WASHINGTON — For me the football season begins in mid-December (when everyone becomes serious) and ends at the Super Bowl (when everyone becomes deathly serious). This year it ended with the longest Super Bowl in history. Though I am the epitome of punctuality, I let the season go into the first overtime in Super Bowl history without turning off the television, so I could see whether President Donald Trump’s prediction would be vindicated. He predicted that the New England Patriots would win by eight points. It won by six after being down 28 to 3 in the third quarter! Another two-point conversion and the president’s prediction would have been right on the money.
From analyzing the timing of his tweets, I have come to the conclusion that Trump stuck with his prediction through all the lonely quarters — the first, the second and even the grim third quarter. After all, Trump has endured lonely quarters of his own.
As 2016’s Election Day drew nigh, Hillary Clinton was still being toted as the Inevitable One, much as she was toted as the Inevitable One by the media during her first triumphal march toward the presidency eight years ago. Why would she not now vanquish Trump on Nov. 8? The New York Times gave her an 85 percent chance of victory. I like to think that Trump recognized something in the Super Bowl game that others missed. That would be superior coaching, superior training and finally, character. The New England Patriots had all of these qualities. But no one had them in greater abundance than quarterback Tom Brady, as his five Super Bowl rings now make manifest.
The American Spectator’s editorial director, Wlady Pleszczynski, recognized these elements of victory even during the first three quarters. In his blog, he reported: “The clear advantage (the Atlanta Falcons) enjoyed in speed and strength was beginning to mean less and less as the game wore on. While the Pats were able to fall back on their superior coaching and training, which had a way of weakening Atlanta’s abilities.” Now we know why the Falcons faltered. I like to think that Wlady learned about superior coaching and training from my tirades around the office after watching a great sports victory.
I have often reminded anyone who will listen of the 1962 Amateur Athletic Union outdoor swimming national championship. Every one of my Indiana University teammates who won an event answered the dumbfounded (and disagreeable) ABC sportscaster’s query, “To what do you attribute your victory?” with a terse response of “superior coaching and training.” By the way, Indiana won the majority of events that summer, as it would for years to come. The hapless sportscasters eventually gave up.
The sportscasters back in 1962 wanted something more uplifting and utterly irrelevant to sports. Perhaps they wanted to evoke a wholesome, homespun reply, say, “I owe my victory to my mother’s meatloaf” or “my sister’s cookies.” After all, this was the pre-politicized 1960s. Today, as times have changed, the ABC announcer would settle for nothing less than a political diatribe, such as a salute to the abandoned immigrants, or perhaps a Colin Kaepernick-like genuflection. Truth be known, I have never met a television commentator who knew much about competitive sport. But they all know about politics.
Which brings us to Lady Gaga’s halftime performance. I am told she spared her audience a political statement, though I actually could not tell. With all the fireworks, the lights, the marching, the strutting and the dancing hordes onstage, her lyrics escaped me. When she came down from the sky suspended by cords, I got a drink. By the time I returned she was marching around, being held aloft, gasping and shouting. She might have uttered a manifesto, say, “Save the Wales” or “Victory in Vietnam” — she is not, after all, known for her grasp of public affairs. Yet I am told she restrained herself.
Good for Lady Gaga. And by he way, she kept up a Super Bowl halftime tradition: She sweated as much as the guys on the field. I hope she retired to the showers, or perhaps a bubble bath. I rather liked her.