by Ray Jason
It probably seems odd for me to post an essay on this topic in June instead of in February when the game takes place. However, the ideas in this piece just came to me in such a spontaneous gush, that it seemed like they wanted to get out into the world. So here is another example of my “fictional philosophy.”
During the third quarter of the Super Bowl, the legendary quarterback suffered a helmet to helmet injury that looked extremely severe. The TV replays confirmed this; and everyone wondered whether he would be able to return to the game after the doctors examined him. But the medical team determined that what looked like a possible major concussion was only minor. So he was soon allowed to go back onto the field. What happened next immediately became legendary. And what happened after that became a societal earthquake.
When the reporters searched for a way to describe the QB’s performance during the rest of the game, the word that kept appearing was “otherworldly.” His passes and decisions and scrambles were so perfect that it seemed like his head injury had suddenly bequeathed him almost superhero powers of strength and vision. He threw five touchdown passes in the second half and ran for another score while evading eight different tacklers. His team won easily.
Whereas most of the world goes on to other things after the Super Bowl ends, the QB’s brilliance had been so astonishing that hundreds of millions of viewers stayed near their televisions so that they could watch the post-game press conference. It far exceeded their expectations.
REPORTER: I think I speak for all of us in the press corps when I say that we were greatly relieved to see that what looked like a serious shot to the head turned out to be only a minor injury. So how are you feeling now … any dizziness or side effects?
QB: I feel great. In fact, I feel extraordinary!
REPORTER: So, are you looking forward to the trip to Disneyworld that you won by being named the Most Valuable Player?
QB: I’m glad you asked me that. I will donate that trip to our coach and his family because he contributed so much to our victory. However, I will also travel during that week, but instead of going to Orlando, I will be heading to Palestine.
When he said this, even the most jaded of the hundred or so sports writers in the room looked up from his or her notepad and stared at the podium.
REPORTER: Did I hear you correctly? Did you say … Palestine?
QB: Yes you did. For all I know, today may be the high point of my career and my greatest opportunity to share with millions of people my true convictions about how the world works. And I do not intend to waste it by encouraging people to go to a theme park that is over-priced and phony and so absurd that children become delirious over four-foot tall rodents.
Instead, I will use this opportunity to call attention to the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza who are essentially trapped in a hideously overcrowded outdoor prison. Not only are they captives, but they are attacked every few years with extreme viciousness. And many of the people killed are women and children. I will personally go and visit them and help call attention to their unjust and horrible situation.
Normally the reporters are screaming out rapid-fire questions, but they were all so stunned by this truth bomb from the QB, that there was about a minute of awkward silence. Meanwhile frantic phones calls were being made between the NFL and the TV network executives. Finally, another question was asked.
REPORTER: I noticed that after the head injury you were no longer pointing to heaven and making a religious gesture after each touchdown as you have always done throughout your career. Is there some explanation for your change?
QB: Yes. For some reason I suddenly realized with overwhelming certitude that there is no “invisible man in the sky” who people should worship or pray to or thank for long touchdown passes. And I also understood with almost x-ray clarity that religion had directly caused unspeakable atrocities throughout its entire history. But what is even worse is that much of the killing and suffering that haunts us today is also a result of somebody’s god being better than somebody else’s god.
Now the NFL office was flooded with text messages from bishops and ministers and rabbis and mullahs.
REPORTER: Normally at these press conferences you are sipping on your favorite cola from the company that pays you millions of dollars each year. I can’t help but notice that you are drinking bottled water today. Have you had a falling out with them?
QB: No, but I am about to. I want to address this next answer to all of the young people out there who have looked up to me as a role model through the years. I have failed you. I am sorry and I will try to speak only the truth to you in the future. Cola is liquid garbage. There are NINE teaspoons of sugar in a typical can. If your parents shoveled nine spoonfuls of sugar into their coffee, wouldn’t this freak you out? I don’t drink this cola even though I am well paid to say that I do. So from this day forward I will no longer promote any soft drinks.
The reporters were now beginning to murmur amongst themselves as they began to wonder just what they were witnessing. Meanwhile the communiques arriving at NFL headquarters were more like screams than murmurs.
REPORTER: Do you realize that the answers that you are giving to our questions are very different from what most of us are used to at post-Super Bowl press conferences? And do you understand that your … unconventional … answers might be jeopardizing your lucrative endorsement contracts?
QB: Yes I do. But suddenly that does not matter to me. Most top-rank professional athletes are obscenely overpaid. We live in ludicrous luxury and by doing so we keep the con going that money is the secret to happiness. This has terrible consequences for our society. It causes everybody to lust after money and fame as the ultimate goals in life. But what makes life truly rich are things like genuine friendships and loving families and a connection to communities and an appreciation of our beautiful planet. If a person does not have those things there are not enough Maseratis and mansions in the world to compensate for that emptiness.
A blanket attack on the consumer bedrock of American society was too much for the NFL, so they demanded that the TV network disrupt the press conference with an ear-shattering blast of feedback. But the QB reacted by saying that they could turn the sound system off and he would shout out his answers to their questions without a microphone.
REPORTER: Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether your new found philosophy is some sort of concussion-induced epiphany, but since it seems that you are vigorously speaking your mind, is there anything else that you wish to share with the many millions of people around the globe watching this?
QB: Excellent question. I thank you. Indeed, there is a VERY serious matter that I have not mentioned thus far. There is far too much military propaganda in professional sports. The Super Bowl has practically become a recruiting spectacle for the armed forces. The color guards, the American flags that are huge enough to clothe a hundred homeless people, the parachute drops onto the field, and the jet flyovers all glorify war and needless death. The national anthem is fine, but this over-the-top military worship is disgusting.
That was the final straw. This time the White House called the NFL and demanded that the broadcast be shut down. They immediately did so, while blaming it on the proverbial “technical difficulties.”
The next day the spin doctors went into overdrive. Psychiatrists appeared on all of the morning shows claiming that head injuries can lead to “temporary insanity.” However, they all agreed that often this condition can cure itself - and quite frequently in time for the beginning of the next season.
A few weeks later the QB left on his trip to Palestine. At the airport he was surrounded by reporters. He was delighted when one of them told him that his “crazy” remarks had gone viral on the internet and that many young people who didn’t care at all about sports suddenly admired him. He said that he thought that was terrific and that he would far prefer to inspire a soft revolution than to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Several days later he was killed by an Israeli sniper in Gaza. At the inquest the shooter was acquitted. His defense was that he thought the football that the QB was autographing for some children, was a rocket launcher.
Back in the U.S. even the President attended his funeral. He was laid to rest in a very dignified ceremony. But his epiphany was buried along with him.