(Originally published in Dallas Sportspage in February 2006)
By Jan Hubbard
As far as anyone can tell, there is no truth to the rumor that before they agreed to perform in the Super Bowl, the Rolling Stones asked for assurances that terms of the NFL anti-drug agreement did not apply to halftime entertainers.
Of course, the boys have passed age 60 and word is that they are somewhat grown up. Recreational substances are either a thing of the past or are no more dangerous than aspirin. They do have a problem with incessant smoking, but as far as anyone can tell, at least when they’re on stage, the cigarettes are legal.
At one time, the Stones at the Super Bowl would have been as unthinkable as, say, Seattle at the Super Bowl. The Stones have long embraced the bad boy image and have flaunted suggestive and obscene lyrics in their songs for four decades. They never seemed to be the corporate NFL type.
But in the modern day sports league, almost anything is acceptable. Compared to some acts, in fact, the Stones are tame. And there is no doubt in the minds of anyone at the NFL that on Sunday, the Stones have no chance of embarrassing the NFL as much as Janet Jackson’s bare breast did two years ago.
But the NFL is treading new ground and, because of the Stones’ stature, is prepared to accept something that it has never accepted before. Because there is a 100 percent guarantee that at some point during the Stones’ halftime performance, the person in charge of the five-second bleeper button will have to use it.
The Las Vegas gambling houses set lines on everything imaginable in the Super Bowl, but they did overlook one thing, which is:
How many times will the Stones’ be bleeped?
The over-under is two.
The Stones play list was kept secret before the game, but it’s safe to guess that there were going to play “Start Me Up.” At the end of that song, as most of you know, there is a lyric about a deceased individual being sexually stimulated.
When they appeared on the NFL pre-season special, the Stones played “Rough Justice” from their new album. A term associated with a rooster and a male body part is in the lyrics and, well . . .
But then, how many times have microphones been live on the sideline of NFL games when an obscenity was shouted? At least with the Stones, you know when it is coming.
Super Bowl 40 is the Super Bowl of Mick Jagger, Jerome Bettis, Keith Richards, Shaun Alexander, Charlie Watts, Bill Cowher, Ron Wood and Mike Holmgren. The Rolling Stones and the NFL. What a strange marriage, although, well, if you stretch the imagination a little, you can relate one to the other.
Stones: In 1964, they released their first album that consisted mostly of covers of songs by other artists. One of those was “Route 66,” which was first recorded by Nat “King” Cole.
Super Bowl: Was first played in 1967 in Los Angeles, which is where the real Route 66 ended.
Historical note: Route 66 was decommissioned as a U.S. Highway in 1985 and no longer appears on modern maps.
The Old Hippie Image
Stones: In the ’60s, they flaunted their bad boy image and were very effective. Newsweek called them “a leering quintet obsessed with pornographic lyrics,” and an English critic wrote that they were “perverted, outrageous, violent, repulsive, ugly, tasteless, incoherent, a travesty. That’s what’s good about them.”
Super Bowl: In 1969, Joe Namath brought his bad boy image to the Super Bowl and flaunted it. As Tony Kornheiser once wrote in Inside Sports: “The late ’60s and the early ’70s were times of compelling social and political upheaval and Namath, with his anti-establishment shaggy hair, mustache, white shoes and Life-Is-a-Bacchanal philosophy, became a symbol of inevitable, triumphant change. The anti-hero.”
The New Hippie Image
Stones: Will play at halftime of the Super Bowl. Richards and Wood will probably smoke cigarettes on stage. Lyrics will be bleeped. Jagger will do something sexually suggestive.
Super Bowl: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will have the longest hair on the field. Who ever thought a football player would look like a rock star and a rock star like Charlie Watts would look like a CEO?
Stones: Named themselves after a song — a Muddy Waters tune called “Rollin’ Stone Blues.”
Super Bowl: Named after a toy — Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt suggested the name because his daughter had played with a “super ball,” a popular toy in the ’60s.
Historical note: The name did not become official until 1969. The first two Super Bowls were known as the NFL-AFL World Championship Game. Also, the roman numerals were not adopted until the fifth game when Super Bowl 5 became Super Bowl V.
Stones: Releasing “Their Satanic Majesties Request” in 1967. It was a total ripoff of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” They later said they were trying to taunt the Beatles. But it didn’t work.
Super Bowl: They have had some very, very bad halftime shows, but perhaps none ultimately worse than 1993 when Michael Jackson performed and was assisted by 3,500 children. Oh boy.
Pressure, pressure, pressure
Super Bowl: Who faces the most pressure? Ben Roethlisberger? Matt Hasselbeck? Bill Cowher? Mike Holmgren?
Stones: Who faces the most pressure? Easy. The person in charge of the five-second bleeper button. If the Stones toss in an unexpected obscenity, this person has to be ready.
Question: Which is more pronounced?
Stones: Mick Jagger’s mouth?
Super Bowl: Bill Cowher’s jaw?
Super Bowl: Janet Jackson’s breast in 2004.
Stones: “I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis. She tried to take me upstairs for a ride. She had to heave me right across her shoulder. Cause I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind.”
Super Bowl: Interviewer asking New England Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour: “So Richard, which players on your team do you think take Viagra?”
Stones: In the song “Beast of Burden,” they ask: “Am I hard enough? Am I rough enough? Am I rich enough?”
Historical note: When they visited China in 2003, the Chinese government ordered them not to play “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Beast of Burden,” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” The Stones followed orders rather than risk, say, Chinese prison. No word on similar orders from the NFL.
Super Bowl: An interviewer once asked Raiders QB Jim Plunkett about his parents, both of whom had handicaps, by saying: “Jim, is it your father that’s blind and your mother that’s dead, or your mother that’s blind and your father that’s dead?”
Stones: “Have you seen your mother baby, standing in the shadows?
Super Bowl: Will be shown in more than 200 countries and territories and broadcast in 32 languages.
Stones: Besides the U.S., Canada and other regular stops, the current world tour has them playing in Brazil, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, Hungary and Cadiz Andalucia (wherever that is).
Weirdest opening act
Super Bowl: Up With People.
Stones: Merle Haggard.
Ode to the Loser
Stones: “You make a grown man cry.”
Super Bowl: Grown men cry.