DALLAS–Fans in town for the Big Game have raved about a brand new feature at the Fan Fest, the NFL Super Bowl Super Concussion Pavilion. The multimedia experience, in the words of commissioner Roger Goodell, “pays tribute to the role of concussions in the game we love so much, in all their brain-jarring, blackout-inducing glory.”
“Whether they’re caused by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit or a seemingly innocent tumble to the turf, concussions are an essential part of the fabric of football,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a press release. “Fans will want to make sure to stop in at the NFL Super Bowl Super Concussion Pavilion to catch this literally spine-tingling program.”
Those who attend are first treated to a newly produced video of Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi, reciting some of the legendary coach’s most famous lines while urging his woozy players back into the game. It also features footage of Pittsburgh’s fearsome Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s, and CAT scans of the tragically high levels of tau buildup in its members’ gray matter.
The film then transitions to a montage of this season’s most brutal concussions and their aftermaths, such as players vomiting uncontrollably and waking up in strange locations with no memory of the past few hours. But most fans we spoke to were most excited about the dark-ride part of the program
“It’s amazing!” raved Packers fan Tim Johnson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “You get in this little train thingy, kinda like a haunted house ride. Then you go through a dark tunnel with strobe lights and these holograms of football helmets that look like they’re coming right at you! Meanwhile, the PA system blares KidzBop songs that randomly slow down and speed up, and Broadway showtunes run backwards. When I got out, I felt like lying on the floor for several hours. It was awesome!”
The NFL had hoped to use some of the game’s most frequently concussed players in the pavilion, either as greeters or doorstops. However, many of those invited simply forgot about the event or were too perturbed by incessant buzzing in their ears to attend. But the pavilion has been visited frequently by Junior Seau, who at age 41 is the oldest living linebacker in NFL history.
Not everyone is pleased by the NFL’s program. “I find this ‘celebration’ of concussions to be completely insulting,” said NFL Players’ Association president DeMaurice Smith. “It makes a mockery of the pain of many of our members and does nothing to address the serious problem of former players who can’t pay for their medical bills. Seems like somebody should do something about that.”