American football’s born again love affair with the military admittedly started out slowly back twelve years ago with an occasional fly-by of jets or helicopters and sometimes a precision parachutist landing on the fifty yard line. And back then we also started to see the now obligatory fireworks display when the national anthem reaches the “rockets red glare” bit. After the singing stops, the forty or fifty thousand drunks in the stadium simultaneously would let out a “hoo-hah” to demonstrate their approval and love of country. But they were clearly hungry for more.
As “Wretched Excess Fueled by Commercialism” is what actually appears printed on the dollar bill, though in Latin so no one can understand it, the obligatory nod to Uncle Sam’s armed might has now grown to the point where the exaltation of the military is a much anticipated and fully integrated bit of entertainment within the main event of the sporting contest itself. Every true American heart surely beats proud to see unfurled a Stars and Stripes so large that it now completely covers the playing field and as the national anthem is played the flag starts to move just like an amber wave of grain, wiggle-waggled by the platoons of national guard boys and girls holding to illustrate the “still waving over the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And the crowd gets it, thundering out its approval. And then there are the military honor guards, the signs on the walls and jumbotrons honoring “wounded warriors” while proclaiming how our troops are keeping us free, and the crowds of men and women in uniform filling every available space, guests of the NFL. And finally there is the super-dooper bigger than ever fly over of whole wings of F-16s, shaking the stadium to its foundation and bringing on another bellow from the boozers. When the crowd noise subsides the announcer solemnly proclaims that it is an honor to be televising the game by way of the Armed Forces Network to American troops in 175 countries and on ships at sea. “I just can’t describe what they do to keep us free,” he concludes.
This year’s Super Bowl is in New Orleans, which provides some special opportunities for the military to demonstrate its prowess in keeping America safe. I assume that the pre-game, halftime, and post-game celebrations are already decided and are probably being rehearsed even as I write this, but I would implore Commissioner Roger Goodell and all the other fine patriots in the NFL to do the right thing in support of our troops by inserting something new that would demonstrate the national resolve to finally do whatever it takes to win the Global War on Terror.
Since the Superdome in New Orleans has no open roof there cannot be the usual flyover. I would suggest instead that a flotilla of predator drones be unleashed on the tailgaters in the parking lot before the event. They could be programmed to use advanced facial recognition software to identify anyone in the crowd who appears to be Middle Eastern, followed by a quick strike from a hellfire missile that would eliminate the potential threat and also demonstrate just how accurate the system is if there should be any doubters about the surgical precision of America’s formidable overseas defenses. The drone strikes could be followed by B-52s that could drop bombs on the remaining blighted New Orleans wards, completing the botched job of urban renewal that some of us have been tracking by watching “Treme” on HBO. The areas would be cleared without any taint of political corruption, demonstrating once again that the US military is a global force for good, just like the ads during the game’s commercial breaks will assure us. The carpet bombing would also demonstrate how the NFL and government are working together to build better communities nationwide. To avoid any Katrina type panic, the announcer could explain to those inside the stadium hearing the thunder of the bunker busters that next year’s punt, pass and kick competition will be held on the cleared ground before the water view lots get sold to the highest bidder by that friendly property developer featured in “Treme.”
After the singing, the coin toss is generally done by some celebrity or former hall of fame player, but I propose that the honor this year be given to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has done so much to keep us safe and free. Cheney can delight the crowd in demonstrating his Annie Oakley skills with an assault rifle by shooting a live Taliban straight from the battle front in Afghanistan who will be released into the stadium while the crowd chants along with the “Democracy is messy!” signage popping up on the jumbotron.
Many Americans who have lately seen old Victor Mature movies will recall that the ancient Romans used to throw people to the lions in their stadiums. The problem with lions is that they make one hell of a mess on the astroturf, but using today’s enhanced interrogation techniques and a bit of American ingenuity it will be possible to come up with a half time spectacle that should captivate the two billion strong television audience. In honor of the 183 times that al-Qaeda bad guy Ayman al-Zawahiri was waterboarded, 183 Department of Defense and CIA interrogation experts will simultaneously board 183 suspects picked up over the weekend in Yemen and Somalia. The camera can zoom in as the viewers watch those bearded guys going under and then gasping for breath, a new reality TV experience for most of the audience that might even result in a surprise confession or two.
On the mezzanine level, where the food and drink stands are located, the Department of Homeland Security can offer free Transportation Security Administration screenings. You can opt to be either groped or irradiated, but you can’t have both. You can, however, just for fun have a guaranteed to be nostalgic experience passing through one of the scanners that reveals your genitals that are now being phased out at airports. It seems that those $40 million machines have never caught an actual terrorist and are only good at stripping people naked, but what fun it was standing there with your legs spread while holding your hands over your head, kind of like a semi-trussed chicken. Nearby, the Army’s military police precision drill team can bring back other old memories by creating human pyramids using actual living naked Arabs. What a gas it will be to have your picture taken standing in front of some terrorist dude having his private parts inspected by a hungry German shepherd! And even the Navy’s famous seals can get in on the fun with a shooting gallery where genuine live trussed up Tuaregs captured fresh from the action in Mali will pop up and down, three shots for 10 bucks.
And when the game is finished the fun won’t be over. As the fans file out stadium security will hand everyone a card with the pledge of allegiance plus an added footnote confirming that the government and the NFL must be supported no matter what they do lest one be guilty of treason. Hold up your right hand and read what’s on the card and you’re okay, but you’d better not hesitate or else. Those drones will still be circling and they’ll be watching every move you make and even if they don’t zap you your name will wind up on a list somewhere. It is reported that President Obama is checking those lists twice to find out who’s been naughty or nice. For true patriotic Americans it will be reassuring to know that we have all been partners with the government and the National Football League working together to keep us safe, no matter who wins the game. In fact, who cares who wins the game since it’s usually pretty boring on the field. God bless the USA!