Dear Paul

April 9, 2004

I’ve read your letter.  Right there, one day after the Super Bawdy 2004 half-time show, I wanted to see what the NFL Commissioner Mr. Tagliabue himself had to say.

But, Paul, I’m confused. You say you are delivering a “powerful message.”  You warn people, “Don’t even think about it.”  You promise “harsher discipline for over-the-top demonstrations” complete with “stronger penalties and fines, even leaving open the possibility of suspensions.”

Yes, I’m confused.  You see, it sounds so good to read your unequivocal message, your powerful promises to crack down…until…it dawns on me that you are not talking to MTV, CBS, Janet or Justin.

The power of your outrage is directed to cell phones in the end zone.  You pull no punches.  “Cell phones, pens, all the other things, penalties likely will escalate if this does not stop.”  Wow!  You really told them.

Thankfully, Paul, you don’t have to fight this battle alone.  Many coaches are “outraged by these episodes.”  They have called to tell you that such incidents are “uncalled for and humiliating to their players and embarrassing to players in general.”

Well, Paul, you’ve got it half right.  You clearly have the language of outrage mastered.  But you need to use it for more than cell phones in the end zone.

So what about your comments on a naked breast center field?  Ahem.  With great restraint and tact you let America know you “were extremely disappointed.”  You promise us you will “deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl.”

Very tactful, Paul.  But certainly, tact is not what is required here.  Where is the language of outrage…the penalties, the suspensions, the take-no-prisoners call for an end to trash and filth hawked through the open door offered by the NFL?  Where are the calls from coaches “outraged by these episodes”?

Super Bawdy 2004 was not just about one breast.  It’s about a game of fun being hijacked for the sake of corporate profits.  It’s about nasty being sold as cute…at every turn.  And it’s about an NFL hierarchy that has been willing to “go along” for the ride.

So you’re upset about Janet’s naked chest?  Then explain to us why the only women televised on NFL games are the ones with bare chests pushed together into deep cleavage framed by cheer leader costumes.

So you’re upset by commercials that have an entire nation saying “Holy S—” in unison?  Then explain the “Best Damn Sports Show” promoted constantly without blushing.

Monday Night Football, a family tradition for us, has become increasingly irritating in its display of T&A in commercial times.  The Twins and their boobs flash an unending peep show and cameras take shots of products through the suggestive pose of a woman’s open legs.  Any five-year-old can imagine the cameraman looking up the lady’s skirt to admire her thong.

Dear Paul, Super Bawdy 2004 is the natural result of the NFL playing with fire long enough that it finally got burnt.  And now that the rage of a country is blazing, we need something more than a limp-wristed “aw shucks…we really wish you hadn’t done that” comment from the Commissioner.

What do we need from you, Paul?  Dust off your speech for cell phones and black pens.  Call up your outrage!  Work up a lather.  Draw a line in the sand.  Demand, threaten, and punish.  You are the one who ultimately pays the piper, and you get what you pay for.  Draw the purse strings closed and set out the rules of the game in plain language that everyone can understand…even if you have to follow the rules yourself.

The sorry truth of this whole sorry affair is this.  If you want to keep selling the “Best D___ Game in Town” with bikini-clad babes, you are not going to be able to exercise the moral authority to keep another Janet and Justin from rising out of the ashes.

You have shown us your outrage, Paul.  Now…show us you know what to do with it.