By Collin Reischman
When I first sat down to write this column, I felt confident. My goal was a brilliant and moving juxtaposition of the presidential interview with Bill O’Reilly and the spectacle of the Super Bowl.
It’s an annual tradition. The sitting president is interviewed by a big-name talking head just before the execution of the finest sporting spectacle in the country.
I figured it’d be easy. I could paint O’Reilly as the ferocious Steelers. The big, mean villain, stalking in the shadows, winning by any means necessary. Of course, our mulatto-messiah, Barack Obama, is the Packers.
Like their fearless All-American leader Aaron Rodgers, Obama had the smile, the winning attitude, and a deep-seeded need to over-perform just to break even.
I figured this would be an easy 600 words for me. The titanic battle of the love-to-hate-him O’Reilly and the hate-to-love-him Obama would make for a political feeding frenzy.
Throw in some prose about the ever-constant battle of good versus evil, and national identity, and I could finish this thing before kickoff.
And yet, it didn’t seem to work that way. The interview was painfully tame, with big Bill’s characteristic interruptions and Obama’s frustrating even-keel. Bill runs on pure emotion and gut instinct. Bad Bill wasn’t prepared for the calculated, cool Vulcan that is our president.
They took their jabs, and nothing worthy of even a sound byte came through. I’d barely opened my snacks, and the whole sorry thing was over.
The broadcast went on, Fox went to their default pre-game lineup and the whole country waited anxiously for the real show to begin. So the nation guzzled beer and crammed chips and muted the television; the reading of the declaration of independence had begun, and things were getting boring.
A tradition begun after 9/11, a collection of athletes and enlisted men and women read the document word-for-word while looking very patriotic. It was a good time for a bathroom break, or a beer run.
While the rest of us waited for Jerry Jones, the host of this year’s venue, to finally snap and start attacking reporters like a snarling madman, more flags and fireworks assembled at the 50-yard line.
The national anthem was upon us, and Christina Aguilera managed to mess the whole thing up. I’ll never forget the sensation of rum and coke coming out of my nose when I heard Christina miss the big “O’er the ramparts…” line.
Jesus Christ, I wondered, what else could go wrong with this whole disaster? A forgettable presidential interview, a tranquilizing reading of the declaration and a bombed attempt at our anthem, this thing was a nightmare.
It couldn’t be. The Super Bowl was the quintessential American event. Over eating, physical violence, aggression and competition are the heart of our national psyche, and all the most patriot parts were being ruined so badly I was darkly considering sabotage by terrorists or communist sleeper agents.
The game stretched on, and an early lead by the Packers would be whittled down just in time to make the game something less than a monumental bummer. Rogers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy high in the air, and confetti rained down over Arlington.
It might be the last football game we see for some time. NFL players and owners are speaking in darker, more paranoid ways about the potential lockout looming in the offseason. I can only hope you TiVo’ed the spectacle.
You might have to watch it next year as a re-run — a syndicated spectacle, a repeat championship.