Hot Take: Richard Nixon and Friends on Super Bowl XLVIII

In which the leader of the free world and his cabinet drink scotch and bitch about black quarterbacks.
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Photoshop illustrations by syourh.

Richard Nixon's administration came unstuck in time shortly after the bombing of Cambodia. For decades, federal investigators remained baffled by cryptic comments uttered during Nixon's recorded Oval Office conferences that appeared to refer to people and events that did not exist.

While Americans have long laughed and gasped at closed door sessions taped from February 16, 1971 to July 18, 1973, they have remained unaware of these conversations, because Freedom of Information Act requests require petitioners to specifically name persons and events to inquire about. That has been impossible until now, because FOIA seekers and administrators could neither know of nor comply with requests pertaining to things that hadn't yet happened.

Thankfully, with the passage of time, we are now able to understand Nixon and his coterie's thoughts on the 2014 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.


From a March 2, 1972, Oval Office conversation among Richard Nixon, John Ehrlichman, and H.R. Haldeman.

NIXON: Seattle. Now there's—there's a town you do not want to set foot in. I was there for the election, for the campaign. If they had their way, that Richard Sherman would be mayor.
HALDEMAN: It's, it's domestic terrorism, is what it is. But put it on a football field and the media culture says it's acceptable.
NIXON: You know I tried to go into that green coffee place they have? Star, Star—
HALDEMAN: Staubach's.
NIXON: Right. Greet people, shake hands. Then I asked for a Sanka, and the waitress laughed at me… [unintelligible] …as if that weren't the worst of it, she had goddamn bars and bones in her face.
HALDEMAN: That's the thing. It's, it's a tribal movement.
NIXON: No, no, this, she was a white girl. Would've been cute as a button if you... maybe a nice dress, her hair done up.
EHRLICHMAN: That's why they like the coffee up there, the whites. It's a mulatto culture.
NIXON: It's an open-air goddamn tenement up there. Open drug pushing.
EHRLICHMAN: That's why their teams lose.
NIXON: Well, now, they do have that Jap fellow up there. Isu—Izusu-something...
HALDEMAN: Suzuki. Ichiro. His name goes one way or the other. He's on the Yankees now.
NIXON: Sweet Jesus.

From a February 19, 1971, Oval Office conversation between Nixon and Haldeman.

NIXON: Now, this Manning, he's, he's a good, ah, cloth-coat, ah quarterback. Not ginned-up.
NIXON: Not like that Russell Willis character. Seattle, it's a city I know well, but it's troublesome.
HALDEMAN: That Hendrix one is from there.
NIXON: Well, that may be.

From a May 21, 1971, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Chuck Colson.

NIXON: You look at an athlete like Russ Willis. They're all like him. Tattoos, speedsters, the hat on every which way. A white quarterback, that's as rare as a wheat penny, now, nowadays. I mean a clean white quarterback too, clean-cut. Not a punk or a burn-out.
HALDEMAN: They have to run now. It's the offenses.
NIXON: Absolutely. And, and they'll all say it's, ah, anodyne, leftists like Cosell, this style of play, because these are the people boosting a real—real thugs. Criminals in the game. Like the Raiders.
EHRLICHMAN: That Madden has a winner there in Oakland though.
HALDEMAN: Those fellas know how to make sure somebody doesn't come back in the game.
COLSON: You've seen, they have, they have some real pipe-throwers.
NIXON: The Raiders, they have these—the only word for it is goons. Atkinson, and, Tate—Tate-something. They look like they'd be waiting for you in a alley.
EHRLICHMAN: Tatum. Like the girl in Paper Moon.
NIXON: Right. Of course, the team is nothing like the city. That's a team of winners. COLSON: They should make Oakland move out so a new town can move in.
NIXON: These are rich kids, mind you. They're black and richer than Croesus. You saw that horseshit in Mexico City, the fist? The fist power?
COLSON: The Olympics.
EHRLICHMAN: … [unintelligible] …L.A. doesn't want them there. It's a Mex town. They don't care for football.
NIXON: They're religious—care, care about families. But put them on a pitch, and they kick the goddamn ball. Don't even swing their arms.

From a December 9, 1972, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Colson, Haldeman and Henry Kissinger.

NIXON: We've talked about this, from time to time.
COLSON: Oh yes.
NIXON: And, it is the goddamnedest thing watching that Carroll Peters move.
COLSON: Uh-huh.
NIXON: Now, Fox, I've met John Fox. He's as fine and hale a fellow as you'll meet. But you watch that Carroll. A coach is supposed to be a leader, but.... He, he acts like, like a Polish prince, on the sidelines.
COLSON: A clown.
NIXON: He grins like the goddamn doctor has to reach down his throat.
COLSON: Now Lombardi, he has class. They say he's to the left, but, uh, not a long-hair, no sympathies. George Allen too.
NIXON: God, just think if that wop sonofabitch had run. There were people on both sides who wanted him. Who—did we? Did we have someone on him in '68?
COLSON: Liddy.
NIXON: Jesus.
NIXON: I'll tell you, this whole thing, I blame Yepremian.
HALDEMAN: The kicker?
NIXON: Yeah. This whole foreign, this, ah, this low-class element. What was Yepremian, Cypriot?
HALDEMAN: I think he's Armenian.
NIXON: That's what I'm telling you. Those people are doing us no favors in Turkey. They can't take a loss like a man. Did you see me do that? You didn't see me do that. When I lost in California, I took my lumps, because I knew those goddamn press bastards weren't going to stop. But now look where I am.
COLSON: Didn't they—where the Turks, they wiped—
KISSINGER: Who speaks today of the Armenians?
NIXON: Nobody, if he would've just fallen on the ball.
HALDEMAN: Exactly.


From an August 11, 1971, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Colson, Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Kissinger and John Mitchell.

HALDEMAN: What are... [shuffling papers] ...what are our prop bets for the Super Bowl?
NIXON: I'm glad—it's good to ask, because as you know, I've given this a lot of thought. First off, whoever loses, that's it, we cut off HUD funding to whichever city. Let those bastards feed off each other in the streets.
NIXON: Now the spread, the Vegas odds are such that, if Seattle wins—God preserve us—if those sons of bitches up there win, well, that's fair and square, I say.
COLSON: It's battle.
NIXON: Absolutely. Carroll Peters might send Seattle out in dresses, but if they kick Denver's tails, they deserve a square bargain.
KISSINGER: There are battlefield generals, but then—then there are field marshals.
NIXON: Right. So I figure all those fishermen in Seattle get a break. We, uh, we allow them to expand the port facilities, and Fish and Wildlife? They're gone.
HALDEMAN: We, ah... [paper rustling] ...we make them gone?
NIXON: No, no, they just don't show up. Seattle—is—it's not there. Invisible. If someone from Fish and Wildlife in Washington wants to take a vacation to Vancouver, we make them drive all the way around. That town's a blank spot on the map. We'll jam—
MITCHELL: Scoop Jackson can take it up the ass.
HALDEMAN: [papers rustling] What about Denver?
NIXON: We do that right. Immediate tax cut off the books for a new International Airport. Then we, uh, strongarm someone into making it a hub. Western, Pan Am, one, one of the big operations. Then as far as I'm concerned, the FAA disappears. It's a known center for dope smugglers and queers.
MITCHELL: I should… [unintelligible] …go to my office, for that.
[door closes]
COLSON: He's always been soft.
EHRLICHMAN: It's that wife of his.
NIXON: She drinks, it's the drink. You know, she's not like a man.
HALDEMAN: There are appetites.
KISSINGER: It is an indulgence perhaps too enervating in the female.
NIXON: She can't—she doesn't have control. Women can't understand, uh, it's, it's too emotional in them, the animal. They can't harness it, can't come at it with the right mentality. It's what makes them weak.
KISSINGER: We should make Seattle send Denver a woman.
NIXON: What's that, Henry? Speak up.
KISSINGER: The proposition bet, between the mayors. We should engineer the mayors' bet for maximum advantage. Heighten the depravity of both sides. Seattle should send Denver a barista.
EHRLICHMAN: It's a girl who makes the coffee. Like a coffee go-go.
NIXON: Like the one I saw? I told you about her, with the holes in her face. Tried to offer me a, ah, what they call it, a "Leyte." I said no thanks, just a cup of mud to set me straight, but then she tells me they put leaves in them.
COLSON: Oh good God.
EHRLICHMAN: On them. The milk. They put a leaf on them.
NIXON: Well I'm not going to drink the goddamn thing either way.
KISSINGER: If Seattle wins, I suggest we make Denver send them marijuana.
HALDEMAN: Excuse me?
KISSINGER: Kind bud.
EHRLICHMAN: I think they call it "kine."
KISSINGER: Like "cattle"? Which is to say, the archaism? I believe you are mistaken.
NIXON: What the hell are you talking about, Henry?
KISSINGER: They call it "kind bud," because it is kind to you, and because marijuana grows in buds, Mr. President.
NIXON: I don't give a good goddamn what you call the poison, Henry, I'm prosecuting a war on drugs. The American people, the people out there who don't have a voice on the television or who don't have the ear of some shyster-name New York columnist have demanded that I protect them.
KISSINGER: But, if I may, Mr. President, it is a delicate thing, this tripartite balance we have struck among the White House, order and states' rights. Our friend Mr. Thurmond might like the order of police, but marijuana legalization is the law of Colorado and Washington. I say, if that is the case, let us prove to them the falsehood of their law.
HALDEMAN: Let the animals destroy themselves.

From an October 8, 1971, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Haldeman and Ehrlichman.

NIXON: Jesus Christ. Twelve seconds, stop the clock.
NIXON: Now, that's just crooked. Seattle comes out of halftime, uh, too energized, to be stopped. You see how they operate, these characters, this Martian Lynch.
HALDEMAN: It's a young team.
NIXON: There is not, or, seldom, is there a youth in this country who would today, ah, execute, say, a Packers' Power Sweep.
EHRLICHMAN: What's that now?
NIXON: They're obsessed with speed, these types. The drugs they take and the music, they, they just run and gun.

From a January 11, 1972, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Colson, and Ehrlichman.

NIXON: You can see it on his face.
EHRLICHMAN: Crestfallen.
NIXON: No safety to speak of, either. Manning is, uh, respectable. But you can't work with chickenshit, Bob.
EHRLICHMAN: Looks like they converted that fourth-down.
NIXON: For all the good it will do. Used to be that, uh, a fellow like Manning wouldn't have to meet an opponent like that.
COLSON: Except maybe through iron bars, Mr. President.
NIXON: Very good.


From a November 1, 1971, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Kissinger.

NIXON: This Sherman.
KISSINGER: A colorful sort.
NIXON: Now, they cart him off the field, I, I understand that. But goddammit, kids are watching.
NIXON: He threw up some sort of sign waving to the crowd, from the, from the uh, electric cart.
NIXON: Well, it's not some, just some innocuous thing. Mexico City was just the start. I know what a fist means.
HALDEMAN: Skip Bayless went too easy on him. He's a menace.
NIXON: And they let him pat the, uh, Lombardi Trophy.
KISSINGER: It is farcical, Mr. President.
NIXON: And now, look at them. They're all rolling around in trash.
HALDEMAN: The players?
NIXON: Yes. Just wallowing in that... in that... filth.
NIXON: What?
EHRLICHMAN: They call it funfetti.
NIXON: Jesus Christ.

From a March 13, 1973, Oval Office conversation among Nixon, Colson, Haldeman and Kissinger.

NIXON: Carroll Peters, there's no respecting a coach like that.
HALDEMAN: Not at all.
NIXON: He looks like a cheap pimp, one of those sorts. And the, the roster he, he has, it looks like a goddamn nightmare.
HALDEMAN: It's like a prison where the warden is some namby-pamby—some queer, you know the type—and he decides to "rehabilitate" the inmates by letting them out to play football.
NIXON: Now, and, I know Henry will agree with me here, there is one, and, uh, only one coach I can say I admire.
KISSINGER: Mr. Belichick.
NIXON: Goddammit, he has gumption.
COLSON: He's a ballbreaker, Mr. President.
NIXON: That's what I mean. You take that boy with the haircut—Brady. I bet it wasn't until that third Super Bowl that he'd even spit without looking to the sideline for a signal.
KISSINGER: There is a concern that he is too dogmatic. I say this is ludicrous as a concern.
NIXON: Now, that receiver Welcher, he can, be a turncoat, leave that behind. But, that's not forgiven. He's the kind of coach where that goddamn stab in the back will be remembered.
KISSINGER: There is a military doctrine that believes speed is death.
NIXON: He taped. So, he taped. Those types he beat can't believe he'd do what it takes to win.
KISSINGER: There is a quality of lightning in his demeanor. I admire his ruthless regard.
NIXON: Agreed. But, and this is the thing. I'm not going to say this wasn't a peace with honor.
KISSINGER: Absolutely not, Mr. President.
NIXON: This was the best goddamned bargain that could be struck for the American people, the Accords. Circumstances were such that, ah, that we had to face that the American people lacked the essential resolve to see things through to victory.
KISSINGER: It is a truism of modernity that only the authoritarian mind possesses a capacity to understand the sacrifices necessary to military triumph.
NIXON: Absolutely. And that's what I mean. Now, that being said, give me just five battlefield commanders like Bill Belichick, and we'd have won in Vietnam.
KISSINGER: Or at least Cambodia. 

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