I have to start by admitting that I'm not a fan of football. My idea of spectator sports consists of watching humans
do something other than crash into each other and create mounds of bodies. Baseball, tennis, and ice skating are more to my
tastes. Yet every year for the last 4 I've watched the Superbowl. Not for the game itself, but for the commercials and the
half-time show. Some years I'd double up in laughter at the comedic twists of the commercials, other years I'd groan at the
stupidity it all. And I'd never watch the game. I'd do anything, even wash dishes, to fill in that time.
This year was different. In many ways...I found myself secretly wishing the Patriots would win. Wouldn't it be neat for
a team so named to walk away the winner in a year when we all are trying to be patriotic? This year the whole 5 hours (I watched
part of the pre-game show too) turned into an emotional roller coaster ride for me.
First off, all the stupidity and banality of the Superbowl event had vanished. Everyone from the NFL players to the sportscasters
to the producers of the commercials tried to give us a show this country and the world would not forget (it is beamed around
the world). Whenever (other than the somber Olympics) did an American sports event do anything as deep as read from the Constitution
and the writings of Abe Lincoln? The wrap up of the pregame show did just that. Members of the NFL each read parts of the
Constitution against backdrops of our National monuments and cities. And the last phrase read was over a view of Ground Zero.
Then our 4 living Presidents did their rendition of quotes from Lincoln's writings with the Boston Pops playing in the background.
The game started and the commercials presented the usual range of topics. Until Guiliani thanked everyone for helping
NYC. Until the Anheuser Bush Clysdales appeared in Manhattan looking down towards Ground Zero. Until we were told that even
though it's your body, buying drugs can fund a terrorists (one spot started very graphically by quoting what it cost to buy
the various items that could blow up a building).
Then there were also the live shots of our troops in Afghanistan. One showed the guys holding their rifles in the air
and cheering after a touchdown had been made. The sportscaster commented that they might lack the munchies but not the spirit
even if it meant only being able to raise their rifles high. The poor guys, I felt so glad they could be entertained even
though it must have been around 5 in the morning their time!
Then came the half time show. U2 was to play and being one of my favorite rock singers I was eagerly anticipating his
performance. The first song was good but what came next was to blow my mind. As he sang "Where the Streets Have No Name",
a huge banner unfurled behind him. On it, were columns, and written in huge letters, the names of the people who had perished
in the WTC destruction, at the Pentagon, and in the airplanes. Name after name, in alphabetical order, scrolling up to
the sky. I started crying. His song ended and the banner was let to crash to the ground creating an eerie duplication of the
Twin Towers coming down.
I can't remember where the Rams had caught up but now they were neck to neck with the Patriots. I kept watching on and
off (still can't muster up the patience to watch ALL the body smashing!) and definitely listening to the score. The Patriots
had to win!
And that they did. As I flipped of the TV, I couldn't help but think how the 2 things we Americans are all criticized
for - Rock Music, and sports - could become the vehicle for emotion and patriotism. How a sporting event that non-football
fans see as crass and stupid, can bring tears to our eyes and show the world how much we care about the people who laid down
their lives for our way of life. The World Trade Center has been gone for almost 5 months, Superbowl 36 is now history, but
the enduring spirit of our democracy and the continued honoring of those who died at the hands of the terrorists will not
disappear. And that, indeed, is a touchdown of cosmic proportions!
c 2002 Leona M Seufert