The headline on ESPN.com is "Papa John's founder John Schnatter feeds me pizza." Then things get really stupid.
Lynn Hoppes is ESPN.com's senior director of Page 2 and commentary, in which capacity he has been filing small-bore dispatches from Miami in advance of the Super bowl. Dispatches like this one, which I'll just go ahead and quote in full:
I hate pizza.
That's not a secret to those who know me.
But I told Papa John's founder John Schnatter that.
He was walking around the Super Bowl media workroom passing out slices for live television shows.
When I told him the news that I wasn't interested, he stood there, gave a big smile and then did his damndest to convince me to try a piece.
"Pizza is nutritious. It has all natural ingredients. And it's delicious," said Schnatter, who created Papa John's from the ground up in 1984.
I know everyone loves pizza.
I know Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the pizza industry, with more than 30 million pizza slices consumed while watching the game.
I know that 93 percent of Americans eat a slice of pizza at least once a month.
"I still eat pizza three or four times a week," Schnatter said. "I'm just passionate about the product."
But not me.
So I tried a piece.
I'm not saying I love pizza now.
But hate is probably too strong of a word.
Now, everyone knows the Super Bowl is where good journalism goes to die. (I believe it's buried somewhere in the cleavage of the correspondent from TV Azteca.) But this one — in its mixture of indifferent prose, trifling subject matter, and unabashed corporate shilling — is truly singular in its awfulness. Hoppes travels from "I hate pizza" to "But hate is probably too strong of a word" in just a few sponsor-friendly lines — 14 of them, to be exact, as if he were composing a sonnet to bad journalism.