by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs for selling his autograph attached to bogus claims of their worth.
From reader Ron Perri in Florida: “Saw a commercial today with Pat Boone hawking investing in silver. So I asked my wife if we should trust Pat Boone by investing in silver. She said, ‘Why not, if we’re gonna trust our health care to Joe Namath?’ ”
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