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NFL Message: Just Go Punch Someone

The NFL is on an anti-violence campaign—except when it counts

What an exciting Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots!

First the Patriots were in command, with super quarterback Tom Brady in charge. Seattle's quarterback, Russell Wilson, meanwhile looked horrible!

Then Seattle took charge, with super quarterback Wilson leading the way, beginning with a miracle touchdown drive with 30 seconds left in the first half!

The Patriots looked demoralized in the third quarter!

Then, in the fourth quarter, the Patriots came back and retook the lead!

Then the Seahawks came back—with a miracle "foot catch"!

Then the Patriots pulled the victory out with an interception on the last play!

And, so, Brady joined the ranks of the NFL's most successful quarterbacks ever with his fourth Super Bowl victory (joining Joe Montana and the much-maligned Terry Bradshaw).

Shutterstock: Used with permission

In pulling the victory out, Brady commiserated with the Seahawks. You see, Brady hadn't won a Super Bowl in ten years, losing two close contests in that period due to miracle plays by the other team (both times the now-lowly Giants). In a sense, symbolically, Brady was overcoming his trauma on the football field.

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But that's not what people are talking about the morning after. What they're talking about is the seemingly bizarre decision for Seattle to throw a pass on the goal line rather than to have their star running back (Marshawn Lynch—you know, the uncooperative interviewee) charge into the end zone, like he usually does.

Are they crazy!? Whose decision was that: Wilson's, Seattle coach Pete Carroll's, the offensive coordinator's? Whoever's decision it was, that man should be . . . . well, something bad should be done to him.

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But that's not really the most significant thing that occurred on screen on Super Bowl Sunday.

In second place for that honor was Nationwide Insurance's ad about a child dying due to a household accident. It stunned people. For me, it officially acknowledged that we are a nation so preoccupied with protecting our children that, even with the most overprotected generation of children who have ever lived on this earth (middle-class, children, that is), all we can think about is that they can die due to accidents beyond our control.

And, so, we should make sure that our children are never out of our sight, never exert any personal control, never venture outside on their own, grow up in the hothouses of our love, so that then they may create the circumstances for their own downfalls through emotional or addictive or accidental or suicidal or violent self-destructive events of which they are their own authors.

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But the most significant event to take place on screen did occur on the field. And it is getting hardly any notice the morning after. Why should it? It was understandable—justifiable, really.

I'm speaking of the mash-up at the end of the game where virtually all of these mammoth athletes punched, shoved, and slung one another to the ground.

The melee occurred because the Seattle team was deeply frustrated by their own management's play selection—and its execution by their teammates—leading to their last-minute, completely unexpected, bewildering and distressing loss.

And when that happens, what can you do but strike out at someone standing in front of you, the closest available target, someone maybe associated in your mind with your frustration?

That's the logical, expected, justified course of action—who wouldn't do that? And, so, the event went largely unpunished (one player was sent meaninglessly off the field for initating this riot of violence). And it was witnessed, live, by the largest TV audience ever!

Now that's sending a message!

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Oh, there was one other ad I've forgotten to mention. That was the much ballyhooed commercial put on by the NFL itself showing players describing how unacceptable it was to assault a woman or family member because someone is frustrated, a subject that has come up quite a bit this past year.

That's a very impressive and well-meaning effort, don't you think?

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Image: Shutterstock: Used with permission

Stanton Peele has been at the cutting edge of addiction theory and practice since writing, with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction in 1975. He has developed the on-line Life Process Program. His recent book, written (with Ilse Thompson), is Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program. He can be found online on Facebook and Twitter.