Referee: Gentlemen, welcome to the Super Bowl. One thing I want to make clear before we start: The 49ers are going to win.
There’s a pause. Shanahan smiles.
Reid: What the hell? Who decided?
Referee: Us. The 49ers and the officials. We’ve actually been working hand in hand with them. We take our instructions from Coach Shanahan. We serve at the pleasure of the Niners.
Reid: Are you guys out of your minds?
Shanahan: This whole game is a hoax anyway, Andy. A lot of people are saying so. We shouldn’t have to play. We haven’t done anything wrong. We had a perfect season.
Reid: You lost three games! You lost to the Falcons!
Shanahan: I categorically and unequivocally deny that.
Referee: San Francisco will win, Coach Reid. The sooner this is over, the better it is for the country.
Reid is dumbstruck. He throws his arms out and tosses his head back.
Reid: This is insane!
Referee: But we still kinda have to play the game, so we’ll do that. One thing, though, Coach Reid: You can’t put out any of your players.
Reid: Excuse me?
Referee: Yeah, we’ll play the game. I mean, we’re going to call it a game, but it’s just going to be the 49ers on the field. All your guys have to stay on the bench.
Shanahan: Except for your punter. You can punt.
Reid: Who dreamed this up?
Referee: Oh, Mitch McConnell. Leader of the Senate. For the Trump impeachment trial. He showed us how to do it. You hold the trial but you don’t really hold the trial. I mean, you pretend to hold the trial. You put your hand on the Bible and all that, but—I mean, please. Am I right?
Reid: But you swore to be impartial!
Referee: Swore, schmore.
Reid: And all the refs feel this way?
Referee: No. But it’s a nine-man crew and we have the votes.
Reid takes off his hat and clutches his haircut.
Shanahan: Besides, Andy, your attempts to win this game are a brazen and unlawful attempt to turn over the rightful outcome of the season. Our attorney says so.
Reid: Who’s your attorney?
Shanahan: Alan Dershowitz.
Reid: The guy who represented O. J. Simpson? And Jeffrey Epstein? Screw him!
Referee: Whoa! That sounds like modern McCarthyism.
Shanahan: We’re clearly a great team. Some are saying the greatest team of all time. We’re doing things nobody’s ever seen before. For us to lose would be a gigantic miscarriage of justice.
Reid: If you’re so fantastic, why don’t you just prove it by playing by the rules?
Referee: These are the rules. Coach Shanahan and I wrote them up on Friday.
Reid: No, they’re not the rules! The rules are already in the rule book. Been there for more than 50 years. You hold the Super Bowl to decide who’s the champion.
Shanahan: Okay, Boomer.
Reid turns to the referee.
Reid: Come on! Your whole job is to be fair. That’s the reason you got hired! You’re gonna get canned!
Referee: Nah. All the owners are making truckloads of money. Nobody’s gonna care.
Shanahan: Face it, Andy. You never really had a chance. Why fight it?
Reid: Because we have the best quarterback in the game. And the best tight end. And the fastest wide receiver. There’s tons of evidence we’d beat you.
Reid: You know what I think? I think you’re afraid. You can say you won, but if you don’t actually hold a real game, then everybody in the country is going to know it’s a lie.
Referee: Not if we tweet it enough.
Reid holds his face in disbelief.
Reid: So you have zero interest in finding out the truth?
Referee: We’re interested in a fair game.
Shanahan: Exactly. But, you know … not.
Reid: So what are we supposed to do? Just sit and watch?
Referee: Now you’re playing ball! We’ll let you know when it’s over.
Shanahan: Want a red hat?
This excellent piece was written by Rick Reilly, the author of Commander in Cheat
Let me now finish with his introduction
I’ve covered sports for 40 years, not politics. Maybe that’s why I’m so bamboozled by this impeachment case in the U.S. Senate. Republicans are going to try Donald Trump with no witnesses? Some jurors have already announced they’re voting not guilty? The guy who makes the rules—Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky—gets his marching orders from the accused himself?
Can you imagine if we did sports like this?