Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton: Forgive us our NFL trespasses

Published: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned – today I will skip Mass to pray at the altar of a 55-inch TV screen.

I will worship false idols in scarlet and gold uniforms who hit other men with concussive force in a sport where competitive desires trump loyalty and fairness. I will covet a trophy that commemorates a deceased Catholic coach named Lombardi. It's a prize that means nothing to my life – except bragging rights over like-minded idiots who wear food-stained NFL jerseys, often sold at publicly subsidized stadiums built over taxpayer objections.

Can I get a little absolution while eschewing the homily of a servant of Christ for the homily of a servant of Chrysler?

Who could forget last year's Super Bowl commercial from Chrysler that caused people of all stripes to go numb between the ears over Clint Eastwood's intellectually dishonest homage to a car-making comeback in Detroit?

President Obama's massive federal bailout of the American auto industry – the true engine of Detroit's comeback – was an inconvenient detail for the ad executives who made it.

It's all part of a Super Bowl ritual best enjoyed by similarly glossing over the backgrounds of some of today's leading gladiators.

Take Ray Lewis, for example.

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker is being venerated as a noble "warrior" playing his last game in a 17-year NFL career. Lewis' derrière is being smooched by most everyone, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, for his ferocity and much-ballyhooed stage antics.

But what about those of us who still feel queasy about a man so closely linked to a 13-year-old double homicide that was never solved?

During Super Bowl week, we're the nags for raising questions that defame a self-proclaimed man of God. It's unpopular to revisit the specter of Lewis being initially charged with the murders of two guys with him in an Atlanta shootout after the 2000 Super Bowl.

Media folks who tried to press Lewis about a case where he cut a deal to plead to lesser charges had their questions shut down by Lewis as he declared them the work of the devil.

Nope – not making that up.

What of the white suit that Lewis wore that bloody night? Never found. Didn't Lewis tell people in his limo to keep quiet that night? Yes, he did.

Who cares? Lewis is playing for a Cinderella ending to his career today, which makes one wonder if he's ever read "Cinderella" to the six kids he has fathered with four different women, none of whom he has married?

When the wife of an opponent tweeted these less-than-savory truths recently, it was she who was forced to apologize after getting crushed by fans rushing to Lewis' defense.

I'm not going to apologize for rejecting the hype that Lewis clearly believes about himself. But I'll probably ask to be forgiven for my Super Bowl fantasy:

That today's game should conclude with 49ers running back Frank Gore obliterating Lewis while running right over him for the winning touchdown – followed by Lewis' exit from the national stage with Gore's footprint on his helmet.

I know, Father. That's bad. But such emotions are not uncommon to the spectacle of excess we will celebrate today. Today, we can ignore our kids and overindulge in bad food and stoke our soft spots for violence, gambling, alcohol, consumerism and hot chicks. It's what makes the NFL the biggest thing going.

Players such as Chris Culliver of the 49ers can spout homophobia and barely sully a league where the hostile ignorance Culliver expressed keeps gay people in the closet while they come out in virtually every other profession in America – including the military.

Meanwhile, one of the true good guys on the field today might not even play – Alex Smith, the 49ers backup quarterback.

Smith told the truth about the neurological symptoms of a concussion he suffered in November and then lost his job in the brief time he needed to recover – an ethical violation forgotten as understudy Colin Kaepernick thrilled fans on a march to the Super Bowl.

Concussions have become a curse to the NFL. The league is under legal assault from ex-players whose lives have been wrecked by the cognitive damage of sustained helmet-to-helmet contact.

Yet the price Smith paid for his honesty could easily compel other men to lie about their concussions so they don't lose their jobs as Smith did.

What's the lesson in that, Father?

No matter. Kickoff is at 3:30 today. Sorry the pews will be so empty. Though some of that might have to do with last week's revelations that exposed retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles as the latest church leader who secretly helped priests evade justice after they abused children.

All things considered, doesn't that make Mahony worse than Ray Lewis? Maybe I shouldn't even be asking you to forgive a little football spent with friends, considering the failings of Mahony and others?

We're all sinners, right?

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton, news columnist

Marcos Breton

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I'm supposed to connect the dots on issues, people and relationships that cause things to happen or prevent them from happening in our region. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a voter in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds - twice. I am a native of Northern California. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Phone: 916-321-1096
Twitter: @MarcosBreton

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