Football is an endangered oasis of bipartisanship — it’s a temporary and refreshing relief from politics. So when John Elway, the Denver Broncos head of football operations and the horse’s mouthpiece, introduced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a rally in Denver this week, I gotta admit that I was a little disappointed. Not so much that Elway endorsed Romney, but more so that he endorsed anyone at all.
That’s not to mention that Elway endorsed the former governor of Massachusetts the week that the Broncos are scheduled to play the New England Patriots, who are headquartered in Foxborough, Mass. Elway also missed a golden opportunity to endorse any Republican candidate from Oakland the week before the Raiders/Broncos game.
The puzzling piece is that Elway is a huge automotive industry magnate of sorts. He’s made a handsome fortune from selling cars, and still owns a couple of car dealerships in Colorado.
The current president is the one being given credit for bolstering the now powerful automotive industry. The person who Elway introduced as “the next president of the United States — Mitt Romney ….” was the one who wanted to let the automotive industry fail.
Elway is on record as having contributed the maximum amount of money allowed to Romney’s campaign. It’s just as well, because he has one key thing in common with Romney when it comes to the trendy and omnipotent likability poll: He has an unfavorable rating. Elway has screwed over a lot of people with a football in hand, and they’re largely unwilling to forget about it.
As long as he’s the No. 2 in charge of the Denver Broncos, I want to hear Elway talking about politics as much as I want to hear a politician talking about football. When football owners and the like talk politics, it puts their fans in a compromising position. It quite possibly has the same effect on some of the players. The general consensus about Elway’s endorsement on the internet can best be summed up in two words: head injury.
Elway has a track record of historically endorsing the Republican candidate, and it’s not a very good one. He stood beside Rudi Giuliani, and then John McCain in the last presidential election, so technically he’s 0-2.
The owner of the New York Jets did the same thing last week — he endorsed Romney and took it one step further, saying he’d prefer a Romney victory over a Jets winning season. I’m not sure what the reaction has been in New York, but I bet it’s not sitting well with some ticket holders.
Elway’s endorsement of Romney speaks to what’s wrong with the NFL on a whole other level. The ticket prices are astronomical, scalping is out of control, and the parking and concessions unreasonable. The officially licensed merchandise made in China is grotesquely overpriced. The consolation is that you can watch the game in a taxpayer funded stadium that’s had its iconic original name sold to a corporation, and wash it all down with a $10 Coors Light from your club level seat while you watch the game on the giant screen.
The league and owners are greedy and out of touch with the fan base. Just let the recent replacement referee debacle speak to that. Probably the only thing ending that embarrassing situation was the fact that over $150 million worth of betting money swung on the now famous Monday night Packers/Seahawks game.
The real icing on the cake, though, was listening to the Seahawks receiver, then the head coach lying to the TV camera and boasting about how great the play he made was. It was as if they were so drunk on power, fame and wealth that they were incapable of admitting they were wrong.
When you wear your favorite team’s logo you’re already endorsing a myriad of economic and social dysfunction and sanctioned violence. Being a fan is hard enough without adding an unwanted political endorsement.
Elway has predictably tainted what up until recently was a comforting relief from politics for this high country Broncos’ fan. Given his record on endorsing political candidates, I hope this endorsement was more prophetic than symbolic. It’s going to be difficult for me to look at Elway and not think about politics on Sunday, and that sucks.
Email Lorenzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.