Making American Football Great Again
February 6, 2017 38 Comments
I have a confession to make, I didn’t bother watching the Super Bowl, yesterday. In fact, I haven’t watched a pro game all year. I’m not exactly boycotting the NFL although it does tend to offend me. I just don’t care much anymore, maybe I’ve outgrown it. I don’t really know, likely because I haven’t thought about it much. My first love was always the college game (especially the Big 10) anyway. Given Purdue’s performance the last few years, I haven’t watched much of that either.
But it seems that the Patriots started slow and make one heck of a comeback yesterday, as I read Mary Katharine Ham’s article in The Federalist this morning, I rather wished I had. Both for the game, which went into OT and for Lady Gaga’s halftime show. Here’s a bit
Many Americans were bracing themselves for the halftime show of the Super Bowl Sunday. Lady Gaga, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter and left-leaning activist, had a huge stage 13 minutes. Recent precedent suggested such a performance could not take place without some kind of obvious anti-Trump political statement. Some boycotted in anticipation.
Those like myself, who like sports to be an oasis from politics, were skeptical but hoped for the best. She’s a great performer with a great voice. She’s also been inventive in her career, if not subtle, so a run-of-the-mill Trump denunciation would have felt pretty tired. It would have won her plenty of the usual social media plaudits, but she went a different route. I underestimated her.
Gaga opened her performance atop the stadium, clad in iridescent armor, singing “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” against a back drop of the American flag formed by the red, white, and blue head lamps of 300 synchronized drones.
She transitioned to the Pledge of Allegiance, pointing at the sky for “under God” and adding special emphasis to “for all.” Some, seemingly looking for offense, accused Gaga of omitting “under God,” but she did not.
Gaga then tore through a medley of her greatest hits, even teasing the Houston audience by doing a verse of her Beyoncé collaboration “Telephone” but without an appearance by the hometown diva. Power move. She sang a cappella, she played the piano, she said hi to her parents, and she put on a hell of a show.
She hugged someone briefly during her song “Stay,” and the Internet is trying to figure out if that had any political significance. “This Land Is Your Land” was written by folk singer Woody Guthrie as a response to “God Bless America,” with critical lyrics and a chorus of “God blessed America for me,” so, the performance was not without its messages.
That sounds pretty damned good to me. Mary Katharine is right, she’s a talented lady, who works hard at her craft, she’s just not really my cup of tea, but then I’m an old fogey anyway. But it’s definitely time for America to begin to pull together again, and I like This Land is your Land as well as God Bless America. And you know, we really are all in this together, whatever we think about Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump, and all our other controversies. Nor do I especially mind watching a beautiful woman dance, and leap, and such. I’m old, but not that old. 🙂
She also talked a bit about the game
Down 21-3 in the first half thanks to an authoritative performance from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons defense, Brady looked uncharacteristically rattled at times. Down 28-3 in the third quarter, he looked uncharacteristically cornered. But the Patriots made the best of a flubbed fourth-quarter Falcons pass on third and 1, recovering and later scoring to bring the game to within 8, and a couple more bad pass play calls that took the Birds out of range of the field goal that might have put the game out of reach.
In the end, Brady’s performance wasn’t without his customary dominance and grit. But it was different. It was unexpected. Brady no doubt earned new fans—or, at the very least, grudging respect from skeptics—who will be interested in his game, no matter his politics. He won dramatically and he won graciously, though not without knocking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell obliquely in his acceptance speech, which is something we can all get behind. He orchestrated the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, was named MVP in the only overtime the Super Bowl has ever seen, and he accepted the giant trophy from his nemesis while acknowledging his sick mother, in the crowd to watch her son win.
And that too sounds like TV worth watching. It’s been a very long year, and I for one would be very pleased if we all just quit yelling so much at each other, and got on with the game.
Now if only Purdue could finally put together a winning team