Thursday, February 2, 2012

Giants: Super Bowl information overload

There's been so much coverage, so many articles, it's hard to come up with something new, so let's talk about the coverage itself. We can call it meta-coverage, some examples follow. It is interesting how Bellichick is coming out of his shell and is much more open with information and friendly to the media. I can't figure out why, but I can speculate. (Explaining why someone acts the way they act when they are being covered, qualifies as meta-coverage). Perhaps he's getting some humility and doesn't feel that he's above the game anymore. In 2007, his team won 18 in a row and did not just win the games but seemed to take pleasure in absolutely demolishing their opponents. Bill Simmons, "The Sports Guy" on ESPN on-line, used to call it the "f-u" touchdowns at the end of the game where he really wanted to rub the league's nose in his superiority. Perhaps, in the wake of the illegal videotaping scandal, some people wondered publicly if this gave Bellichick an unfair advantage over his opponents and this was the reason he was so successful. Bellichick wanted to remove all such doubt about this speculation and so wanted to dominate his opponents, not "just" win. As a result, the final statement to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that "I'm better than you and taping has nothing to do with it" is to win the Super Bowl and even more, to do so after an undefeated season. That loss must have been crushing to him. The Patriots had not won a playoff game since that Super Bowl loss until this year and he surely heard the whispers grow to small murmurs that Bellichick had feet of clay and needed the advantage of the videotaping to win. To compound the agony, one of the playoff losses in those intervening years was to the bitterly hated in-division rival NY Jets. Perhaps these agonizing two years gave Bellichick a little dose of humility and he realizes just how hard it truly is to get to these Super Bowl games. His golden boy QB is aging and while he is still among the best, the window is surely closing just a wee bit on his career. He realizes that there may not be too many more opportunities like this, so he is truly enjoying it. He wants to come out of his shell a little bit and not maintain the persona of an arrogant, condescending, unapproachable jerk. Perhaps he also sees how Tom Coughlin has resurrected his personality from that of a hated army drill sergeant to that of your favorite uncle. Bellichick wants some of that too.

Sometimes the coverage at the Super Bowl is really bizarre. There are tons of media guys doing interviews of players and coaches. Fine, I get that. Of course, when they all do interviews of the same players and ask the same questions to each player over and over again, it gets a little tired and lame. How many times are we going to hear that Gronkowski has a high ankle sprain, that he hasn't practiced, that it might get better and it might not. How many times are we going to hear that the Giants have a good DL and the pass rush is important in football. How many times and in how many different ways can the question be phrased  to Tom Coughlin asking how and why his personality changed. How many times are we going to hear that Osi and Light don't like each other very much and got into fights the last few times they played. Enough already. But what I find interesting - this is the meta-coverage part - is that there are only so many players and coaches to go around that allow themselves to be interviewed on all these sports talk shows. So, when they run out of players to interview, the media guys interview each other. It's hilarious when you think about it. For example, on a local sports talk radio show, the host interviewed a writer from the Boston Globe, another sports talk radio personality from satellite radio, the play by play announcer from one of the networks and maybe he squeezed in a player or two also. It's not the media covering the players. It's the media covering the media. Meta-coverage.

Perhaps the best example is ESPN, which takes meta-coverage to the extreme. In fact, they may have invented meta-coverage. When the football analysts interview other ESPN analysts from other sports and they present this as meaningful insights into the game, i want to scream. As if it is important to get a fresh view of the Super Bowl from someone who analyzes the NBA for  living. Stephen A. Smith was interviewed on some ESPN segment and his opinions were given great respect. Smith is rarely correct about his predictions, but he says them with great conviction. Can we start this game already?

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