The Advocate

Halftime performance echoes NFL problems

By Robert Clinton, Opinion Editor

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Ever since Colin Kaepernick was effectively blackballed from participating in the 2017 NFL season, football just hasn’t been the same and although I haven’t watched a complete game this season, my efforts fall short of a full boycott.

This past weekend, the biggest American sporting event of the year, Super Bowl LII, took place, complete with all of the pageantry and multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns that we have come to expect.

And somehow, now more than ever before, it all felt extremely hollow.

From the multicultural children strewn before the cameras during the pre-game festivities, to the crocodile tears shed by many of the players during the national anthem — the scenes of patriotism and inclusivity wrapped in a blanket of Americana was nothing short of contrived.

Super Bowl football fans are no different than Christians who overflow churches on Easter.

The church welcomes the offerings of fair-weather followers, the same with the NFL and fair-weather fans.

Even the halftime show, which was bad, felt different — it felt like defeat.

Seeing Justin Timberlake perform his version of blue-eyed-soul, with just enough hip-hop to avoid owning the seductive dweeb market, left me yearning for Janet Jackson to take the stage and get her revenge by causing him a wardrobe malfunction.

In 2004 Jackson suffered the brunt of America’s faux-puritanical public scorn following Timberlake’s exposing of the singer’s breast during that year’s Super Bowl halftime performance.

But there is no justice in halftime shows or football for that matter, CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) proves that.

When Patriot receiver Brandin Cooks left the 2018 Super Bowl with a head injury, how many updates on his condition were given throughout the game.

Nobody remembered — nobody cared.

It was a real-life rendition of “Everything is Awesome,” where all of the events of the past 18 weeks completely ceased to exist.

It was during this season, Sept. 22, that Trump called NFL players who spoke out against systemic oppression “sons of bitches.”

Those words unlocked the secret sentiment of average football fans nationwide.

Five days later, NFL fans took to social media to post videos of themselves burning their own season tickets.

Not because players took a knee to bring awareness to social injustice — they were angry because players knelt to the dulcet tones of the hypocritically-versed national anthem.

This is the often forgotten third verse of the anthem.

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Kind of makes you want to take a knee while donning a raised fist, doesn’t it?

But that was four months ago and in this political climate and never-ending news cycle, four months can feel like four generations.

As for the game, deciding who to root for between the Patriots and the Eagles is like electing Democrats or Republicans. It’s all deciding between the lesser of two evils.

In 2013, the Eagles handled receiver Riley Cooper with kid gloves when he threatened to fight every n***** at a country music show. One year later, the team extended his contract.

And the Patriots are, well — the Patriots, what’s to respect?

This was the NFL’s last opportunity to sway me as a fan and they failed, miserably.

Next year, no Kaepernick no football in my house.

I’ve had enough.

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Halftime performance echoes NFL problems