OK, now that we’re through the farce that is the Pro Bowl, it’s almost zero hour for the 2011 NFL season. So I thought it only proper to bust out a pair of Super Bowl-related retro cards. Up first is New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, as grafted onto a 1956 Topps card.
And for the AFC’s New England Patriots it’s Pro Bowl tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, on a 1984 Topps.
Of the two, the Manning was the easier to produce. I used a ’56 Charley Conerly card. Conerly was the QB of the Giants during the 1956 championship season, which is why I went with it. The stroke/halo effect is present on that ’56 set so I reproduced it as close as I could. Like with the Drew Brees card, I had a hard time finding a good helmetless pic so I just went with a regular shot.
The Gronkowski was a little trickier. I was going to go with a 1963 Fleer as the template, as that was the only year the Boston Patriots even made the AFL postseason. But it’s not a particularly inspiring layout to work with, so I went back to the ’84 Topps set. It’s probably the one I collected more than any other as a kid, and is still one of my favorites.
The trick was to find a usable picture of Gronkowski wearing the Pats throwback uniform. I then grafted it onto a John Hannah card, as it already had the additional Pro Bowl graphic on it. All I had to do was replace the name and the position text.
Just about the only time I see this AT&T commercial is during football games, and I’ve enjoyed it consistently for a few months. So here is the “Romantic Dinner” AT&T iPhone commercial.
I’m not going to lie, there’s a chance I may have been guilty of summoning scores/highlights on my iPhone during dinner or a conversation with Mrs. Suit. In my defense, sometimes you just gotta know what’s going on in the game. But I’m at least smart enough to keep quiet while doing it. Unless the Raiders score.
Oh, and as best as I can figure, the actress in this spot is Anicka Haywood. If someone knows better please let me know.
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I had so much fun designing my retro Drew Brees card, I got started on my next one right away. So here’s Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian “All Day” Peterson. I used a 1975 Chuck Foreman Topps card as the template.
I used a headshot of Peterson as Topps still relied mainly on them in the mid-’70s. Astute fans will notice that the Vikings patch on the jersey chest is missing. I removed it to maintain consistency, as Topps did not have the right to use team logos throughout the 1970s. Logos returned starting with the 1982 set.
All Day failed to reach 1,000 for the first time in his pro career, but that’s only due to injures. He is poised to become the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher within the first game or two of the 2012 NFL season, surpassing Robert Smith’s 6,818 yards. Foreman is the team’s third all-time rusher with 5,887 yards from 1973-1979.
These days, most of the Super Bowl-related ads I see are for giant TVs. You know, to watch The Big Game. So I was a bit surprised to see that most companies riding the Super Bowl popularity train back in the day just decided to give stuff away. Tickets, mostly.
Aw, Burt Lancaster doesn’t need your prizes, he just loves being part of the team!
I would love to know which team the lucky winner of this contest got to become a part owner of. Of course it didn’t specify the NFL, so it really could be anything. Hopefully not the Cleveland Browns. (Aqua Velva, 1970)
The good news is you can win tickets to the Super Bowl and Hawaii! The bad news is you have to hang out with Terry Bradshaw. (Eveready, 1973)
If anyone can track down a copy of that Super Quarterbacks LP, I will be your friend forever. (White Owl cigars, 1973)
Ah crap, this guy again? (Eveready, 1974)
You don’t see a lot of Super Bowl/movie tie-ins these days, so this one for the 1976 Disney live-action film Gus — starring Don Knotts, and featuring a cameo from Johnny Unitas! — is a standout. (Riddell, 1976)
I suppose choosing Fran Tarkenton as the pitchman for this promo made sense in 1977. The Vikings had just appeared in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in eight years, and third with Tarkenton. Too bad Minnesota never went back to the Super Bowl again. (MSA, 1977)
Fun NFL trivia — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White was part of the team when they won Super Bowl XII, but did not start at that position. He was the team’s starting punter until Roger Staubach retired. (Gulf, 1981)
Every time Joe Theismann called for the shotgun formation, John Riggins could barely contain his erection. (Winchester, 1983)
I still have pretty vivid memories of watching television on the evening of Super Bowl XXII. Not just because it was the day that the hated Denver Broncos got pummeled by the Redskins, but it was also the premiere of The Wonder Years on ABC. It instantly became one of my favorite shows, and I watched it faithfully for most if its entire run. As it turns out, The Wonder Years was also one of the more successful shows to launch right after the Super Bowl.
Let’s take a look at the history of TV series to debut after the big game and see how many we can remember.
1979: Brothers and Sisters (NBC), Super Bowl XIII
It wasn’t until the thirteenth Super Bowl that a network struck on the idea of capitalizing on a huge built-in audience to roll out a new series. You can’t blame them if they had never done so again, because Brothers and Sisters was hardly a ratings bonanza.
Instead, it was a short-lived Animal House ripoff — one of three frat house comedies on network TV in 1979 — featuring three Crandall College frat brothers who liked to crack wise and chase sorority sisters. The show, co-starring screen legend Jack Lemmon’s son Chris, ran for 13 episodes and was off the air by April. ABC’s Delta House lasted only a few weeks longer.
1983: The A-Team (NBC), Super Bowl XVII
Not surprisingly, it was four years before a network dared air a new show after the Super Bowl again. This time, however, NBC hit it big with The A-Team. Although the two-part pilot had already aired before Super Bowl XVII, the series’ first regular episode (“Children of Jamestown”) aired after a thrilling Dolphins/Redskins championship game. The A-Team, which launched Mr. T’s career and was a Top 10 show for its first three seasons, was finally canceled in November 1986 and aired its last episode in March 1987.
1984: Airwolf (CBS), Super Bowl XVIII
It was CBS’s turn to debut a new series after the Super Bowl, and so Airwolf‘s two-hour pilot episode aired after Super Bowl XVIII (my beloved Raiders’ last title to date). The show starred Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord, and a really bitchin’ helicopter. What else do you need, really?
But after just three seasons CBS grounded Airwolf. In 1987 the still-obscure USA Network bought the rights to the series and aired a fourth and final season with an entirely new cast.
1985: MacGruder and Loud (ABC), Super Bowl XIX
So much for the winning streak. While not a failure on the level of Brothers and Sisters, Aaron Spelling’s crime drama about married police officers quickly faltered after a strong post-Super Bowl debut. Spelling and ABC imagined the show as an answer to Cagney and Lacey but apparently the question really was, “What cop show is the total opposite of Cagney and Lacey in the ratings?”
ABC took MacGruder and Loud‘s badges after three months and twelve episodes.
1986: The Last Precinct (NBC), Super Bowl XX
The problem with airing a new comedy right after Super Bowl XX was that once you’ve seen William “The Refrigerator” Perry run for a touchdown against the hapless Patriots the laughter bar has already been set pretty high. And so it was that Stephen J. Cannell’s one and only foray into the world of sitcoms, The Last Precinct, was a brief one. The premise was that Adam West was Capt. Rick Wright, who ran a precinct of characters not funny enough to make it into the Police Academy movies. And they had Bobcat Goldthwait. That’s about all you need to know.
The Last Precinct closed its doors in May 1986, after just eight episodes.
1987: Hard Copy (CBS), Super Bowl XXI
No, it’s not that awful tabloid show from the ’90s, although I thought it was too. This Hard Copy is an awful and forgotten drama about a hard-boiled reporter who don’t brook no nonsense. At least that’s what I can gather from the scant resources about this show on the internet. What I do know was that Hard Copy became the third post-Super Bowl debut flop in a row and lasted less than a season.
1988: The Wonder Years (ABC), Super Bowl XXII
Like I said, The Wonder Years rocked. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so, as the show peaked at #9 during its third season and ran for a total of five. I’ll still never forgive Winnie Cooper for leading Kevin on all that time, as much of a whiny dork as he could be.
1990: Grand Slam (CBS), Super Bowl XXIV
I had never even heard of this one until I started putting this list together. It was apparently a comedy about a pair of bounty hunters based out of San Diego. One of them was played by Paul Rodriguez, the other by John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard and later Smallville.
The premise was that these two “bounty hunters” competed with each other to capture the same criminals, sometimes even screwing the other one over. Yuk yuk?
Nope, just yuck. Grand Slam debuted at #15 in the ratings, but sank to #68 the very next week and was off the schedule in a matter of weeks.
1991: Davis Rules (ABC), Super Bowl XXV
This one coulda been a contender I suppose. It starred Randy Quaid and Jonathan Winters, which was a good start. But as Casey-Werner sitcoms go it was no Roseanne or The Cosby Show. ABC canceled it after 13 episodes, but it briefly found new life on CBS — which added a fresh-faced Giovanni Ribisi to the cast.
1993: Homicide: Life on the Street (NBC), Super Bowl XXVII
This crime drama takes the prize in terms of longevity and critical acclaim, if not in actual ratings. Homicide: Life on the Street ran on NBC for seven seasons and 122 episodes, plus a TV movie. It won multiple awards and was the launching pad for Andre Braugher’s career.
1994: The Good Life (NBC), Super Bowl XXVIII
Right before breaking out with his own sitcom on ABC, Drew Carey co-starred with John Caponera in this short-lived NBC comedy. It was canned after thirteen episodes, and I can’t think of anything else interesting to say about this one.
1995: Extreme (ABC), Super Bowl XXIX
ABC banked on the star power of James Brolin in this action series about a Rocky Mountain rescue crew led by a guy named Reese Wheeler. They lost, and Extreme went on hiatus right after the debut. Before it left for good it did manage to air seven episodes. Bummer, dude.
1999: Family Guy (Fox), Super Bowl XXXIII
After Extreme fizzled, networks stuck to airing episodes of popular, established shows like Friends and The X-Files after the big game. But Fox took a gamble on a new animated series to air with perennial juggernaut The Simpsons. Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy debuted to an audience of 22 million, a pretty impressive number but the lowest since Extreme in ’95. Fox famously pulled the plug after three difficult seasons, only to bring Family Guy back in 2005. It’s been a fixture on the network’s Sunday night animation block since then.
2005: American Dad! (Fox), Super Bowl XXXIX
What the hell, it worked once for Fox right? Technically, American Dad! debuted after The Simpsons on Super Bowl night, but let’s not split hairs. It was the first new Seth MacFarlane animated series since Family Guy debuted, and although it was very similar in terms of characters it’s not a spinoff. American Dad! is currently on its seventh season and is coming back for an eighth. This despite never rising above #79 in the ratings.
2010: Undercover Boss (CBS), Super Bowl XLIV
The last new series to debut after the Super Bowl (as of 2013) is Undercover Boss, aka Rich White Guys Are People Too. People apparently dig watching powerful company heads mingling with the hoi polloi they emploi (sorry, couldn’t resist), as evidenced by the nearly 39 million viewers who tuned in for the show’s debut. That’s the highest total since the second-season premier of Survivor in 2001, and the most viewers for a new post-Super Bowl series since The Last Precinct in ’86. It was a different time back then, folks.
The fourth season of Undercover Boss is now underway.
No, I didn’t forget a show. This is the wrapup, where I review and rate how many successes and failures there are in this lot. I define a loss as any show that lasted one season or less; a tie lasts 2-4 seasons, and a win goes for more. I’m moving Undercover Boss to the win column since it seems to be a lock for a fifth season.
Losses (7) — Brothers and Sisters, MacGruder and Loud, The Last Precinct, Hard Copy, Grand Slam, The Good Life, Extreme
Ties (2) — Airwolf, Davis Rules
Wins (7) — The A-Team, The Wonder Years, Homicide: Life on the Street, Family Guy, American Dad!, Undercover Boss
I can’t believe I’m saying this as a football fan of three decades, but I’ve seriously given thought to not watching the Super Bowl this year. Not because I don’t think it will be a good game, and certainly not because it lacks for good story lines. It’s just that I’m not the kind of football fan who will watch a game just because it’s football.
I need some kind of rooting interest — some reason to pull for one team over the other, even if it’s a silly one. But with Super Bowl XLVI, I am struggling to think of one so far. Unlike the last time the Patriots and Giants faced each other, in Super Bowl XLII. It was easy to root for New York then. I, like 99% of decent-minded sports fans, wanted desperately for a season’s worth of Boston-centric hubris and obnoxiousness to come crashing down on the perfect Patriots’ heads. So when Eli Manning found David Tyree on that improbable third-and-five play in the final period, and later hit Plaxico Burress for the winning TD, all felt right with the universe.
Is there a way Super Bowl XLVI can end in a tie?
But I will get no such sense of satisfaction if the Giants win this time. Not because the Patriots are suddenly the feel-good story of the year. No, I still loathe them. But taking a longer view of the league, I have to marvel at their consistency. Over the last decade they’ve posted fewer than 10 wins just once, and they’ve made the playoffs for all but two seasons. In a league where back-to-back winning seasons is a dream for some fans (myself included), that’s outstanding.
And let’s face it, will a fourth Super Bowl title really make New England fans even more entitled and annoying? I doubt it.
On the other hand, I don’t really have any specific reason for not rooting for the Giants. I’m a big Tom Coughlin fan, and Eli Manning seems like a good dude and he’s definitely a clutch quarterback. It’s just living in the greater New York area most of my life, enough already. I’m not even going to tune into the local sports talk radio station, WFAN, for the next few weeks (even though they have probably already started to talk about baseball).
The pretentious football purist in me feels like the Giants caught a lot more breaks this year than the Patriots. They stumbled their way through most of the regular season, and benefited from a weak division. And let’s not forget how Dallas once again shit the bed in December, as they seem to always do. I know that it’s the playoffs that count, and New York is certainly the hotter team, but I’m of the belief that consistency throughout an entire year should be rewarded in some way.
GAH, it’s all so confusing! Well I’m sure that the understated media approach to the Super Bowl this year will help me decide who to root for. Or I’ll just go with Plan B and watch some tapes of old Super Bowls from the ’70s I have stored in the basement. I just need to find a VCR.
Miscellaneous Debris — My AFL project is past the halfway mark! My collection of programs and media guides from the 1966 season is up. And a new retro football card is coming this Friday, so mark your calendars!
My American Football League Program project has had me in an even more retro mood than normal. And as I wind down the bulk of the work (programs and media guides through the 1966 season are up now), I’m already looking for a new project. And so I struck upon the idea of retro football cards. So what’s that mean, you ask?
Simply put these are actual football cards from yesteryear, modified to show modern players. I haven’t collected football cards for years, as it stopped being a fun hobby when I saw it turning into big business. But when I was into it, I amassed a pretty decent collection. I still have most of them, in fact, and treasure them more than any of the baseball cards I collected.
So this project is a way for me to reconnect with the joy of collecting, as well as a way to keep my Photoshop skills up — meager as they are. So my first retro card, for no particular reason, is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. I used a 1969 Billy Kilmer Topps card as the template. I think it turned out OK for my first try.
The only “new” elements are the picture of Brees, of course, and the text for his name.
I had a hard time finding a picture of Drew Brees striking some kind of football pose — but without his helmet — that looks more like the types of poses featured in cards of this period. Cards in the ’60s didn’t feature action shots as a rule.
I hope to do more of these, so if anyone reading this has a suggestion I’m open.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not a very big Bruce Springsteen fan, despite being Jersey born and bred. This gives me one advantage over Boss diehards, in that I can approach his new music with a fairly objective ear.
This leads me to “We Take Care of Our Own,” the first single from Bruce’s upcoming Wrecking Ball album. To me, it sounds like the Bruce I know best. It’s hooky and anthemic, as was his classic ’70s and ’80s material. But it also sounds modern, which is what keeps the song from sounding too overblown.
And I gotta hand it to Bruce, he still sounds passionate and a little angry at age 62, which is more than most people half his age can claim.
I may just have to pick up a copy of Wrecking Ball, which would be the first new Bruce album I’ve ever bought. It comes out on March 6, by the way.
Holy crap, was it really more than four years ago that I wrote my little love letter to Millennials? Why, it’s like not a day has gone by since then that I don’t choke on my own bile as these insanely privileged and irrationally entitled oxygen wasters skip through life with their heads lodged firmly up their asses.
Wait, what was I going to talk about before I became blinded with fury? Oh yes, Saturday Night Live. Their recent Daniel Radcliffe-hosted episode featured a sketch called “You Can Do Anything!”, which pretty much sums up some of the feelings I posted in that letter. But in comedy sketch form. Polish your participation trophy and check it out.