Advertisement
Share

Latinx Files: The NFL needs to make the ‘Mexican American Super Bowl’ an annual tradition

Football players on the field
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs runs the ball for a first down as the Dallas Cowboys’ Malik Hooker, left, Justin Hamilton, Jourdan Lewis and Dorance Armstrong attempt to make the stop in overtime in Arlington, Texas, on Thanksgiving.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

I was supposed to still be on vacation, but then something so big happened last week that I felt compelled to come back and give my take on it.

I am, of course, talking about the Mexican American Super Bowl.

That’s what I’m choosing to call the Thanksgiving Day game between my beloved Dallas Cowboys and the Las Vegas Raiders because, well, it certainly felt that way.

Advertisement

Here you had arguably the two most popular National Football League clubs among Mexican Americans facing off against each other on a day when most people were off work. It was the franchise of Hall of Famer Tom Flores (it still feels great to write that) and Jim Plunkett versus the team of Antonio Ramiro Romo and the Southmost Pitada. It was the age-old battle between California and Texas being played out on the gridiron.

“I can’t recall a regular-season game with that much anticipation within my social circle,” said Christian Orozco, a multiplatform editor at The Times and Raiders fan, noting that he made a friendly bet with video editor and fellow Cowboys fan Diego Medrano, who now has to buy matching Raiders shirts for them to wear next time they watch football together because his team lost by a field goal in overtime.

Cowboys-Raiders was a family feud during prime time.

“I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t about bragging rights as much as wanting my Raiders to win,” my friend Tony “Ace” Contreras told me when I asked him what this game meant to him.

“From my generation of primos, some of us were Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen fans, and the rest were Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith/ Michael Irvin fans. That’s the way our alignment stayed and it will stay forever because we are faithful and of course somewhat delusional about our teams.”

Had the Cowboys won, I would probably still be driving up and down Whittier Boulevard, wearing my Romo jersey and yelling, “How about them Cowboys?” at anyone who would listen.

“Mexican households haven’t been this divided since that one tio kept the terrenos,” another friend of mine, a Green Bay Packers fan, quipped on Twitter.

Which brings me to my hot take. You ready? Here it is: The NFL should make the Cowboys-Raiders the new Thanksgiving Day tradition.

“It seems like the NFL does very little to promote its game to Latino fans, especially Mexican Americans, outside of Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Roberto José Andrade Franco, who writes a weekly column about the Cowboys for D magazine.

That’s putting it mildly. The league’s effort is atrocious and lazy. This year, a campaign called “Por la cultura” felt like nothing more than taking a Sharpie and turning the N on their logo into an “Ñ.” They also made merchandise that only Rob Lowe’s long lost paisa cousin would wear.

The NFL doesn’t need to do all that. All they have to do is give us this game every year. (And maybe Dolphins versus Patriots or Giants, for our East Coast Latinxs.)

Many of us are already fans of your product. According to a 2019 report, there are an estimated 30.2 million Latinx NFL fans living in the U.S.

“You can keep playing games in Mexico City and doing whatever Hispanic Heritage Month events you want, but this is a real way to reward your Latinx fan base and lean into a natural rivalry,” said L.A. Times deputy sports editor Iliana Limón Romero, humoring me when I pitched her this hypothetical.

“The NFL invests so much in studying audiences and trying to craft the perfect schedule to maintain its relatively high TV ratings,” she added. “I would be very surprised if the league didn’t automatically make this adjustment after seeing the ratings for this year’s game.”

Look, I realize this is probably a pipe dream. But is it such a bad idea? It can’t be worse than still thinking people want to watch the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.

Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

Meet our Latinx staff: Eduardo Gonzalez

The Los Angeles Times employs more than 60 Latinx journalists. One of the goals of this newsletter is for you to meet them all. This week, we highlight Eduardo Gonzalez, a multiplatform editor at the Sports desk who beat me this week in The Times’ fantasy football league. Yeah, I’m still salty.

I never really took the time to think about and appreciate my Mexican American heritage and the sacrifices my parents made for my brother and me until I started working at the L.A. Times. As a multiplatform editor for the Sports department, I am often making sure the Sports home page of The Times is updated with the latest news on the Lakers, Dodgers, USC, UCLA and other sports, building stories, doing some blogging and ensuring we’re the best sports section in the country.

There are stressful days when I question if it’s worth it. However, the reward that comes with working with so many talented journalists and the thousands of readers of the stories and projects I write gives me such a gratifying feeling. And I thank my parents for allowing me to take advantage of the opportunities and for where I am in my career.

I grew up not too far from Los Angeles in a hot city that everyone knows as Phoenix in a middle-class neighborhood where it was mostly Mexican families. I attended elementary and middle schools where the students were predominantly Latino. So, it was normal for most of us to have parents who had immigrated from Mexico. We mostly spoke English and preferred watching American television rather than what our parents were watching on Univision and Telemundo. However, we always looked forward to tamale season, eating pan dulce, and the weekends for menudo. And my parents were fine with that.

I went to an all-boys Jesuit high school that was predominantly white. A lot of my peers and the friends I made had parents who went to Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities, and were doctors, dentists or had other high-paying jobs. It was a complete 180 life change for me. I questioned if I would be able to compete with peers who‘d had a better elementary school education than I had. However, my parents ensured that my brother and I had the best education the state of Arizona could offer no matter who we were or where we came from.

I enjoyed my time in high school, and it allowed me to attend USC and find my passion for journalism. Entering USC, I was prepared and motivated to do what no one in my family had ever done: obtain a college degree.

You should have seen my parents’ faces when I told them I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. They had hoped their Lalo would be a doctor, or maybe have a high-paying job in business, but they said as long as I was happy with whatever I did career-wise, they would support it.

I would say I was blessed to have landed a job at The Times as my first journalism job. For a long time, I said I was lucky, but with the work I’ve done and the time I’ve spent learning from other Latinx journalists’ experiences and journeys, I’ve come to finally understand and appreciate who I am and the sacrifices my parents made to ensure I’d get where I am today.

I might be rooting for U.S. soccer when they play Mexico and don’t listen to some of the Latinx artists my parents grew up listening to, but as long as I appreciate my heritage and continue to keep pushing myself, I know my parents are fine with whatever I do.

The best things we’ve read this week

— Take some time to read Gustavo Arellano’s column on the books that highlight Mexicans’ fight for a better California. Although some of these look to the past, they’re very relevant to the California we all hope to live in.

— For those of us yearning for some Latinx comic book superheroes, check out the story by our own Jevon Phillips on Al Madrigal’s launch of Primos. Madrigal has incorporated Maya traditions and myths to create a unique world where three cousins set out to save civilization.

— You can never have enough Bad Bunny profiles. You should read this one from reporter Kate Linthicum. Or this one by Suzy Esposito, who wrote it for Rolling Stone before coming over to The Times. Vulture recently published an equally entertaining profile on Benito on his 27th birthday. If you want to read it in Spanish, go here.

— The dream of having a U.S. professional sports team playing in Mexico has been around for a while. The NBA, MLB and NFL have all played regular-season games in Mexico, but the G League, the development league for the NBA, announced in early 2020 a team based in Mexico City: the Capitanes. The pandemic prevented them from playing in 2020, and they have settled in Fort Worth, Texas, for the 2021 season, but they’ll be really interesting to follow once they get to el DF in 2022. The New York Times has a great story on the team.

— And finally, we’d love to shout out our friends at L.A. Taco, which has quickly become a must read for all things L.A. One of their new features is “L.A. Taco Live With Laura” on YouTube. They have had some great guests on, and their third show is this evening at 7.

And now for something a little different...

Illustration of a woman listening to music with headphones. Her phone says "Feliz Navidad."
It’s that time of year...
(Ludi Leiva / For The Times)

Ludi Leiva is a Guatemalan-Slovak visual artist and writer primarily working as an illustrator. Her work explores the human condition and women’s inner worlds, and is characterized by warm, vibrant colors and human figures. She is self-taught and is currently pursuing a master’s in visual communication.

“This comic celebrates the diasporic experience of being Latine at Christmastime. It’s a nostalgic nod to Christmastime in my household as well as a reflection on the importance of preserving one’s culture despite being steeped in dominant cultural traditions.”

Are you a Latinx artist? We want your help telling our stories. Send us your pitches for illustrations, comics, GIFs and more! Email our art director at martina.ibanezbaldor@latimes.com.


Advertisement