Send in the Clowns

Last night, the Chicago Bears played a game against the Green Bay Packers. My level of interest in that event is reflected in the fact that a day later, I still have no idea who won. In the midst of doing other, more important things, I stopped into a local pizza shop for a quick slice and a beer. They were broadcasting the game on several televisions, but it was fortunately in some sort of weather delay.

Just as I was feeling thankful for the heavenly intervention (literally) that spared me from watching them play, I started picking up on the subject the announcers’ prattling during the stoppage. It seems both the Packers and Bears decided to link arms during the playing of the National Anthem, and encouraged their fans to join them in doing so. If there’s one thing this demonstrates about the NFL, it’s that they still – Just. Don’t. Get. It. Whether you take a knee, sit on the bench, roll around on the ground stretching, hide in the locker room or engage in some grotesque impersonation of the Radio City Rockettes – anything you do to draw attention to yourselves, for the sake of political posturing, during the playing of the National Anthem is disrespectful and inappropriate.

As grateful as I was to have missed this ill-conceived spectacle, my appetite was soon challenged by (if possible) an even more disturbing display. As I became more tuned into the on-screen banter, I realized that Bill Cowher (former coach of my now-formerly-beloved Pittsburgh Steelers) was gushing enthusiastically about how moving and inspiring this pre-game demonstration was for him. Far more than a passing comment, he returned repeatedly to this rhapsody, even after the other broadcasters had interrupted his lavishly enthusiastic performance to offer observations about the football game actually in progress. Either Cowher was reacting with genuine sincerity to what he had seen prior to the game (in which case he came off sounding like kind of a moron), or he was performing some sort of scripted cheerleading act at the urging of the league, the network or both (in which case he came off sounding like a gutless political stooge). In either case, he made a complete clown of himself, while doing nothing to change minds on either side of the issue. Pathetic, really.



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