Cyber Bowl Sunday

SAN FRANCISCO (01/31/2000) - On Wednesday morning my editor e-mails me: "I'll pay you real money if you'll watch the Super Bowl online and write an article."

Get paid to watch football? You don't have to ask me twice.

Game day arrives. I'm busy buying chips and beer, but manage a brief pregame visit to NFL Enterprises Inc. Superbowl.com, where they're showing results of a poll for the best Super Bowl play in history. My vote goes to John Taylor's game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XXIII. There's also a fantasy playoff of Super Bowl teams. Their champion: The 1978 Steelers over my 1986 Bears in a squeaker, 10-7.

We head over to our friends' home to watch the game, eat chili, and drink beer.

I worry about Internet congestion as I kick off my Web/TV simulcast, but Superbowl.com seems downright snappy.

I quickly latch onto the nifty GameDay feature, a Java applet that provides real-time text updates of the action and a nice graphic of each team's progress on the field. The service is great for following baseball online, but it doesn't cut the mustard here. The Web reports lag the broadcast by as much as five minutes and the text is dry and generic.

More useful are the game stats. I click a tab and check out the Rams' cavernous first-half lead in time of possession and offensive yardage. Amazingly, the score is only 9-0.

One thing I don't get on the Web are Super Bowl commercials. Not that it matters--this year's crop is thin. There's a tie for my In Worst Taste award, though: Nuveen's walking Christopher Reeves spot and the WebMD ad that shows Muhammad Ali drunkenly boxing into the camera. My fave: eTrade's "money out the wazoo" ad.

Trailing Talk

I start to wander, seeking insightful commentary, since ABC's Boomer and Al team just isn't getting it done.

First, I check out the Ron Meyer analysis page at CNN/Sports Illustrated's cnnsi.com, where I find sharp, brief insights. But like the GameDay feature, Ron's analysis is stale.

I have better luck at espn.com, where Joe Theismann is chatting it up real-time. His take is right on, though I must constantly refresh the page for the latest.

And I sniff around superbowl.com's real-time stadium audio feeds. Great idea, but the sound keeps cutting out.

So does the Web cut it for Super Bowl viewing?

Let me put it this way. Have you ever tried to eat chili and drink beer while using a keyboard and mouse? It gets messy.

And when the action really heats up in the fourth quarter, I walk away from the PC and plop myself in front of the tube.

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