And seeing that studious omission ripple through the Internet, it struck me that it’s long past time for the National Football League and Ricky Kirshner, who has produced the halftime show since 2011, to do the right thing and invite Jackson back to the Super Bowl and for the broadcast networks to support them in the invitation.
And beyond the question of precedent is one of righting a wrong.
At best, Jackson’s critics viewed her as a savvy manipulator: “She was out to accomplish a naked agenda — the resuscitation of her fading career on the eve of her new album’s release — and so she did,” wrote Frank Rich in a slightly snide column pretending to praise her. And the NFL shoved Jackson right under a strategically-timed bus, declaring “We applaud the F.C.C.’s investigation into the MTV-produced halftime. We and our fans were embarrassed by the entire show.” The look on Jackson’s face at the moment of her exposure doesn’t seem to have registered with the league; this happened to her as much as to the NFL.
More than a decade and three albums later, the 2004 Super Bowl still lingers as a far bigger footnote on Jackson’s career than it actually should, even if only in moments like last night’s omission. If the NFL wants to prove it’s truly brave enough to put on a genuinely spectacular concert, the league should invite Jackson back and acknowledge that one of the greatest performers of her generation is greater than the sum of her parts.