Super Bowl Day 3: Too Stupid, Too Early
1:04 PM EST on January 31, 2024
We are barely into Day 3 of our annual Fortnight Of Stupid—err, the buildup to Super Bowl MXTPLZK, or whatever the acronym is this time—and already deep and profound mistakes are being made based on the same theme, which is timing. Specifically, all the people who want to piggyback on the game to make noises that resonate aren't using the space properly.
The Super Bowl being the biggest attention-getter this country can provide, the opportunities to drop trou and get people to look at you is never better. But the really idiotic stuff can't just get dumped in the first two or three days if the goal is to make the two weeks last. It has to be spaced out properly and allowed time to breathe and resonate for fullest magnification.
We won't, therefore, be getting much into the Taylor Swift psyop story (try this appetite-whetter by Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star) except to say that this was a great Super Bowl story completely wasted on Day 1. You don't start with the certifiably insane premise that ensures your next media job will be shouting at strangers in the airport. You give it some time and work out the kinks in staff meetings in the writers' room. Even if you have crazier and more mendacious stuff planned for later—like Taylor Swift drinking puppy blood to stay alert on long flights or Travis Kelce's offseason cannibalism habit—you blew your chance by going too heavy too early with the overtly stultifying. Anything you've got after this is easily dismissed as merely feebler and feebler attempts to grab ratings that you can never have because there actually aren't as many monetizable morons as you think. Still plenty, I grant you, but their stamina, like their collective attention span, is limited.
Besides, by Thursday, we'll have properly disposed of the story as one simply ginned up by the usual catsack of shame-deficient idiots. A story this comprehensively batshit needed to be built slowly and more deftly than its brain-bubbled purveyors could conceive of and, as a result, we are having our fun now, rather than next week, when the nation would normally be making its standard pivot to "WHY ARE THERE ALWAYS TWO WEEKS OF THIS NONSENSE? WHY CAN'T THEY PLAY THE GAME NOW?" There are 14 days, kids, and we must use them more wisely than this.
The same can be said for Kadarius Toney, the soon-to-be-ex-Kansas City receiver who bears considerable responsibility for why the Chiefs had to play two of their three playoff games on the road. Toney went on an Instagram hissy about how he's not actually hurt—as the team claimed he was—and is actually being punished for various acts of overt Toneyism this season, including misplacing the line of scrimmage and making Patrick Mahomes act childishly in public, and dropping a Mardi Gras of catchable passes. He forced his coach for the moment, Andy Reid, to actually say (and you'll like the sound of this one, children): "Well, obviously he's been on the injury report. That part is not made up by any means," a disclaimer that always sounds funnier coming from a coach. Toney's play here should have been to say nothing until next week, when he would find out he wasn't going to be activated, and then complain as the football stuff starts to creep in. His complaint would have resonated more. As it is, the Swift stuff crushed him and many people have forgotten he is still on the roster, so this will only serve to prove it.
And let's not forget that we still have Bill Belichick's whereabouts to natter over, although that's kind of an evergreen story as it becomes clearer that even the Washington Commanders don't want him. By now, though, it seems clear that saga is one that can be found in the Media News aisle rather than the Football Only shelves, as the networks fight over his future services the way they did for Tom Brady's. Belichick has kept his own counsel, as is his milieu, thus guaranteeing he will be a topic right up until the moment that he does decide where to lift his next $25 million check, and in what blazer he'll be doing it. That's properly spacing out the story for maximum windage.
In fact, we expect Philadelphia fans, already upset by the Eagles' attempts to relegate themselves to the ACC, will probably notice that Joel Embiid got hurt last night in San Francisco, in a game attended by a number of 49ers players. That's not really a Super Bowl story you can stretch out though, unless you want to churn up the number of games Embiid will miss and how they will impact his MVP chances. That's an NBA story, and not really within our purview—for now.
To give you a sense of how a great Super Bowl story should be timed, let us hearken back to January 1986 when Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears, tired of being asked about an injury to his buttocks in the NFC title game, mooned a number of journalists. That was in the second week of the interregnum, and he doubled down on that by allegedly disparaging New Orleans women the Thursday before the game, a claim he denied and which the TV station later apologized for, though that did not stop the death threats against McMahon. And let's remember Atlanta's Eugene Robinson trying to pick up an undercover cop whom he believed to be a sex worker the night before Super Bowl The Thirty-Third in Miami. See, a proper Super Bowl story is not necessarily powered by facts as much as by timing. It also helps that both games were blowouts and needed the off-field help.
So yes, the two weeks are still there for a reason, and there's no good tactical benefit to rushing to be dumbest and most forgettable simultaneously. Pace yourselves, people. Now that we've all agreed that the Super Bowl is the stage that the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Election Night, and the day cancer is cured all wishes they could be, we must savor it like the fine bottle of rancor-propelled spit that it is. The Super Bowl Degrade-O-Fest is a dish best simmered slowly because there will be plenty of time to eat it. There always is.