A ‘Shut-Show’ of Parallels

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I’m not over it yet and America isn’t either. I’m finally at a place where I can talk about it and not go off the rails. I’m talking about two different things of course – how the New Orleans Saints were shut out of Superbowl LIII and how some 800,000 federal workers were shut out of their ability to care for their families because of a government shutdown. Yes, I did it . . . the Saints rank higher than the current administration.

Make no mistake about it, the two run parallel. Both the United States of America and the National Football League have at the helm leaders who remain silent when there is far more than just the appearance of impropriety among their card-carrying members. I cannot fathom, after spending more than three decades in service to my country, a shutdown that lasts 30 days or more. Likewise, it’s unthinkable that the Saints are not preparing for Super Bowl LIII in our biggest rival’s practice facility and locker rooms and playing the game on February 3, 2019 on the Dirty Birds’ home field.

Federal employees furloughed or required to work (because they’re considered essential to the operation of the government) without pay suffered losses that those in Congress and the White House just cannot relate to. Their world and ours are just too far apart, despite their claims every 2 – 4 years that they represent our interests.

But let’s not stray too far from the parallel. The New Orleans Saints were robbed in the NFC Championship game this past Sunday. Federal government workers missed two paychecks during the government shutdown. Simply a robbery of a different kind. If you question the parallel let me help you.

The president and vice president, Senate majority leader and majority whip, Senate minority leader and minority whip, speaker of the House, House majority leader and majority whip, House minority leader and minority whip – these were the officials on the field of play at midnight EST on Saturday, December 22, 2018, day one of the federal government shutdown. Shutting the federal government down was flagrant, intentional and foul. Not one of these officials possessed the integrity to call the obvious foul.

The NFL commissioner, the referee, umpire, down judge, line judge, field judge, side judge and the back judge – these were the officials on the field of play on NFC Championship Sunday, January 20, 2019. Targeting a receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit is flagrant, and, if intentional, is cause for ejection from the game. Not one of these officials possessed the integrity to call the obvious foul.

In both scenarios, winning was all that mattered.

Everyone watching both the NFC Championship game and the government shutdown will agree there is at least intentional interference in both situations. In both situations, the reason for the interference is clear, even if you disagree with the actor’s reason for interference. Every official on the field failed to acknowlege excessive and flagrant interference in each of these scenarios. How is that possible?

We can discuss border walls, attempts to distract attention from the special counsel’s investigation, whether the speaker or president made the right decisions, other penalty calls that were not made, quarterback performance or whether the coach called the right play. None of that matters if the actions of the officials on the field of play lack integrity. Allowing a player to be exposed to a potential life threatening helmet-to-helmet blow parallels leaving some 800,000 government workers exposed to any period of time that threatens their ability to care for their families.

We’re quick to highlight the loss of life by an undocumented person as the rally cry for the wall but won’t apply that same sense of urgency to “all” crime in America. Likewise we are quick to site decisions by Coach Payton and quarterback Drew Brees as reasons the Saints are not NFC Champions rather than apply that same analysis to the decisions of men charged with the sole responsibility of maintaining fairness, safety and integrity on the NFL field of play.

Somehow we find comfort in believing that the speaker of the house beat the president at his own game. A three week continuing resolution to temporarily open the federal government is far from a victory or a resolution. Let’s see how that goes on February 15, 2019. Some even think that the playing field is somehow leveled when the NFL commissioner fined a Los Angeles Rams defender five days after a foul that, according to all officials on the field of play, didn’t happen during the game.

We seem to ignore the fact that, had every official on each field of play acted with true integrity, the shutdown would not have happened and Super Bowl LIII would be a contest between the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints.

What a shutshow!