With the 2015 Superbowl scheduled to take place in Glendale, Arizona the NFL has taken a keen interest in what the next move is going to be by Governor Jan Brewer and if she is going to sign the Jim Crow-esque “We Don’t Serve The Gays” bill into law. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, today made an official statement today letting Brewer know that they are watching.
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that Arizona could have trouble with the NFL and lose its hosting of a Superbowl.
Super Bowl XXVII was originally scheduled to be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, the home of the Phoenix Cardinals. However, a controversy over the state’s recognition of a newly created federal holiday changed things.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national holiday honoring African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1986, the first year that the holiday was observed, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt, a Democrat, had issued an executive order creating the holiday after the state legislature voted against it. Babbitt’s successor, Republican Evan Mecham, rescinded the order on the grounds that Babbitt did not have the authority to issue such an order and Arizona ceased to observe MLK Day for the time being. Mecham also made his displeasure for the holiday widely known, saying that King did not deserve a holiday and that black supporters of the law should have been more concerned about getting jobs. In response, Dr. King’s widow Coretta Scott King and musician Stevie Wonder spearheaded a complete entertainment and convention boycott of Arizona. Blacks across the nation supported the boycott. In 1989, after Mecham had been removed from office the state legislature did approve the holiday but opposition to it forced the holiday to be put on the November election ballot in 1990
Earlier that year, in March, the NFL had its annual meeting in Orlando and one of the items on its agenda was to determine a host city for Super Bowl XXVII. Among the cities being considered was Tempe, and Arizona civil rights activist Art Mobley was sent to the meeting to make sure that the Arizona ballot initiative was a talking point at the discussion. The vote was conducted and Tempe was awarded the game, but committee chairman and Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman warned that if the MLK Day ballot initiative went against adoption of the holiday, the NFL would not hesitate to pull the game from Arizona and move it somewhere else. The fact that the majority of NFL players were African-American was a big factor into this threat, as many of them felt uncomfortable of having the Super Bowl in a state that didn’t honor a national holiday honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
The opposition to the holiday in Arizona was large, however, and the voters defeated the law at the polls. The NFL responded by making good on its threat to remove the Super Bowl from Tempe and held another vote, with Pasadena was chosen as the site for the first time since Super Bowl XXI was played there six years earlier. Meanwhile, after having lost out on millions of dollars in revenue from the boycott of the state by entertainers and the loss of the Super Bowl. Arizona voters finally approved the MLK Day holiday in the 1992 elections and the NFL responded by awarding Tempe Super Bowl XXX at their 1993 meeting.