Super Bowl 2013: Ray Lewis for president

President Obama’s expressed concerns about violence in football a week before the Super Bowl seem oddly calculated. Are his recent comments intended to parallel his campaign against guns and his assault on the Second Amendment? Are we Americans — the ones who watch the Super Bowl — inherently violent? He wouldn't want his boys to play, if he had any. They might hurt themselves. Surely, a viewing of Hockey Night in Canada would send Obama to the fainting couch. But it is not hard to see him in future days high up in the stands with Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger and old friend Beckham and his Spice Girls missus, hoping against hope that some unheard-of Third World nation, newly thrown together by Western clerks and movie actors, will win the World Cup in soccer (and swooning with disgust when it goes once again to those gnarly Germans).

Like Clinton and Jagger, Obama sees himself as a fellow leviathan or global god-king whose task it is to save the world. Or better yet, to turn the world into a shadow creation of himself. But the world today is a doughnut: We in the center play football. Round the periphery where they wander seemingly without conviction or purpose, they play soccer. It cannot be said really that Obama or Jagger or Clinton can be seen as “the man in the center” of our place of earth in the world — the term historian W. J. Cash used to define the archetypal individual — Joan to France, Nelson to England — who defines a people; the numinous one of whom each and every individual shares a common spirit. I don't think so. In America today that identification goes to linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis.
 

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Has anyone ever in our time met and advanced the full determination to live through pain and joy without questions, without the moment's hesitation, with fidelity, truth and honor, to find the victory in himself and for all of us? The indomitable Lewis, still with a broken arm, swoops into the arena , a huge, fearless totem, a mythical bird on wing, come to awaken the free people to a new creation. And at the victory he tears off his shirt to reveal his favorite Biblical passage (Psalms 91) and throws himself to the ground with faith as pure and simple as an Old Testament prophet, prostrate, in a circle of shouted prayer with his team, sharing in the spirit.
 
Ray Lewis's last game in America will be Feb. 3. A hundred million Americans will be watching him and where I live there will be no traffic on the road for three hours. Like Thanksgiving and Fourth of July, the Super Bowl has become the third great national secular holiday for Americans. And as much as they try to market it to the old worlds in England and China, it belongs exclusively to us in the pure land who love Ray. That the president finds in it an opportunity to proselytize is, to be kind, unfortunate. And it is not the first time.

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