Saturday, December 8, 2007


On Monday November 26, 2007 the Monday Night NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the visiting Miami Dolphins was delayed for 25 minutes because of an unusual “horrendous” thunder and lighting storm in Pittsburgh that saw monsoonal rains and winds of hurricane intensity. The players, officials and the fans in the lower part of Heinz Field were evacuated while the storm raged. Though the exact reason is not readily apparent, in order to get the already delayed game underway, the singing of the American National Anthem and other formalities were cancelled. A reporter from the Denver Post picked up the story six days later with the headline, NFL game marred by 'unpatriotic' move? lamenting that the NFL was, “going to take away our patriotism? The brouhaha since is worthy of note.

This is surely a tempest in a teapot though there certainly is an issue here. I consider myself very patriotic and for me the National Anthem is a very important aspect of all our public events. I think that we should do all we can to honor our country and those who serve its cause. I’m sure glad, however, there was some common sense shown at that event if weather and the safety of the personnel involved with the game were, indeed, the major factors in the decision though the Steeler organization is now falling all over themselves apologizing. I guess they could have electrocuted the singer and that would have satisfied some folks (what a wonderful way to go -Serendipity!).

In retrospect, in case of inclement weather I would have thought that they would have a canned version that could be played from the safe confines of the announcer’s box? I guess that Mother Nature just made a case for all football games to be played in indoor stadiums? Vince Lombardi just twitched a bit.

If this decision was made for the sake of squeezing in another commercial or two, shame on the NFL. Let’s make them remember this, even to their pocketbooks. I am sure that Jerry Jones, patriotic owner of the Dallas Cowboys who is painfully and unrealistically milking his season ticket holders in order to build his new stadium, wouldn’t have gone along with this. In the ever politically correct NFL, there sure doesn’t appear to be any ill intent.

The real story here is a real metaphorical pit bull - the reaction by the citizenry (theirs and ours) to the cancellation of The National Anthem and the intent of Mike Klis, the yahoo reporter with the Denver Post who chose to stir this pot. I’ve seen comments and reactions including everything from patriotic angst where this has been characterized as a disgraceful, personal slap in the face to all our servicemen by “immoral godless individuals” to the more laid back “get a life” response. Methinks our reality should probably be somewhere in-between (closer to the “get a life” folks) where reason can rule supreme.

Many have used this story as the opportunity to spew profanity, address other issues or critique/extol the virtues of their NFL teams. To those Canadians who bemoaned and profusely complained the necessity to sing the two National Anthems (theirs and ours) and then used this to highlight the virtues of their medical system (Huh?), we would certainly understand if they decided to stay home. For those others on both sides of the debate, who absurdly used this incident as the catalyst to again express their strong desire to leave the United States (really!), we provide our encouragement to please do so and in the process not let the door hit them in the ass on their way out. We need to pay attention to those who want to be part of the solution, not the problem.


Ned Buxton

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