As I watch the Super Bowl preview -- approximately 47 hours, stuffed with enough plugs to jolt even Regis Philbin or Ed McMahon -- I wanted to throw in a personal memory.
Yes, I'll throw in some new comments after the Super Bowl and "Glee." First, however, here's a commentary I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES To understand the grip this year's Super Bowl has, you need to take a brief trip. We'll go to the Methodist church in Clintonville, Wis., 50 years ago. After the anthem, Rev. Carrico would pause; the men in the choir would leave for the one-hour drive to the Green Bay Packer game. When I tell about that nowadays, some people focus on the negative – parishioners leaving before the sermon. I prefer the positive – even on Packer Sundays, they stayed to sing the anthem. Clintonville people are like that, diligent and dependable. They love God and the Packers, although not always in that order. They don't need to be first or famous, although they've had little glimpses of it. Clintonville began making four-wheel-drive vehicles, generations before that became fashionable. In the city, you'll find the desk where Eben Rexford wrote “Silver Threads Among the Gold,” a chunk of the Great Wall of China (really) and an abandoned prototype for something called a snowmobile. Louder, pushier places felt compelled to be No. 1. In Wisconsin, the Packers did dominate the early pro-football years – six championships between 1929 and '44 – but then faced tough logistics. Green Bay has one per cent of New York's population, but each had one football team. The Packers scrambled; they were owned by community investors and played half their home games in Milwaukee. In 1958, they won one, lost 10 and tied one; I can still remember Billy Howton catching the winning pass in the one victory. Then Vince Lombardi took over as coach. He was a New Yorker who had nothing in common with Wisconsin except a love of God – he attended Mass every morning – and football. The Packers had winning records in Lombardi's first two years, then won five championships in the next seven. The effect was enormous. There were no TV sets in the University of Wisconsin dorms back then, but we rented one each Sunday; every guy on the floor crowded in to watch the game …. then most spilled outside to play touch football. During the first three Lombardi championship years, there was no Super Bowl. When it did start, the Packers won the first two – 35-10 over Kansas City, 33-14 over Oakland. Life changed, Lombardi moved on, the Packers wobbled, but small-town Wisconsin clung to them. Milwaukee was no longer needed. Even after the stadium added 10,000 seats, the waiting list for season tickets lingers. In Clintonville, one woman was in her 80s when it was finally her turn. The Packers did return to the Super Bowl, winning in 1997 (35-21 over New England), inexplicably losing in '98 (31-24 to Denver). And now they're back, with a new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and a young team. The Pittsburgh Steelers easily lead them with six Super Bowl wins in seven tries; counting the pre-Super Bowl years, the Packers still lead everyone in overall championships. Kick-off isn't until 5:25 p.m. Clintonville (Central) time, so Rev. Thomson should have full pews for her sermon. She may include a prayer for the Packers to win (appropriately) the Lombardi Trophy. – Super Bowl kick-off, about 6:25 p.m. ET, Fox. – Pre-game shows start at noon; on-field coverage at 6. Christina Aguilera sings the National Anthem, Lea Michele sings “America the Beautiful”; also pre-game: Keith Urban and Maroon 5. – Black Eyed Peas at halftime – “Glee” follows the post-game show, at about 10:30 p.m. ET