'Idol' worship fills the time


Things we already know about Sunday's Super Bowl XLII, which kicks off at 3:15 p.m. and will be televised by Fox:

* The New England Patriots are favored by 12 points over the New York Giants.

* That point spread could be a little low.

* The Patriots are four quarters away from becoming the first NFL team to complete a 19-0 season.

* The Giants are four quarters away from becoming the seventh NFC team to lose the Super Bowl in the last eight years.

* There will be many references to New England quarterback Tom Brady's bad ankle.

* There will be many references to New York quarterback Eli Manning's big brother.

* There will be many references to other programs on Fox, which, let's face it, just can't help itself whenever it finds itself in these situations.

* There will be many references to the Miami Dolphins, who have not played in this game for 23 years.

* There will be blood.

Beyond that, there is the pregame show, which is also somewhat predictable. Some of the things Fox has planned for the final buildup to the final game of the NFL season:

To air between 11 and 11:30 a.m.: From the Fox Sports news release: "Curt Menefee voices over a feature on the 1972 Miami Dolphins, to this point the only undefeated team in NFL history." Voices of cranky, bitter old Dolphins probably will be heard all over the place after 7 p.m.

11:30 a.m to noon.: Ryan Seacrest will begin his red carpet interviews of celebrities as they enter University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Seacrest hosts another program aired by Fox. It is called "American Idol." It desperately needs more publicity. . . . Fox is conducting a viewers poll where fans can log on to foxsports.com or nfl.com and vote for one of five "Teams of the Decade" -- Green Bay Packers (1960s), Pittsburgh Steelers (1970s), San Francisco 49ers (1980s), Dallas Cowboys (1990s) and Patriots (2000s). The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions want to know what happened to the 1950s.

Noon to 12:30 p.m.: From the news release: "Feature on the ultra-competitive Boston-New York sports rivalry." Members of the New York Knicks are caught on camera looking confused and asking, "Why are you talking to us?"

12:30 to 1 p.m.: Willie Nelson and Sara Evans will perform "Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Make the Mistake of Jetting to Cabo With Jessica Simpson for a Little Getaway Right Before Their Divisional Round Playoff Game."

1 to 1:30 p.m.: Paula Abdul will sing her new hit single, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." Note that may or may not have anything to do with this appearance: Abdul is a judge on "American Idol."

1:30 to 2 p.m.: The "Making of Bud Light's Super Bowl commercials." To air in between Bud Light's Super Bowl commercials.

2 to 2:30 p.m.: Commercial programming and programming about making commercial programming interrupted for a brief interview with Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

2:30 to 3 p.m.: More from the news release: "Frank Caliendo makes his final of three in-character picks." Soon, it will be time for Jordin Sparks to sing the national anthem. Sparks is the reigning champion of "American Idol."

Despite the pressing need to further promote this performance, Fox agrees to free a few moments so its NFL analysts -- Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson -- can make their Super Bowl predictions.

Also on Sunday from 8 to 11 a.m., ESPN will air a three-hour Super Bowl edition "NFL Sunday Countdown." Scheduled highlights to include:

* A look at the Patriots' Bill Belichick long before his coaching days, back when he was known as "Billy." Lots of people now employed by other NFL teams have been paying for that indiscretion this season.

* A segment devoted to (yes, really) the fact all five Patriots starting offensive linemen have beards. According to the ESPN release, the network has enlisted Dan Haggerty of "Grizzly Adams" fame to provide "his unique take on how the Patriots offensive line shows unity through its expressions of facial hair." Yes, really.

* Interviews with the six quarterbacks taken ahead of Brady in the 2000 draft. Incredibly, four of them are named Giovanni Carmazzi, Tee Martin, Chris Redman and Spergon Wynn.

* Don Shula, coach of the 1972 Dolphins, and Mercury Morris, a running back who rushed for 1,000 yards for that team, will chat amiably about the Patriots already having surpassed the Dolphins' 17-0 record and now sitting only four quarters away from 19-0.

Morris will then spend Super Bowl XLII trying to predict the plays Belichick and Coughlin call during the game in a promotion for AirPlay, which is inviting fans to see if they can more accurately predict the coaches' play-calling than Morris.

Fans will be surprised to learn their chances are good, with Morris predicting "Brady gets sacked" and "Moss fumbles" every time New England has the ball.



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