Why NFL players reciting the Declaration of Independence before the Super Bowl is weird

Justin Edmonds

Andrew Luck reading from one of America's sacred documents? Okay!

Football is America, and the Super Bowl is football ratcheted up to 12. So happy birthday America, or something. FOX, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, is particularly keen to express its adoration for all things America, so what FOX gave America for its special day is ... NFL players reading the Declaration of Independence as NFL owners and other America-favoring personalities commented on the sacrifice of our brave soldiers at home and abroad.

There were truly lovely moments in the piece, including a closing shot on the Pat Tillman statue. But there was also Andrew Luck, hanging out and doing what millions of American civics students have done before him. The conflation of honoring our active-duty armed forces and veterans, recognizing the foundations of our democracy and ... football? That's what makes it all so weird.

As is the case with every broadcaster and sport, FOX and the NFL are in a partnership. What's good for one is almost always good for both. So they each benefit from strengthening the bonds that fans (hardcore and casual alike) feel with the sport. Given that most Americans, y'know, already like America, selling football as the nectar of the nation is pretty crass. That FOX and the NFL are so skilled at weaving touching moments you can't possibly dislike (like the Tillman statue shot) with the smarm is somehow worse -- criticize the exercise and you're criticizing America. That is not at all true, but it doesn't make doing so any less comfortable.

America should be celebrated. The NFL should celebrate itself, as well. But the commodification of American identity by the NFL is gross, and should stop. (It won't.)

But at least Canada knows why it won't ever get a Super Bowl.

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