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April 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Stadia, featuring Terry Bradshaw

This is the Coliseum in Rome, paid for out of the public treasury, and the site of barbaric and inhuman entertainments which were used in the technique of bread and circuses to keep the population appeased and unlikely to revolt. It was named after the Colossus of Nero, a giant likeness of Nero located nearby.

Gladiators fought and died within the walls, and often the final decision as to the loser's fate was left to the Emperor or some other factotum; people would speculate and wager on the outcome of the contests. Various houses developed their own squads of gladiators, and people declared their allegiance to one team or another.

It was a place of death by gruesome injury, the site of vicious and inhuman entertainments. The injuries and deaths that took place within its walls are a testament to the barbaric and degraded spirit of the population. The most egregious examples of debased morality must be the wealthy families who staged these events for their personal profit, regional amusement, and political demonstrations of power.

This is Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, paid for out of the public treasury, and used to provide public spectacles of conflict between opposing teams of gladiators playing American football, both professional (Steelers) and also semi-pro (University of Pittsburgh). Some political theorists suggest that identification with the Steelers, adoption of their colors, and even wearing mock uniforms distracted the population from the economic realities of the day. The stadium was named after Heinz, a dead Senator's family and a local economic powerhouse located nearby.

Fortunately, Heinz Field exists in our enlightened modernity; the players are protected, injuries are rare, and the athletes personify the highest aspirations of sport.

The Friday LA Times carries the story of one modern gladiator, Terry Bradshaw, whose mind is diminishing and slipping away because of the injuries he sustained while playing valiantly in an earlier version of the Pittsburgh Coliseum.
A series of at least six concussions incurred by Terry Bradshaw while he was the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning to interfere with his ability to carry out his current duties as a football analyst for Fox Sports, the ex-player said this week in a blog.

Bradshaw said he is suffering from deficits in short-term memory and impairments in his hand-eye coordination. He is being treated at the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, but experts fear that the best he can hope for is a slowing of the progression of the disorder rather than an improvement in function. ...

Bradshaw wrote that he spent a weekend at the Amen Clinic, where they determined that the problem was the residue of the many concussions he had suffered as a player.

When we think of the Coliseum and the wealthy Roman families who staged their gruesome events for their personal profit, regional amusement, and political demonstrations of family power, we think they must have been corrupt and jaded people of mercenary indifference.

But when we think of the Rooney's, we think "Hey Mr. Rooney is an Ambassador" and we think, "wow the kid really showed Ben that he was displeased at his poor judgement n'at".

In a commercial blog provided by the entertainment company that exploits employs him, Terry Bradshaw describes his injuries and explains that he will do whatever it takes to stay in the booth, just as in earlier days he would do whatever it took to stay in the game.

Bradshaw's announcement of his work injuries difficulties and his courageous continuation of broadcast duties expand the voyeur's spectacle from the stadium floor to the broadcast booth. In addition to watching drugged freaks struggle with injury on the field, passive viewers will be able to mark Terry Bradshaw's deterioration as the season progresses, wondering — is Terry tired today, or is he slipping? Hey, wasn't he always a little bit dumb, anyway?

<a href="" target="_new" title="Terry talks treatment">Video: Terry talks treatment</a>

You wouldn't wish this on anybody.

Boy we've come a long way.

Here we go Steelers, here we go.


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