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TV / LARRY STEWART

SUPER BOWL XXVII : NBC Rues Another Bad Game

February 01, 1993|LARRY STEWART

Dick Enberg got off the line of the day Sunday during Super Bowl XXVII when Dallas linebacker Ken Norton Jr. broke through the line to stop Buffalo's Kenneth Davis short of the goal line.

"KO for Ken Norton," NBC's play-by-play announcer said.

Then, after Norton scored late in the game, Enberg said: "Give him a touchdown, he deserves it."

The early hit on Davis virtually was a KO. Jim Kelly threw an interception on the next play, and another Super Bowl blowout unfolded.

This was exactly what NBC didn't want. Another team from its conference, the AFC, getting embarrassed in a Super Bowl.

Oh well, at least NBC has the NBA.

What saved the day for NBC was a technically terrific telecast, which was as smooth as Troy Aikman.

Enberg was his usual sharp self, commentator Bob Trumpy went the whole day without saying anything dumb, and the halftime show, thank goodness, was shorter than usual.

You couldn't ask for much more than that--except maybe a decent game.

Actually, Trumpy had a good day in his first Super Bowl telecast as the commentator.

And he made a good point after the telecast as well.

"There were two turning points," he said. "One was Norton's hit on Davis. The other was the Bills pulling their cornerbacks back."

He said he noticed that midway through the second quarter. Why did they do it?

"I have no idea," Trumpy said. "I thought, going in, Buffalo had a pretty good game plan."

So did the other members of NBC's crew. All but Mike Ditka picked the Bills.

The low point of the halftime show was Michael Jackson. Sure, Jackson can sing, and it was quite a production.

His actions were the problem.

A group of television sportswriters watching the telecast from a trailer adjacent to the stadium kept track of maybe the stat of the day.

Jackson, in front of all those kids, grabbed his crotch six times.

What a role model!

There were many more high points than low points during the pregame show, although, of course, it was too long.

Magic Johnson's taped interview with the Cowboys' Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin was, as advertised, a good one.

"I don't care who is going to Disneyland as long as it is someone from our team," Aikman told Magic.

When Magic asked them how such young athletes handle the pressure of a big game, Smith turned the tables and asked Magic how he handled it.

"Stay focused and have fun," Magic said.

Turned out, that was good advice.

Viewers of the pregame show could tell which team was uptight.

Marv Levy and his players weren't talking to anyone.

Sideline reporter O.J. Simpson noted that a number of Cowboys had come by to chat, but not one player from his former team.

Simpson had a pretty good day, but he had the understatement of understatements when, during the postgame show, he said to Buffalo Coach Marv Levy: "I would say they played not their best football."

Best promo of the day belonged to Jerry Seinfeld.

Shown on the phone, Seinfeld said: "What, you're not getting the Super Bowl? You're getting every channel but NBC."

Partner Jason Alexander, who plays George Costanza on "Seinfeld," said: "Who was that?"

Seinfeld: "Letterman."

Best piece of the pregame show was Gayle Gardner's report on Jackie Smith, the former Dallas tight end whose drop of a pass in the end zone cost the Cowboys a Super Bowl victory in 1979.

Smith received thousands of letters of encouragement after the 35-31 loss to Pittsburgh back in the days when the AFC won a Super Bowl every now and then.

Biggest thrill during the game came late when Buffalo's Don Beebe closed in on the Cowboys' Leon Lett, who was trying to return a fumble for a touchdown.

Beebe, who caught a prematurely celebrating Lett at the goal line and knocked the ball away, provided a blooper for every 11 o'clock news show in the country.

Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports, said: "The one good thing that will come out of this telecast is that it will teach every kid in the country that you score before you start celebrating."

NBC learned a few things as well--mainly that the AFC is in trouble.

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