SPORT / Dave Zirin : Fox Be Damned, It Was a People’s Victory

Packers fans. Image from D.

Fox be damned:
Why a Packers victory is a people’s victory

By Dave Zirin / The Rag Blog / February 7, 2011

The 2011 Super Bowl was between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers — two squads whose monikers speak to their roots as factory teams in the industrial heartland.

As these teams prepared to face-off in the almighty spectacle that is the Super Bowl, the game’s pre-game show involved a salute to Ronald Reagan on his 100th birthday. Considering how Reagan gutted the aforementioned industrial heartland, a more appropriate pre-game show would have been an intimate meeting at the 50 yard line between a Reagan-disguised tackling dummy and fearsome Steeler James Harrison.

The Black Eyed Peas at halftime, however, made me long for another Reagan tribute. It was also Bob Marley’s birthday and I’m going to guess that far more Super Bowl parties in this country reflected Marley’s legacy than Reagan’s.

But it wasn’t just the film tribute that reminded viewers of the Reagan 1980s. The sheer tonnage of militaristic bombast with patriotic trimmings was like Top Gun on steroids and might have seemed over the top to the Gipper himself.

Viewers were treated to a reading of the Declaration of Independence, coupled with Marines marching on the field, coupled with that twit from Glee singing America the Beautiful, coupled with more shots of the troops, coupled with a damaged Christina Aguilera stumbling through the National Anthem.

By the time it was done, I was ready to get an American Flag tattoo and send my taxes to Hosni Mubarak like a Fox-Approved Good American. But fortunately for my sanity, I was watching the game with the DC Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against War at their annual Demilitarized Super Bowl Party.

The vets, who booed every time Fox tried to use the troops to build its brand, made it clear that real war in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t have a damn thing to do with what the broadcast was selling. As Geoff Millard of Iraq Vets Against the War said to me, “We love sports but hate the way it’s used and hate the way the soldiers are used to sell war.”

According to Rolling Stone, Super Bowl XLV hosted “The Ghastliest Half-Time Show in Sports History.”

And yet somewhere amidst the noise, the smoke, the Reagans, and the Black Eyed Peas, a football game actually broke out and it was a dandy. In no Super Bowl has a team ever come back from more than a 10-point deficit — and before you could blink the Steelers were down 18, 21-3. This was thanks to two costly interceptions by Pittsburgh quarterback and twice-accused rapist Ben Roethlisberger. An electric interception return for a touchdown by Green Bay safety Nick Collins reminded a lot of us why we love this game in the first place.

But Pittsburgh is a team with two dozen players who were part of their Super Bowl championship team two years ago and they refused to quit. The game winded down with Green Bay leading 31-25 and Pittsburgh having the ball with just two minutes to play. Green Bay’s defense held and a fantastic game ended as the Pack came away with the win. Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers was absolutely brilliant, completing 24-of-39 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and winning the MVP.

Yet for all the celebration of the Packers and their history, there was one brazen decision made by the show’s producers and announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman that was an insult to everything the team stands for.

Super Bowl coverage often includes numerous shots of the two teams’ owners fretting in their luxury boxes like neurotic Julius Caesars. But the Packers are a team without an owner. They’re a community-run non-profit owned by 112,000 fans. Rather than celebrate that fact, Fox didn’t mention the Pack’s unique ownership structure once. They also then didn’t include shots of the Rooney family, the most celebrated ownership family in the NFL.

After the game, during the traditional passing of the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team’s owner, the award was handed to the Packers’ “CEO and Chief Executive Officer” Mike Murphy who barely looks old enough to shave. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as he threatens to lock the players out, clearly wants to hide the truth that the Packers have no single billionaire owner.

They want it hidden because the team from Green Bay stands as a living, breathing example that if you take the profit motive out of sports, you can get more than a team to be proud of: you can get a Super Bowl Champion.

It ain’t Tahrir Square, but it’s something — in our over-corporatized and hyper-commercialized sports world — to cheer. It is reason enough to celebrate the fact that the Lombardi Trophy has finally come home to Titletown.

[Dave Zirin is the author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love (Scribner). Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com. This article was also posted to The Notion, The Nation‘s group blog.]

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3 Responses to SPORT / Dave Zirin : Fox Be Damned, It Was a People’s Victory

  1. And they were playing in the home of THE corporate-welfare team. The Dall… err Irvi… errr Not Even Dallas County Arlington Cowboys.
    Whose corporate owners got public bond funding for their stadiums since Tom Landry days. When they were planning the move from Irving, (original plan was the other side of the swamp in Grand Prairie, but there’s a really good reason there aren’t any industrial buildings on that side of the freeway…) the Legislature, chock full of Reaganite Sucks, had to vote to approve the bond issue. Sure enough they did. These being some of the loudest whiners against public funding for something besides Mega-corporate interests, like Health Care.

    Mind, the bonds aren’t direct subsidies from the Taxpayers. Like the selling of Treasury bonds to support the wars. Not a DIRECT tax increase, just one that’s put off, for a decade, at interest. That way, like Reagan, Bush the Elder and Bush the Chimpleton, they can make the absurd claim “Read My Lips, No New Taxes (until I’m out of office and the stupid bastards who voted for us will blame whatever Democrat is in office when the bills come due)”
    In the Legislature the Cowboys Front Office put together a multimedia presentation of what the New, Improved stadium would look like.
    A deal about the New Boondogg… errr Civic Eyesore errr… “business generator” isn’t that the way the TeaTard Reaganites sell anything? had a hole in the roof so “God could look down and watch His team”.
    That was plenty blasphemous enough for me and beyond.
    Then one of the Legislators, allegedly a conservative (who conserves nothing) and a Baptist Minister (!!) said “Well, if God says so, who are we to say no?”

  2. Brother Jonah says:

    But remember WHY, exactly, they were being kicked out of Irving? I mean, sure the stadium was 40 years old, but come the hell on… the Colosseum in Rome was in use for two centuries and only fell into disuse after the Empire collapsed. Most of the damage over 2000 years has been done by deliberate acts of human sabotage. It’s survived earthquakes.

    Like the Corporate Welfare Cowboys, it was funded by a pillage economy.
    Irving was saddled with their bonds from 4 decades ago. And by the fact that a monstrous building that only gets used less than two dozen times a Freakin’ Year is a major drain on the city Emergency Services, Public Safety and traffic and really contributed NOTHING to any “business renaissance”. Irving remains a bedroom community.

    Arlington was promised much the same thing by Bush the Simple, on The Ballpark. You can get off North Collins street, onto Ballpark Way, at rush hour when the Bedroom Community commuters are coming in from their Elsewhere Jobs, N. Collins will be congested beyond belief, if you walk up the street past all the used car lots that change names and owners regularly, the Dollar Stores, pawn shops… boarded up buildings… Like the old KMart on the corner of Ballpark Way and Collins, hasn’t been a KMart for a decade now…
    You could dance in the middle of Ballpark way, no traffic unless there’s a Rangers game. The “economic revival” Arlington’s “conservative” establishment bought into.

    The Vandergriffs and other So-called Conservatives bought into it even though they KNEW that GW is a shit-Midas, nothing he touches turns to gold… has run into the ground and beyond any enterprise he owned including the City of Arlington, (he co-opted the economy for his privately owned team) the State of Texas and now, the United States Government.
    The only reasons he didn’t run the Rangers franchise into the ground are one, you can’t actually fall from the bottom, and two, as soon as the suckers in Arlington bought the new ballpark and Ballpark Way, their stock enjoyed a brief bubble and Bush bailed, took the money and ran… For Governor. The rest of that story is too tragic to relate.. at least without a fair amount of cursing. So now the “conservative” city of Arlington, having been burned repeatedly by the Trickle Down Economic practices, bought into a similar lie about the Cowboys.

    Unlike the Packers who are the ONLY team owned by the municipality which hosts them… the Cowboys could move to freakin’ Antarctica and still be called the “Dallas” Cowboys. They haven’t played in Dallas for so long it’s a distant memory even for me.
    I’ve got friends and family in Irving and in Arlington. They’re not the ones getting rich from the gutting of the local economy. But they’re supposed to exhibit Civic Pride for “America’s Team” ska-roo that noise. Patriotic loyalty to a Corporation which robs them? Ska-roo that noise too.
    The people of Green Bay have good reason to have civic pride in their socialized business.

    My dad,born in Waco and reared in Cleburne, Texas as they come, used to see the Wow-boys huddle up and pray for victory, and said that God didn’t really give a DAMN about who wins a freakin’ football GAME.

  3. WebVisible says:

    In a thoroughly brilliant article, this was for me the frosting on the cake. Thanks, Dave Zirin. And God bless the Packers, who haven’t forgotten their working-class roots!

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