Mitchell Schwartz and the quarterback he protects, Patrick Mahomes, near end of game. (Image capture from Fox Television)
Mitchell Schwartz and the quarterback he protects, Patrick Mahomes, near end of game. (Image capture from Fox Television)

There were groups large and small viewing Super Bowl LIV throughout San Diego County on Sunday.  I joined members of the Tifereth Israel Men’s Club at the home of Robin & Ben Dishman to view the Kansas City Chiefs win an amazing 31-20 come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

I don’t quarrel with the choice of the Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes being awarded as the game’s most valuable player.  He orchestrated the thrilling effort in the final quarter of the game that saw the Chiefs surmount a deficit with 21 straight points.

However, just as the Oscars have a category for “Best Supporting Actor,” I think the NFL might want to consider an award for Best Supporting Player.  In this game, to my mind, there was none better than offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who so far as I know was the only Jewish player in the contest.

Schwartz guarded Mahomes from his right side, and nobody, but nobody, got past the Schwartz.  If you kept your eyes on Number 71, as I did, you would have seen how he was 6’5+ feet and 318 pounds of immovable obstacle for the hapless defensive tackles who tried to get to Mahomes.  During the game, opposing tackles occasionally threw Mahomes for a loss from his left side,  but never, ever, through Schwartz.  A sports car could more easily survive a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler.  You might as well put a chihuahua in against a rhino.

Some of the Tifereth Israel Men’s Club members watching the Super Bowl were from left, 1st row Bill Sperling and Jay Shirley; second row; Bill Friedel, Steve Mishek, and Norman Kort; back row: David Ogul.
Some of the Tifereth Israel Men’s Club members watching the Super Bowl were from left, 1st row Bill Sperling and Jay Shirley; second row; Bill Friedel, Steve Mishek, and Norman Kort; back row: David Ogul.

Besides being big and very protective of his quarterback, Schwartz is a steady player with a reputation for almost never missing a play, much less a game, through a career in which he excelled in college for UC Berkeley and in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns and now for the Kansas City Chiefs.

He grew up in West Los Angeles, where he had a Conservative bar mitzvah, as did his older brother Geoff, who is now retired from the NFL after playing for the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions.  Together the two brothers wrote a book: Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith.

During the Super Bowl time outs, there was another contest, of sorts, between President Donald J. Trump and Democratic challenger Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.  The campaigns for both men paid about $10 million each for emotional television commercials featuring the very personal stories of African-American women.

Trump’s was about Alice Marie Johnson, whose had been sentenced to life in prison for cocaine offenses.  Told of her case by celebrity Kim Kardashian West, Trump commuted her sentence, of which she had served 21 years.

His commercial, which did not mention Kardashian West’s advocacy, said: “Alice [Marie] Johnson was sentenced to serve life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense.  Thanks to President Trump, people like Alice are getting a second chance.  {Alice speaking: I’m free to hug my family. I’m free to start over.  This is the greatest day of my life.  My heart is just bursting with gratitude.  I want to thank our President Donald John Trump.  (Cheers from friends). Thank you!).  Politicians talk about criminal justice reform.  President Trump got it done. Thousands of families are being reunited. {President Trump speaking: I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message.}”

Bloomberg’s commercial was voiced by Calandrian Simpson Kemp, whose son George was slain by gunfire.  She said: “George started playing football when he was 4 years old.  He would wake up every Saturday ready for the game. That became our life.  He had aspirations about going to the NFL.  On a Friday morning George was shot.  George didn’t survive.  I just kept saying, ‘You cannot tell me that the child I gave birth to is no longer here.’  Lives are being lost every day.  It is a national crisis.  I heard Michael Bloomberg speak.  He’s been in this fight for so long.  He heard mothers crying so he started fighting.  When I heard Mike was stepping into the ring, I thought, ‘Now we have a dog in the fight.’  I know Mike is not afraid of the gun lobby.  They’re scared of him.  They should be.  Mike is fighting for every child because you have a right to live.  No one has a right to take our hopes and dreams.” [Michael Bloomberg speaking]: “I’m Mike Bloomberg and I approve this message.”

The game; the high-priced commercials; an energetic, Latin-flavored, half-time dance performance by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, and, of course, the Schwartz (!) made Super Bowl LIV a super show.

Republished from San Diego Jewish World