In the wake of the Seattle Seahawks' resounding win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, B&C's Dade Hayes and Tim Baysinger took stock of the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl. Some edited excerpts from their conversation:
Dade Hayes: So the great milestone has officially passed. At 43-8 it was the biggest blowout since 1993, yet surprisingly managed to set a new record with 111.5 million viewers. And the weather was bizarrely mild for Feb. 2. (If Winter Storm Maximus had dropped its 8-10 inches on us Sunday instead of Monday, just imagine the even higher tune-in from the sheer novelty.) I wasn’t making the same rounds as you covering the build-up, but my sense is that the result of all this is that the NFL has some reason to hesitate greenlighting another cold-weather outdoor game. It doesn't seem to have made the same splash as the NHL's outdoor extravaganzas. Ultimately, it felt like a bit of a wash. Though at least the traffic was finally moving across the George Washington Bridge — something that, ahem, hasn't always been the case.
Tim Baysinger: It wasn't Jacksonville, that's for sure. Transit issues aside, I think last week went off pretty well. Sure, earlier in the week it was under 20 degrees (making the trek to Newark for Media Day that much worse), but as long as there were no major issues, the league and the host committee would have signed up for it. The one-sided game won't go against New York City and the weather did cooperate. I don't think this builds any momentum for truly frozen settings like Boston or Green Bay, but I think cities like Washington, DC or Philadelphia have more of a chance than they did a year ago.
Hayes: Aside from cutaways showing Times Square and the Manhattan skyline, the game on-air didn't seem to have much specificity. That rainy halftime show [the Fox studio portion] looked like it was in Wayne Campbell's basement, with that low roof and harsh lighting. For the past two years, we all imagined the second coming of the Ice Bowl or the "tuck" game in New England, but the game wound up much more prosaic as a TV product. Fox did its usual solid work, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman helpfully copping to how lopsided the game was pretty much from the Seattle safety 12 seconds in. Logistically, though, I agree that the game fared far better than cold-weather sites like Dallas or Detroit and the fact that it mostly ran smoothly does make a repeat seem possible. For New York, hosting a Super Bowl isn't as much of a feat when you consider the city's daily rhythms of the U.N., Wall Street, Fashion Week, on and on. The city's scale and capabilities are such that Lebron James and the Miami Heat came in to beat down the Knicks the night before the Super Bowl and it was almost a footnote, one of eight million stories.
Baysinger: I happen to believe the Super Bowl will come back to NYC within the next 15 years. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his State of the League address on Jan. 31 that he wanted to bring the game to different cities. With the stadium issues in Miami and San Diego benching those two cities for the foreseeable future, the league needs new ones (the Bay Area will be part of the regular rotation as long as nothing unforeseen happens in two years). It's why I also believe Dallas will get another chance.
Hayes: Ah yes, never count out those Cowboys. I think you're probably right about New York, though it should certainly be a longer-term thing, not sooner than 10 years out — or whenever Rex Ryan is finally let go by the Jets, whichever is sooner. The other aspect of Sunday that's interesting is the effect of all this on the Ad Bowl. One of many studies of ads' impact was released by Innerscope. They found that cheap laughs and sex appeal lost out to more complex emotional stories. Cheerios, Chevrolet and Budweiser all scored especially high. I also liked this section of the press release: "The results also suggest that many of the top ads were impacted by the lackluster game. The biometric results showed that many of the top ads were in the first half of the game and facial coding clearly showed high levels of frustration and contempt among Broncos' fans as the game progressed." So what ads - or Fox promos - influenced your facial coding and biometrics, Tim? I know you liked the 24 spots. I wasn't as wowed, but admittedly I wasn't onboard for the original series either. But I did like Stephen Colbert and the pistachios. How about you?
Baysinger: Who would've thought the best performance by a Broncos quarterback would be Tim Tebow? I thought his commercials were great.
The Colbert ones were good, but like always I never find too many Super Bowl commercials memorable. Go Daddy really toned down theirs, there was no E-Trade baby and Bud Light went a different way with their first one than in years past. It did seem like this year's went more for emotion rather than comedy, though I did like the Seinfeld one ("I know the point of the mumble"). I felt the movie promos were lackluster and I know we disagreed on this, but I thought Fox did good with their 24 promo (and the 4-5 teasers sprinkled throughout).
Most surprising? The one for Scientology. I think the Christian sector is going to have something to say about that one since they catch so much flak for sharing their beliefs in commercials.
Hayes: It's true. First an Oscar nomination gets taken away from Christian film Alone, But Not Alone. And now this.
Baysinger: OK, time to stop reminiscing about the past and give our way too early predictions for who Seattle will host in the 2014 opener in September.
The most obvious choice would be San Francisco, but I don't think the league will want to use too many of its five chances to schedule a 49ers game that early. (The league can only schedule a certain team for a maximum of five national games). You have to think the league will want to put the 49ers' Levi's Stadium opener on Sunday Night Football within the first two weeks.
Most obvious choices otherwise would be Denver (a Super Bowl rematch to kick off this season?) or Green Bay ("Fail Mary" redux).
One thing I can predict? The Mariners won't force the Seahawks to open on the road.
Hayes: Is this the logical time to out you as a Niners fan? (And I say that with all due affection, as a Raiders fan.) Yes, the league has several good options and agreed, it won't let an Orioles-Ravens conflict crop up again. Vegas likes all the teams you mention to go deep in the playoffs.
One of the fascinating takeaways of this game is what it means for Peyton Manning's 2014 season. At 37, he is old by QB standards but I would absolutely expect him to feed off this. He managed a Super Bowl record for completions and the real issue for the Broncos was the O-line, not the signal caller. He wasn't super-sharp but it was the definition of a team loss. But football fans remember well the crushing Super Bowl defeats suffered by the Broncos during their run of great years in the 1980s and '90s. The Vikings/Bills-eque streak was snapped when John Elway, also in his late 30s, quarterbacked the team to two straight titles. An appetizing sequel to Super Bowl XLVIII will be the possibility of Elway, as Broncos GM, helping Manning pull off a similar late-career feat. As the league showed us once again in a constantly surprising season, anything is possible.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)