What Else Is On Super Bowl Sunday?

iStock
iStock

As the Super Bowl approaches, your Sunday night plans are probably firming up. And, if you're like millions of other casual sports fans, these plans probably involve sitting in front of a TV. Although the overwhelming majority of the nation's television audience will be tuned to NBC for the Steelers-Cardinals tilt, the other networks have to come up with some sort of programming to fill the four or so hours of the game. Some channels take an aggressive stance to try to appeal to the football-oblivious parts of the audience, while others pretty much concede the ratings war to NBC for a night. Let's take a look at how various networks are trying to lure viewers away from the magnificence of Kurt Warner's graying crewcut.

ABC: Reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos and Wipeout
Airing reruns against the Super Bowl is pretty routine, but if ABC really wanted to steal viewers from NBC, they'd bring back Bob Saget. Really, what would you rather watch: Bob Saget narrating videos in his little kid voice or Troy Polamalu flying around in the secondary? Okay, fine, still football, but didn't that make it a tiny bit closer?

Animal Planet: Puppy Bowl V
We wrote about the Puppy Bowl last year, but another year hasn't diminished the simple brilliance of the idea of filming adorable puppies on a miniature football field. Animal Planet doesn't scrimp on the pomp and circumstance for its big game, either. This year's bowl will feature the National Anthem sung by Pepper the Parrot and the Kitty Halftime Show, which will undoubtedly be at least 40% better than Tom Petty was at the actual game's halftime show last year. Plus, each pet in the "game" is a shelter animal that's up for adoption, so it's hard to find fault with cuteness of it all.

MTV: Teen Cribs
Just in case stuffing your face with nachos, watching ludicrously expensive commercials for consumer goods, and seeing an extravagant multi-million dollar halftime show didn't make you feel just a little bit uncomfortable about our collective priorities in these tough economic times, it's MTV to the rescue with a show "profiling ordinary teens who live in extraordinary homes!"

Fox: Rerun of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

Finally, definitive proof that Jeff Foxworthy is the cultural equivalent of waving a white flag.

ESPN2: Australian Open Singles Finals
The Australian Open is the forgotten Grand Slam in the United States, perhaps because of the time zone differences, perhaps because it's the year's first Slam, or perhaps because Americans think the only "real" hard court Slam is the U.S. Open. This general apathy towards one of the tennis season's gems probably won't change this year when the finals air opposite the Super Bowl. As of this writing, though, top-seeded Rafael Nadal, second seed Roger Federer, and American Andy Roddick are all still alive in the men's singles draw, so the finals match could well be worth a peak.

AMC: Death Wish
If this selection is a joke, it may be one of the most subtle and inspired pieces of comedy to ever grace TV Guide's pages. AMC has decided to counterprogram the Super Bowl with Death Wish. Imagine a Venn diagram showing the people who like Charles Bronson's 1974 vigilante classic and the people who enjoy NFL football. Is there even a remote possibility that the Death Wish circle isn't entirely enveloped by the NFL circle? Is there a single person in the world who would say, "Football? Too violent for me. Ooooooh"¦.Death Wish is on!" Perhaps AMC is banking on die-hard Death Wish fans with Nielsen boxes flipping over to see Jeff Goldblum's film debut as a drug-addled rapist and murderer, or maybe AMC knows that the allure of Charles Bronson shooting muggers is too strong for even some Steelers fans to resist. Either way, my hat is off to you for this gutsy, quite possibly crazy gambit, AMC Director of Programming.

The CW: Throw Momma From the Train
The CW's strategy for spiking its ratings focuses on an oft-neglected demographic: overweight guys who used to be more popular. The network is counterprogramming the first hour of the Super Bowl with reruns of The Drew Carey Show, and the second half of the game will air opposite Danny Devito's 1987 reworking of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. It seems suspect to think that Danny Devito directing himself, Billy Crystal and Anne Ramsey (of The Goonies fame) could be more compelling than a) Hitchcock's original, which featured a sublimely creepy performance by Robert Walker and a visually stunning climax or b) the Super Bowl. Maybe viewers will tune in for Oprah's cameo.

MSNBC: Predator Raw: The Unseen Tapes
predator.jpg

TV Guide describes this show as outtakes from the popular series To Catch a Predator. I've never watched To Catch a Predator, but I think I understand gist of it well enough to put it near the top of my list of "Shows That Probably Don't Have Hilarious Blooper Reels."

Discovery: Jesus: The Complete Story
The Discovery Channel looks for help from above with this documentary chronicling the life of Jesus. If the Cardinals manage to win the game, it might be interesting to go back and see which mentions Jesus more: this three-hour documentary or Kurt Warner's victory speech.

The Biography Channel: The Manson Women: An American Nightmare &
Charles Manson: Journey into Evil

Until I checked the listings I wasn't aware that there was any connection between not liking football and being fascinated with horrific crimes. The Biography Channel cleared that up for me, though, by offering two straight hours of Manson Family info followed up with two more hours of programming about homicidal mothers, including Mothers Who Kill. The moral of this bullet point: if you know someone who's planning on not watching the Super Bowl, you should probably report them to the police. Right now. It's just your civic duty.

Save Up to 80 Percent on Furniture, Home Decor, and Appliances During Wayfair's Way Day 2020 Sale

Wayfair
Wayfair

From September 23 to September 24, customers can get as much as 80 percent off home decor, furniture, WFH essentials, kitchen appliances, and more during the Wayfair's Way Day 2020 sale. Additionally, when you buy a select Samsung appliance during the sale, you'll also get a $200 Wayfair gift card once the product ships. Make sure to see all that the Way Day 2020 sale has to offer. These prices won’t last long, so we've also compiled a list of the best deals for your home below.

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From Ear to Eternity: When Mike Tyson Bit Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) compete in their rematch in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997. The bout would make sports history.
Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) compete in their rematch in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997. The bout would make sports history.
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

As the 16,000 spectators began filing out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, following a night of fights on June 28, 1997, MGM employee Mitch Libonati noticed something strange on the floor of the boxing ring. He later described it as being roughly the size of a fingernail, with the texture of a piece of hot dog or sausage.

It was no concession stand remnant. It was a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Wrapping the morsel of flesh in a latex glove, Libonati hurried backstage, where Holyfield was conferring with officials and doctors after his opponent, Mike Tyson, had been disqualified for biting him on the left ear. In all the commotion, Libonati wasn't allowed inside the room. But Michael Grant, one of Holyfield’s training partners, accepted the ear fragment on Holyfield’s behalf.

Libonati’s discovery was the climax to one of boxing’s most controversial and bizarre evenings, one in which "Iron" Mike Tyson—the most famous fighter of his era—meted out a savage reprimand for what he perceived was dirty fighting on the part of Holyfield. The ear-biting far exceeded the brutal underpinnings of boxing and added to Tyson's reputation as a frenzied combatant both in and out of the ring.

 

Mike Tyson’s collision with Evander Holyfield had started when the two were just teenagers. On the amateur circuit, they had sparred together—not quite knowing the heights each would achieve, but understanding the other would be a formidable obstacle if they were to ever meet as professionals.

Evander Holyfield (L) had success against Mike Tyson (R) early on.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Tyson was a prodigy, having won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1986 at the age of 19 and dominating the division up until an upset loss to James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990. Holyfield was the lighter fighter at cruiserweight (190 pounds), moving up to the heavyweight division in 1988 and gaining respect for his trilogy with Riddick Bowe.

Long before that fateful night in 1997, Tyson's personal life had started to overshadow his accomplishments inside the ring: An allegedly abusive marriage to actress Robin Givens darkened his image in the media and ended in a very public divorce after just one year. In 1992, a rape conviction sidelined the fighter for more than three years while he served out his prison sentence.

When Tyson returned to the ring, he rattled off a string of wins against fighters not quite at his level, including Peter McNeeley, Buster Mathis Jr., Frank Bruno, and Bruce Seldon. Holyfield had stepped away from competition in 1994, but as Tyson knocked off inferior opponents, talk of a bout with Holyfield intensified. Finally, the two met in Las Vegas on November 9, 1996, with Tyson a 17-1 favorite over the semi-retired Holyfield.

Holyfield would prove his doubters wrong. Through 11 rounds of action, he outmaneuvered and outclassed Tyson by negating his opponent's power with movement and volume. Holyfield also landed headbutts that were declared unintentional, but to Tyson seemed deliberate. Before the fight could see a 12th round, Holyfield knocked Tyson down and earned a technical knockout victory.

 

While it was an undoubtedly disappointing moment for Tyson, an upset in boxing virtually guarantees a lucrative rematch deal. Both men agreed to meet a second time, with Holyfield earning $35 million and Tyson getting $30 million. Tyson’s camp, however, insisted that the referee from the first bout, Mitch Halpern, not be booked for the second, because Tyson felt he failed to call the illegal headbutts. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t want to be seen capitulating to Tyson’s demands, but Halpern stepped aside voluntarily. So referee Mills Lane took his place.

Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) first met as amateurs.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Before a huge crowd full of A-list celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and a then-record 1.99 million households that had purchased the event on pay-per-view, Tyson and Holyfield met for a second time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 28, 1997. While Holyfield took the first round, Tyson appeared fit and adaptive, and came out blazing in round two. Then, just as Tyson had feared, Holyfield’s headbutt struck him again.

The clash of heads opened a cut over Tyson’s right eye, which threatened to obscure his vision as the fight went on. It also opened a reservoir of frustration in the fighter that would manifest in a spectacularly violent way.

Coming out for the third round, Tyson had forgotten his mouthpiece and had to go back and retrieve it—a foreshadowing of things to come. His aggression was working against Holyfield, but with 40 seconds left in the round, the two clinched up. Tyson moved his mouth so it was near Holyfield’s right ear. With his mouthpiece still in place, he clamped down on the ear, ripped the top off, and spat it along with his mouthguard onto the canvas.

Holyfield jumped up in the air in shock and pain. Referee Mills Lane was initially confused by what had happened until Holyfield’s trainers, Don Turner and Tommy Brooks, yelled out what Tyson had done. Lane called for a doctor then told Marc Ratner, the executive director of the athletic commission, that he was going to end the fight. Ratner asked if he was sure. Seeing Holyfield was bleeding from his ear but otherwise ready to fight, Lane waved the two men back into competition.

Incredibly, Tyson bit Holyfield a second time, this time on the left ear, before the round ended. This time, Lane was aware of what was happening and had seen enough. Before the start of the fourth round, he disqualified Tyson.

 

That was far from the end of it. Realizing he had lost the fight, Tyson grew incensed, shoving Holyfield from behind and pawing at the security guards who had stormed the ring in an attempt to restore order.

After the bout, Tyson didn’t appear to be overly contrite. He explained that he was frustrated at Holyfield headbutting him without being penalized, and said he had lost control.

An emotional Mike Tyson reacts to his disqualification loss to Evander Holyfield.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

“Listen,” Tyson said. “Holyfield is not the tough warrior everyone says he is. He got a nick on his ear and he quit.”

Tyson believed his retaliation was justified. “This is my career," he said. "I’ve got children to raise and this guy keeps butting me, trying to cut me and get me stopped on cuts. I’ve got to retaliate. What else could I do? He didn’t want to fight. I’m ready to fight right now. Regardless of what I did, he’s been butting me for two fights. I got one eye. He’s not impaired. He’s got ears. I’ve got to go home and my kids will be scared of me. Look at me, look at me, look at me!”

Two days later, Tyson issued a tempered apology in an effort to minimize the consequences, but it was too late. In addition to losing his boxing license in the state of Nevada, Tyson was fined 10 percent of his purse, or $3 million, which was thought to be the largest fine in sports at the time.

 

Tyson could never entirely shake the stigma of his actions. When a lucrative bout with Lennox Lewis was being planned in 2002, the fight ultimately ended up taking place in Memphis, Tennessee; Nevada refused to restore Tyson's license following a press conference brawl between the two men.

Tyson ultimately continued competing through 2005, when he lost his last bout to Kevin McBride. Holyfield retired in 2011. Earlier this year, the 54-year-old Tyson expressed a desire to return to the ring. The fighter once known as "The Baddest Man on the Planet" is scheduled to fight Roy Jones Jr. on November 28, 2020. Yet Holyfield, now 57 years old, remains a possible future opponent.

The two have occasionally interacted in public in interviews, with Tyson expressing remorse and Holyfield admitting he briefly thought about biting Tyson on his face right back. The pair even filmed a spot for Foot Locker in which Tyson “gave” Holyfield the missing piece of his ear.

In reality, Holyfield never did get his ear back. After Mitch Libonati handed it over to Michael Grant, the piece somehow fell out of the latex glove while being transported to the hospital.

Many fighters talk about leaving a little piece of themselves in the ring. It’s usually metaphorical. For Evander Holyfield, it was simply the truth.