While most of America was still trying to comprehend what, exactly, just happened in the final moments of Super Bowl XLIX, I kept my eyes on the television, curious to see the post-game festivities and Lombardi Trophy presentation.
What I witnessed was another example of the NFL continuing its blunder-filled year of turmoil and missteps.
On the first day of Black History Month, NBC and the NFL did not have a single African-American involved in the trophy presentation ceremony. Not a single one. In fact, every person up on the podium and in the spotlight was Caucasian. Just watch:
That is white male Kurt Warner carrying the Lombardi Trophy to the stage, white male Dan Patrick with the mic in the his hand as emcee, white male New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his white male son, white male coach Bill Belichick getting interviewed, and three white male players — MVP Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman — answering questions and celebrating. Not a single person on the stage and in front of the cameras other than white males. All this on the first day of Black History Month.
The all-white interview podium. #racist
— Reverend Paul Revere (@RevPaulRevere) February 2, 2015
Don't get me wrong, all three players deserved their time in the limelight. Brady won his fourth Super Bowl and took home the MVP award, Gronkwoski had a score and was the third-leading receiver for the Patriots, and Julian Edelman had nine catches for game-high 109 yards and caught the game-winning touchdown. And no, I don't believe this was a conscious decision on the part of NBC or the NFL. But it's not as if the Patriots were devoid of other players, African-American players, who had a big impact on the outcome in New England's 28-24 victory over last year's champion Seattle Seahawks.
Shane Vereen gave the Seahawks fits all night coming out of the backfield as a receiver, hauling in a game-high 11 receptions. Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, while not hitting Russell Wilson often, mainly helped keep the athletic signal-caller in the pocket and under wraps as a runner. Vince Wilfork and his defensive line mates routinely stuffed Marshawn Lynch early on, not allowing Seattle to establish its vaunted running attack in the first half. Darrelle Revis completely and utterly took Doug Baldwin out of the game outside of one three-yard touchdown pass Baldwin caught when Revis was picked by the official. And former Seahawk Brandon Browner switched over to surprise breakout star Chris Matthews in the second half, effectively wiping out the receiver who had come up huge in the first half for the defending champs.
Oh, and then there was rookie Malcolm Butler, who came away with the biggest play of the entire game, jumping the route on that baffling second-down call for the Seahawks, picking off Wilson and securing New England's Super Bowl victory — just two plays after a deflating, improbable catch by Jermaine Kearse that looked to set Seattle up for its second straight championship, giving New England David Tyree flashbacks. Sure, Michele Tafoya tracked Butler down on the field immediately after the game, but at that point the rookie safety was too emotional to get this thoughts together.
The point is there were plenty of African-American players the NFL and NBC could have included and should have, particularly on the first day of Black History Month. But that's been the NFL this season — out of touch, reactive instead of proactive and seemingly three steps behind the cultural waves of society.
Super Bowl XLIX was almost perfect: from a remarkable game to incredible plays to a surprise ending and even a trippy-ass halftime show. But it wouldn't be the NFL in 2014/15 if everything went just about perfectly.
Super Bowl Sunday was the first day of Black History Month. Everyone seemed aware of that with the exception of NBC and the NFL.
Reverend Paul Revere, aka Joe Boland, is a sports blogger out of Philadelphia whose life revolves around sports 365 and a quarter days per year. Keep up with Rev at his own personal blog, The House That Glanville Built and on Twitter.