We’re only days away from Super Bowl XLVIII although actually the first two Super Bowl games were called “The AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” It wasn’t until the third year that the game was officially dubbed the Super Bowl and was called Super Bowl III.
Besides being held in a cold weather stadium, this year’s game has another unusual wrinkle. The two teams, the Broncos and the Seahawks, represent the only two states in the U.S. where marijuana is legal — Colorado and Washington.
At some risk, I note, this brings up two socio-political issues that I favor: legalizing pot and building a state of the art NFL stadium when the Santa Monica Airport lease runs out. But first a little Super Bowl history.
As it happens, I attended Super Bowl I in 1967 at the L.A. Coliseum. I’d like to say I was but a toddler, but I went with my Aunt Amelia and I drove for the following reason. Amelia’s old Ford had a high idle and occasionally, when we were stopped, she would forget causing our car to bang the car ahead of us. There was never any damage, but I frequently almost died from embarrassment.
To be honest, Super Bowl I was more boring than “super” as Green Bay rolled over Kansas City in a 35-10 one-sided affair. Plus there were 30,000 empty seats. (It remains the only Super Bowl not to be a sellout.)
Our tickets cost $10. This Sunday’s game you could spend $4,000 and not necessarily have a great seat. If my math is correct (a big “if”) that’s an increase of 40,000 percent.
Speaking of inflation, a 30-second TV commercial for the first Super Bowl cost $42,500. On Sunday it could go as high as $4 million. Meanwhile, as I recall, parking at the Coliseum for Super Bowl I was $2, whereas on Sunday at MetLife Stadium it will cost $150.
For decades now the gala half-time show at the Super Bowl is a much anticipated event and the performers have included: Michael Jackson, U-2, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Janet Jackson, who had the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that sent the religious right into holy conniptions.
But back in 1967 Super Bowl I half-time featured the University of Michigan marching band. (“Ooh, pinch me.”) This Sunday’s half-time will feature the immensely talented Bruno Mars, although I doubt he could play a tuba and march.
I suppose in a country where the power of the corporation runs everything from the food we eat to our politicians, our most beloved sporting event is dominated by corporations. They’re the only ones who can afford tickets (and get tax write offs), luxury boxes (handy if it snows on Sunday) and certainly the only ones who can pony up $4 million for a TV ad.
Since they’re expecting 100 million viewers (with as many as 150 million watching part of the game) that’s 4 cents per viewer? Put that way, it almost seems cheap.
One person who will not be watching is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who says, “I could care less.” Trust me, this is not music to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ears, or to the manufacturers of Doritos for that matter. Of course, if I were married to supermodel Gisele Bündchen I could see caring less, too. (Although to be grammatically accurate I think it’s “I couldn’t care less.”)
Speaking of Doritos and possible half-time munchies madness, a group in Denver bought the domain name “stonerbowl.org” and are cashing in by selling T-shirts and hats. One shirt features the Vince Lombardi Trophy refashioned into a bong. Another features the letters “THC” — for marijuana’s active compound — replacing “NFL.”
Certainly this year there’s new meaning to the “bowl” part of Super Bowl. Some have issued calls for a cannabis-friendly musician, like Willie Nelson or Snoop Dogg, to sing the national anthem. Or try to. Predictably, the NFL doesn’t see the humor. “We do not have any response,” said league spokesman Greg Aiello.
I know the standard reasons for keeping pot illegal, but please keep this in mind. Not only will tax revenues in both states be enormous but, in Washington for example, it’s estimated that there would have been 10,000 pot arrests that now won’t happen. All that money for police, lawyers, judges and jailers can be put to better use.
As for a stadium when the airport lease expires, we’d get an NFL team and be “inconvenienced” 10 Sundays a year. We’d also be able to say buh-bye to jet noise and toxic fuel pollution. (That said, I’m bracing for angry e-mails.)
According to the USDA, Super Bowl Sunday is the “second highest day of food consumption in the United States, after Thanksgiving.” With all the stoners in Colorado and Washington, all I can say is, watch out Thanksgiving.
Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.