Sundays are days of rest and religion. But America’s secular religion is football, and today is Super Bowl Sunday, which isn’t a concept advanced by any religion of which we are aware.
Verily, however, let us take time, on this holiest of NFL days, to reflect upon the Ten Commandments of Football, as passed down by Lord and High Commissioner Roger Goodell.
1. I am the NFL Commissioner, thy Goodell, and do not forget it.
2. Thou shalt not have other Commissioners before me, particularly since I make more than $44 million per year.
3. Thou shalt not make unto me graven images, such as an unfortunate surveillance video of one of my players punching his fiancée, or taping opponents’ hand signals to gain unfair advantage, or portraying thy Commissioner as the errand boy for contrasting white-collar-on-blue-shirt billionaires who never were picked for teams as children.
4. Thou shalt not take the name of the Commissioner, thy Goodell, in vain, even when he repeatedly makes public relations blunders.
5. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy, and to completely shut out any other regularly scheduled television programming and discussion of anything other than what “Omaha” really means. Woe unto thee if thou dost not watch the commercials so that I, thy Goodell, continue to be paid more than $44 million per year.
6. I say unto players, honor thy mother and father, and try to get them into television commercials and share the lucrative endorsement deals unto you. Honor, too, thy brother quarterback if he has won more Super Bowl rings than you.
7. Thou shalt not deflate footballs from the prescribed PSI; thou shalt not be surly and unresponsive at press conferences; nor shalt you hawk your own clothing line or any non-league approved headgear, nor gratuitously commit the sin of concussion; nor shalt thou celebrate unnecessarily in the end zone. Unless thou art a really big star or one of my good buddies, and then I will pretend not to be all-knowing.
8. Thou shalt not commit adultery within any camera’s range, nor shall thou embarrass the league by consorting with persons of unsavory character and criminal records, engage in dog fighting, carry weapons, or speed on the freeway with 10 grams of marijuana on the front seat of your red Maserati. Unless thou art a really big star, in which case I am a forgiving Lord.
9. Thou shalt not steal the halftime show with wardrobe malfunctions, bizarre choices of long-in-the-tooth 1970s bands, or country acts that would be better suited to the GOP convention.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thy neighbor’s wife, thy neighbor’s manservants or maidservants, his ox or donkey, or anything else of thy neighbor’s. Unless, that is, thy neighbor’s NFL franchise is underperforming in its media market. Then it may be to the league’s economic advantage, but only if thou canst persuade some city to build you a cool stadium with freeway access and get the state Legislature to move heaven and earth to exempt you from CEQA requirements.
Go placidly now and worship your 52-inch plasma TV screen, your Doritos, your Coors Light, your Coca-Cola, and watch the short film festival disguised as a football game.
Amen. And Omaha.