It seems implausible that something can be highly wearisome and highly entertaining at the same time, but our state’s decade-long version of the Bataan Death March, aka “The Stadium Issue,” has managed to pull that off nicely.
And it’s sad, in a perverted sort of way, that the fun will all end soon because push has come to shove, and the National Football League knows how to shove like nobody’s business.
Roger Goodell, the NFL’s grand poobah of shoving, was in the Twin Cities Friday for a little come-to-Jesus session with our elected officials.
Without going into all the particulars (because you don’t have nearly enough Advil to put up with that), suffice to say that legislation for a new Vikings palace will be passed forthwith.
The face-painted purple drunks will rejoice, the anti-huge-public-subsidy majority will gnash teeth, the politicians will mouth self-serving platitudes about “finally coming together,” and the NFL’s muscle cartel will smirk and wink in private as they launch into an impromptu rendition of “Another One Bites The Dust.”
The photo accompanying this column presents an image that aptly sums up the NFL’s imperialism when it comes to dealing with balky cities averse to do their bidding.
The photo, taken last fall, shows NFL high executive Eric Grubman looking down his nose at Gov. Mark Dayton. Grubman came to Minnesota to put a serpentine squeeze on the Legislature’s halting efforts to come up with a stadium “solution.”
Clearly, Grubman’s appearance alone wasn’t enough. You don’t send a tack hammer to do a sledge hammer’s job.
Enter NFL Commissioner Goodell. Gentlemen, start your cowering.
One can’t help but conjure metaphorical comparisons for what’s going on now between the NFL’s storm troopers and the denizens of St. Paul’s hallowed halls.
You might compare this to those scenes of old-guard British colonialism, when royalty in all their white linen finery came calling on their impoverished subjects in Africa. Tribal elders would receive a jolly-good pat on the head, leaving no confusion as to who was their lord and master.
Or you might compare the pathetic passion play in St. Paul to a potboiler Mafia novel, in which Don Vito Goodell dons his best black pinstriped suit and pays a visit to the jowly butcher shop owner who won’t cough up his protection money. An offer is made that cannot be refused. You break ground on a stadium or I break your legs. Capiche?
But for my money I’ll use the “Cool Hand Luke” comparison.
In that classic movie, Southern chain gang prisoner Luke, played by Paul Newman, gives his boss guards fits because he keeps running away.
Finally, to break his spirit, his keepers make him dig a grave-size hole, fill it up, and dig it again ad nauseum until Luke can’t take it any more.
“You got your mind right now, Luke?” Boss Paul says.
Luke, now crumpled into a whimpering ball, surrenders his will.
“Yah. I got it right. I got it right, Boss.”
Sometimes it takes a long time to realize who’s your daddy. Ten years, say.
Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email email@example.com.