Thanks to NFL, lynching is outmoded

January 28, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

There I was Sunday, trying to think of reasons why I should watch the Green Bay Packers play the Denver Broncos in the 32nd Super Bowl. Heaven help me, I couldn't find one.

I had missed the two Super Bowls before this one, figuring there were plenty of reasons not to watch. First among them was that the game is usually a turkey. I could hear the gobbling even during the pregame show. Typically, Super Bowls have been so pathetic I've taken to bestowing other monikers on the game: the Stupor Bowl, the Stink Bowl, the Choke Bowl, the Toilet Bowl.

Sunday's game was one of the rare good ones. Alas, there are more reasons not to watch the Super Bowl than that the game usually turns out to be dreadful. To list a few:

A sense of priorities: Exactly when did professional football become this country's state religion? Somewhere along the line, pro football went from being a pleasant Sunday afternoon diversion to a mania. Super Bowl Sunday is a virtual holiday. Our passion for pro football, indeed all pro sports, has gone from a harmless hankering to worship.

Mind you, there is a definite need for pro sports. They provide for us a cathartic release and divert America's attention from its one true sports love: male-on-male violence. Our history shows it. For years, lynching victims in the South were white males. After the Civil War, the victims were mainly black males. In some locations, lynching was indeed a sport, with attendees bringing lunches and snacks and turning the gruesome affairs into picnics.

That's why it's no accident that lynching decreased in the United States as the popularity of sports - particularly pro sports - increased. It's not because we as Americans got any nicer. We didn't. We just have another outlet for our violent tendencies. Without pro sports, American men might well return to gleefully slaughtering each other as we did in days of yore.

So I'm all for the Super Bowl as diversion. It's when we elevate it to religion that I get nervous.

A sense of loyalty: The Houston Oilers are now the Tennessee Oilers. The Los Angeles Rams are now the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Cardinals the Phoenix Cardinals, the Baltimore Colts the Indianapolis Colts and, most revolting of all, the Cleveland Browns some team named the Baltimore Ravens.

When will this game of musical franchises end? Not anytime soon. Any city that builds a stadium that any National Football League owner feels will increase his profits might soon find a team playing there. Fans from the abandoned city will soon find themselves up the world's most famous creek. The NFL should stand for either "Nice Fans Lose" to describe the suffering pro football devotees of Los Angeles, Houston and Cleveland. "Need For Loot" would be an adequate term to describe league owners.

A sense of outrage: The NFL stands head and shoulders above others as the country's greediest, most stupid and most rTC arrogant corporate entity. Before fans in Tennessee and Phoenix get too slap-happy about having NFL franchises, they had best consider how the league has treated Baltimore.

When league honchos refused to give Baltimore an expansion franchise, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue arrogantly suggested we needed to build more museums. When the city got a Canadian Football League franchise and tried to name it the Baltimore CFL Colts, there were those NFL pests again, insisting the name Colts belonged to the NFL and that fans might confuse the Baltimore CFL Colts with the Indianapolis Colts.

You see, NFL bigwigs don't so much insult the intelligence of American sports fans as they think it simply doesn't exist at all. No one at the time Baltimore's CFL franchise played confused the Canadian British Columbia Lions with the NFL Detroit Lions. Those nitwits running the league just wanted to stick it to Baltimore once again.

The latest insult, reported by Dan Rodricks this month, was the league's insistence that the home shopping network QVC claim the Indianapolis Colts, not the Baltimore Colts, won Super Bowl V. QVC is selling train boxcars with the logos of Super Bowl winners. Though the Colts didn't move to Indianapolis until 1984, the NFL still insists the winners of the 1971 Super Bowl are not the Baltimore Colts, but the Indianapolis Colts.

There's something wrong with the folks who run the NFL. Their hatred of Baltimore doesn't just border on the pathological. It far surpasses the pathological. Rather than blindly supporting the league's annual Turkey Bowl, pro football fans might suggest that NFL honchos get some much-needed therapy.

Pub Date: 1/28/98

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