There was so much to not like about Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
The game was devoid of any real drama. Adam Levine doing a strip tease while performing Maroon 5 songs at halftime mostly fell flat.
The commercials had some noticeable hits (the “100 years of football” produced for the NFL was two minutes of pure joy) even if the night mostly featured a bunch of advertising agencies trying too hard to be clever.
But the loudest jeers from the Super Bowl should be reserved for the way CBS Sports handled the postgame. Specifically, the 26 seconds that sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson spent telling Tom Brady things he already knew before finally asking him a question.
If you missed it, here’s a play-by-play of the action beginning the moment the final second ticked off the clock and the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl title and extend their incredible dynasty.
Brady knelt down on the final play to secure the 13-3 victory and was immediately swarmed by dozens of photographers, players and security personnel. What followed was bedlam as Wolfson tried to get the first postgame comments from Brady.
First, Jim Nantz threw it down to Wolfson, who said, “Thanks a lot, Jim, I am down here. No surprise. It is just insanity down here. I’m with Tom. He’s congratulating the other team.”
Brady hugged former teammate and current Los Angeles Ram Brandin Cooks. Then C.J. Anderson. Then his own teammate, Julian Edelman, the Super Bowl MVP.
Next came head coach Bill Belichick.
At this point Wolfson interjected, “I have him. I have him.”
But first came Brady’s embrace with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the kiss on the lips heard around the world.
Next came a security person being heard saying, “Are you OK? Sit tight.”
Finally, Wolfson had her exclusive time with Brady. She had had all week to prepare for this moment. She knew she had to endure all the chaos on the field immediately after the game before fans wanted to hear from Brady.
What question would be the perfect one in this situation? There are a few choices, and Wolfson chose one of those. But you wouldn’t have to be Walter Cronkite to come up with “how satisfying was this win?”
Still, it was fine.
What was not fine is that the preamble by Wolfson amid the madness took 26 seconds before Brady was allowed to say a word.
Here is a full transcript of her opening question: “Tom. Just congratulations. A tremendous effort by your defense but that one drive to put it away with your trusty guys of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman and then Sony Michel punches it in to make the difference. Everyone is talking about this dynasty was declining. How satisfying after all the talk and this season was this one?”
Finally, Brady was allowed to give the answer we all expected and Wolfson escaped from the on-field scrum.
In less than five seconds Wolfson could have asked:
“After this win, do you still feel like the underdog?”
“What makes this Super Bowl win different from the previous five?”
“Was it at all frustrating to win a Super Bowl while scoring only 13 points?”
The reason Wolfson didn’t choose any of those five-second options is a testament to a larger problem in the media. Wolfson, like most interviewers, felt the need to show off her own knowledge before letting the subject of the interview shine.
It’s the same affliction that affects Joe Scarborough and Sean Hannity when they’re talking about politics. At least with Scarborough or Hannity the case can be made that people are tuning in to hear them more than their guests.
The same is not true for Wolfson, and it certainly isn’t true for announcers doing play-by-play and color at live events. That was certainly true last Saturday night when Auburn hosted Alabama in an important basketball game for both teams.
The first 10 minutes of the game were competitive but mostly uneventful. The entire second half was boring, as Auburn won by 21 after leading by 20 at the half.
But the final 10 minutes of the first half were thrilling basketball for Auburn fans. The Tigers went on one of those overwhelming bursts and played their best basketball of the season.
While all that was taking place, Beth Mowins and Jimmy Dykes decided it would be a good idea to bring Gus Malzahn to the broadcast table and reminisce about the good ole days in Arkansas when Dykes and Malzahn worked together and played on a beer-league softball team together.
Dykes suffered from the same misconception as Wolfson — that is, that anyone is tuning in to watch you star in the broadcast.
I would have preferred to watch Auburn’s incredible run on the court. And I certainly was more interested in hearing Brady’s answer than I was Wolfson’s excruciatingly long question.
Randy Kennedy writes a weekly column for Lagniappe and is co-host of “Sports Drive” every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP 105.5 FM, the country’s first all-sports FM station.