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Column: Fan of the House: Welcome to the Super Bowl, where nothing is out of bounds

Fan of the House: Welcome to the Super Bowl, where nothing is out of bounds

Detailed view of the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the NFL Experience exhibition before Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center on Wednesday in San Francisco.

(Jason O. Watson / Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve called this news conference to announce that I will have absolutely no comment on the police sting that sent a Broncos practice squad player home from the Super Bowl — although he was not cited — other than to say I don’t think I want to live in a country where professional athletes need to pay for it.

I might be the last moralist in America, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Look, what did you think we were staging in Santa Clara, a live performance of “Pippin?” Super Bowl week has always been notoriously ripe with stirring moments of mass reflection. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon once mooned a media helicopter, for example.

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Then there was the Falcons’ Eugene Robinson, who, on the same day he received the Bart Starr Award for character, was arrested on a charge of soliciting the affections of an undercover cop.

Please realize these aren’t altar boys we’re celebrating Sunday. They’re grown men, at least going by their birth certificates. Go ahead, worship them, even forgive them if you’re able. But you probably wouldn’t want a single one of them moving in next door and crashing their ATVs into your pool twice a week.

Meanwhile, I appreciate that we are a nation that celebrates tolerance and misbehavior, but what happens when we exhaust all our taboos? Then what? Then who sings the anthem? Do they bring back those toothy dolts from “Up With People”? Do we revert to marching bands?

Yes.

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If it were up to me, halftime still would feature drum lines — the best part of football — and maybe a chicken wing demo from that diners-and-drive-ins freak with the funny hair. That’s all I require from Super Bowl halftimes — driving drumbeats and spicy drumettes.

As you may have noticed, modern Super Bowls have become bombastic theatrical abominations — obscenely inauthentic, almost painful. My wedding was like that (it also had a dunk tank). But in later years I’ve become more drawn to nuance and authenticity.

And a public plea to all the players and performers: I know this game is a big, crass bacchanal, but try to keep your britches on, for gawd’s sake. I certainly don’t need some past-her-prime rocker having a “wardrobe malfunction” in front of my family ever again. At least not while we’re eating.

But I love this game, love it like Christmas. Just the words “Super Bowl” make my tongue swell and my feet sweat. I celebrate with songs, fireworks, Lenten feasts. I haven’t even been to work since the pregame show started 11 days ago. I mean, Iowa didn’t get this kind of coverage. Nor should it.

It’s all reflective of how pro football has become our pseudo-religion. Why else do you think they play it on the Sabbath?

Of course, some simpletons might suggest that the Super Bowl challenges our sense of taste and proportion, and I’m simple enough to appreciate that. It’s also revealing of something deep in our national character. Since Ft. Sumter, we’ve been drawn to stagecraft and explosions.

We’re a nation that trends toward isolationism, yet every February we stage our own world war.

And when it comes to American displays of pomp and power, there’s nothing like a Super Bowl. Not inaugurations, not political conventions, not even the ridiculousness of a modern election.

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What do you make of that, Dr. Freud?

Well, Doc, here’s a tip: When it comes to the Super Bowl, no event is so revealing of our tastes and values — naughty and otherwise. You either need to laugh or look away.

The other day, the New York Times ran the most patrician chicken wing recipe of all time, recommending that they be topped with cucumber relish and served on a bed “of sliced juicy navel oranges [that] can serve as a foil to the spicy heat.”

Laugh or look away.

Until those jail escapees were captured, I was convinced that CBS planned to have them surrender at halftime to Beyonce, who’d clasp them in fur handcuffs, then kick them off to custody with a diamond-encrusted stiletto heel.

Laugh or look away.

Finally, note that the wondrous Lady Gaga is set to sing the anthem. The over-and-under on her performance is 2 minutes, 20 seconds — no kidding.

There is no line on whether the ethereal singer will rise like a dove and flutter into the clouds when it is over, then return to her native planet, wherever that may be.

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“Air Gaga,” some wise guy in the press box would write. “A perfect spiral ... and the first completion of the day.”

Follow Chris Erskine on Twitter @erskinetimes


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