Whatever the NFL is paying pop singer Justin Timberlake to sing and whatever during Super Bowl halftime Sunday, it’s way too much. The league should get a refund.
Timberlake showed up at a news conference Thursday in Minneapolis to promote the halftime show during this nation’s most spectacular football game of all time until next February.
The father of a nearly three-year-old son by Jessica Biel, the tenor from Tennessee joked about suiting up as a wide receiver for one of the two teams competing that day for the East Coast national championship of American professional football.
Then, one of those trouble-making reporters popped up. He asked Timberlake if the Super Bowl’s star celebrity attraction would want his son Silas to play football someday.
“Uh,” declared Timberlake, “he will never play football. No, no.”
Medics rushed to the side of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose league this season has endured more than the usual number of off-field distractions and controversies from declining TV ratings, a spike in boring games and predictable player thuggery.
But paramount among the league’s troubles is the growing controversy over player health, specifically frequent concussions and brain damage from the violent collisions of immense players making millions for doing that and the implications that happens to youth players too.
Timberlake realized that instead of celebrating the wonder of an event that’s so important it requires Roman numerals, he had just tapped into the deepest, most visceral fears of millions of parents raising young athletes and possibly future fans.
Timberlake quickly sought to recover and move on:
I mean, yeah, it’s kind of like that thing where my main objective is that he become a great person. And if he wants to get into the arts or sports, then yeah, I would fully support that. I think I can hopefully offer him some advice on what to do and what not to do, so yeah, but right now we’re working on our manners. That’s a big deal in our house right now. It’s like, one thing at a time.”
Speaking of manners, you may recall Timberlake’s last Super Bowl appearance. It was 2004 with Janet Jackson long before the #MeToo anti-groping movement. During their performance, Timberlake grabbed Jackson’s right breast and ripped off the covering, revealing her pierced nipple on national TV.
For some reason sudden female nudity during family entertainment at a major football game caused some controversy for days. In what became probably the most memorable lame excuse since Bill Clinton, Timberlake blamed the incident on a “wardrobe malfunction.”
But the infamous incident underlined how the halftime show and even the creative in-game advertisements have come to overshadow what is supposed to be a sporting event. People are already anticipating not the greatest catches Sunday, but the most entertaining ads.
Quick! Without googling, who played in that 2004 game? Who won? See, that’s what we mean about the football part of the Super Bowl, which is so very special and so super, they’ll have another one next year interrupted by another overlong halftime show with an overpaid celebrity releasing a new album days later.