If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the NFL and its franchises are shining examples of personal responsibility and integrity. The league's no-tolerance stance on players caught abusing drugs, women or gun laws ensures that these multimillionaires are good role models. "We don't care if it will cost us ticket sales or attendance; we will not look the other way when it comes to violence or ass-hat behavior," the NFL always says.
Which is why it makes perfect sense that Texans owner Bob McNair donated $10,000 to the political campaign against HERO, the ordinance that would extend greater non-discrimination protection to the elderly, the disabled and minorities. (Oh, and gay and transgender people, too).
The ordinance was suspended earlier this year and, after much wrangling over the wording, is now on the November ballot. Mayor Annise Parker has said that nixing it could cost Houston the opportunity to host the Super Bowl and other major sporting events.
There's precedent for Parker's concern: As misguided as the NFL can be when it comes to disciplining individual athletes, it has sent messages against legislation it has found distasteful. Pressure from pro-leagues helped kill a bill in Arizona that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. That state also lost out on hosting the 1993 Super Bowl after its voters decided they'd rather not acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
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But Jared Woodfill, anti-HERO crusader and spokesman for something called Campaign for Houston, told the Houston Chronicle that Parker was full of it: "The HERO supporters have tried to scare people into believing that we would lose the Super Bowl. Obviously, if there were any truth behind that, Bob McNair wouldn't be donating to the folks that are opposed to the ordinance."
And when it comes to scare tactics, the anti-HERO people know what they're talking about. From day one, these bigots have painted the ordinance as "The Bathroom Bill" — a sort of carte blanche for cross-dressing child predators. One Campaign for Houston TV ad, shot in creepy black and white with an ominous sound track reminiscent of The Exorcist, shows a pony-tailed little girl walking into a forlorn bathroom, back-lit by a flickering fluorescent light and apparently set-designed by Ingmar Bergman, while a narrator explains: "Any man at any time could enter a woman's bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day. No one is exempt; even registered sex offenders could follow women or young girls into the bathroom. And if a business tried to stop them, they'd be fined."
The girl walks into a stall, and the ad ends with a man coming out of the adjacent stall, walking in on the girl and then shutting the door behind them. It should be noted that the dude in this nightmarish scenario isn't even trying to look like a woman. He's wearing black jeans with white sneakers, an untucked plaid shirt and a watch that decidedly favors function over form. This dude isn't even trying — but we digress.
Is this what McNair's money is funding? Is this what a $50 ticket and an $85 can of tepid Budweiser gets us? McNair's $10,000 probably won't make or break HERO, but it at least lets Houstonians know where the owner of its beloved football team stands: on the side of discrimination.