Don’t Believe the Hype

Friday, January 23rd, 2009, 11:06 am

So I’ve been watching ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage for the past week and by far the biggest story so far has been Anquan Boldin’s shocking sideline sucker-punch and attempted strangulation of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Never before has a coach been the subject of a such a violent felonious assault, and from one of his own players yet. Boldin was taken into custody on the field but only after a fifteen-minute fracas that required nearly twenty law-enforcement officers before Boldin was subdued. Only repeated Taserings and sobbing pleas from Larry Fitzgerald ended Boldin’s enraged struggling.

Of course, that isn’t what happened. Boldin and Haley yelled at each other a bit on the sideline, which of course never, ever happens in the NFL. But this has been the lead story of ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage every day this week, and this morning I was told by the Worldwide Leader that this animated conversation is now called “the infamous blowup” and that there’s a “firestorm” around the controversy. And ESPN sees no irony in saying this, seeing as it’s the media (led by them) who have made this non-story “infamous” and have created said “firestorm” out of whole cloth.

Both Boldin and Haley have said this is no big deal. Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it’s no big deal. Cards safety said it’s no big deal. Anyone who has ever played sports and felt slighted knows it’s no big deal. But ESPN, who deals with sports and athletes more than any other media organization, to them this is shocking, shocking news.

OK, the Steelers-Cardinals matchup isn’t the most glamorous. It isn’t the Cowboys and…well, it isn’t the Cowboys. If Dallas was in the Super Bowl the airwaves would be clogged with stories about Tony Romo and Terrell Owens and Jerry Jones and the Kremlinesque intrigue at Valley Ranch. Ed Werder would have anonymous players telling tales out of school about how T.O. kidnapped Jason Witten’s dog and that Pacman Jones finances an al-Qaeda cell, and the next day Stephen A. Smith would be screaming at the screen that NONE OF THIS…IS TRUE!!!

To me the most interesting story of the week was Ben Roethlisberger saying that before Super Bowl XL he had butterflies…and that they didn’t go away during the game. Roethlisberger had the worst game of his career, throwing that pick that nearly made me puke (the one where he had Wilson wide open for the TD that would’ve clinched the game), and after the game he sat in his locker, head in hands, unable to join in the celebrations because he felt he nearly cost his team the game. He said this week that game still haunts him. But he’s got three more years under his belt, he’s played (and won) other big games, hopefully he’ll have a better game two Sundays from now. Though to be honest, I don’t care how Roethlisberger plays so long as he does what he always seems to do–win. He does know how to win football games.

Getting back to ESPN…they signed Rick Reilly away from SI for millions and millions of dollars…and I’m trying to understand why. He writes one short column a week, and now they just ran some piece with him talking about the Yankees and Cowboys (natch) and it was just awful. OK Rick, you’re hip, you drop Paris Hilton references with the best of them. Seriously, that’s not the most banal of cliches or anything. 

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One Response to “Don’t Believe the Hype”

  1. Arctic Ghetto Says:

    Pittsburgh 37, Cards 24. That said, my predictions are so bad Vegas puts a over/under idiotic, line on me.

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