10:03 a.m. ET Five hundred and eight minutes before kickoff, ESPN’s four-hour pre-pre-game show opens, and within mere seconds there’s the sound of… horns… violins… oh my God they couldn’t already be going to Well of Over-the-Topness, could they?… and suddenly a graphic on the screen: “Every Ring Has a Story, Narrated by Andy Garcia.” That sound we hear – could that be a… lute? Cue the images of old-timey football. “Every ring has a story, a story carved in gold,” Garcia says, slowly, verrrrrrry slowly, like a supervillain in a Bond movie or Kevin from The Office. “A story adorned in gems – 43 histories of kings, and the crowns they’ve worn upon their hands.” Easy, dude – leave some forced gravitas for later in the day.
10:20 Panel discussion on Dwight Freeney’s ankle, the most talked-about body part in America this week, having finished slightly ahead of Sarah Palin’s hand and Tiger Woods’ naughty bit. A consensus emerges: the ankle is either going to be sore or it’s not, and it’s either going to be a huge factor or no factor or possibly a minor factor. With intel that solid, is there even any reason left to play the game?
10:33 We’re told the NFL has spent $6-million on security for the Super Bowl to ensure “an incident-free event.” And yet no one has raised a finger to stop Mike Ditka from assaulting the English language.
11:01 Panel discussion about Peyton Manning. Tragedy strikes when so many complimentary adjectives are used up that we’re temporarily left with no way to describe Scarlett Johansson’s body.
11:08 Feature on Indianapolis fan whose goal is to tattoo onto his body the autographs of all 53 members of the 2007 Super Bowl-winning Colts. He’s currently at 32. “When Tony Dungy agreed to sign my left shoulder, that’s the point I realized I need to get the rest of the team.” Makes sense: I think we all feel that same sense of purpose when Tony Dungy signs us.
11:11 Tattoo Guy says people who mock him just don’t understand. “It’s about the journey,” he says. That and the hepatitis.
11:13 ESPN brings in two former Colts to autograph Tattoo Guy’s arms, and a Miami tattoo artist to make their signatures permanent – right now! On live television! Why isn’t Ken Burns making a 10-part documentary about this? “We’ll be back and we’ll monitor Jose’s work,” Chris Mortensen threatens.
11:28 Saints defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams says his team needs to do something to get into Peyton Manning’s head. Idea: Have Jabari Greer brush up against him and whisper: “Those pants flatter you.”
11:32 Former QB Steve Young likens the pressure on quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to that being felt by two brain surgeons before a big operation. That’s preposterous! Surgeons don’t need to read the cornerback blitz. (On the other hand, surgeons invariably face the threat of legal ramifications for cupping their hands underneath the buttocks of a colleague. Let’s call it a sawoff.)
11:41 Scores of people are gathered around watching Colts Tattoo Guy slowly get inked up. There hasn’t been a spectacle this riveting since the nap I’m about to take. See you around 2 p.m. ET for the actual pre-game.
1:54 p.m. I wake to terrible news: I missed Chris Berman’s interview with Emeril. Did he wear the white outfit? Did he say Bam? Did 1998 call and ask for its celebrity chef back? I NEED CLOSURE ON THIS!!
2:01 Two hundred and sixty three minutes before kickoff, the official pre-game show begins on CBS. Are you ready for some hyperbole? How about some bedsores?
2:09 The guys stuck filing live reports from outside the team hotels: Making sideline reporters seem relevant by comparison since 1997.
2:19 We see footage of Peyton Manning getting onto the team bus, meaning I’ve lost my first prop bet of the day: Manning arrival by hang-glider.
2:24 It took 24 whole minutes for someone to mention Brett Favre and speculate on whether he’ll be back next season. It’ll take me substantially longer to go to Best Buy and replace the HD TV I just shattered with a beer bottle. (I warned you, Mr. Panasonic. I warned you not to say that name.)
2:29 Remember when 3,000 network executives, all Hollywood agencies and every American TV morning show were vying to win the broadcasting services of Tiki Barber? Just saw him doing a commercial for Ritz crackers. “Nadir” is the one for rock bottom, right?
2:34 Boomer Esiason just said “Ritz crackers” four times in one sentence, and then ate several Ritz crackers live on television. He’s trimming your grass, Tiki Barber!
2:43 Ritz is everywhere today. On commercials. On signs behind the CBS panelists. In Boomer Esiason’s noisehole. I wouldn’t want to be Triscuits right now.
2:44 Tim Tebow’s controversial Focus on the Family commercial airs. I assume this will be followed by Boomer Esiason climbing atop the CBS sports desk and personally delivering four non-aborted babies.
2:54 Up next: An “unpredictable” celebrity chef. What does that mean? That he might weld or tapdance instead of cook?
2:57 I’m not familiar with this Guy Fieri chef guy, but I am familiar with the migraine he’s giving me.
2:59 Chef Guy plops a cream cheese mix and jalapenos on some Ritz crackers. He shows off his Buffalo wing meatballs stuffed with… Ritz crackers. Prediction: Box of Ritz crackers plays drums for The Who at halftime.
3:08 Host James Brown introduces a “feature” on the Gatorade Performance Lab. It makes the devouring of crackers by Boomer Esiason look like classy product placement. (This just in: Dwight Freeney’s ankle to be wrapped in Ritz.)
3:13 Obligatory Hurricane Katrina feature. Football team credited with healing, rebuilding, resurrecting entire community. If only a short-sighted George W. Bush had poured more resources into the Saints right from the get-go.
3:31 Peyton Manning has arrived in the locker room. We can see that he’s removed his suit jacket and untucked his shirt. And to think there are people out there who aren’t watching all 5,000 hours of the pre-game show — some of them probably think Manning still has his shirt tucked in, or maybe isn’t even wearing a shirt at all. Suckers.
3:34 So we started the show with a feature on a young football player who died in a car wreck. Then the piece on Katrina. Now Haiti. Don’t get me wrong: I was already on my way to getting drunk. But I wasn’t planning on doing it for depression-based reasons.
3:53 You know how once you’ve spent a long period in captivity, you’re prone to having sympathy for your captors? It’s called the Stockholm Syndrome. But sometimes your captors inflict something so terrible on you that it actually hardens your resolve against them. Based on what I seeing right now on TV, I think it’s safe to call that the Daughtry Syndrome.
4:11 New Orleans was hit by a hurricane a few years back?? WHY HAS MORE NOT BEEN MADE OF THIS TODAY??!
4:12 James Brown informs us that Pizza Hut expects to sell more than 1.7 million pizzas today. Placed side by side, those pizzas would cover more than 45 football fields. Coincidentally, those are the exact terms under which Jerome Bettis said he’d continue playing for the Steelers.
4:21 This is the product placementiest Super Bowl pre-game show of all time. Ritz crackers in Boomer Esiason’s mouth. A report from the E-trade baby. Now Pizza Hut pizza all over the desk. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope this thing isn’t also sponsored by Viagra.
4:42 Katie Couric interviews America’s “first fan,” President Barack Obama. I’m not saying the President’s popularity is in decline, but he now claims to be writing a book about football. (In reality, most of the discussion is about health care. And what’s striking to me is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a comprehensive plan that would solve the deficiencies inherent in Dwight Freeney’s ankle.)
4:48 At the urging of Boomer Esiason and the E-trade baby, Katie Couric crams Barack Obama full of Ritz. FOOTBALL!!!!!!
4:54 Roll call for today’s pre-game show: Tragic death, Katrina, Haiti, a five-year-old leukemia victim, a prolonged discussion of Washington legislative gridlock and the spectre of ongoing terrorist threats. Don’t tell me, let me guess what’s next: the climax of Terms of Endearment?
4:56 Steve Winwood? Performing outside the Super Bowl?? What, did Haircut 100 have a thing?
5:04 Seems I was wrong about Terms of Endearment. Instead, we get an emotional jailhouse interview with Plaxico Burress, the former New York Giants receiver who shot himself while illegally carrying a gun in a nightclub. How emotional an interview is it? Piano music is involved. The tinkly kind. The tinkly kind.
5:14 Now it’s some Callaway product placement featuring a taped bit involving Phil Mickelson, who attempts to forecast the outcome of the Super Bowl using a new Callaway driver, two golf balls and… I gotta be honest: I can’t even be bothered to finish this sentence. Enjoy Boz Scaggs instead, everyone.
5:42 Hey, wow, look: another story of “redemption, recovery and rebirth.” Let this serve as a lesson to football teams seeking to be part of future Super Bowls – you or your community needs to undergo some terrible trauma from which to bounce back, like enduring a devastating tornado or surviving a conversation with Chad Ochocinco.
5:51 Thanks for the pre-game show, CBS! I was especially fond of the constant invoking of misery, disease, crime, natural disaster, human tragedy and Ritz crackers. It’s too bad you guys didn’t get to organize Obama’s inauguration: I think we all would have enjoyed the endless historical footage of lynching, slavery and racism.
6:18 Dear Queen Latifah: Singing a song slower does not necessarily equal singing a song better. (On another note: Why don’t we as Canadians have a variety of patriotic songs that serve as secondary or “bonus” anthems, like America the Beautiful? I nominate Boys in the Bright White Sports Car.)
6:21 Carrie Underwood, Urban Cowgirl.
6:28 Emmitt Smith, Hall of Fame football player. His potential induction into the Coin-Flipping Hall of Fame, however, has just suffered a serious setback. Bet the Saints never figured the coin toss to be a concussion risk.
6:32 Eight and a half hours in front of the TV and, finally, kickoff. My ass feels like Dwight Freeney’s ankle.
6:39 Watching Manning on this opening drive, New Orleans fans have got to be about as confident as a studio executive whose big summer film stars Jennifer Aniston.
6:43 Watching U.S. feed. Betty White and Abe Vigoda in the same commercial = I’m a Snickers fan for life now.
7:03 “Sorry, Coke.” Oh yeah, I’m going on record as a fan of that Simpsons/Coke commercial. Also of that Colts’ 96-yard drive. I haven’t seen a Man v. Boys vibe like this since Friday nights at Neverland. (T-Pain/Autotune commercial = hilarious.)
7:17 I believe we now have conclusive evidence that Freeney’s ankle is fine. Can we all start talking about a different body part? Suggestion: Megan Fox’s chest.
7:22 Letterman, Oprah and Leno? Best promo ad ever.
7:23 Back-to-back commercials that centre on jokes about pantlessness. Maybe I’d be welcome in the advertising world after all.
7:40 An outside run on third and goal from the one? And then the same freaking play again on fourth down?? Turns out the “Sean Payton as genius playcaller” hype was about as accurate as the “Spider-Man 3 will be awesome (or at least kinda make sense)” hype.
7:47 Impressive second quarter for the Saints. Peyton Manning saw less action on the field than Tiger Woods gets at home.
8:02 Halftime with The Who. Let this spectacle serve as a lesson to all the young rebels out there: You can’t just hope to die before you get old. You have to be proactive.
8:04 Just in case any of you were wondering what my Grandma would look like performing at the Super Bowl halftime show: Roger Daltrey.
8:08 Did you notice how the one shot of Daltrey shows a clock counting down behind him… 12:20… 12:19… 12:18…? Maybe that’s how much time is left before the band starts to sound good.
8:12 Regretting that my Super Bowl XLIV Over/Under Challenge didn’t include the category: glimpses of Pete Townshend’s belly.
8:24 An onside kick to start the second half: We haven’t seen a decision that gutsy since a man touched Lindsay Lohan.
8:29 To those of you who are curious what became of Peyton Manning, last seen by human eyes about 75 minutes ago: He’s making me nachos.
8:40 Colts touchdown! Is there anything Peyton Manning can’t do? Besides make nachos. (Soggy.)
8:46 Looks like Freeney’s ankle is an issue again. Except in the alternate timeline where the plane landed at LAX.
9:02 Just one left quarter to go in the Super Bowl and the 2009-10 season. The thought of seven whole months of no NFL makes me sad. As does the thought of one more minute of Susan Boyle.
9:03 Colts go for it on fourth and two from near midlfield, and make it. Coach Jim Caldwell celebrates by treating himself to an extra blink.
9:11 This is such a fine display of quarterbacking from both Manning and Brees that JaMarcus Russell is actually getting better at his job by osmosis.
9:14 Saints touchdown! Not sure how closely you’re playing attention, but right now Dwight Freeney is having about as much impact on the game as my Kim Kardashian voodoo doll.
9:16 New Orleans challenges a denied two-point conversion, and wins. An enraged Jim Caldwell gazes slightly to the left. (He’s either a terrific role model for emotional balance or the man that the producers of Weekend at Bernie’s 3 have been waiting for.)
9:24 Manning drives the Colts toward a potential tying score, proving once and for all that he hates the city of New Orleans and does not want it to heal as a community.
9:29 Manning throws an interception, proving once and for all that he hates the city of Indianapolis and does not want it to to have anything whatsoever going for it as a community.
9:41 Old meme: Peyton Manning potentially the greatest QB of all time. New meme: Peyton Manning potentially the greatest QB named Manning.
9:45 Answer: Nobody. Question: Who dat?
9:59 Mauled and fondled indiscriminately as it’s brought to midfield, the Vince Lombardi trophy now knows how it feels to be Paris Hilton. (Answer: violated and tingly.)
10:04 Good night, folks. I’ll be the guy looking forward to Labour Day and the 2010 kickoff. (Who dat going to beat the Bills? Slightly fewer teams than last year possibly!)