The Truth, Mainly - 01/26/1998

Some pre-game reflections on morality of Super Bowl outcome
by Leon Satterfield

I can't help myself. As an American male, I gotta write about the Super Bowl. Which is really dumb since I have to write this before the game and you read it after the game.deadlines. But what the hell: lack of trivial information like that doesn't stop an American male who's gotta write about the Super Bowl. Here's my prescient analysis of a game I haven't seen:

IF GREEN BAY WON, begin reading here.

Those of us on the inside were not surprised when the Packers emerged triumphant from the Super Bowl. We knew they'd win, not because they have better players, not because they got the breaks, not because the opposition has a tradition of losing such games, but because Green Bay has stronger moral fibers than Denver.

How, you might ask, is that? I'll tell you.

The Packers have not been corrupted by robber-baron capitalism. They're owned by a non-profit (and hence relatively benign) corporation of 1,898 shareholders, nearly all of them Green Bay residents. The corporation last sold stock in 1951 and to keep any shareholder from throwing his weight around too much, no one was allowed to invest more than $5,000.

It's the closest thing to socialized football we have. The Peepul's Team, yes.

When was the last time you heard the Packers threaten to leave town if the city wouldn't build them a new stadium?

That kind of stability massages the delicate moral sensibilities of the players, keeping them more ethically centered and more focused on the violence at hand than players in other places.

Like Denver.

The Broncos are owned by Pat Bowlen. Pat's not your non-profit kind of guy. He just won a $1.35 million tax break for himself. And the Broncos' share of the new TV contracts is $70 million a year.

But Pat still wants Denver taxpayers to fork over $180 million toward the cost of a new stadium, preferably one with a dome on it. If they don't, Pat says, he'll probably have to move the team somewhere else, probably L.A.

If you were faced with the prospect of moving to L.A., how focused on blitzing Brett Favre do you think you'd be? How willing to sacrifice your body to protect John Elway?

Just the thought of living in L.A. erodes moral fibers. But that prospect isn't the worst of the Broncos' problems.

The $180 million Pat wants for the team would comes from a sales tax—an inherently regressive tax that's disproportionately paid by those with the least disposable income, the fewest connections—both necessary to get tickets into the new stadium.

So how would you feel committing mayhem for a team whose primary financial supporters couldn't attend games without selling hot dogs? Nose tackles have a sense of social just too, you know.

And even worse than the ill effects of a guilty conscience is what happens to the character of a team that relies on public subsidies. A public subsidy is, after all, a form of welfare, a subject we've all been educated about in the last several years by the Congressional majority, haven't we?

In case you've forgotten, the litany goes like this: When you go on welfare, you become either a welfare bum or a welfare queen. You lose your initiative, your moral fibers melt away, and your only concern is driving your Cadillac downtown to pick up your welfare check. You go into a downward moral spiral, leaving behind a corkscrew contrail of smoky depravity, and your kids and dog go with you. The only cure is to strip you of your public subsidy.

Denver voters haven't yet approved the $180 million gift to a multi-millionaire, but polls taken shortly before the Super Bowl showed a clear majority saying they'd vote for it. And the mere prospect of going on welfare has taken its toll on Bronco morality. For example:

•Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski spit on San Francisco wide receiver J.J. Stokes—right in front of the television cameras.

•The Broncos front office gave Denver City Council members Super Bowl tickets for list price—while everyone else was paying scalpers $1,000 or more. And that favor came as the council was trying to decide whether to let the Broncos out of a binding contract that requires them to play in the old stadium until 2018.

•Most ominous of all, John Elway stopped smiling.

So it's not surprising at all that the Packers won, now is it?

IF DENVER WON, eat all of the column up to this point, chewing carefully to smoosh up all the words. Begin reading here.

Those of us on the inside were not surprised when the Broncos emerged triumphant from the Super Bowl. We knew their stronger moral fibers would lead them to overcome their team—and in the process defeat the pinko Green Bay Packers.

What, you might ask, am I talking about? Let me tell you…


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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