One of the most disturbing moments in “Jaws,” at least for me, is the scene where the mayor of Amity island, whom we know is in possession of strong evidence that a Great White shark is cruising the waters of his town’s beaches looking for snacks, persuades an elderly couple to take their grandchildren into the surf to show everyone else on the beach that the water is safe. The scene leapt immediately to mind yesterday morning, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a Super Bowl Sunday interview on “Face the Nation,” emphatically told CBS’s Bob Shieffer that unlike President Obama, he would unhesitatingly allow his son to play football. I’m sure he would, too. After all, Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) sent his own kids into the Amity surf.
Like his role model, Mayor Vaughn, Goodell has a terrible problem, as well as a conflict of interest. He is paid to do what is in the best interests of the National Football League, and admitting that the game the league plays and the way it play it kills or mains a significant number of its players would be seen by his employers as a breach of duty. So despite mounting evidence that every single NFL player is putting his brain, health, and life at grave risk by allowing the relentless head trauma that is an unavoidable part of the game, Goodell feels he must claim otherwise, which, assuming he is basically a good man (I was never sure about Larry Vaughn), means he must convince himself that what he says is true. This led Goodell to make a series of statements yesterday that will haunt him some day as much as Mayor Vaughn’s infamous interview quote on the day the little Kintner boy (above) became chum: “I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means friendship.” Continue reading