The cynicism of the National Football League is apparently boundless. After taking a break from mostly not watching the game – we were visiting with friends and there was some great food on the table and even better conversation in the next room – I was intrigued by the prospect of both Shakira AND Jennifer Lopez appearing in stages of near nudity on the halftime show. Most everyone knows that the halftime show is designed to pander to our basest instincts – wardrobe malfunctions and penis guitars – so what red-blooded American with a mouthful of chili would miss a chance to see that?
It was obvious for some time that we were going to be in for a boobs and booty extravaganza, and as an ambulatory heterosexual white male who identifies as a meat-eating door-kicker I could not pass up a chance to revel in my exceptional privilege: we were watching the game in, gasp, 5G, and my hearing aids were fixed last week so I could actually hear the stupid pre-game banter between Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson and the rest of the cartoon characters who pontificate endlessly on the genius of all things football.
Shut up and dance, I always say.
Football, I’ve long believed, is better enjoyed without sound. It’s far more entertaining to sit on the sofa and conjure thought bubbles over the heads of the various football pundits and rules interpreters. It is a fun game to play with like minds, nerds like me who harbor an affinity for improvisation and sit on a mental warehouse of old movie lines. I can easily burn up three hours of otherwise precious time in such pursuits.
Confession: I was not disappointed in the boobs, bootie, and gratuitous crotch-shots provided by the big Latina and Puerto Rican pride celebration between halves of football, although it was apparent to me that the NFL is straddling a strange line between celebrating family values and a move toward the adult movie industry – witness the tear-jerker, counterpoised opening featuring a young kid running a football across the country, encouraged by football heroes old and new, boostered by hard-working farmers and angelic single mothers, pausing just long enough to evoke waves of selfless patriotism at the Pat Tillman statue, and finally bolting out onto the field in real life, chased by a wildly leaping pageant of joyous youth in various jerseys. Cue the fireworks. It’s brilliant marketing but hard to square with the grindhouse promiscuity and gratuitous beaver shots from the halftime show, versions of which I’ve seen in various Mexican honky-tonks on my old police beat.
Which is just more evidence of our cultural split-personality.
Not that I care that much. I keep trying to elevate my vision, which any decent tactical driving instructor – or race-car driver — will tell you is the key to driving fast and staying on the road. Shuffle steering helps but a high visual horizon will keep you in the race between the twists and turns and the traffic full of drivers who have never realized that driving is actually a team sport.
Which is another irony of the NFL that is hard to square: the notion of a team sport dominated by individuals. I can’t imagine a tougher job than being an NFL coach and trying to eke out some selflessness in a billion dollar industry full of employees who can buy and sell the entire coaching staff. I wonder how much actual coaching goes on or if it’s mostly just pleading for cooperation.
Maybe I can be forgiven my trespasses on the sanctity of these football questions because I got a bad prescription for progressive glasses and I’ve been dizzy for two weeks. Unassing that problem has been a considerable challenge, compounded by my inveterate hypochondria which convinces me that instead of declining eyesight and shitty glasses I have a terminal disease. Which is really just another advertisement for staying far the fuck away from Web MD.
A cure for many ailments is to go shooting which I was able to do despite the football championship hysteria. Even through my aggravating disequilibrium I was able to test drive my new Gen 5 Glock 17 to satisfaction. I had dropped a Zev trigger in it, a tungsten guide rod and extended mag release, and as a self-indulgent topper slapped a new red dot sight on the slide. I was able to zero the sight and fire off a few hundred rounds in various drills despite the looming passage of Nazi-era gun laws in formerly free Oregon. There is something to be said for blazing hammered pairs to the torso of a target resembling, not on purpose but apropos, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.
My wife made a solid observation about the half-time show, which was that they might as well just do the whole thing naked. Never the prude, I couldn’t agree more. And I think they should probably just play football naked too, which would likely reduce the number of head injuries and also provide a nod to the ancient Greek origins of various full contact sports. Imagine a naked kick-off, or a naked punt return. There was a lingerie football league for a while, but the novelty of that and roadside bikini baristas wore off at about the same time.
America is a strange place, isn’t it, always drifting and yearning, and reaching and collapsing, and in so many directions at once.