What The Super Bowl Power Outage Really Meant – Watch Out Goodell!

The power outage of the Super Bowl was one of the highlights for me. My friends and I shared a few good laughs and it’s these moments that justify the craziness of the social media world:

“Beyonce literally shut it down.”
“I’ve kicked the Playstation cord out of the wall before, too. Well played Jim Harbaugh.”
“The intensity of Ray Lewis’ feelings KNOCKED THE POWER OUT.”
“Finally, America cares about the infrastructure in NOLA.”
and my favorite
“Over 100 NFL players without power in New Orleans right now. Please help. Every donation counts. #SuperBowl”

Now, how in the world, does a major city like New Orleans who have a power outage during the Super Bowl? They routinely host big events like last year’s NCAA Final Four and a year round Spring Break (those neon lights are very taxing on the eyes and the electric grid). They sometimes have to host a NFL game, a NBA game, various concerts and events at their other venues on the same night. I’ve been to NOLA a few times, really have a heart for it, there’s a underlying hurt that truly believes the city is cursed, moments like this add to it.

For most of us, it was a just a long, awkward and unfortunate moment. But soon some crazy statistic will be released that says, of the 108.4 million people watching (which was about 3 million down from last year) more than 40 million stopped watching – whether they left or turned to Downton Abbey or ran out of their house to buy that Kia Forte that was being advertising.

Unfortunately this power outage is going to have consequences. Advertiser types are angry, NFL types, CBS types and many in New Orleans who have something to lose are angry. Sadly, people will likely lose their jobs.  Most serious football fans are actually more annoyed having to listen to Phil Simms all night than the outage – but I’m sure he’ll be back – that’s how it goes.

When it’s all said and done, we’ll probably find out that it was an equipment failure that would have been impossible to foresee. No one will actually say that – everyone will have claimed to have foresaw it and point to the person they believe should have fixed it.In these moments that demonstrate that we are not always in completely in control, it is our habit to ask, “Does this mean anything?”

If it hasn’t already happened yet, there’s going to be some fundamentalist that is going to say that God sent the power failure to warn everyone to get back in church on Sundays. Oh man, wait til God finds out that we moved our evening service so we could make it back for kickoff (I still missed the first quarter!).

Some environmentalist “extremer than McKibben” will tell you they predicted this back in 1997 and this is part of climate change. A post-Katrina electrical engineer will find a report saying the levees were never designed the grid was never designed to handle such a load and find a way to blame someone else and someone else will point to someone else. As soon as the blame shifting starts, this whole thing will get blown out of proportion and Kanye West will appear out of nowhere to blame FEMA and Roger Goodell.

I’m not a big fan of Roger Goodell (but in comparison to the other major sports commissioners, he’s the best), but I do like that he’s trying to make the sport safer. My biggest concern with Goodell is that in trying to protect the image of his billion dollar industry, he will continue to hide evidence of brain trauma and the fact that the NFL has acted two decades too late. The old adage “better late than never” only works out of a posture of humility not out of covering your butt. I do believe he is interested in player safety but I believe he is even more interested in protecting the League. Some will say that’s his job to protect the League over the  player – and I will respectfully disagree.

I don’t really see “signs.” (like in the Mel Gibson Signs movie that makes a case for the “everything has a reason” mentality).
Instead, I see irony. I do believe that God is directly and providentially involved in the affairs of life, I think God is actually more interested in player safety than Ray Lewis’ poor theology (I can only picture God shaking His head every time 52 quotes Romans 8). And I think we are to reflect on the many things that happen in this weird and beautiful thing called life.

I think it would be wise for Goodell and the NFL executives to see some irony in the power outage. You can spend a year planning, delegating and preparing for the biggest event of the year but you are never really in complete control. And just like that, in front of everyone, your power, your authority can be taken away.  When the lights come back on, it could end up being a new ball game.

We can all learn from this. Everyone knows never to put a skeleton in the closet because they have this terrible habit of walking out. But what we don’t know is that every time we lie, attempt to cover up something or posture ourselves in such a way to protect our image or investment, a skeleton takes shape in a closet we don’t know about.

We are to be faithful with the responsibility and opportunities we’ve been given. We do this not to avoid scandal, humiliation and be exposed when the power goes out, but rather we do this to be truthful, to be honorable, to leverage our ability for the common good.

I don’t believe that God turned off the lights at the Super Bowl but it would be wise and just of us to live a life that honors God and others while we have the power to do so.  That’s what I’m taking away from the Super Sunday’s power outage.


  1. I like this! Nice take-away :)

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