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NFL brings new twist to 'pay to play'

August 22, 2014 - Jim Anderson
Do you remember who performed at halftime of this year’s Super Bowl?

I couldn’t recall at first. About all I could remember was the pre-game magician who made the Broncos disappear ... .

After sleeping on it, though, the answer broke through.

Bruno Mars.

That’s not to say Mars didn’t leave a lasting impression on some. Sales of his album “Unorthodox Jukebox” jumped 92 percent in the week after the Super Bowl, according to Forbes.

Mars, like a number of Super Bowl performers before him, wasn’t paid for the gig. One-hundred-and-fifteen million halftime eyeballs (a good third of them sober) was enough of a payback.

Which, you know, gave the NFL an even greedier idea: If performers are willing to sing for free, maybe they’ll even pay.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the league has asked artists under consideration for the 2015 Super Bowl if they might share some coin for the privilege of entertaining half the common herd. Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay are reportedly on the short list. What, no Garrison Keillor?

The American Federation of Musicians, for one, is unimpressed.

“You can find kickback schemes like this coming from unscrupulous bar and nightclub owners, but for the NFL to descend to such depths would be unconscionable,” says AFM President Ray Hair.

At Forbes, entertainment writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg says big-name musicians are unlikely to bite. But if the NFL wants to see this through, why not accept a million bucks apiece from a handful of well-heeled karaoke “stars”? As much fun as “American Idol” on steroids. Oh, wait, no steroids in the NFL.

Personally, I’ve long advocated for the return of Frisbee-catching dogs at halftime. Set to pre-recorded easy listening, of course.

Or, as a one-time thing, how about a celebrity poker tournament? As the teams take the field for the second half, surprise, the NFL seizes the pot.

 
 
 

 

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