Oh, what a night!



Free Press Staff Writer

Who cares who won the game? With all those sexy, witty and wry commercials, starry halftime and pre-game shows, candid shots of the famous – Look, there’s Ally McBeal in the stands! — the Super Bowl succeeds where other sports extravaganzas often fail.

Why is that? It alone serves up eye-catching stuff for even those who have no idea what an oblate spheroid is. (Hint: It’s another name for a football.)

What follows is an on-the-fly tour of the non-grid happenstances that filled the eyes and ears of the usual overwhelming throng of an estimated 130 million U.S. viewers – a whopping 64 percent of all U.S. households that were watching television Sunday night.


In nearly every marketing class, the professor inevitably notes that sex sells.

That well-learned lesson was pretty evident during the Super Bowl ad barrage.

Some of it was overt: that catwalk snippet of wiggling supermodels urging you to not to miss the post-game on-line lingerie show at www.victoriassecret.com. Model Ali Landry mesmerizing collegiate types while eating her Smokey Red Barbecue Doritos as she traipses through a library. Some was coy: Halle Berry gently flirting with a crispy M&M. The Budweiser commercial slyly indicating how afire department dalmatian and a spotted barker riding shotgun for the Budweiser Clydesdales met to bring forth a comely young pup. Here’s a vote that coy was more endearing than overt – just like in real life.


1 billion-At least. Dollars bet nationally on the Super Bowl in office pools.

110 million-Prizes given away annually by Cracker Jack. The Shetland pony a girl received in the commercial for Cracker Jack’s “really big bag” was not real.

Thousands-Cast of …for this year’s $3-million Progressive Auto Insurance halftime extravaganza.

53,000 — Dollars per second paid by 30 companies for a record average price of $1.6 million for half-minute TV ads. That’s 23 percent higher than last year’s fees.

XXXIII Times someone has watched the Super Bowl.

50 — Nationwide truck-stop parties sponsored by Volvo Trucks.

11 — Hours of Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast. That’s longer than Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.”

Mack 10 — And Ice Cube. Pregame entertainment.

5 — Minutes and 15 seconds, the amount of time Budweiser bought to shut out other brewers from the telecast.

4 — Hours of classic Warner Bros. Sylvester and Tweety episodes on the Cartoon Network with color commentary from football mouths like John Madden.

1 — Quite fine gray pinstripe suit and silver tie worn by Fox pre-game commentator Howie Long.


The last time Cher tried something patriotic, it was that controversial video for “If I Could Turn Back Time,” when she sat astride a battleship gun and bared her tattooed rear end for hundreds of cheering sailors.

Compared to that, her Super Bowl anthem was positively sedate. In fact, the signers for the hearing-impaired got more screen time than the singeróand they merited it, too, with some eye-catching movements that bordered on interpretive dance.

Wearing faded jeans and a pink sequined top and sporting Falcon-colored ‘red and black’ hair, Cher worked through a heavily orchestrated version of Francis Scott Key’s lyrics with little vocal embellishment until the end.

She concluded with a soaring repetition of the final words, “the brave,” beating the concluding fireworks barrage by a couple of moments. An error-free, clean rendition. If Dick Clark were in the stands, we guess he’d have given Cher an 85 — there was a glitz deficit, after all. The signers would get 100, with the notation that for them, the anthem was clearly easy to dance to.