The announcement of the death of Elizabeth II has elicited an outpouring of whatever the opposite of emotion is from many people, brands, people who are brands, and brands pretending to be people. There were bland statements of mourning from dozens of corporations, including those that make exercise equipment, pizza, and beans. Some pundits righteously attempted to situate the queen and the monarchy within the context of British imperialism, causing other pundits to sputter about a lack of decency. Celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kris Jenner seized their chance to mourn a fellow girlboss. Politicians from Hillary Clinton to Joe Manchin to Josh Hawley expressed their sadness. As did Raytheon. President Joe Biden ordered American flags be flown at half-mast. All of this pomp was kind of funny and more or less predictable.
Less predictable was how hilarious it was to see the NFL and and its media apparatus cramming the dead queen into its season kickoff hullabaloo. NBC had some truly banger segues:
The Los Angeles Rams’ stadium announcer, following a pre-game moment of silence for the queen, nailed it as well:
The NFL also used the occasion to hawk its upcoming games in the U.K. In a press release it said:
Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. Her 73-year-old son Prince Charles automatically became king and will be known as King Charles III, his office announced.
The NFL launched its International Series in 2007 when the Giants played the Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium. The league will hold three games in the United Kingdom during the 2022 season, beginning with a Week 4 game between the Vikings and Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Nobody does meaningless gestures quite like the NFL, but that it would go big on dead queen makes sense. With its giant flags and fighter jet flyovers, the league has long been invested in shoring up a specific kind of cheesy patriotism rooted in tradition, hierarchy, and military might. And as the league tries to expand in the U.K.—it has been holding games in London for more than a decade and has long discussed a long-shot plan for a London franchise—it’s natural to appeal to this same brand of national character in another country. When the NFL looks at itself, it sees empire.