Pregame coverage lacked local images
By ERIC DEGGANS
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
We're an insecure bunch in the Tampa Bay area, judging by the way we react to other's observations about us.
We know the outside world sometimes sees our home as a motley collection of strip clubs, pawn shops and theme parks, and it rankles. That's why we let knuckleheads from out of town unsettle us with their ill-informed opinions about our perceived lack of nightlife, lack of culture and preponderance of go-go joints.
That's also why it was interesting to see how little of the Tampa Bay area actually showed up on TV in the blitz of programming that led up to CBS' Super Bowl telecast Sunday.
Sure, there were many reverential mentions of Tampa -- pregame host Jim Nantz noted our status as a "20-minute city. Because everything you need is 20 minutes' distance" -- and lots of loving, picturesque shots that made Raymond James Stadium look like the $168-million football palace it is.
But those who might have hoped for sweeping visuals of Ybor City landmarks, way cool footage of Clearwater Beach or an in-depth look (or any look) at the Salvador Dali museum were likely disappointed.
Instead, the gussied-up settings for most of the pregame festivities -- the NFL Experience, MacDill Air Force Base and Raymond James Stadium itself -- looked like they could have been any place with nice weather. At least we had the occasional shot of guys in Gasparilla pirate gear to lend a little local flavor.
Not that CBS didn't have time to bring us more varied images of the Tampa Bay area. With a slate of pregame programming that stretched back to noon Saturday -- including a star-studded Ricky Martin concert at MacDill on Saturday and a live edition of MTV's Total Request Live at noon Sunday -- the network had loads of air time to fill before the 6:25 p.m. kickoff.
But Saturday's Martin concert was little more than a glitzy, well-produced showcase for the singer, marred only slightly by awkward interview segments that brought Dan Rather and Tom Arnold together while 'N Sync traded quips with Joe Namath. (Have they ever even heard of each other?)
Though MTV later proved it can stage an eye-popping halftime show, its non-music programming for corporate sister CBS was more hit-or-miss. In particular, the version of MTV's Total Request Live that aired on CBS Sunday seemed to lack energy, despite Jennifer Lopez lip synching her way through two sizzling numbers in a skin-tight football jersey.
"I like her uniform," mumbled Kevin Richardson of the Orlando-based Backstreet Boys, in one of his more coherent observations. A proud moment for any fan of Florida-bred music.
CBS' TRL show led into a five-hour blitz of pregame programming that was less about readying fans for the game than it was about providing a home for more ads. Even a story on the physical punishment absorbed by NFL players (featuring Tampa Bay Buccaneer John Lynch, among others) felt a little superficial and rushed.
New President Bush couldn't add much during a heavily edited interview with Nantz. "Any big game that is prone to be close depends on (who gets the) turnovers and breaks," noted Bush, repeating the boilerplate analysis sports journalists had been tossing around all week (as it turned out, he was right). "I think it all may depend upon a dangling field goal."
Elsewhere, analysts on ESPN and Fox Sports Net dissected the coming game from picturesque perches at the stadium and on Tampa's Harbour Island, sealing our image as a tourist's paradise.
But even if the Tampa Bay area didn't get much of a showcase in TV's pregame programming, we did emerge as an enthusiastic party town, bursting with colorful fans and good weather. In a world filled with hanging chads and strip club ordinances, maybe that isn't such a bad thing.
Today's Super Bowl story lineup
- Rockin' Ravens
- MVP caps Lewis' strange journey
- 'We're the greatest of all-time'
- Q&A with Brian Billick
- Modell savors a Super year at last in a different city
- Ravens win doesn't improve Cleveland's mood
- I see your return, and raise you one
- Ravens defense stakes its claim
- Mizell: Trent in land of wonder
- Shelton: Baltimore's defense leaves a lasting impact
- Fry: QB Collins should shoulder the blame
- Ginn: CBS' new replay system a look into the future
- Zucco; For some, it's the party, not the game
- Deggans: Pregame coverage lacked local images
- Auman: Third quarter tests Internet's immediacy
- Trigaux: Ads, not football, supreme in Super Schmooze XXXV
- Giants grasp for answers
- Q&A with Jim Fassel
- Dungy a bit surprised by game's outcome
- Ravens rose on Giants' mistakes
Inside the game
- Super Bowl XXXV by the numbers
- Breathtaking returns: Starks, Dixon, Lewis
- Sehorn coverage error leads to touchdown
- Look familiar? Defense gets ball, offense runs
- First quarter: Play by play
- First quarter: Best & worst
- Penalty negates a big play for the Giants
- Second quarter: Best & worst
- Second quarter: Play by play
- Third quarter: Play by play
- Third quarter: Best & worst
- Best 36 seconds in Super Bowl history
- Fourth quarter: Play by play
- Fourth Quarter: Key Play
- Fourth quarter: Best & worst
- Big game and week before it seen as win for bay area
- What they're saying: Stupidity rules the roads
Beyond the sidelines
- Four bars' patrons quaff winnings of Bud Bowl
- Big crowds, big spenders
- Altruism? That's the (free) ticket
- Many avoid traffic nightmares
- Tickets stolen? Too bad
- Unusual musical pairings bring fire to day's festivities
- Area dancers show pregame joy, nerves
- Corporate America buys star execs ultimate party
- Some just don't care about the big game
- On Super Bowl Sunday, the party's anywhere
- Celebrity watch
- Brought to you by ...