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Outside the Lines:
Waving the Flag
Here's the transcript from Show 97 of weekly Outside The Lines - Waving the Flag
Bob Ley, host - Well, Robin, the Super Bowl coming up certainly is a national gathering. This year's theme, clearly, is red, white and blue.
Will it hit the right tone, or is it a little bit over the top?
That is our topic this morning, Outside The Lines.
Announcer - February 3, 2002.
Ley - The Super Bowl is always carefully packaged, and this one was to be a tribute to the host city of New Orleans.
John Collins, NFL - It was locked and loaded, ready to go.
Everything changed. After 9-11 and after the commissioner's decision not to play games.
Ley - As the nation was plunged into war, the NFL recast its premiere event.
Paul Tagliabue, NFL commissioner - We don't want to do anything that's artificial.
Ley - Patriotism has always been a part of the Super Bowl, especially with the nation facing a crisis.
Marv Levy, former NFL coach - To stand in that stadium before the game, when they had the flyover, it made you proud to be an American.
Ley - Today on Outside The Lines, the pageantry of patriotism. How much is too much waving the flag at the Super Bowl?
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance.
Ley - In the best of times, today would be an unofficial national holiday. The Super Bowl spawns parties and wagers, and it endures as one of the few remaining mega-events to deliver a huge national television audience. That's in the best of times.
Tonight, in what many would consider America's finest hour, certainly a time of crisis and trial, the Super Bowl, more than ever, will be presented as much more than a football game.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue began this reconfiguration the days following September 11th, drawing from a patriotic playbook to transform a party into a show of national resolve.
Ley - This Super Bowl was expected to swing, in this city dedicated to good times. The official poster boasted of musical exuberance.
David Hill, FOX Sports - It was going to be a hoot. It was really going to be fun, and then of course that happened.
Ley - The terrorist attack shattered everyone's world, including the National Football League's.
Collins - Other than the two teams that were going to appear, everything was done. The Super Bowl was out. It was out with corporate America, half-time was booked, pre-game was booked. I mean, it was locked and loaded, ready to go.
Everything changed, after 9-11.
Ley - First, the league postponed games. Then, in a week of 14-hour meetings at NFL headquarters, the league faced the next critical issue - how to reflect this new reality in a New Orleans Super Bowl, a city with its own World Trade Center. A city known for the revelry and partying of Mardi Gras.
Suddenly, that sentiment was seriously out of step with the mood of the country.
While the nation mourned, the NFL began to adapt.
Tagliabue - We were trying to strike a balance between the importance of our game, which is the culmination of our season, and the other priorities that the nation has.
Ley - In the wake of the attacks, the NFL abandoned the New Orleans motif. The original Super Bowl poster was scrapped. So was the original logo. New images were needed.
Graphic designer Dan Simon was contacted by the NFL and asked to produce a new Super Bowl logo based on a patriotic theme.
Dan Simon, Graphic Designer - So here I was, getting a chance to do something I had dreamed about, but the reasons that I had the opportunity were horrible. The worst, the most horrible thing that ever happened to our country.
Ley - In just a week, Simon produced five new possible Super Bowl logos.
Simon - This one has the eagle in it. This one was suggestive of a shield on an old helmet for a firefighter. Again, just another way of showing the stars and stripes. This one was showing the flag in a way that you don't normally see it, which would have created an interesting direction. And then, the chosen logo.
If I have created something that people can look at and get a sense of pride in being an American, then I've done something much more important than creating a cool logo.
Ley - His creation dominates midfield in the Superdome, center stage for a carefully calibrated patriotic performance.
Tagliabue - We don't want to do anything that's artificial.
Keith Lockhart, Conductor, Boston Pops - We represent something that's rooted in tradition and deeply set in the American imagination. And what could be more authentic, what could be more real, than that?
We've been helping America celebrate its high points and work its way through its low points for over a century.
Ley - Lockhart will conduct the Boston Pops, accompanying Mariah Carey in a prerecorded rendition of the National Anthem.
The hope is that vocal lightening strikes again.
During the Gulf War in 1991, Whitney Houston's lip-synced performance roused everyone watching and involved in that game.
Levy - To stand in that stadium before the game, and that unbelievable rendition of the National Anthem by Whitney Houston was stirring, and it made you proud to be an American.
Ley - Last fall, in the wake of the terrorist attacks, Houston's recording was re-released. Sales propelled it into the Billboard Top Ten.
Collins - That's the power of the NFL, and certainly the power of the Super Bowl is the ability to bring people together.
Ley - This Super Bowl will be called by Pat Summerall, who brings to the booth, in his final assignment, the patriotism he says he's felt each game.
Pat Summerall, Sportscaster - I've always been proud to be an American. I've always been a guy who -- in fact I said long ago, and John agrees with me, when they try to get us to rehearse before the game, I say, hey, look, I'm not rehearsing during the National Anthem. I'm standing.
Ley - His network will give heavy play to the patriotic themes.
NFL players past and present will read from the Declaration of Independence. New Orleans native Marshall Faulk is among the participants.
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams - It kind of hit home, to all the things that happened on 9-11. So I was pleased that they asked me to be involved with that, and to do that piece.
Ley - Perhaps the most compelling patriotic pre-game moment will be the assembly of former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Bill Clinton, along with former first lady Nancy Reagan, reciting the words of Abraham Lincoln.
George Bush, former U.S. President - The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.
Ley - The emotional impact surrounding the Super Bowl has been felt among advertisers.
Marc Karasu, hot jobs - After 9-11, we did sit down and we realized that this was a national tragedy of proportions that no one actually had ever dealt with, and there was some question as to how we would move forward with new advertising.
Ley - He immediately pulled a Hot Jobs print ad which featured the Twin Towers.
He had witnessed the attack from his office, and believes its impact extends to today's Super Bowl ads.
Karasu - I think this year, the idea is to be a little more human in your advertising, and a little more empathetic to the mood of the nation.
Ley - Hot Jobs Super Bowl commercial last year was a high tech creation, a rolling metal ball.
This year, events have brought a fundamental change.
Karasu - Simply put, actually using human beings. We used metaphor last year to describe the end result, and this year we decided to use actual people in an interview situation, and there is kind of a warmth and an interaction between them that I think is appreciated in all times, but maybe particularly now.
Ley - It will be, in short, a red, white and blue Super Bowl.
Dan Simon, whose logo is stamped on this game, intends to watch it with his two sons.
Following September 11th, he left his full-time job to work at home and spend more time with his family.
Simon -... and a house with a long walkway in front of it. And what kind of car is that?
After what happened on September 11th, I'm sure a lot of Americans reconsidered -- took a closer look at their lives. I know I did.
Ley - On the outskirts of the French Quarter is the Shrine of St. Roch, to whom miraculous cures are ascribed. Offered as proof are the many crutches cast away by those who claim they were healed in New Orleans.
If, in some way, today's football game is perceived as having a similar effect on the national mood, the NFL will sleep well.
Collins - I think, for them to feel like the NFL delivered the moment that only the NFL or the Super Bowl can. That we were appropriate and we were relevant and it was a hell of a game.
Ley - And joining us to consider today's unique spectacle, from New York City, Al Franken. He is an Emmy and Grammy award-winning humorist and a best-selling author; Congressman JD Hayworth, Republican of Arizona is in his fourth term, and prior to his election, he worked as a sportscaster in the Phoenix market. He joins us from New Orleans. Good morning to you both, gentlemen.
Congressman, let me begin with you. Is this game hitting the right tone, heading in?
Congressman JD Hayworth (R), Arizona - Oh, I think so, Bob.
As you outlined in the report, it is a great national pageant that will be utilized for a great national purpose, that this first war of the 21st century, a new type of war, where really we've seen ordinary Americans attacked in a brutal and wonton fashion -- the NFL losing a former employee who became a New York firefighter. Some spouses of NFL employees perished in the World Trade Center.
Human relationships and a personal notice here, that we sacrifice as a national family. And today we send notice to the rest of the world that we will have our national pageants, we will celebrate our freedom, even in this new environment with a new type of war.
Ley - Al?
Al Franken, author - Well, from the piece that I saw, it looks like the NFL is doing everything it can to be tasteful and appropriate. And this is a national pageant, and there'll be 100 million people or however many Americans watching, so I think this is a national moment and it is appropriate to do what they're doing.
You know, a lot of it is a matter of taste, and I think that since September 11th there have been attempts to do this kind of sort of measured advertising, using images from that, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it is slightly inappropriate. And I think Americans, basically, when they see something that doesn't quite do it for them, is forgiving them, because I think we're all pretty much on the same page here.
So even if there are moments that may be a little mawkish, and that might happen, I don't think anybody is going to get too out of joint about it.
Ley - Well, let me read to you from Mark Kreidler's column in "The Sacramento Bee," gentlemen. "This would be perfect year for the NFL to embrace the difference between patriotism and pandering schmaltz. There is a limit to how much the football-watching public is willing to have crammed down its gullet in the name of the red, white and blue."
Is that overstating it?
Hayworth - Well, I think it's being deliberately provocative, which is always the role of a columnist, Bob.
I think that -- Al touched on something, and I think we have a point of agreement here. This can be, really, something of a higher purpose, instead of the forced commercialization and commercialism of the game. I think it's very interesting -- as you outlined in the report, leading up to our discussion, the fact that we will hear excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. The fact that we will hear the words of Lincoln read by the nation's living former chief executives and former first lady, Nancy Reagan.
I think, in a way, this can be a very positive form of civics lesson. John Quincey Adams said we should celebrate our constitution and read it and understand what it means to be an American, regardless of our political point of view. And I think today, rather than being mawkish, it's a way to enhance that whole feeling.
So I come away, based on your report, with what we're hearing, with something very positive.
Franken - Well, what I saw in the report -- and I was misting up at the report. But there was one image I saw which I may have gotten wrong, but it looked when they were reading Lincoln's words from Gettysburg, that they had a profile of an actor playing Lincoln...
Ley - You saw that correctly.
Franken - That was bad. They didn't need to have that.
Franken - But on the other hand, I didn't care. What?
Hayworth - It's a new role, Al. You can be cast as a TV critic on the presentation.
Ley - But, you know, you raise an interesting point, though, because the Super Bowl has always been easily lampooned. You raised the question of taste, criticized in the past, perhaps, for excess, and it's tougher this year, don't you agree, tougher than ever because of the time in which we play this game.
Franken - But they seem to be making a lot of the right choices, except for the actor playing Lincoln...
Hayworth - Of course, Al has lampooned and imitated another famous Illinois senator, Paul Simon, through the years. You do a pretty good job with that, by the way.
Franken - Well, you know, he's -- I don't know if Paul is going to be there.
Hayworth - Are you wearing a bow tie?
Franken - No, I'm not wearing a bow tie. JD can't see New York.
Ley - Congressman, let me ask you this. Most of the advertisers, though, in the game, are steering away from hitting that 9-11 note. It's almost as if the marketplace has told them, enough is enough.
Hayworth - Well, I think that there are other ways to illustrate it. And I think the point was made, human relationships matter.
As I mentioned at the outset of our conversation, one former NFL employee gave his life as a New York firefighter. Other families effected, and it's been said we're a six degrees of separation society.
So I think the human element and the fact that we understand that our men and women in uniform will see this literally around the world on Armed Forces Television, reinforces a human element and a type of national family and national purpose.
Ley - Al, you work in entertainment. That Whitney Houston moment just happened, it seemed, 10 years ago at the Super Bowl. And of course, it's become iconic in the years since.
Now, today, Mariah Carey is going out there with the Boston Pops -- the Boston Pops, by the way, will be playing air violin. Everything is prerecorded.
Franken - Right. It's a stadium.
Ley - Exactly. And that's a difficulty in performing...
Franken - Will U2 be...
Ley - U2 has said they're going to play live. They said the kids will enjoy that.
Franken - Right. Right.
Ley - But what about trying to recapture something like that, that seemingly just happened in Tampa?
Franken - A lot of pressure on Mariah, which is something she needs, evidently.
I don't know. I'm sure she'll be great. She has great pipes and the Boston Pops is -- I mean, what a great choice.
Ley - Is this the final mega-event such as this at which -- I mean, we saw a little bit of this at the World Series, where our thoughts will be dominated by what happened last September.
Franken - We have the Oscars coming up, and they'll do a tasteful Oscars.
Ley - You're grinning a little bit.
Franken - Well, you know, it'll be another attempt to scale down -- I don't know what they'll try to do. I mean, they tried to scale down the Emmys, and they postponed them twice. And I know Hollywood will make an attempt to remember people and I'm sure it'll be as appropriate as today's events.
Ley - Well, it's not in the constitution, but it's a citizen's right. Let's get a pick each way.
Al, on the game?
Franken - Well, I'm rooting for the Patriots, because I, in October, went overseas on a USO tour with the Patriot cheerleaders.
Ley - OK. And, Congressman, quickly, please.
Hayworth - I think the Rams will win today. Former Cardinal Aeneas Williams sure to be a Hall-of-Famer. He'll do a great job. But a cabby here in New Orleans said it'll be the Patriots, keeping with the patriotic theme.
Ley - All right, gentlemen, thanks. Thanks to Al Franken and Congressman JD Hayworth. Thanks so much.
Next, under the patriotic dome today, dozens of footballs will be in play. We'll see how they came to life, on deadline, as we continue.
Dan Riegle, plant manager - We only have one week, really, to manufacture all the balls, so our entire production this week is dedicated to the Super Bowl.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Ley - Whether you're rooting for the Rams or the Patriots today, regardless of where you come down on the question of injecting patriotism into the Super Bowl, we thought you would like to meet the good people who work Aida, Ohio, whose skill and labor have produced the one thing the two teams in the Superdome must have to play tonight, the football.
Riegle - You would not picture this building as being the home of the NFL football, but if you look at the water tower, it does say Wilson NFL, so that kind of gives you a little clue.
This is the only football factory in America, and our plant here makes all the game balls, starting with the NFL. Every point scored in the NFL since 1941 has been with a Wilson football.
Jerry Hall, plant supervisor - On Sunday evening, what we did, was we waited until after the last play was over, because Philadelphia was right in it until the end. Then we come in here, and we start stamping (unintelligible) and we put the names on the ball.
Riegle - We only have one week, really, to manufacture all the balls. So our entire production this week is dedicated to the Super Bowl.
Hall - What we're doing here at this operation is cutting the football panels out, and once the panels are cut out, then we'll take them to our stamping department.
Loretta Hicks, stamper - It's hectic. We hope the machines stay running. We hope, you know, we get the orders out on time. And that's our biggest concern. Make sure -- we've never missed a Super Bowl. We make sure we get them all out.
David Trusty, lock-stitch operator - I sewed my first ball February 1967. What I do, I align this notch, in the middle of the ball, up with this notch, in the middle of the ball, and the top and the bottom. OK. Then I have to sew all the way around.
I sew this on that end, when I cross that, it leaves a little bit of a diamond. OK. When you get that diamond, that let's you know you pretty well got it dead center, to make it a real nice looking ball.
Jim Gatchell, football turner - When we get the football, of course it's sewed, and it's stiff. And the leather is not very pliable. So we put it in this steam box, and once we put it up on the bars, we put it in the grooves, and begin to pull it through the opening that was left in the football.
As we pull it through, little by little, you come out with it like this.
Sue Nichols, football lacer - I don't think a lot of people realize the detail that it takes to make a ball, and how many steps there are involved in it, and that everything is done by hand.
In order to lace the ball, you have to have the bladder in, and then you have to put air in it. And then you lace it.
We make sure that they're all straight before it leaves our hands. Because if it isn't, then we do it over. It has to be perfect.
Hall - We're holding the ball. We're putting in approximately 120 pounds of air into the ball for about 50 seconds, and we'll slowly release the air back out of the ball, so that when those balls open up, it'll have 13 pounds of air pressure in it, and then after that we will inspect them and make sure that they're okay that-wise. But otherwise, they're ready to go.
Barb Ulrey, quality control inspector - Every ball that the NFL gets has basically the same size and weight to every ball so that every throw and every catch will feel the same to the players. We just make sure the most perfect ones go to the NFL.
Riegle - So we got the Super Bowl game balls all picked out?
Unidentified Females - Yeah.
Riegle - The game balls themselves will be shipped to New Orleans to the head of the NFL officials. Our people are real proud. Especially when they kick that Super Bowl game off, to know that they were responsible for that football.
Nichols - You never know if it's one that you made or not, and it's kind of neat to know that maybe you did that. My daughter has always said, mom, you could have made that ball. And I'm going, yeah, I could have. Maybe I did.
Ley - 72 game balls were shipped to New Orleans from Aida, Ohio. Each football that makes it into the game will be there for really only about five minutes of real time because of scuffs and blemishes that come up.
Now, on one side of the ball is that redesigned logo, like you saw from our report, that has been incorporated following the attacks back in September.
And of course, on the other side, the team names stamped onto the ball to commemorate this particular Super Bowl.
Next, we will get your feedback on our look last week at Mike Tyson.
Ley - Last Sunday, before the Nevada Athletic Commission denied Mike Tyson a license to fight Lennox Lewis, we examined Tyson's fitness to fight, especially in light of this public outburst.
Mike Tyson, boxer - Look at you, you scared now, you (beep). Scared like a little white (beep). Scared of the real man. I'll (beep) you til you love me (beep).
Ley - Reaction from our e-mail in-box from Tucson:
"Dan Issel was pressured to resign after making a racist slur. Jimmy the Greek forced out for his racist comment. Howard Kosel's, quote, "little monkey" comment ended his football announcing days. Yet Mike Tyson blurts out racist comments and there is no reaction, no repercussions"?
From Odessa, Texas - "Tyson does not deserve to perform in boxing, anywhere at anytime. To the reporter that suggested Tyson needs a straight jacket, you forgot to mention that Tyson also needs a muzzle."
And this observation - "I wish nothing bad to happen to anyone, but it is my belief that Tyson will someday die young, penniless and unloved. But he will have made rich men of those who use him. He deserves nothing, and they deserve less."
Check out the discussion on Mike Tyson, last week's show, any of our nearly 100 Sunday morning programs, on-line at ESPN.com. Type the keyword OTLWEEKLY. Our e-mail address, OTLWEEKLY@ESPN.COM.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Ley - Next week, ESPN's Outside The Lines moves to a later airtime, 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Make a note. 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning for Outside The Lines.
Our three-hour NFL countdown from New Orleans at 11:00 Eastern. I'll be back with Robin in 30 minutes for another SportsCenter and a look at New Orleans and a look ahead at the Super Bowl.
Now, John Saunders and the Sports Reporters.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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