FOOTBALL AND MELLENCAMP
Did anyone else catch, during Sunday night’s unthralling (what’s the opposite of enthralling?) Seahawks/Texans ESPN game, they once threw it to commercial with a montage of stadium concessionaires while John Mellencamp’s “I Ain’t Even Done With the Night” played? The song, which you’ve probably heard if you’re cognizant that classic rock radio exists, is a powerfully lame ballad in which Mellencamp wails aimlessly over a jingling mandolin. It’s a lame song even by Mellencamp’s lofty standards. And, yet, there it was being used on Sunday night football, instead of “The Authority Song” or “Rockin’ in the USA” or any other song that’s still lame, but that you could at least reconcile its inclusion in a broadcast trying to maintain a moderate level of excitement.
At that moment, while Mellencamp protested to the night that he wasn’t yet done with it, I realized that football is so popular in our country, the NFL is flaunting the fact that it can do anything with the broadcasts and viewers will keep coming back.The NHL has launched a new dramatic ad campaign with a gladiatorial hockey player being dressed for “hockey battle” by his female sex slave in order to get the league some controversial attention, but people still aren’t scouring the four-digit channels to find OLN. Baseball has chosen the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Cherub Rock” as the theme song to their ’05 playoffs, which is pretty dated, but could you imagine if baseball used that damn Mellencamp song instead? You’d fall so asleep, you’d suffer brain damage. Last year baseball tried to be even trendier by using Franz Ferdinand’s “Jacqueline” in their playoff promos, apparently attempting to restore the chic-European-discotheque atmosphere that baseball has lacked since the retirement of Kirby Puckett.
Bottom line, football sells itself. It doesn’t need gladiators or Scottish danceable pop or P.T. Barnum promoting it to keep people glued to their sets. The NFL knows it, too, and it wants us to know that it knows it, sort of like how a girl who knows a guy likes her can ask him to do increasingly unreasonable things for her benefit; the least reasonable of all things, though, is playing “I Ain’t Even Done With the Night” during anything that’s supposed to be exciting. But, like that dumbfounded boy on the other end, I keep coming back to the NFL, only instead of hoping against hope that someday we’ll get together, I’m hoping, against the same infinitesimal probability, that the Steelers will actually win a Superbowl. Yes, they’re now 3-2, but as the soon-to-be motto of the NFL says, they ain’t even done with this night.