Monday, February 8, 2016

Thoughts on L

L is the Roman numeral for 50. L is what they chose not to use to designate this year's Super Bowl. The feeling was that an L would be mistaken for Loss. Loser. One wonders if the Romans chiseled W for fifty, what would the NFL have done then.

It's about time they moved away from the Julius Caesar-era and the Roman gladiators. The NFL commissioner at the  time, Pete Rozelle, thought it would be great to portray the game as the ultimate match between the AFL and the NFL. The Roman Coliseum.

Fifty is a somewhat large number, and is equal to the number of Super Bowls I've seen. I've been around for all of them, and had them all on whatever television was in the room I was in.

I remember getting a haircut the Monday after the first Super Bowl, and the barber who I was going to at the time liked to listen to talk radio. Yes, there was talk radio in 1967, probably in this case Barry Gray.

The commentary went along the lines that the NFL proved it was superior to the AFL, didn't they, by winning this first of 50 games by a score of Green Bay Packers 35 and Kansas City Chiefs 10? Yes, but the score at halftime was Green Bay 14, KC 10. Didn't that prove something? Yes, you have to play the whole game for the score to be final. On and on.

NFL vs, AFL was like the talk between oil and gas heat. It was heated. Which one was better? Despite the New York Jets surprising the Baltimore Colts in 1969 in what would be the first title game with a Roman Numeral, III, by a score of 16-7 in an absolute epic upset, predicted, or "promised" by the Jet quarterback, Joe Namath, I still consider the Jets to be in the AFL. It's been their only Super Bowl victory, Joe Namath's only real claim to fame, other than surviving multiple, brutal knee surgeries and trying to get amorous with broadcaster Suzy Kolber on camera while enjoying the effects of alcohol.

It was odd that yesterday I found myself back in the 18th Street neighborhood, going past the storefront of where that barber used to be. My wife and I were headed to Pete's Tavern, for a post-show dinner. We had just seen 'Noises Off' for what for us was the third time: 1982, 2001 and now 2016. 'Noises Off III,' I guess.

Pete's Tavern, as I'm sure mentioned in prior postings, is the bar, speakeasy, that my grandfather's flower shop served as the front for during Prohibition. I somewhat expected it, that perhaps they were going to have an admission-style Super Bowl party there and we'd have to go somewhere else for dinner. They do after all have televisions everywhere in the place.

I was right. We got as far as the clock my father used to wind as a youngster.  It is still not working, and were greeted by a manager I've seen there for years, but whose name escapes me. We were told there was a Super Bowl party starting at 6:00. It was now 5:00 and I didn't want to be mixed in with an audience primed with booze trying to talk up the game. We went elsewhere, L' Express on 20th Street and Park Avenue South, where the lamb burger is always good. My wife enjoyed the cod.

When leaving, I told the waiter I've seen all the Super Bowls so far, and was still going to see this one, but with near-zero interest. He explained they were soon going to put the sound on the only TV in the place, near the bar. At 6:30, he was surprised they had as many people as they did so far.

Home was achieved before the first half was over. Then of course the halftime nonsense. A half hour of pop music, with thousands of kids who run onto the field. How do you get to be one of those youngsters? Is there a lottery, like the New York City Marathon for it? Mute.

Extravaganza Super Bowl halftime shows are nothing new. And from what I could see, CBS was proudly replaying highlights from prior exertions. Of course they didn't show what can happen when Janet Jackson's boob can be exposed by a failure of Velcro to thwart Justin Bieber's yank. Snuck into this show was Beyonce's salute to the Blank Panthers. There are people who really miss the 60s, even though they weren't around. CBS must be hiding under their desks. Again.

I like to tell people that when the Jets first starting playing at Shea in the AFL they often played on Friday night. I distinctly remember being a young lad at one of those games where the halftime show consisted of two rubber mats being unrolled onto the field, with a fully stocked refrigerator at the end of each mat. The object was for women to run back and forth on the mat and see who could empty their refrigerator the fastest. You've come a long way, baby.

My friend called at halftime to tell me I missed little. He said the game was boring, and he was glad there was a 'Walking Dead' marathon to fall back on.

I watched as much as I could, but grew weary of fumble, recovery by the other team, fumble by that team, recovery by the other team. With no dog in the fight, the excitement was missing, and I was growing weary. At about 9:40 I went upstairs to read the latest book I'm working on before lights out.

Just because I've seen all 50 Super Bowls doesn't mean I have got to stay awake through all of them.

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