The National Football League is a behemoth by any definition of the word. It resembles the biggest banks in the United States, the ones politicians worry are “too big to fail”.
There are occasions when the NFL uses its power in ways it should be openly criticized. It charged the U.S. Defense Department for the showy military exercise flag-waving opening ceremonies at games. It fined players who use innocuous parts of their uniform or body to remember parents who passed away, or to show support for a charitable cause.
Recently, two players were fined for putting words of support and remembrance in their eye black. Viewers would have to look very close to see it, unless the networks that work with the NFL and pay huge sums for the privilege point them out.
But now the NFL really has gone too far. It’s trying to change a significant tourist attraction in the city of San Francisco for its own financial gain.
Because the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose/Santa Clara area built a new football stadium for the San Francisco 49ers 45 minutes (on a good day) south of San Francisco, the NFL has awarded it as the host city for Super Bowl 50 this February.
The Super Bowl has turned into a weeklong event, with all manner of sideshow included. Part of the sideshow is the creation of a “Super Bowl City” in which a major thoroughfare is shut down to vehicular traffic and all sorts of tents and entertainment opportunities are set up for the week.
A similar situation occurred in Chicago last spring during the NFL draft week, when parts of Michigan Avenue (Michigan Avenue!) were shut down bordering Grant Park. Several side streets were affected as well, all on one of the first weekends of Chicago’s spring.
Now, back to San Francisco, where the NFL has asked the city to take down the overhead wires which power the city’s public transportation bus system. These are the wires that also transport the city’s historic streetcars as well as the buses the city depends on to get commuters to and fro.
The Super Bowl is a monstrous event, and it disrupts every city it invades. It has historically caused major disruption of public transportation, and for Super Bowl 48 in New York/New Jersey/Tri-State area, thousands of fans were stranded on the way home because of the disruption.
But this? This is as close to sacrilege as is imaginable. The Super Bowl wants to shut down San Francisco’s cable cars for its own selfish gain.
It takes an unbelievable amount of chutzpah to make a request like that, but when you are the NFL, I guess excess chutzpah comes with the territory.
Do you remember reading that the NFL wanted the acts that perform at halftime during the Super Bowl to “pay’’ for the opportunity to entertain the nation and the world for those 15 minutes. It’s bad enough the NFL doesn’t pay the performers in the first place, now they are trying to reverse the trend.
“We want to hire you”,’’ they say “and we want you to pay us to do so.”
The NFL has so many on-the-field problems, with concussions creating confused players playing a game with confused rules about what is a catch and what is a fumble. The NFL is forcing teams to travel to London for games because they apparently have completely conquered the United States.
Do you think the next time they play the Super Bowl in Arizona, the NFL will ask the state to move the Grand Canyon closer to the Phoenix-Glendale area?