The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Feb. 11, 2006.)

One regular ticket for the Super Bowl costs about $600. If someone offers you a ticket for $10, don't buy it if you want to see the game. In the stadium, the game is an afterthought. It's treated as though it was an intrusion on the mindless noise flowing endlessly from the stadium speakers.

I have been to all but two Super Bowl games since 1967, and this year may be my last. Going to the game should be a good experience for a football fan but it's not. Everything about going to the game is unpleasant. The game of football was the last thing the people at the National Football League thought of. I realize that I'm probably not the audience they're aiming at, but I talked to a dozen people at the last game and in the bus going back to the hotel who were as offended by the production as I was.

Last year, I stayed at the NFL headquarters hotel, the Marriott at the Renaissance Center, and it is in a complex of buildings so confusing to get around that only a master architect like John Portman could have designed it. General Motors uses part of it for executive offices. I was in an elevator with several reporters Saturday, and one of them said maybe the reason GM's business was in such trouble was that none of the executives could find their way to their offices.

Detroit desperately wanted to have people like their city. It was sad. I was asked a hundred times how I liked Detroit. It amused me because when there's a big event in New York like a political convention, New Yorkers don't give a damn whether out-of-towners who come like the city or not.

There were people in red vests who'd been assigned to help strangers find their way around the maze, but they appeared to have been shipped in from Toledo. They had no answers to such basic questions as, "Where is the newsstand?" "Which floor is the newsroom on?" or "Where are the buses to the stadium?"

I arrived at Ford Field more than two hours before kickoff and by the time the game started, I was numb from the noise they were passing off as music. I would have been willing to pay for silence. I kept hoping some disgruntled fan would cut the power line.

The half-time extravaganza took 43 minutes. I wasn't interested in watching the half-time show, so I went out back to get some $5 popcorn and a $2.50 bottle of water. It was interesting to note that none of the concession stands was doing any business because everyone had stayed in their seats to watch Mick Jagger. I just wandered around, noting, for instance, that Tropicana was "the official grape juice of Super Bowl XL."

I didn't want to miss the second half kickoff so, after 20 minutes, I went back to my seat. The half-time show wasn't over. I was shocked to find it hadn't even started yet. Stagehands were still dragging large pieces of the stage into place on the field. Jagger and his entourage finally came out and performed for about 12 minutes with an inadequate sound system, then workers started the long process of breaking down the stage and dragging the pieces back where they came from.

The blaring from the loud speakers was unremitting throughout the game. During any break in the action -- even between plays -- the huge screens at either end of the field showed one highlight after another from previous games. No one in the stadium had time to savor the action, anticipate the next play, or exchange a comment with someone sitting nearby. Noise was the dominant element in the stadium.

The NFL ought to start putting more emphasis on the football game and less on making money, or it's going to kill this golden egg-laying goose.

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