Something Lost At ‘NFL Experience’

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - February 01, 2006
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For grocery stores it’s the second biggest day of the year. It’s called an unofficial national holiday by some, and for those in the pizza-delivery business there is no day more important. The Super Bowl is an event. Some would say the event. A day of get-togethers, barbecues, television, gambling (legal and otherwise), commentary, predictions, TiVo, trash-talking, weeping, finger-pointing, deafening screams, roaring laughter, adult beverages, stories of backed-up sewers at half time and any number of other quality things that make it a true family event.

And that’s just for those at home.

For the lucky quarter million or so who are brave enough to get within a few hundred miles of the game site, things are even more exciting. The Windsor Ballet included.


It’s called the NFL Experience. Five days of autographs, fandom and above all promotion, promotion, promotion. Do you believe the hype? You’d better. It’s the biggest commercial of the year. Rumor has it there is even a football game to be found somewhere.

According to the Super Bowl XL website, the Experience is “the most exciting continuous event surrounding Super Bowl XL - an interactive theme park offering participating games, displays and entertainment attractions.” But that’s not all.

There are also card shows, autographs, clinics and Football 101, a class specifically designed to teach women the rules of the game. That’s right, ladies, just stop by Cobo Center - next to the arena where Bob Seger recorded Live Bullet - plop down your $15, and maybe you too can someday join your husbands, boyfriends, brothers and uncles in drooling admiration of NFL football. While there, don’t forget to sign up for a free one-credit course that will teach you how to spend an idiotic amount of time and money on paraphernalia that no real fan can do without and no player would be caught dead wearing.

Here’s the rub. The teams involved are basically irrelevant. The ad rates have been set, corporate donors are lined up and fans will be bilked for every dime. What matters is money. Not fan appreciation nor promoting the host city.


Locals were shocked to hear that Detroit’s massive musical legacy was going to be ignored. From day one rumors swirled about a halftime show featuring a musical montage performed by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder - who is actually from Saginaw - Seger, Kid Rock and Eminem. Also available could have been Ted Nugent, Diana Ross, Alice Cooper, The White Stripes, Smokey Robinson, Madonna, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, The Temptations and Anita Baker. Heck, they may have even dusted off the MC-5 to Kick Out The Jams, but they didn’t. Why? Because while the game is played in Detroit, the event is staged for the world. And since Janet Jackson showed off her fun bag in a desperate attempt to reinvigorate a falling career, the league has decided to trade hip hop for hip replacement. Safety through osteoporosis. Don’t worry, the NFL will get back to embracing hard rock and rap once parents aren’t looking, but until then get used to acts older than the game itself. Early favorite for next year’s show is said to be Tony Bennett.

No one wants to go back to the early days when empty seats were common and entertainment consisted of a simple marching band, but we lost something when the game went from football and fans to one centered around corporate comps and people tuning in just to see how many giggles they can get from Budweiser commercials.

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