If you followed me a year ago you know during Super Bowl “coverage” I worked from the middle out. That is to say the theme was which two teams were eventually going to “open” for the band Coldplay because with a billion people watching… well, we know only a handful actually care about football right?
It’s all about that halftime show people.
Lady Gaga is set to perform at this year’s Super Bowl intermission. What I know about Ms. Gaga fits nicely on the head of a pin. I have heard a few of her songs. I know she’s very active in a number of worthwhile causes.
I also know she once wore a dress made of meat.
The suits at the NFL apparently had a talk with Ms. Gaga and her people recently about making sure she keeps her garments on – meat or otherwise – during the halftime show. After learning of this discussion I did a little research and it appears that’s actually a legitimate concern.
Now you might ask yourself – I certainly did – why would the NFL ever sign off on Lady Gaga in the first place since there’s prior precedent for her lady parts being part of her act?
Then again trying to understand the day-to-day activities of the National Football League would drive any of us…gaga.
The largest specialty retailer of health, wellness and performance products in the world, GNC is promising a massive 2017 push to try and reverse momentum from their worst year since going public some five years ago. Their stock dropped over 60 percent in 2016.
It sounds like a lot of inventory is nearing its expiration date.
To avoid nearing their expiration date GNC has decided to buy a commercial for the Super Bowl. Based on last year’s cost of a 30-second spot, that represents 8 percent of their entire advertising budget. It’s a bold move indeed because nothing speaks to the collective state of mind of a gigantic Super Bowl audience like trying to be healthy.
On a day and night full of spirits, sodium, saturated fat and sugar…by all means bring on vitamins GNC.
We may have some clarity now as to why GNC is faltering…
To this weekend’s games…first a reminder three of the four match-ups are rematches from the regular-season. Oakland defeated Houston 27-20 (in Mexico City). Miami won at home against Pittsburgh 30-15. Green Bay won at home against New York 23-16. (I’ve always been partial to favoring the losers of a prior meeting come playoff time…)
Oakland at Houston – If you ever fancied yourself playing quarterback in the NFL I suggest you get to Houston stat. The Raiders are still reeling from recently losing potential MVP Derek Carr to a broken leg and will start a quarterback who has never started in the NFL. The Texans have been reeling with a recently-benched but healthy Brock Osweiler all season long. Whoever wins this game will likely depart from the playoffs the following week. Houston has been winning ugly all season, almost exclusively with a pretty good defense…and should have enough in the run game with Lamar Miller (expected to play) to emerge victorious. The Raiders really looked not just Carr-less but heart-less in Denver on Sunday when they still had a chance to get a first-round pass…but now they can’t pass at all. WINNER – HOUSTON
Detroit at Seattle – With head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson the Seahawks have never lost a playoff game in Seattle. However running back Marshawn Lynch is retired and defensive back Earl Thomas is broken. The Seahawks running game hasn’t been the same since Marshawn walked away. The Legion of Boom hasn’t been the same since Earl’s leg bent the wrong way. As for Detroit, the Lions last won a postseason road game the year before I was born. (I’m 58) They “roared” into the playoffs by losing their last three games. Management actually had to confirm Jim Caldwell would indeed return as Detroit’s HC next season. Matthew Stafford’s dislocated finger isn’t supposed to be a big deal but he’s thrown five picks in the last four games…he only threw five in the Lions’ first twelve. The Detroit defense gets zero pressure on the opposing signal-caller. Does this sound like a team that’s ready to travel to Seattle and win in front of the Starbucks-infused, decibel-breaking Seahawks “12th Man?” Seattle has struggled to run the ball and also lost a valuable deep threat when Tyler Lockett also found his leg a bit out of position a couple weeks ago. But if Wilson just rolls out and creates some controlled chaos they should be just fine. WINNER – SEATTLE
Miami at Pittsburgh – It doesn’t sound like Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to have his knee healed in time to play. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi was said by many to have had a breakout season but consider the fact 33 percent of his rushing yards came in their two games against Buffalo. Pittsburgh’s defense has gotten better as their season moved towards its conclusion – 30 sacks since Week 8. The Steelers have running back Le’Veon Bell healthy for the first time entering the postseason. The dual-threat he presents by catching the ball should be quite troublesome for Miami, who have given up a ton of yards to lesser folks. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and Bell are all healthy and ready to roll. Oh my. Those Terrible Towels will wave in a win. WINNER – PITTSBURGH
New York Giants at Green Bay – Got to be the best game of the weekend. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has won both of his prior postseason starts at Lambeau Field. New York Head Coach Ben McAdoo is supposed to be an offensive genius but their play on that side of the ball has been nothing short of offensive. Speaking of offense…wide receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz were seen partying in a nightclub in Miami with Justin Bieber after their win over Washington Sunday. (Athletes who have partied with Biebs have a fairly spotty record of achievement afterwards) Monday the two were seen hanging out on a boat with WR teammates Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis. They were all doing it on their “off time” but the optics are really, really bad considering the timing…and the Giants’ offensive woes. (Sidebar – I always thought off time in the NFL meant to get treatment and rest up, especially entering the playoffs) The Giants give up points grudgingly. They score points in the same manner. Green Bay has a wide receiver playing running back but they also have Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback. Ben McAdoo was Rodgers’ QB coach in 2012 and 2013 so this shouldn’t surprise him: Rodgers during the Packers current six-game win streak – 15 touchdowns and no interceptions. New York has given no indication they can hang in a shoot-out so their defense must play lights-out. They just might do that. I still see a Packers victory…barely. WINNER – GREEN BAY
One additional thought on what should be a great game…Gary Myers of the New York Daily News wrote earlier this week about the last time anyone could remember hearing of Eli Manning being nervous. It was actually before one of his high school starts, a rare Thursday night tilt. He called home…which had his mother concerned because that just wasn’t like him. Turned out Eli forgot to set the VCR to tape “Seinfeld” and he needed his mom to make that happen. She did.
Manning has made this happen twice before in the Land of Cheese.
Green Bay…in the immortal words of Three Dog Night…Eli’s Coming.