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In ad game, nothing is off limits

Published Oct. 14, 2005

It's where we're heading . . . Two batches of behemoths come romping onto a football field, and one of TV's famous baritones says, "It's almost kickoff time, so let's take a look at the Sears Diehard Starting Lineups." Before long, Mr. Network Mellifluous will hit us with, "Here's an update on today's other games, on the Apple Computer Football Scoreboard."

We're talking new adages . . .

Everything in sports telecasts are for sale to advertisers but the play-by-play announcer's tongue. But don't rule that out. In 1992, will ESPN's economic creativity reach the depths of giving us the Vicks Throat Lozenge/Chris "Nicknames" Berman Larynx?

Major sports, and major networks, now more than ever are desperately craving every pluckable Madison Avenue dollar. Don't expect the shameless sellout to stop with the Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl.

Commercialism, and television, are the lifeblood of modern athletics. Ticket sales are now a sideline in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and with many big-time collegiate sports.

Don't expect this to go away.

It's incurable.

We're headed at warp speed for what may soon be christened as the Coca-Cola 21st Century. Don't be shocked if, by next fall, ABC Monday Night Football comes on the air with a new level of ad-invested babbling among Al "Budweiser" Michaels, Frank "Kmart" Gifford and Dan "Dunkin' Donuts" Dierdorf:

GIFFORD: "Hello everybody, what you're seeing is the Texaco Chicago Skyline, and tonight the General Electric Windy City is abuzz over a meeting of Reebok/NFL powers, those Delta Airlines Chicago Bears and the upstart Honeywell Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

MICHAELS: "Right, Giff, and here are the up-to-date Hertz/NFL Standings, showing the Bucs and Bears as the only undefeated teams. Tampa Bay is clearly the frontrunner for the new Ex-Lax Comeback Franchise of the Year trophy."

DIERDORF: "Maybe it's the Bucs' new coach, but I think the No.

1 reason for the turnaround is Broderick Thomas, a linebacker who was just voted the Fruit of the Loom NFL Player of the Month for September."

MICHAELS: "We'll be back in a moment, after messages from Buick and Motel 6. But first, here's a gorgeous ATT Aerial View of famous old Bartles & Jaymes Soldier Field as seen from the Goodyear Blimp. What a Kodak Moment."

Four 30-second commercials later . . .

MICHAELS: "We're moments away from the Maytag NFL Kickoff, but first let's take a quick look at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield NFL Defensive Statistics, as well as the Miller Lite NFL Offensive Stats. It's obvious, upon scanning those numbers, that the runaway pick for Aamco Transmissions NFL Surprise of the Month has to be Bucs quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the Sony NFL Touchdown Passes leader with 10.

GIFFORD: "But, guys, I can't understand what's happened to my Chase Manhattan New York Giants. Twenty months ago, they were Super Bowl champs, but my Giants now rank No.

1 only among Scott Tissue NFL Sad Stories."

MICHAELS: "Well, Giff, all that's interesting I'm sure, but let's get focused on tonight, because Kevin Butler is about to kick off, along with the rest of the Bears/Federal Express Special Teams.

DIERDORF: "Wow, what a boot by Butler, down to the Century 21 Goal Line, where Gary Anderson begins a Genie Garage Doors Runback. Gary's up to the Alpo 10-Yard Line, to the Dean Witter 20, to the Busch Gardens 30 Anderson makes a Tropicana O.J. Cutback and breaks into the open at Colgate Tooth Paste midfield MICHAELS: "Anderson could go . . . all . . . the . . . way, for a Campbell's Soup Kickoff Return Touchdown. This game could really be something, not only until our Zenith Halftime but into the Sominex Third Quarter, and maybe even beyond the Mennen Skin Bracer 2-Minute Warning."

GIFFORD: "Wait a minute, they're calling back Anderson's runback. Now I see a Maidenform Penalty Flag. The Bucs are being charged with an Allied Van Lines Clipping Penalty. For that, Tampa Bay winds up with tonight's first Rolaids Bad Break of the Game Award . . ."

You get the picture.

Unfortunately we also get the sound.