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Parasiliti: Life stranger than all of NFL's fiction

February 03, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

It seems like we can run, but we can’t hide.

I don’t know about you, but I was spending this week getting ready for the Super Bowl.

You know, the Big Game (since we aren’t authorized to call it the other title). This one has a tinge of interest, especially since the Baltimore Ravens were going to be playing.

But on Wednesday, I was notified that the buildup to Sunday’s kickoff wasn’t what it seemed.

It was like when you were watching your favorite show and you hear “We are interrupting this program for a special announcement.”

The announcement came courtesy of ESPN football analyst Tom Jackson. He was commenting on one of the issues of the day that came up during the Ravens’ and San Francisco 49ers’ media sessions.

“The NFL is a microcosm of life,” Jackson said. “Things that happen in the league are also things that happen in everyday life.”

“Wow,” I said. That’s pretty profound coming from a former linebacker.

Suddenly, football was in another arena. The game was all about social consciousness.

I guess that’s the true meaning of political football. But, Jackson was right. So much of football is present in everyday life.

First, there is fate.

Just think where the Ravens might be right now if it weren’t for a fourth-and-29 screen pass from Joe Flacco to Ray Rice in Week 12 in San Diego.

It was an improbable play that had more implications than just pulling out a victory over the Chargers. It prevented what could have been a four-game losing streak, which would have made the Ravens a wild card who had to play all their postseason games on the road, or even worse, knocked them out of the playoffs.

Then, there is revenge.

The Ravens did this old Cleveland Browns fan a favor when they defeated Denver in overtime during the AFC semifinals. When I was younger, the Ravens were the Browns, who lost two consecutive years to John Elway and the Broncos by extraordinary ways.

Checkmate. The Drive and The Fumble were blown away by The Bomb.

But Jackson’s statement was kind of a wakeup call.

As much as Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial national holiday, the week leading up to it is more business than pleasure.

Somewhere along the line, the work week leading up to the game is anything but the game. It has become this quagmire of issues that have nothing to do with Xs and Os. The game is the backdrop for the media trying to make a name for it.

It started as a stream of stupid questions to trip up the players, trying to find something controversial to write about.

Now, it is much more serious … and Jackson held up the mirror to show the reflection of society.

On Tuesday, the star of the Ravens — Ray Lewis — became the antihero whose sidekick was Bambi.

In a story announced at the Super Bowl forum as free advertising for an upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated, the world was introduced to Deer Antler Spray as another avenue to use drugs to enhance athletic ability. Lewis, obviously, staunchly denied ever using it, but it was football story for two days.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in life, new reports surfaced linking Alex Rodriguez as part of a group of players who allegedly used a clinic in Miami to get performance-enhancing drugs.

On Wednesday, it was the 49ers’ turn.

Cornerback Chris Culliver made some comments against having a gay teammate, saying such a player didn’t belong in the NFL. It’s kind of interesting, don’t you think, coming from someone playing in San Francisco?

The statement opened the stage for more non-football issues, with groups airing their displeasure and demanding a policy while forcing the 49ers to circle the wagons.

Then, it was life’s turn. It all happened right before Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil he was gay. Tuiasosopo is the man behind the hoax where he portrayed himself as a woman in a fake online romance with Notre Dame linebacker Mante Te’o.

Then the Rooney Rule, which promotes interviews for minority candidates for head coaching and front office positions, came into question when it didn’t produce one person of color for any of 14 openings. Discrimination is an ongoing battle on so many fronts for so many people in everyday life.

And if you want a real stretch, a hot topic was how the Ravens were going to deal with the 49ers’ Pistol offense while the rest of the nation is embroiled a gun control controversy.

It made those usual stories seem mundane.

The little stuff subjects like Flacco dissing a Super Bowl in New York and asking for a $20-million contract or whether the late Art Modell, the former Ravens owner, belonged in the Hall of Fame and who was selected to officiated the game fell to the backburner.

So did all the news about the preparation of the two teams.

Finally, on Sunday, they rested. They played the game.

It almost seemed anticlimactic.

The Super Bowl used to be a celebration of football. Now, the buildup to the event is anything but.

Jackson, I think, is wrong. The NFL isn’t the Petri dish of life.

The league has a life of its own.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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