NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the league's ownership faced one of the most critical and debatable decisions in their history today: Play, or not play?
A conference call was set for 10:30 this morning, during which Tagliabue and owners were to discuss the dynamics of playing this weekend's 15 games as scheduled, or postpone league play out of respect for Tuesday's terrorist events.
What would you do? It is an almost unresolvable debate.
To play this weekend's games as scheduled would agree with those who believe it's important to send a message, as a country, that we are too strong to be terrorized; that we will not succumb to terrorism and its effects on the national psyche. There is merit to that thinking; it is understandable.
Then there are those who would say it's too soon after Tuesday's devastation to engage in frivolous games. Those who subscribe to that belief would say this weekend's games should be postponed so that we might, as a country, send the message that national security and the American way of life is always our first concern; that Tuesday's threat to each requires a period of mourning, and that the efforts and the focus of a nation should not be blunted or upstaged by our need for entertainment.
Of course, there are other issues, logistical issues. Can the league guarantee the safety of its players and fans? Will television provide coverage of the games?
In 1963, the television networks pulled their coverage of games played on the Sunday following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Then, commissioner Pete Rozelle faced the most difficult decision of his life, and he chose to go on with that weekend's scheduled games. Rozelle would later say it was his single-greatest regret of his term as commissioner.
How do we honor those who lost their lives Tuesday? How do we grieve them? How do we respond to those who cheer our tragedy?
What would you do?
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.