Costas digs himself out of mess of pre-game show


Captain Video checks out Super (for 28 minutes anyway) Bowl:

* The C in NBC has to stand for Costas. Who else but Bubbly Bob (with occasional help) could have made something out of the mountain of gunk they handed him under the guise of being a 150-minute pre-game show?

* Quick, someone grab Thurman Thomas' helmet and hide it.

* A natural reaction as time went on and it became apparent Buffalo was going down to its third straight defeat in late January was to feel a bit sorry for the upstate New Yorkers.

Naw. That passed quickly, recalling how whiny some of the Bills players become in defeat (and in victory, too). Yesterday's spokesman was Jim Kelly, who asked, "What have I done to deserve this?"

The highly rated quarterback also had a strange explanation for his first and perhaps most costly mistake (an end zone interception): "I had no choice but to put it up [for grabs]." It was just one of several bad plays Kelly made before departing.

* Forget the glove, what makes Michael Jackson so special is the white socks. His halftime show had all the verve and excitement of the opening and closing ceremonies of an Olympics, which certainly beats a Punt, Pass and Kick Contest.

And tell me he couldn't run back a punt for a touchdown, even with the hair in his eyes.

* In the battle of shoe company commercials, Reebok was a definite winner over Nike. First, for its Shaq shatter-the-glass-backboard ad with the NBA's all-time great centers and its Planet Reebok has no slogans number. Take that, the other Michael.

* Did anyone see if Bruce Smith got on the Buffalo team bus back at the hotel?

* The score's 14-7, Dallas, the Bills are a foot from a touchdown on fourth down and Buffalo coach Marv Levy checks out some written material in his hand before making a decision as to what to do. It must have advised, "Do something stupid!"

Voila, Kelly passes against six defensive backs and the Bills not only come away empty, Dallas gets the ball out on the 20 following a touchback interception.

* Poor Jackie Smith, he of the dropped pass in the end zone in Super Bowl XIV after a long, starring career as a tight end. Another feature on the infamous flub was done and Smith continues to close in on Ralph Branca, server of the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" to Bobby Thomson in 1951.

* Maybe Buffalo should have known it wasn't about to be its day when, as home team, it was announced that one of the 25-second clocks wasn't working even before the first scrimmage play was run.

* Just think: If Dallas hadn't handed the Bills an early score with a couple of bad penalties and a blocked punt and Buffalo's other touchdown was rescinded (rightfully) because passer Frank Reich was beyond the scrimmage line when he unloaded . . . shades of 1940: Chicago Bears 73, Washington Redskins 0.

* What was Bear Bryant (uh, actor Gary Busey) doing on the Dallas sideline? Are they already planning a movie on the life and times of Jimmy Johnson? Maybe they can get Mel Kiper to play his hair.

* Speaking of JJ's hair, did you happen to notice he re-coiffed at halftime?

* Is that Don Beebe fella of the Bills a never-say-die guy or what? Imagine running down a runaway Cowboy with a 20-yard head start with the score 52-17 against your team.

* A star is born and his name is Mike Ditka. The ex-Chicago Bears coach was terrific as a commentator, handling every assignment tossed his way throughout the day with the confidence of a veteran. Comedy, succinct analysis, timing, stage presence, Ditka has it all.

And Ditka's brand new at the job. Poor O.J. Simpson, he's been around for years and he still makes you cringe. O.J. ending each cursory chat with a Buffalo Bill with, "Hopefully, we'll see you back here next year," is a no-no someone at the net should have told him about at the very beginning.

Besides, with regard to Buffalo, Juice, speak for yourself. The former great running back would be well served checking out the work of Magic Johnson, who's relatively new in the business but already is far more accomplished.

* Oh yes, the game announcers: Dick Enberg had an excellent game, his more carefree manner and emerging wit working just right. Bob Trumpy's analysis had just the right amount of bite as he refrained from pounding away at the obvious.

* There must be some reason why sideline reporter Todd Christensen acts the way he does, but it escapes detection. Maybe the network insisting he take part in a silly, four-event contest against Cris Collinsworth in a pre-game piece of fluff is an excuse.

* Top features of the pre-game were the upbeat report on the great strides New York Jets lineman Dennis Byrd has made as he battles back from a broken neck, and a clear, uncluttered explanation of why and how the NFC has been so dominant over the AFC in the last decade.

* NBC lost a few points, calling on Jim Lampley to do an all-sports update at about 5 p.m., and the 'caster confining his report to just an NBA game the net had shown earlier.

* Wait a minute, the day before the game they practiced the coin flip five times (as reported by NBC)?

* A 30-second commercial at Super Bowl I in 1967 went for $42,500. This year the tab was $850,000. Let's make it best-of-seven wih all the loot going to help out in reducing the deficit.

* NBC should send Barry Levinson a special note of thanks for helping save its day with "Homicide," a terrific show set in Baltimore that proved an apt description of what preceded it.

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