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Meryl Streep kind of walks back her snide football comment in front of HRC crowd

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Streep relies on a gay stereotype to make her point.

EE British Academy Film Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of Meryl Streep.

Her portrayal of Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada, which I’ve seen no less than a half-dozen times, is one of the greatest performances I’ve ever watched. The Iron Lady, Doubt, Kramer vs. Kramer — Some of the most memorable performances I’ve seen. With 20 Academy Awards nominations, far from over-rated, as an actor she’s frankly under-rated. She is the best actor — man or woman — I’ve ever seen.

On top of that, she has been a vocal champion of equality and LGBT rights. I’m a huge fan.

I just wish she’d stop talking about football.

During her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last month in which she criticized President Trump, Meryl Streep also happened to belittle the sport of football, and the people who watch it and participate in it, by demeaning it as somehow beneath the arts.

“You’ll have nothing else to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts,” she said in imagining a world without Hollywood.

At this weekend’s HRC dinner in New York, Streep tried to clarify her position on football. While she claimed her slap at football was “just a joke,” it was very clear in her Golden Globes speech that her snide comment about football and mixed martial arts was pointed criticism.

"First of all, I do like football,” she told the HRC crowd. “Let me just make that clear. I gave seven years, seven of my youngest, prettiest years to being a cheerleader for football, basketball and wrestling. ... I have watched more Pee Wee league football, Pop Warner football, JV and varsity high school football, JV and varsity college level and professional football for over 60 years, more than anybody here.”

While it’s lovely that she likes football, did she really claim to have watched more football than any of the thousand people in the room? Would she have said that to a room full of straight men? Would she make that claim if the majority of men in the room weren’t gay? I bet not.

Sadly she relied on outdated stereotypes of gay men to make a bad point because, of course, gay men don’t watch football (let alone the other LGBT people in the room, some of whom she may have been surprised to learn were athletes themselves).

I for one take Streep’s challenge. I bet that, in two decades less time than she, I’ve watched more football than she has. My best estimate of the number of complete football games I’ve watched is approximately 2,000, including games at every level — from youth to the pros — she mentioned. While she’s got a 20-year head start on me, I bet I’m a gay guy who’s watched far more football than she has. Far more.

But I guess that wouldn’t be as funny as relying on outdated stereotypes.

She then waxed poetic about this year’s Super Bowl, for some reason feeling the need to belittle the incredible ending (that not even Hollywood could write) by criticizing the NFL’s overtime rules. (OK, maybe this is part the Patriots fan in me coming out, but it still didn’t sit well.)

“I thought the Falcons-Patriots game was the most exciting football game in history, but in my honest opinion, it is totally crazy that the winning advantage in a Super Bowl tie is determined by means of a coin toss! Sad."

Not sure why she had to take a swipe at one of the greatest NFL games in history by attacking the league’s refined overtime rules, but she just couldn’t leave football alone.

Of course, Streep is the routine beneficiary of popularity votes that are far more cynical in nature than a team marching down a field against its opponent and scoring a touchdown... after a coin toss.

Maybe her next speech will be about the sad state of popularity-contest award shows?

I’m not holding my breath.