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When U2 came to save the Super Bowl
I covered the New England-St. Louis Super Bowl in New Orleans 12 years ago. Little did we know it was the start of the Tom Brady Era. What we did know is that the halftime act was big.
Here's the column I wrote called "From Ireland, U2 comes to save the Super Bowl."
NEW ORLEANS - On the day after the Super Bowl , we exchange views on two things from the big broadcast of the game.
One is the new commercials. The other is the halftime show. The game itself often is best forgotten by bedtime on Sunday night.
Last year's commercials came and went, but the apocalyptic nightmare of the halftime show endures. It was rock-meets-schlock, as Aerosmith shared a stage with N' Sync. Britney Spears joined the fray. It was ghastly.
This year's halftime extravaganza can only be a thousand times better. It will feature just one act for the entire 12 minutes. That is U2 , the most popular rock band of the 21st Century to date.
In a room in the Morial Convention Center - which is nearly as long as the Mississippi River it borders - the organizers of the halftime show held a press conference Wednesday.
(Everyone, including an old guy who sells daiquiris in to-go cups on Bourbon Street, is holding a press conference here this week.)
Only a wee portion of the reporters, photographers and hangers-on in attendance were the same mopes who spent the day worrying about who will start at quarterback for New England Sunday. The press at this affair was about half-American, half-not. Like the NFL seeks to become, Ireland's U2 is a global entity.
And what a revelation those Irishmen gave us Wednesday.
"The Edge used to babysit Kurt Warner," Bono revealed in a bolt of Louisiana lightning. He refused to elaborate.
"There are old ties here that you people don't really know about," he claimed, "so we're not ready to comment about that subject."
Some background for those of you who haven't listened to music on the radio in the last 20 years: Bono is U2 's singer. The Edge is its guitarist. The two write the band's songs.
U2 recently completed a 100-concert tour that three million fans saw at some point. U2 has eight Grammy nominations this year.
A woman representing the corporate sponsor of the halftime show told us that the events of last Sept. 11 left the NFL and its Super Bowl entertainment people "looking to be a little more meaningful and relevant."
So instead of bringing in yet another jiggling, lip-synching, teen-aged pop diva, the NFL turned to U2 , a group that performs songs with words that actually contain imagery and thoughts.
Some songs from U2 's "All That You Can't Leave Behind" CD took on more powerful and poignant meanings after Sept. 11, becoming anthems to many.
"You're never the author of your success, anyway," Bono said, "but fate really took the album and changed those songs. If a song's any good, you never really do know where it could end up."
That was a rare serious moment in the press conference. As in much of Bono's banter between songs in concerts, humor abounded.
In his opening remarks, The Edge stated that he had no comment on "the Brady and Bledsoe issue."
"We are not here to address that atrocity today," he said. "We'll not be fielding any questions on that issue. That's up to Coach Belichick. It doesn't have to be said that Bledsoe throws superior long passes. We're here to bring peace."
Bono concurred, adding "We're here to bring peace between the AFL and NFL."
Overlooking the fact he was three decades too late, he moved on to other topics.
"It's a strong thing being a rock band playing these venues," he noted, "because every night you win. The odd thing about the crowd that's crowded into the Superdome (for Sunday's game) is that half of the audience will go home in tears.
"I really like that, actually."
The event's producer or some such proclaimed that we will see "the largest lighting package anyone has ever done for an event of this nature."
"It'll be a spectacle live and for television," he said.
A spectacle? At the Super Bowl ? Shocking. At least it will be kept real.
"I'll be singing live," Bono said, alleviating a questioner's fears. "Call us old-fashioned. I thought it might be novel to hear a guy running out of breath. It might catch on with the kids."