Tom's Take #3 // How the 'Greatest Show on Earth' threatened to destroy itself
The exposure of Adam Levine’s nipples should have been the most uncomfortable experience during Super Bowl LIII. If the selection of Maroon 5 for the halftime show resembled a fumbling attempt to put a team together with whatever was left in the schoolyard, Levine’s topless excitement did little to lower the already raised eyebrows of the masses. Yet it was the post-game debacle that threatened to undermine the ‘greatest show on Earth’.
If English followers of the NFL have suffered tiresome rugby comparisons every February when the Super Bowl attracts its increasingly wide viewership, the lines between the two sports have arguably never been more blurred than during the ever-expanding scrum that formed around Tom Brady in the immediate aftermath of the game. Swamped with more microphones and cameras than any football player since OJ Simpson exited the courthouse, Brady was swept away on a tidal wave of reporters and journalists when it should have been simply adrenaline and teammates.
Brady’s 6th ring is an unprecedented, landmark achievement - a chance to be part of history that will perhaps never be repeated and each media outlet is duty-bound to get a slice of it. We get it. (And credit where due, the media got far more up close and personal with Brady than anyone on the Rams managed). As a reporter onlooking this tactical but unspectacular battle, a sprint onto the field of play might also represent the most exciting moment of your night. We also get that. But here’s something that might just get you your best material and simultaneously highlight the magic of the sport - letting the man enjoy his moment.
Brady and Belichick might be the headline acts, but the Patriots are the ultimate poster boys for how each component of an organisation can be optimised to its maximum to come together and be successful. Brady being cut adrift from his teammates at this unique moment of celebration was a direct contrast to the very values that had got the Patriots here and an eagerness to escape this mob and be amongst those who had played a key role in this journey was etched all over the quarterback’s face as he waded through the crowd like a child desperate to play with the rest of the kids. These are unforgettable nights that won’t go on forever and as much as the viewer should be able to enjoy them, this applies even more so to the main protagonist, who as great as he is will know that each Super Bowl could be his last.
Ultimately, Brady was able to celebrate with his teammates and the broadcaster (CBS) got their customary interview - so all’s well that ends well right? But that unique euphoria felt in the immediate aftermath of victory, which cannot be replicated in any other time or place, was stifled by this media invasion. The raw emotion that every sport is built on could not be fully expressed or enjoyed and was treated as a secondary priority when matched up against the media’s own objectives. It’s a huge irony that the very platform that aimed to capture the emotion of the sport in its purest form was actually the thing preventing an organic celebration. That these fundamental ingredients within sport can be tossed aside with little regard by the NFL is a reflection of the greedy indulgence of the consumer to have more and more access to these stars and their world - and the media’s need to feed this hunger in return for dollar bills. Sports are a business. The ‘greatest show on Earth’ needs money to keep on rolling. But please don’t make this be at the expense of the heart and soul of the sport.