In the days leading up to last week's Super Bowl 53, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league leaders toured Atlanta's historic civil rights locations and highlighted the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Then he undid all the goodwill by degrading women and Dr. King's legacy during the halftime show. New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick was not about to let the NFL get away with its Super Bowl hypocrisy either.
As Mushnick explained, the NFL featured Dr. King's "extraordinary work, legacy, messages and martyrdom. Video appeared of Dr. King’s civil-rights marches, his monumental speeches and his singular significance. The coin toss was conducted by Dr. King’s daughter. An insert within the game showed Commissioner Roger Goodell visiting Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was ordained and which now is a national historic landmark."
This could have all been seen as a cynical way of assuaging people "who have ordained radicalized NFL exploitation maestro Colin Kaepernick as a symbol of modern racial protest, so be it," Mushnick writes. In reality, he says, it was hypocritical and pathetic pandering, and the Super Bowl TV audience wasn't supposed to notice it:
"King’s legacy is too great to be eclipsed by a QB (Kaepernick) who supports the convicted police murderer Joanne Chesimard, granted exile in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and no-trials executioner Che Guevara in the name of pick-and-choose justice."
If this reality was too vague for viewers to discern, the halftime show by Travis Scott, Maroon 5 and Big Boi was not. The NFL went as far out of its way as possible, Mushnick writes, "to degrade King and his legacy by inviting two vulgar, N-wording, women denigrating, boasting, no-upside, backward-pointed rappers, Travis Scott and Big Boi, to perform.":
"Both have made their fame and fortune by promoting and perpetuating every negative stereotype of black America. Don’t take my words for it; look up — or down — their lyrics for yourself.
"The NFL invited Scott fully knowing and anticipating that his lyrics would be so objectionable that he was three times bleeped while performing. The NFL knew what it had, knew what was coming — and that still met with its certification as entertainment to over 100 million viewers."
Mushnick practically says the media was derelict in its duty to not question why grotesque men were invited to entertain on the huge Super Bowl stage. "So the NFL could fill its annual quota of objectionable performers? Why, especially in Dr. King’s conspicuously revived presence, did the news media not note, let alone decry, such a slap in Dr. King’s face? Or would it be impolite to offend the offensive?"
It's now clear that the NFL, "as per Roger Goodell’s stewardship, carried two non-football themes: A celebration of all that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died for, and the repudiation and degradation of everything he lived and died for."
Based on what he observed in Atlanta last week, Mushnick wants to know if common sense and common decency are dead or if these virtues are merely hibernating. "Or have both been ruled politically and commercially inappropriate?" he asks.
We should not be all that surprised though. This is the NFL's culture now. Last year the Philadelphia Eagles took the field for Super Bowl 52 to the sound of the recording "Dreams and Nightmares" by Meek Mill (convicted of gun dealing and assaulting a police officer), laced with vulgarity, nearly two dozen N-words and sexual themes. The Undefeated writer Jason Reid praised the Eagles for their social conscience and noted this disgusting tune is the team's anthem. Were Dr. King still alive to hear this abomination, he would be appalled.