Bad news sells or, as they say in TV news, “If it bleeds, it leads.” If so, business must be booming. While negotiations are ever-changing, as I write this ISIS apparently has beheaded one Japanese hostage and is threatening to execute another. Then again, if we hadn’t overthrown Saddam Hussein, it’s possible there wouldn’t be an ISIS (or is it ISIL?). But that’s a whole other column.

And there’s more grim news: The Cold War between Russia and the U.S., which many proclaimed ended two decades ago, has heated up. The temperature rose with the arrests of a Russian spy ring in New York. One pundit joked that Putin’s bellicose ways have increased in direct proportion to the sag in his once-buff chest muscles.

Add to the spy ring story the record snowstorm that buried New England, a record number (50) of airline bomb threats in January, Israel and Hezbollah shelling each other again and a drone that crashed on the White House lawn. (“Drunk droning” by a blitzed government intelligence employee, no less.)

Yes, one could be concerned about any or all of the above, but the nation’s collective eyes are focused on the Super Bowl, the crown jewel in the $11 billion-a-year NFL season that’s less than 48 hours away. After Tuesday’s absurd “media day,” during which Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch repeated 29 times, “I’m only here so I don’t get fined,” the game itself can’t come too soon.

If Lynch hadn’t shown up to media day he could have been fined, but should he? It’s obvious he hates talking with the press, though no more than I hate his obscene “crotch grab” after touchdowns. (That said, the Progressive Insurance commercial in which he makes fun of his eccentric reticence to talk is quite funny.)

For weeks now, the almighty NFL, which somehow has a “nonprofit” tax status (how is that possible?), has been under a cloud of suspicion known as Deflate-gate. This when it was discovered that 11 of 12 footballs used by New England in the conference championship against the Colts were under-inflated.

I will actually be glad when the Super Bowl finally starts and there’s no more discussion of inflated or deflated balls.

As of press time there was, however, a noteworthy development in Deflate-gate. In surveillance video, a “bathroom attendant” apparently sneaks a bag of 12 balls into the stadium bathroom. In 90 seconds it’s believed he slipped into a stall, locked the door and deflated the balls. (So much for Knute Rockne’s quote, “Win or lose, do it fairly.”) So now some are calling Coach Belichick “Coach Belicheat.” Ouch!

There hasn’t been this much interest in a bathroom stall since 2007, when former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Utah) was charged with soliciting gay sex in a public bathroom. In 2014, a federal judge ordered Craig to pay the U.S. Treasury $242,000 for using campaign funds to pay his legal defense. Poor Larry. Actually, poor Mrs. Larry.

But back to the Super Bowl, where I have a personal connection inasmuch as I attended the very first one at the L.A. Coliseum in 1967. (With 30,000 empty seats!) Our ticket cost $12. Now it might sell for $12,000, which generally only coronations can afford. And clearly only large corporations can afford Super Bowl TV commercials; a 30-second spot costs $4.5 million. (And they’re sold out!)

It’s been a tough few years for the seemingly arrogant Roger Goodell, the $40-million-a-year Commissioner of the arrogant NFL whose games accounted for a mind-boggling 28 of the top 30 TV viewing audiences in 2014. How arrogant?

This year NFL brass floated the idea of having the singer for the Super Bowl halftime show pay them rather than the other way around. (New meaning to the expression “pay to play?”) It was already a PR disaster when Katy Perry told the NFL, “I don’t work for free.” You go girl.

On a more serious note, in recent times the NFL has come under fire and lawsuits over player safety, primarily concussions and brain injuries. Just go to an NFL reunion and watch former players hobble on stage. (Herschel Walker, who also boxed professionally, said between the two sports, boxing was far safer!)

But all will be forgiven if the Super Bowl matchup is as good as anticipated. It’s predicted that 100 million people will watch and $10 billion will be bet. For all my criticisms of the NFL, I’ll be one of those glued to the TV.

Jack Neworth is at, or

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