I have a dream... that one day, the Super Bowl will lighten up on the patriotic imagery

The Super Bowl, by definition, is not meant to be subtle, but the NFL’s mission to wrap itself in the American flag crossed into new territory yesterday. I’ve grown accustomed to a generous helping of patriotism at major sporting events, especially the World Series and the Daytona 500, but the Super Bowl has no peer. Ever since Super Bowl XXV, the Whitney Houston Super Bowl held during the first Gulf War, the game has been repackaged as a celebration of American strength and values.

Before yesterday’s game, Michael Douglas narrated “The Journey,” a video tribute to the Super Bowl teams that merged a string of iconic images — the Statue of Liberty, D-Day, John-John’s salute, Rosa Parks, Iwo Jima, 9/11 — and the most famous words of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., into a stirring montage of the American spirit. “This is so much bigger than just a football game,” Douglas intoned, as the narrative awkwardly shifted to the gridiron. “These two teams have given us the chance for one night, not only to dream, but to believe. This is a celebration of their journey, of our journey.”

And I thought I was just tuning in for the Packers-Steelers! I had no idea this match-up was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement, the race to the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The video felt like a political campaign commercial, which, in some way, I guess, it was. But using our shared national history, our tragedies and triumphs, to sell a football league — a league that is now at risk of suffering a work stoppage as billionaire owners square off against millionaire players — seemed a little inappropriate. Did anyone else feel like ‘The Journey” went too far in its evocative imagery? Or is there no such thing as too much patriotism when it comes to the Super Bowl?

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Comments (102 total) Add your comment
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  • Vilya

    THANK YOU!!! I turned to my sister when all the pre-game flag-waving was going on and asked her, “When did the Super Bowl become so maudlin?” I love my country and all, but come on! It doesn’t have to be so heavy-handed.

    • LOL

      Fox loves to lay it on thick with jingoism.

    • Mischa

      America wouldn’t be America without the absurd, patently over-the-top self-mythologizing.

    • Klint

      No other nation currently comes close to the levels of self-mythologizing that America does, for better or worse. It may be deluded, but it’s that conflict between how we think our country is and how it really is that has produced some of the finest art of the last couple of centuries.

      • Christopher Pratt

        You are indeed an idiot. Seriously.

    • Ricky

      So…are all the men and women who fight so that you can watch a football game in peace come home yet? If you didn’t know…the war on terror is still raging. Our soldiers die daily on foreign soil fighting extremists who plot to destroy everything we hold dear.

      No, I don’t think it was too much. Most people don’t even know who SSGT Salvatore Giunta was before he appeared on the field with the words “Medal of Honor recipient” underneath his name.

      Maybe for some of you who have never served, you have no idea what sacrifices must be made to defend this country and our way of life. But for those who have and are serving, it means a lot to know that the NFL puts so much effort into showing their appreciation for the men and women who make it possible for you to eat nachos, hot dogs and wear stupid foam fingers for Super Bowl Sunday.

      Me, Air Force and Army vet

      • Allison

        Hi Ricky, fellow Army vet here – I don’t think the NFL needs to compare the Super Bowl, which HAPPENS EVERY YEAR, to other historical events to express gratitude to the troops. I appreciate when they show the troops watching overseas, I appreciate when the players go on USO/Stars for Stripes tours and visit the troops and I’ll admit, I was getting a little misty-eyed during the reading of the Declaration of Independence until I noticed the one Air Force guy who had his sleeves rolled up while the rest of his team had theirs rolled down (I was in public affairs – someone should have noticed that before the cameras rolled). But that bit Michael Douglas narrated was a bit much.

      • Amiee

        Ricky, as a military veteran I whould have thought that you would be personally offended that they were equating a football game with World War II and 9/11. But hey, if you think football players are equal to the people who lost their lives in the twin towers then you just go ahead and keep ranting.

    • Karen

      Agreed, I saw that and was like wth does this have to do with football… absolutely nothing… for once can we just have an enjoyable evening without having to listen about the nonsense of the world. Isn’t it called entertainment for a reason?

  • Nathan

    That opening was really corny, comparing Iwo Jima and the moon landing with a football game was quite stupid, but not nearly as bad as that unbelievably awful halftime show.

  • Tim

    I agree that the Michael Douglas stint was a bit much. But I like the rest of it. The Super Bowl ought to be patriotic IMO. Nobody else around the world plays this game. And I enjoy a good reminder of American pride.

    • Jane

      & there we have it. “no one else in this world plays this game” well maybe that’s because all your world consists of is the U S of A. btw- Canada has a national football league & no we dont call soccer football. You guys think you’re everything don’t you? I believe that’s the poin o this article. Thank-you for showing us all how true that really is.

  • patty

    How about the entire segment on the Constitution? FOX was definitely sending a (pandering) message with that one.

    • Kara


  • Chaz

    Yes! My thanks to you also for pointing this out. It was way too heavy handed.

  • Jason

    it’s a pretty sad day when Americans think too much patriotism is a bad thing.

    • LOL

      Is that you, Glenn Beck?

      • Jason

        Is that your standard response to anyone that doesn’t hop on the america bashing bandwagon that has become so trendy over the last few years?

      • LOL

        Glenn! I knew it was you!

    • motherlarisa

      Couldn’t agree more!

    • me

      I could not agree more Jason

    • Mike

      What’s good about patriotism? Along with religion I’d say it’s been pretty disatrous for the world. There are lots of thing I love about America and lots of things that annoy me, but I’m not going to feel proud just for having the dumb luck to be born here.

      • anonymous

        feel free to find a new home country-you will not be missed

      • Mike

        Nah, I think I’ll stick around. Someone’s gotta re-dress the balance after all, we don’t want the world laughing at us even more.

      • david

        then get the Frick out of my country if America annoys you so much.

      • Parltriot

        Then leave. I’m sure Iran, Cuba, or North Korea would be glad to have you.

      • sils71

        As someone who was born in another country and gladly went through the long process of becoming an American citizen, let me tell you that people like you take this wonderful country for granted and don’t deserve to be here. It’s a shame that you don’t get it, but since we can’t kick you out, please let the rest of us take pride in this nation in peace. And if you valued what you have and had even a speck of self-esteem, you wouldn’t care that “the rest of the world is laughing” at you. I grew up in that world. Trust me, they are jealous. They mock what they can’t have. And you are too brainwashed by the “US is bad” crowd to realize it. God bless America, and thank you NFL for such a wonderful display of patriotism.

      • Lala

        Of course sils71, we believe you weren’t born here. Hahaha, funny, cause you talk just like Glenn Beck, loser.

    • cameobrooch

      No one is criticizing patriotism. The criticism is of using patriotism to sell a football game and of equating the Super Bowl with such moments in American history as MLK’s “I have a dream” speech.

      • Seriously?

        Exactly. For the love of God……I think you can be patriotic, support the troops, have gratitude for our nation and people who sacrifice for it AND not want to see that all symbolized by the Super Bowl! I don’t want to leave my country AND I want to watch football for football’s sake. The two aren’t mutually exclusive!

      • Dav

        Well said Cameobrooch.

    • ray

      Yeah, I agree Jason. You know the libs…they’re very uncomfortable with patriotism.

      • D

        Mostly cause they hate everything about this country.

      • Fanny Price

        That…or some of us just don’t think an already overhyped profession’s incredibly overhyped end-of-season finale should be equated with Iwo Jima. I love my country, but I think it’s almost offensive to pretend the Super Bowl is some patriotic event rather than what it really is: an excuse for getting drunk and eating deep-fried foods with cheese. The only argument for patriotism-as-part-of-the-Super-Bowl that I can accept is that it is an event shared by a large percentage of the country at the same time…but it’s still JUST FOOTBALL. Grown men getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a game. The real shame here is that we get our panties in a twist over football, yet we don’t hype up and celebrate when our local troops coming walking through the gate at the airport, at least not at nearly the same level of excitement and community participation that the Super Bowl gets.

    • Robert M

      Thanks, and I’ll second that. The only problem with patriotism is that you can never have too much. We need the last few generations to realize that.
      On behalf of my generation, The Millenials, we promise to do better in the future!

    • Fingerlakes Dave

      Well said! Thank You.

  • JML

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that. Don’t get me wrong I’m not bashing on our country but ultimately this is just a game, and cannot be compared with major Historic US moments. It needs to be just toned down a little.

  • Lisa

    Absolutely too heavy handed. Funny how they highlighted equality when some of us are helping our fellow citizens obtain certain inalienable rights that they deserve.
    And it also could’ve been a response to Bill Maher’s hilarious and appropriate response that football is socialism.

    At the end of the day, it’s just football.

  • JC

    The only patriotic statements that should be made is honoring our troops. Glad the Medal of Honor winner was there.

  • motherlarisa

    Totally disagree with this article!! Can’t have too much patriotism. Our family enjoyed it. Both my husband and I have served this country and appreciated it. If you don’t like it, the nice thing is you live in the United States of America and have the freedom not to watch it. Thank a veteran for that!

    • Rika

      So, in other words, you think these football teams deserve to be respected in the same way as people such as yourselves who have served their country? Because that’s what the Michael Douglas segment (the point of this article) suggested in its bombastic hyperbole. I would think that veterans in particular would object to a video equating the importance of Iwo Jima, the Normandy landing, and 9/11 first responders to that of a football game. That’s not patriotic–that’s disrespectful and self-aggrandizing on the part of Fox and/or the NFL.

      • tvgirl48

        Well said. I don’t think it has anything to do with “too much patriotism,” it has to do with equating hugely significant moments in American history to a GAME. It’s incredibly silly to say that just because some of us don’t put football players on the same level as MLK, 9/11 responders, etc, that we somehow hate America.

  • JDB

    There’s nothing wrong with being ‘too patriotic’, but comparing a football game to events that truly changed America and the world is ridiculous. Maybe it was Fox’s reaction to Obama’s State of the Union comment that we should be showing science fair champions the same type of accolades we show Super Bowl champs.

  • Temp

    I love the pre game intro! Its always epic. I remember the one about “perfection” the year the Patriots were in the super bowl with a perfect record (but then lost) it was just amazing! It gave me chills.

    Sure they are overdone and just insane. But thats the fun! Its like watching 300 with Metallica on 11 while juggling flaming chainsaws.

    • Casey

      Can I borrow that analogy? Because it’s awesomesause.

  • Anne

    Yes, I agree! The NFL takes itself way too seriously, which does not bode well for it should there be a strike next season.
    The problem for me was not the amount of patriotism; you can wave that American flag and salute our troops all you like. The issue was the absurdity of comparing grown-up men playing a game – and let’s be honest this was a good, even great, match-up but certainly not historic by any stretch of the imagination – to such great accomplishments feats as landing on the moon or giving equal rights to all citizens.

  • A.M.

    So, let me get this straight. You think that the stupid football game could be played at will in any number of countries? Football has nothing to do with patriotism and you have nothing to thank America for that you can sit in your easy chair with your Doritos (by the way, I didn’t watch the game, but I heard that was the dumbest commercial of the evening) , and scream at people who don’t know who you are or whether you are cheering or picking your nose. You need to be thankful that the soldiers cannot pick and choose who they fight for. Because I know quite a few that could get really fed-up with an article or mindset of this level of sheer idiocy. You should get down on your knees and thank God above that we live in a country that will support you comments, regardless of how small-minded and idiotic. Freedom of speech. Freedom of press. But it is up to you to have the grace and good sense to know when to exercise it.

    • A.M.

      I was so disgusted, I don’t even want to think about all the typos in that response. Ugh, how in the heck did you get on my twitter feed in the first place?

    • Jane

      It’s werid, the beginning of you point sounded like you agreed with the article, then you berated it. Anyway, Western Europe has the same degree of freedoms (a very loose term as it is) that we have, why don’t they feel the need to be this patriotic? Perhaps they’re a lot older than us and don’t feel the same need anymore. They’ve experienced 2 terrible wars on their own turf and have got over it.

      • Voodoo

        Well said, Jane.

      • Ricky

        The European countries are a lot older? Seriously? That’s your argument? Of course they don’t feel patriotic…they’re the ones who started the wars in the first place. Whatever. Besides, it’s not about being patriotic so much as showing appreciation for the men and women who sacrifice to much to make it able for you to watch the game or sit on your butt and type stupid comments.

        The members of the Armed Forces willingly go to places where other people are trying to kill them so that you can have peace of mind. You aren’t deserving of all the rights and freedoms you are given.

      • A.M.

        Ricky, I agree! Crazy, non-freedom-deserving…people!

      • Lala

        Ricky, you are a moron and obviously know nothing about the world. I have this feeling that you are really a 12-year old who has secretly logged in on the internet while you really should be doing your history homework. And if wars are reasons to not feel patriotic, than why aren’t people here more humble.

  • Richard Wentworth

    Here’s an idea; Turn off the channel whiner! If you want to watch self hating American stuff just dial up MSNBC

    • LOL

      Is that you, Rush?

      • D

        Is that you Keith Olbermann?

      • LOL

        Sean Hannity! I knew it was you!

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