Super Bowls of old were all play, very little interference

Watching the Super Bowl is becoming more complicated. Used to be you'd just watch, eat, socialize or fall asleep during the fourth quarter after sitting through nine hours of pre-game hysteria or laughing through a bunch of commercials hawking products you'd never dream of buying.

Not now. Now you feel guilty if you don't participate in all of the online polls that Fox inserts just about every other play. Look at that É 50 percent think the Rams should blitz on the next play. Fifty percent? Yeah, one jerk in Lubbock, Texas, voting against another in Grand Rapids, Mich. Now Fox is asking whether Bledsoe should go for it on fourth-and-one at the New England 30 Ñ even though Brady happens to be taking the snaps right now.

It's called interactive television, and it's aimed at all those folks who are more comfortable logging on than lying down and pawing at the remote. It's increasingly distracting to see all of the graphs and percentages popping up on the screen. I haven't seen this many results since the Florida recount.

Now the polls keep going even after the game grinds to a halt. In a history-making moment Sunday, during a 90-second Pepsi ad in the first quarter featuring Britney Spears, you'll be able to vote on what ad you want to see during the third quarter. Before the game, you can pick your favorite Levi's commercial from a trio of ads, with the winner airing during the first quarter.

So it's come to this Ñ live polling about jeans commercials? Is this really what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the Internet?

There's also been a disturbing trend on the audio front: No longer is the yelling and screaming confined to fans and players. Some of the commentators have cranked up the volume, most notably Terry Bradshaw, who ought to be tested for stimulants during each commercial break. There also are too many sideline reporters who've forgotten that while it's noisy on the field, they're the ones with the microphones.

Ironically, the hollering started with John Madden, whose 'Boom!' remains the best shout in football and who almost always has something interesting to say. While somebody like Phil Simms on CBS tells you what you just saw, Madden explains what you probably overlooked or what is bound to happen next.

And he happens to be working with the most low-key guy in any booth: Pat Summerall. Now in his 70s, Summerall has turned in his resignation, effective after the Super Bowl. When you think about it, though, it's amazing the former NFL kicker hasn't been given the boot by the brash, loud, cutting-edge network that is Fox.

I'll be watching with most of America. Let's just hope that nobody votes Britney Spears onto the Rams' special teams Ñ and that Bill Belichick doesn't listen to that guy in Lubbock.

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