Saw this tweet from Richard Deitsch: “Been told former President George W. Bush will narrate a 2-minute opening for Fox NFL Sunday on Sept. 11 at 12PM.”
I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Bush invoke 9/11 enough times in the past ten years to last through this life and well into a few more. But props to Fox. And, hell, to Bush. It’s a chance for the “Get Down to Disney World” disaster-response president to remind us football fans how far we’ve come in the past 10 years.
This isn’t the speech I’d give. This isn’t the speech, in my dream of dreams, that W. would give. But this is what as his speechwriter I’d hand him, half-hoping, half-expecting that he’d actually read the thing somewhere, between pretzels:
My fellow Americans.
Sundays in our nation are traditionally hallowed occasions. They are a time for rest, a time for worship, a time for family. This Sunday marks ten years since our nation stood still amid the chaos of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The deluded men who massacred thousands of civilians that day timed their actions to harm Americans innocently going about their work. Once we beheld the awful deeds of that morning, we wept and we prayed. We turned to one another for solace and, in vain, for answers.
In the midst of that trauma came pause. For days, sports in this country halted, out of respect for those who perished and those left to grieve. For all our boundless energy, the American people showed the world we are still reverent in times of tragedy.
But the games had to go on. And the game we associate most closely with our hallowed Sundays, professional football, had to continue. With the return of the NFL came a return of normalcy, and proof that America, while forever altered, would not be bullied, would not bow.
This week marks a date of unfathomable tragedy. Yet it also allows us a moment to reflect upon how we have traveled as a people. This week in NFL stadiums, parents who can afford to do so will bring children too young even to remember 9/11. They will enjoy the games in safety and in peace. To them, life in this country will seem unbroken.
Far from cowering, football advances ever ahead. During the past 10 years NFL fans have seen franchises in Tampa Bay and in New Orleans have win Super Bowls. They have seen the top pick in the 2001 draft convicted of federal crimes, and return from prison to become the most dazzling player in the league. They saw a wide receiver born in Korea named Super Bowl MVP, and they saw the Seahawks win some playoff games. In the NFL, as in America itself, anything is still possible.
Some might say, in our revelry, we have lost our sense of scale. This week ESPN paid more than $15 billion to retain “Monday Night Football” and other NFL broadcast rights for another decade. Tomorrow in Miami, a man who named himself “Ochocinco” will take the field at a stadium that has been renamed three times in the past six years. And somewhere, right now, a fan in Baltimore or Nashville or Houston is changing his fantasy team’s name to “Peyton’s Cervical Fusion.”
Gauche as they seem, I submit to you that these are not the rituals of a nation in which terror was allowed to claim victory. Not when there is still an NFL Network with 40 million subscribers. Not when Vegas sports books take some $90 million in bets each year on the Super Bowl alone. Not while the new home of the New York Giants and New York Jets has on its books an explicit ban on vuvuzuelas.
This moment of reflection, like that of 10 years ago, will soon be past. We will then be left once again with the knowledge that America has not yielded, nor will it, ever. May Sunday remain the greatest day of the week, and may God bless us all.
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