Who, we have to wonder, was the idiot who approved use of the Mall in Washington for a three-and-a-half hour commercial for the National Football League?
If some bureaucrat in the National Park Service allowed this travesty, then fire his or her butt before they do any more damage.
Or if Interior Secretary Gail Norton authorized this shameless commercialization of federal land, then ship her back to Colorado because she obviously suffers from too many Rocky Mountain highs.
Since when does the NFL deserve this special treatment? Professional football is a business, driven by greedy owners who control teams of overpaid, muscle-bound clowns who most likely would be flipping burgers, gang-banging or selling real estate if the sport did not pay them millions to bash their brains into mush.
The NFL contributed a measly $10 million towards staging the three days of events that led up to Thursday night’s kickoff of the new football season but what it paid did not begin to cover the cost of staging or security from 1,000 police officers from 35 local, state and federal agencies.
Police began closing streets around Washington early Thursday and many businesses and offices sent their employees home early so they could avoid the choked traffic on the few streets that remained open.
Tourists trying to visit attractions along the Mall found themselves shuttled out of the area so the area could be sealed “for security purposes.”
And for what? An opening display of bad punk music from a Maryland band named, inaccurately, Good Charlotte, followed by Pepsi commercials on the giant TV screens scattered around the Mall (the NFL collected huge fees from sponsors but none of that money went to help pay back the government for its taxpayer-funded costs). Huge commerical banners also littered the Mall. Normally, the Park Service prohibits commercial marketing on the Mall, but those rules were ignored for the NFL.
Britney Spears appeared and the crowd, such as it was, cheered when she stripped down to a band-aid sized pair of shorts and a halter-top and strutted around the stage in what, we suppose, was supposed to be something that someone actually attempted to choreograph.
Stephen Tyler and Aerosmith proved that aging rockers don’t go away, they just get more shriveled and shrill. Tyler may have had a voice once but who can tell now. He just shouts.
Park police set aside a large area close to the stage for military men and women and their families but the turnout was far less than expected and a large gap existed between the VIPs and the regular folk until somebody in charge finally figured out that it might avoid a riot (and look better on TV) if they let the peons come into the empty space and fill the gap.
Still, the crowd did not fill the Mall as organizers had hoped.
“No one seems to be overcrowded, let me put it that way,” said Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer.
ABC pared the three-and-a-hours down to an hour-long special to precede the season opening game between the Washington Redskins and New York Jets.
The Redskins won the game but they, and the greedmongers of the NFL, were the only winners on an evening dominated by the gods of commercialism.
The taxpayers certainly lost, as did the people who slogged through the mud in the Mall to sit through over amplified music and endless commercial messages on the TV screens.
And those who ventured to Landover to catch the game didn’t feel much like winners either. When they arrived, they found new security measures forced many to walk two miles out of their way just to catch a shuttle bus to the stadium.
“I think this is pretty bad,” Anthony Washington, 30, of Forestville, told The Washington Post. You pay $80 for a ticket and you can’t walk into the stadium.”
But don’t expect any help from Daniel Snyder, the egomaniacal owner of the Washington Redskins. He already charges the highest ticket prices in the league and then adds $25 for parking at a stadium where sponsor FedEx pays the bills anyway.
Why should Snyder or any team owner concern themselves with ordinary fans when even the federal government is willing to turn over a national landmark for their commercial use?
Just another case of your tax dollars at work.