Super Bowl 50: A cultural malfunction

Dear NFL,

I’m writing you to let you know I’m done with you. It’s over. I’m not going to lie by saying, “It’s not you, it’s me;” because it’s definitely you.

I don’t expect you to know who I am, so please allow me to give you some background.

Growing up in Cleveland, I was an avid Browns fan. I remember rooting for Lou “The Toe” Groza, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Paul Warfield, Frank Ryan, Bill Nelsen and Mike Phipps.

I was there when Browns’ owner Art Modell fired coach Paul Brown, who then went on to create the Cincinnati Bengals in the old American Football League (AFL).

I watched the first Super Bowls before they were called Super Bowls; when no one expected the AFL champion to beat the NFL champion. But that was before Broadway Joe Namath became a household name by leading the New York Jets to a 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in 1969.

In the AFL/NFL merger, I joined the outcry when the city learned the Browns were being transferred to the new conference containing the bulk of the old “subpar” AFL teams.

I spent $6 of my hard earned grocery clerk money to shiver in the bleachers on a very cold December day in 1970, only to see the Dallas Cowboys beat the Browns 6-2.

When I left Cleveland for the Air Force, I remained a Browns fan for many years. With the quarterback names now changed to Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar, and Vinny Testaverde, I watched in horror the 1981 “Interception,” the 1987 “Drive,” and the 1988 “Fumble.” Seasoned Cleveland fans remember those games well.

But the 1980s also brought player strikes and growing resentment on my part. To me, the strikes were about people making lots of money fighting over making lots more money, forgetting it all comes from people making very little money.

Then in the 1990s, your players seemed to begin relishing a “bad boy” image. Now, it’s gotten so bad, team statistics include the number of players arrested. All the while, your drive to become more politically correct, at least on the field, has earned you the moniker, NFL — the No Fun League.

Finally, was reaching for cultural edginess part of a well thought out market plan? Everybody remembers the “wardrobe malfunction” of Super Bowl XXXVIII, but it’s a simple matter to Google player antics, questionable halftime shows, and ads that should have had received better oversight.

Therefore, the controversy over Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50’s halftime show — featuring dancers in costumes reminiscent of Black Panther uniforms and berets — is not unique; it’s just the latest. But when I watch football, I don’t want to be insulted, worry about inappropriate material for children, or subject to “As the Football Deflates” soap operas.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to demand you change to accommodate me. I’m not going to make a federal case out of this and demand there “Oughta be a law.” After all, a 2014 Harris poll puts football’s popularity at 35 percent and baseball at a distant 14 percent. In that respect, you could argue you are doing something right.

But at least I can say I’ll no longer contribute to your success, making my liberation complete.

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One of our regular community contributors, Tony Corvo is a retired U.S. Air Force officer, holds a Ph.D. in physics, is a longtime Ohio and Greene County resident and author of ‘All Politics is Loco.’

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