Sunday while watching football for most of the day, I noticed the words “futbol americano” at the bottom of my TV screen in a logo I had seen before in my years covering the NFL.
That could only have meant that it’s the NFL’s annual acknowledgement and celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Which is fine. Nos gusta nuestro football que no?
I went to the NFL’s website and after a few clicks, found a page devoted to the individual teams’ various commemorations of Hispanic heritage. There were a lot of award presentations, interactive activities and announcements made in Spanish planned for stadiums across the league both this past weekend and next weekend.
But a few other things stood out. Here were some of the best:
By far the coolest: The Oakland Raiders actually have a Fiesta Latina at one game each season, and Sunday was the 11th annual event. The featured in-game entertainment at the Oakland Coliseum? The guys that brought you such hits as “Low Rider” and “Slippin’ Into Darkness” and “The World Is a Ghetto:” The music of War.
Could anything be more fitting at a Raiders game among the diverse masses of urban folk? Take a listen:
Maybe the Raiders should ask War to play at every home game. Oakland came back to stun the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31 Sunday.
Here in Phoenix (Glendale actually) before the Arizona Cardinals game Sunday, fans competed in carne asada cookoff. Can’t go wrong there.
There were Ballet Folklorico dancers in Dallas, and former Cowboy Tony Casillas was the honorary team captain.
The Denver Broncos launched a Spanish-language Facebook page, Facebook.com/BroncosFanaticos.
In Houston, Olympic women’s boxing bronze medalist Marlen Esparza will lead the Texans onto the field before their Sept. 30 game at Reliant Stadium on Hispanic Heritage Day.
The Miami Dolphins honored Miami Sound Machine (remember them?) leaders Emilio and Gloria Estefan before Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
On Sept. 30, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will sell “Tampa Bay Bucaneros” T-shirts at their stadium as part of their salute to Hispanic Heritage.
There’s more, but these are just some of the things on the list. While they don’t seem like much and might look like small-scale attempts to comply with a league mandate, at least the NFL recognizes one of its largest fan bases. People really get into the Spanish-language merchandise. I know I do.
And while I’m on the subject of Latinos and the NFL, who will be the breakout Latino player in the league this year? Last season, Victor Cruz and Aaron Hernandez faced each other in the Super Bowl after enjoying fine seasons that made them big names.
This season, it doesn’t appear that anyone new or unheralded will step forward. But that shouldn’t stop us from watching.
I’m proud to be a fan who happens to be Latino, and I’m glad the NFL cares if I’m a supporter even if its not exactly to a large extent.