It’s been over a year since we all saw that fateful nipple, that heinous attack on the values we hold most dear. And not just any values, but family values. Some in the media have argued that the incident was no big deal, but think of it this way. We have to live with the fact that an entire generation of boys will grow up knowing what a female breast looks like long before they’re married. Oh, how times have changed since I was young.

Joel Hoard

As a concerned parent of children ages 6, 9 and 11, I turned on this year’s Super Bowl expecting much in the way of atonement, and to my relief, the National Football League and Fox did not disappoint me. From the pre-game festivities to the post-game celebration, Super Bowl XXXIX was a splendidly patriotic and uplifting event for the whole family.

First there was the match-up between the Patriots, representing the state of New England, where our forefathers first set foot on this great land some 400 years ago, and the Eagles from Philadelphia, the very birthplace of democracy. So far as mascots go, I don’t think there’s anything more patriotic than the Patriot, but the Eagle runs a close second.

As I eagerly awaited the national anthem as performed by a choir of our servicemen and women, I was treated to the first surprise of the night. Watching fully clothed pop singer Alicia Keys and a group of students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind perform a heartfelt rendition of “America the Beautiful,” I couldn’t think of a more touching or appropriate way to “kick off” the night. What a moment! It really reminded me of all the little things we take for granted.

Then there was the Super Bowl itself. What a spirited game! The Patriots, led by the Kalifornia Kid, Tom Brady, prevailed in the end, but feisty Irishman Donovan McNabb and his Eagles kept things close throughout the game.

When halftime rolled around, I was about to send the kids out of the room, remembering full well what happened last year. But when I saw who was performing, I called them right back in, for it was none other than Paul McCartney, America’s greatest living songwriter and patriot. What a performance! Not only were the songs great, but McCartney was seated behind a grand piano, so even if his genitals did accidentally pop out of his pants, children wouldn’t have been able to see them.

The only real hiccup of the night came during the commercials, but boy was it a big one! A little-known Internet company called GoDaddy.com apparently didn’t take the Janet Jackson incident as seriously the rest of us, so they felt the need to make light of it. And did they ever! Their ad showed a chesty brunette testifying before Congress wearing nothing but a tank top and a pair of short shorts. I immediately covered my youngest’s eyes, and am I ever glad I did, because no sooner than that did the actress’s shirt strap break! I was on the phone with Fox and the NFL within seconds, and I was happy to learn the next day from foxnews.com that the network decided to pull a second version of the ad later in the game.

Fortunately the rest of the advertisers were more tasteful. Whether advertising submarine sandwiches or American-made automobiles, the companies handled themselves with grace and dignity. The kids really got a kick out of the Quizno’s ad with the talking baby, but I’d have to say the real winner of the night was the Anheuser-Busch company and their tribute to our armed forces who are out there every day risking life and limb to protect our freedom and liberty. I hope that when my kids are old enough to drink, they’ll think back and remember this.

All in all it was a great night, but perhaps the NFL saved the best for last. When Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch stepped up to the podium to accept his Super Bowl MVP award, I was expecting him to do some disgraceful victory dance like Randy Moss did a couple weeks back. But do you know what old Deion did? He thanked God. Why is it that humble, upstanding guys like him never end up on SportsCenter? Now there’s a role model.

As I put my kids to bed that night, I looked back on how far this country’s come in the past year. First we proved the world wrong when Iraq held its first democratic elections in history last week, and then families from Maine to Hawaii were treated to one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. It wasn’t just a football game; it was a celebration of everything we hold dear in America: family, football and America.

 

Hoard can be reached at j.ho@umich.edu.

 

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