By Don Banks, SI.com
TAMPA -- Just took in the Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl halftime show press conference, and while The Boss doesn't score too highly on his football knowledge -- and he warned us of that right off the bat -- I give him plenty of points for his honesty when it comes to the reasons behind his celebrated first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
"Really, why we said yes this year was because, we have a new album coming out!'' Springsteen said, laughing at his own punch line. "C'mon. There's a new record in the stores. It just happened to come out this past week. So we have our mercenary reasons of course. Besides our deep love of football.''
For me, that was the pitch-perfect answer to the why-not-after-all-these-years question that was bound to come from someone in the mass of media that attended the 20-minute afternoon Q&A. Even though I'm quite sure that last little dig at the NFL must have made the league office suits in attendance cringe. Springsteen said his only real experience with the game came "playing in my backyard around the summer of 1958.''
Springsteen can be called a lot of things, but thankfully a fake or a poser is not among them. It's not as if doing the Super Bowl halftime show needed to be checked off on his life's to-do list. He said he has turned down all the chances he has had to play the Super Bowl in the past because "it didn't quite feel right.'' He described it as a "novelty moment'' of sorts, and wasn't sure he wanted to play "in the middle of a football game,'' or "where the cheerleaders usually go.''
But time, and potential commerce, apparently have changed Springsteen's viewpoint. He's 59 now, so he's entitled to revamp his thinking about a thing or two. Calling it a "tremendous venue'' and a "great spot,'' he said he'll approach his worldwide televised Super Bowl gig Sunday night with the intention of turning it into "a 12-minute party.''
That's plenty good enough for me. I'm in favor of a free Springsteen concert wherever and whenever. All the better that he didn't try and come off sounding like Average Joe Football Fan. I'm fine with the idea that Bruce was born to run -- but not pass, punt or kick.
Check SI.com's Super Blog regularly for more dispatches from Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.