Jim O'Donnell: Live from Las Vegas, Dan Patrick continues to own Super Bowl week chatter
IF THERE WAS ANY LINGERING QUESTION about Dan Patrick being the most engaging daily sports talker in America, he's putting it to rest in Las Vegas this week.
Patrick has been broadcasting live from poolside at the Fontainebleau. Wednesday morning, he and his “boy-quariam” Danettes continued to slam it far beyond The Strip (8-11 a.m., Peacock et al).
His featured on-site guests were Brent Musburger and Jim Nantz. There, in back-to-back interview segments, he laundry-poled the entire 57-year media history of the Super Bowl.
Musburger — now a remarkable age 84 — covered SB I (Green Bay 35, Kansas City, without Patrick Mahomes, 10) as a whiz-kid columnist for the Chicago American. He'll be around the KC-SF proceedings Sunday as the founding grandfather of the happening Vegas Stats and Info ( vsin.com ).
PERHAPS MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, 55 years ago, he was in Miami for both the American and WBBM-AM (780) to report on Joe Namath's landmark “guaranteed” victory in Super Bowl III.
That was the overcast Florida afternoon when Namath and the New York Jets — 18½-point underdogs — ground out a stunning 16-7 win over the ferocious Baltimore Colts.
“I would say, in terms of the modern NFL as we know it, the most important game in league history,” Musburger said.
WHO'S TO ARGUE?
The grand NFL-AFL merger was in the second half of its transitional phase. Vince Lombardi's Packers had authored beatdowns in the first two Super Bowls (capped by GB 33, Oakland 14, in SB II).
Most of Football America believed that Pete Rozelle and associates had entered into an economically expedient alliance with 10 grossly inferior football organizations.
And then came Joe Willie and the Jets.
THE OUTCOME “MADE” the merger. Namath became one of the nation's biggest sports/pop cultural heroes, only a click above or below Muhammad Ali. To this day, some older analysts believe the game was fixed — and why wouldn't a for-profit show business ring do just that?
(A near full-game video remains available on YouTube. It's great idle-hours viewing. The key to any fixin' remains the total meltdown of QB Earl Morrall and the Colts in red-zone opportunities. He threw three interceptions. Namath's passing was more managerial than spectacular. Still, he was named the game's MVP.)
Conspiracists say only two on-field operatives had to be in on the fix: Morrall and Colts head coach Don Shula. Both were later “rewarded” with subsequent Super Bowl spoils. Morrall finished with three rings — V, VII and VIII.
Shula — then the hottest young coach in football — wound up with a minority share of the Miami Dolphins and a golden legacy mark of 17-0 in 1972. Today, three years after Shula's death at age 90, it remains the last perfect season in NFL history.
FOLLOWING MUSBURGER WEDNESDAY, Patrick brought on Nantz, who will call his seventh Super Bowl Sunday (5:37 p.m., CBS).
They're old chums and it had to be clear that they were old chums since pre-SB 58 America wants to hear only one thing from Nantz:
What in the name of awful announcing is going on with Tony Romo?
Romo is the $180 million man who has gone from being the toast of 2017-20 to the tedious of 2023-24.
His work this past season has been brutal, vapid, worse than Mike Tirico on mushrooms or the remaining Grateful Dead off of them.
NANTZ AND PATRICK DIDN'T AVOID the subject. But they didn't take it all the way.
Instead, they danced with a couple of teasing bits — as only pals with a deep trust would deign to generate while live on-air.
In one, Patrick played Nantz while Danette “Seton” (Patrick O'Connor) portrayed — accurately — a goofy and impulsive Romo.
In a second, Patrick was a CBS director counting off the final 20 seconds of a gamecast before the pricey commercials that lead into “60 Minutes.” Nantz, as a good sport, was double-cast as both himself and the witlessly time-insensitive Romo.
Left unanswered was the $180M question:
Is there some sort of underpinning malady — physical, psychological or other — that has prompted Romo's perplexing fall?
ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS, there's enough mindless sports chatter filling national and local airwaves to accelerate the most ominous projections about global numbing.
Dan Patrick — from the city that will host Super Bowl 58 — has been an entertaining exception.
He and his crack crew continue to show how sports infotainment can be mined out of an endangered genre.
If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, his audience can only hope that the spirit and tone of Patrick's content figures a way to stay.
Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at email@example.com. All communications may be considered for publication.