NFL "SPINS" TROOP SUPPORT ISSUE
After the Super Bowl I posted my thoughts on the game. One of things I noted about the event was the lack of any tribute to our military. I noticed 3 pre-game tributes (King, Parks, Katrina) but apparently our military didn't make the cut.
Another blogger, Alex at The Noonz Wire, noticed this omission as well and ripped into the NFL in this post last Tuesday. His post got me motivated to take the issue beyond just a mention on my blog: I decided someone was going to explain this to me, and that "someone" was going to be the NFL.
I took me the better part of two days to work my way up the food chain of Paul Tagliabue's office in New York, but, finally, I was put in contact with someone who was authorized to discuss the matter. That person was Matt Hill, who works in corporate communications. However pleasant and professional he was, he was not prepared for my main inquiry. The phone call was not recorded, so I'm constructing it from my notes.
TWD: When does planning for a Super Bowl begin?
MH: Planning begins 2 years in advance. And we have sites identified through 2010.
TWD: Does the NFL decide on what activities take place pre-game, half-time, ect?
MH: The NFL controls everything. But there are a couple issues the network has a say in.
TWD: Why was there no tritbute to our military at this year's Super Bowl?
MH: Not sure why.
TWD: At some point in the planning process, the subject of a military tribute had to come up, and someone at that table had to say why you were or why you weren't going to do it.
MH: Again, I'm not sure why.
TWD: Ok, then put me in contact with someone who can answer my question.
MH: I'll forward your call to Brian McCarthy. I'll put you on hold. (holding)
MH: I wanted to put you in touch with Brian McCarthy but I just noticed he's leaving for a meeting. I'll have him call you back when he's free.
TWD: Thanks very much.
Take note of Matt's first answer to my question as to why there was no tribute. "Not sure why." He admitted there was no tribute but just didn't know why there wasn't one. If there had been a tribute, this was his opportunity to point it out. But, there was no tribute. McCarthy just leaving for a meeting was code for, "we better get organized here before we say more." I expected this and would've done the same thing. About 2 hours later, I received a return call from Tagliabue's office. Again, it was Matt Hill.
MH: I wanted to get back to you and fill you in on what we did for the military during the Super Bowl.
TWD: Thanks, and I appreciate you getting back to me so soon.
MH: Here's what the NFL did this year: 6 colors guards representing each branch of service during the anthem tribute. TV crews from each branch providing live feeds to military units across the globe. On the live feeds, some of the players gave personal tributes to the military. The NFL mailed 5000 Super Bowl programs to service members. Staff from the NFL and the Washington Redskins visited Walter Reed and watched the game with some of our wounded. Cleveland Browns' owner, Randy Lerner, provided tickets for 50 marines to attend the Super Bowl.
TWD: You know, that's some great stuff you listed. It would've been nice if you had announced this to the viewing audience. We would've liked to have known about it.
TWD: But, getting back to my original question. Why was there no tribute to our military at this year's super Bowl?
MH: There was. We had 6 color guards representing each branch of service during the anthem tribute.
TWD: The 6 six color guards?
MH: Yes, during the pre-game tribute.
TWD: Ok, Matt, I appreciate the time you've taken with me and, again, thanks for getting back to me so soon.
Let me respond to some of what Matt listed. 6 Color Guards do not constitute a tribute--not when we're at war--nor is it special. Color Guards are always present during professional sporting events. Because this was the Super Bowl, where everything is done bigger and with more flash, of course there would be more than one Color Guard presenting the Colors. And, if you remember, the National Anthem was announced as a tribute to the victims of Katrina. Not the military.
An owner, as in one, bought 50 tickets for some Marines to attend the game. The NFL has 32 teams. This is something the NFL is touting as support? Something to be proud of ? I think not. Don't get me wrong, I commend Mr. Lerner for his support of those 50 Marines. But where in the hell was everyone else? Where was the NFL?
Obviously, the military was downplayed this year. There was no tribute at all. The NFL, for whatever reason, decided on this policy and they aren't saying why. All the items Matt listed off to me were "behind the scenes" events and the viewing audience was not made aware of them. In other words, everything Matt said was simply NFL spin. Period.
Why would the NFL snub our military? Your guess is as good as mine. But, the fact remains that they decided not to pay tribute to the most important people on the face of the earth: The men and women of the United States armed forces. Some of whom were shot at, wounded, or killed during the broadcast of this year's Super Bowl. And for the NFL's lack of respect for these precious warriors, they owe us all an explanation.
There's more going on here, so if you're inclined to contact the NFL about this, and I hope you are, you can do so in one of two ways:
or, write to them at:
280 Park Ave.
New York 10017
The NFL has no "general" email address. The NFL.com site only entertains inquires regarding site content. Not NFL issues.
Hey, if enough of you blog about this, and call, maybe the NFl will show some appreciation to our military at this week's Pro Bowl.
See you in the comment section.