NFL sacks God at Super Bowl XLI

I’m almost certain I’ll be getting an email or a certified letter any moment now from the NFL’s attorneys. Seems I may have just violated a copyright law. How, you say? Read the headline at the top of this post. Do you see those two words “Super Bowl”? Turns out after 41 years the NFL has decided to crack down on the use of those two words.

But only if you are a Christian or an evangelical church. Your local sports bar can use those two words to help them sell a controlled-substance to already over-intoxicated patrons, but according the NFL assistant counsel Rachel L. Margolies, if you are an evangelical church planning to use those words in conjunction with “a message,” you’ve violated their copyright.

Ms. Margolies actually sent a letter to the Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianpolis demanding that they “cease and desist” from using the words “Super Bowl” in their advertising for a church fellowship! And, oh, by the way, you can’t ask people to contribute toward the purchase of snacks, because that is the equivalent of charging an admission fee. Oh, and one more thing: you can’t show the game on any screen larger than 55 inches!

It gets better. She also told the church that their plans to show an evangelistic video featuring Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy and some of his players talking about their faith in Jesus was also a violation of the NFLs new found rules! Says Margolies: “While this may be a noble message, we are consistent in refusing the use of our game broadcasts in connection with events that promote a message, no matter the content.” So when the marquee on the front of every local sports bar in the Detroit area invites people to come in and watch the “Super Bowl” (copyright violation!) on “Five Big Screens” (55 inches or less!) in order to consume as much of a legally controlled-substance as their metabolism can handle (or not handle), I suppose that is a message the NFL doesn’t mind having associated with their copyright?

This is already backfiring big time on the NFL. Google the words NFL letter churches and read the outrage. The Family Research Council is involved, and I suspect that soon enough we’ll be hearing from the American Family Association and Focus on the Family. This is clearly a case of the big bad corporation harassing churches. It is religious discrimination on display for even non-churched people to clearly see. Alexandra Pelosi estimates there are 80 million of us evangelicals in America. What if we sat out next year’s Super Bowl? What if we kept our television sets – no matter what the size – tuned to any channel other than the one on which “Super Bowl XLII” was airing? Do you think 80 million evangelicals boycotting one sporting event could adversely affect ratings enough to have a negative impact on ad rates?

Don’t think the NFL Commissioner didn’t think of that before I did. Big time backtracking from the NFL from someone higher up than an overzealous attorney is on its way.

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About Paul Edwards

Paul is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of God and Culture in Detroit, Michigan and Founding and Teaching Pastor at Redeemer Church of Waterford, Michigan.