Category Archives: History

November ends with a flurry

I spent SIX HOURS at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa yesterday, more time I’ve spent there in a single day in a long, long time. Finally, the restaurant has new tablets to play trivia after saying for over a year it was getting new ones. The first one I used locked up on me after 20 minutes, and I was logged off the second one a couple of times, but after 1415, I was good.

Robb and Theresa showed up for a couple of hours. I hadn’t seen Robb since the day before my birthday, which is a long time, although I’ve gone longer without seeing him.

Three big pieces of news happened yesterday. Well, two big pieces happened and one didn’t.

The one that didn’t involved Kansas State and its fossilized football coach.

Bill Snyder is still the football coach of the Wildcats, despite calls from most respected members of the media in Kansas and Kansas City and most Wildcat fans for Snyder to call it a career.

Snyder was expected to meet with K-State athletic director Gene Taylor Wednesday. No meeting. Then Thursday. No meeting. Then Friday. No meeting. Today, Snyder is acting like he will be the coach in 2019, hosting recruits at the Vanier Football Complex, the impressive facility at the north end of Bill Snyder Family Stadium which was considered nothing more than a pipe dream when he was hired 30 years ago Friday.

Kevin Kietzman, who hosts the 1400-1800 show on WHB 810 AM in Kansas City weekdays, has advocated for Jim Leavitt, the former South Florida coach who was once an assistant under Snyder, to be the new Wildcat leader. Leavitt, currently the defensive coordinator under Mario Cristobal at Oregon, had a brutality charge leveled against him in 2009 which led to his ouster at USF. The details are murky, and while he would not be my first choice, he is far more palatable than the option Bill Snyder wants.

Of course, Bill Snyder wants his pride and joy, son Sean, to be his successor. Sean Snyder was an All-American punter under his father during Bill’s first four seasons in Manhattan, and has been at K-State ever since. He has NEVER been an offensive or defensive coordinator. He has NEVER even been a regular position coach, instead coordinating the Wildcat special teams for the last 26 seasons (Sean was kept on by Ron Prince during his three seasons).

If Bill really wanted Sean to succeed him, he should have given him full responsibility over one side of the ball when he returned in 2009. Better yet, Bill should have encouraged Sean to branch out and become a head coach somewhere else. He could have done it at one of the four Division II schools in Kansas (Fort Hays State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State, Washburn), or a Division I school (FBS or FCS) outside the Power 5.

Instead, Sean has stayed inside the cocoon working for daddy, refusing to even INTERVIEW for another position. It smacks of pure nepotism. It’s as if Sean believes the head coaching position at K-State is his birthright. It isn’t.

This reminds me of the situation at Texas after Darrell Royal retired in 1976. I wasn’t born until the middle of the 1976 college football season, so it doesn’t remind me per se, but I read about this in the early 1990s.

Royal lobbied the Texas Board of Regents hard to name his defensive coordinator, Mike Campbell, as his successor, but the board rejected Royal’s suggestion and instead hired Fred Akers, who coached defensive backs on the Longhorns’ 1969 and 1970 championship teams. The reason: Akers left Austin to be the head coach at Wyoming in 1975 and ’76, leading the Cowboys to the Western Athletic Conference championship in the latter season. Campbell had no head coaching experience. Akers went 86-34-2 in 10 seasons at Texas, but was fired after going 5-6 in 1986.

I believe Snyder will coach the Wildcats through spring practice and fall camp. He’ll lead the team in the season opener against Nicholls State (the team which beat Kansas in this year’s season opener). He will announce his retirement to the team at halftime. When the game is over, Snyder will be carried off on his player’s shoulders. When the team reaches the locker room, Bill will find his wife, Sharon, and the two will walk straight out of the Vanier Complex into a waiting limousine. Sean will go to the press conference and announce he’s in charge.

It might be a little far-fetched this could happen without Taylor and K-State President General Richard Myers knowing, but stranger things have happened.

If you’ve read my blogs, you’re aware I don’t worship Snyder like many in Kansas do. In fact, I find him to be grossly overrated. But I won’t go into detail again.

The thing which DID happen to affect the sports scene in these parts involved Kareem Hunt, who went from NFL rushing champion to unemployed in the space of 11 months.

The Chiefs star was released at 1900, six hours after TMZ released video of a February incident in the lobby of a Cleveland hotel which saw Hunt push away, then strike, a 19-year old woman. Hunt lied to the Chiefs and told Clark Hunt, Brett Veach and Andy Reid the incident was nothing to worry about and it wasn’t serious.

Hunt obviously did not listen when his high school history teacher lectured on Watergate. Yes, what Hunt did was terrible and he should have been punished. But covering it up and openly lying about it got him in much more trouble than he could have dreamed of.

Had Hunt told the truth, he would have likely been suspended. That would have been the bad news. The good news would have been he probably would still be employed by the Chiefs, who undoubtedly would have paid to get Hunt the help he needed to prevent this from happening again. He might not have been able to use the team facilities to keep in shape, but I’m sure the Chiefs would have reimbursed the expenses of a private trainer and gym membership.

Hunt is a PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE. In the United States, professional athletes are under the microscope constantly, which says this country is screwed up, but they know once they put on an NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL uniform, they are immediately subject the same scrutiny as an amoeba under an electron microscope.

Kareem Hunt has nobody to blame but Kareem Hunt for his unemployment. He won’t be unemployed long, because undoubtedly some team will claim him on waivers. If the Browns have the chance to claim him, he’ll be playing behind Baker Mayfield beginning next season, since (a) Cleveland GM John Dorsey drafted Hunt in Kansas City, and (b) Hunt grew up in Willoughby, an eastern suburb of Cleveland.

The much more important news of Friday came at 2230, when it was announced George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away at 94.

Death is always sad, but in this case, nobody will be sad for too long. President Bush lived a wonderful life, and now he is joining his soulmate, Barbara, who passed away earlier this year.

What did President Bush not do? Fighter pilot in World War II. Oil tycoon. U.S. Representative. Chairman of the Republican National Committee. US Ambassador to the United Nations. CIA Director. Vice President. President. Father of a President, Grandfather. Great grandfather.

Of course, there will be a state funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, the same way one was held for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford (Richard Nixon declined the state funeral, instead holding a simple service at his presidential library in. Yorba Linda, California). Then Bush will be buried next to Barbara at his library at Texas A&M, meaning the Bushes will be about the 13th and 14th most prominent figures buried on the A&M campus, trailing all the Revile mascots through the years. Just kidding.

I’m guessing George W. Bush will speak at the funeral. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama might. I don’t know about the current Commander in Chief. Given the elder Bush’s love of sports, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few sports figures speak in College Station. Among my guesses would be Nolan Ryan (George W owned the Texas Rangers before he was elected Governor of Texas, Ryan played for the Astros, and now he’s an executive in Houston), Justin Verlander (George HW and Barbara were often spotted in the very front row behind home plate at Minute Maid Park during Astros games) and Jimbo Fisher.

RIP, President Bush. You’ve earned that right and then some.

Midway through the second quarter of the Big 12 football championship game, Texas leads Oklahoma 14-6. SIX POINTS in 23 minutes? Did the Sooners leave their offense in Norman?

Oops, check that. Sooners just scored a touchdown. Now 14-13 Longhorns with five minutes left before halftime.

Revisiting November 1978 (again)

I stand by my post of 19 November 2018. Harvey Milk had very close ties to Jim Jones and The People’s Temple, and Milk had a lot of help from Jones and Temple members in getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

I received a comment on the 19 November 2018 post, calling me a homophobe. The person did not have the guts to give his or her name.

Fine. That’s your right, sir or madam. It is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The First Amendment also protects my rights to say Harvey Milk is not someone deserving of a state holiday. Harvey Milk Day is every May 22 in California. If Harvey Milk has a holiday, then why doesn’t Ronald Reagan, who served two terms as Governor of California AND President of the United States?

I do not care that Mr. Milk was homosexual. That was Mr. Milk’s business and his business alone. People can be homosexual all they want. I don’t care. It isn’t affecting me. I’d rather children be raised by two loving homosexual parents than by a heterosexual couple which sees the man abusing the woman or vice versa.

What I do care about is Mr. Milk, along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone and many other power brokers in California and other places (read: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC) let Jim Jones dig his tentacles deep into them, blinding them to a man who brainwashed so many then killed them.

The 40th anniversary of the murders of Milk and Moscone by Dan White was this past Tuesday. What Mr. White did was exceedingly evil. Cowardly. Dastardly. Yes, Mr. White had every right to be angry with Mr. Moscone for double-crossing him by not re-appointing him to the board upon advice from Mr. Milk. It did not give him any right to illegally enter San Francisco City Hall with a gun and shoot two men in the head at point blank range. Mr. White escaped the gas chamber only because he came up with this ridiculous “Twinkie Defense,” claiming junk food altered his mental state and his brain told him to go murder Moscone and Milk.

I have eaten tonnes and tonnes of junk food in my lifetime. Not once have I felt the urge to harm someone, let alone murder them, after eating Twinkies, Fritos, Doritos, Oreos, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Zapp’s potato chips, or any other form of junk food. It was too bad Dan White was able to walk out of prison after serving just five years.

White committed suicide in October 1985. Too bad it occurred in the garage of his house in San Francisco, not in the gas chamber at San Quentin.

I didn’t learn about Mosocne and Milk’s ties to Jim Jones until the early 1990s, long after both were senselessly murdered by White. If I had been old enough in November 1978 to know about Moscone and Milk’s ties to Jones, I certainly would have written a letter to the editor of my local newspaper calling White an evil bastard for committing the murders, but also urged people not to be so quick to martyr Moscone and Milk, because they had dark secrets they took with them to their graves.

That’s it. End of discussion. Readers, you are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. But let’s be civil about it.

November 18–don’t save the date

For the first time since a lost weekend 13 1/2 months ago, I am in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In fact, I’m at the same hotel in St. Peters, about 50 kilometers west of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. 

I had no intentions of stopping in Kansas City this time. I thought about dropping anchor in Columbia, but felt good enough to keep going. I made sure not to eat after breakfast so I had the proper appetite for White Castle. 

I went to two different grocery stores in St. Peters, Schnucks and Dierberg’s. Selection is much better than anything in Kansas City, except for the bread, and certainly better than anything in Hays, Salina or Wichita. I still cannot find the poppy seed hot dog buns. I bought the last pack in Columbia last week, but struck out in St. Peters tonight. Try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have to stop in Columbia to see if they’re restocked at Schnucks. 

November 18 holds bad memories for a lot of people.

On November 18, 1997, I got into a very petty and very ugly argument with Rebecca Borne (now Brennan), whom I had a crush on throughout my time at LSU. It was over class presentations, and I got very upset with Rebecca when her group wasn’t able to make their presentation on time. Her group wanted to go before my group, and I told her I wouldn’t do it. The instructor, Laura Klaus, tried to calm me down, but I was over the edge. I skipped my 0900 class and hurried to the athletic department, where I lost it. 

There were two historical events on November 18 which are best forgotten. 

Sunday was the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, when Marxist cult leader Jim Jones ordered 900 followers in Guyana to drink Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide. Those who refused to drink the deadly cocktail had the cyanide injected into their veins. Prior to the mass suicide, Jones’ henchmen murdered U.S. Representative Leo Ryan (D-California) and members of an NBC News crew. 

Jones was enabled by Harvey Milk, the infamous homosexual member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Milk and Moscone shared Jones’ radical leftist views, and through Milk and Moscone, Jones charmed his way into the inner circle of President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Vice President Mondale, future San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who was then the Speaker of the California Assembly, as well as Hollywood elite, namely Jane Fonda and her anti-war zealots.

Just how far to the left were Jones, Milk and Moscone? Their leading opposition on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors came from Diane Feinstein. Yes, THAT Diane Feinstein. Apparently, Feinstein was too “conservative” for the likes of the grossly corrupt Milk, who lied about his service in the U.S. Navy (he claimed he was dishonorably discharged for his homosexuality, which was totally false; he was honorably discharged) and demonized anyone who dared oppose gay rights ordinances in San Francisco and legislation in Sacramento. 

Before Milk could be humiliated for his close association with Jones, he and Moscone were assassinated nine days after the Jonestown massacre by former Supervisor Dan White, who was forced to resign from the board due to financial difficulty and was denied renomination, thanks to Milk’s badgering of Moscone. 

Seven years after Jonestown, Joe Theismann’s football career ended in horrific fashion when he suffered a grotesque broken leg when his Redskins hosted the Giants on Monday Night Football. 

On the fateful play, Harry Carson grabbed a hold of Theismann’s arm, but missed. As the Redskins quarterback sighted his Hall of Fame wideout, Art Monk, Lawrence Taylor caught him from behind.

Taylor’s knee crushed’ Theismann’s tibia and fibula. LT was so horrified he frantically motioned to the Redskin bench that Theismann was really, really hurt.

Theismann’s career ended right then and there at RFK Stadium. The Redskins recovered to win Super Bowls XXIII and XXVI under Joe Gibbs, whom I regard as the best NFL coach I’ve seen, since he won three Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks: Theismann in XVII, Jay Schroeder and Doug Williams in XXII, and Mark Rypien in XXVI. Can you imagine if Gibbs would have had Dan Marino or John Elway for his entire tenure, at least after Theismann? It wouldn’t have been fair. 

Thirty-three years to the day after Theismann’s career ended, Alex Smith’s career might well have come to a screeching halt. 

Smith suffered an injury described as bad as Theismann’s in the Redskins’ loss to the Texans Sunday. If I were him, I would retire; he’s set financially, and he will do a tremendous job as an analyst should he choose that path. 

There was happier news Sunday. 

Leslie Edwin Miles is once again a college football coach. Miles was introduced Sunday as the new leader of the Kansas Jayhawks.

The best thing about this? Besides Miles coming to Lawrence, it’s we didn’t hear too many idiots wanting to bring back Mark Mangino. Mangino is a steaming pile of feces as far as I’m concerned. 

I’ll have more on Miles in an upcoming post. Right now, I’m beat. Good night. 

Celebrate Christopher Columbus!

Happy Columbus Day! Yes, Monday was the OBSERVATION of Columbus Day. Today is the ACTUAL Columbus Day. The New World is 526 years old. Next year it can apply for tax-exempt political group status. Bad joke I know.

Why the hell did LBJ sign the bill in 1968 to move the holiday observations to Monday? What’s wrong with a Wednesday holiday? The celebration of Independence Day didn’t move to July 2 this year when the 4th was on Wednesday. Memorial Day not being on May 30 as it was through 1970 (except when Monday falls on the 30th, which it did in 1977, ’83, ’88, ’94, 2005, ’10 and ’16) and instead being on the last Monday of May does a great dishonor, in my humble opinion, to the men and ladies who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Heck, Veterans Day is always on November 11, and it also honors the millions of living veterans. They deserve their day,  yes, but those who have departed this earth need to have a special designated day, too, not just a Monday to make it convenient for a three-day weekend.

This doesn’t apply to Labor Day, which always has been the first Monday of September.

The app I have been using to track sleep quality said I snored for a total of 10 minutes last night. Hopefully it was just noise from the CPAP. But I feel just fine. I woke up at 0730, the perfect time for today.

It is nasty. Very nasty. Rain everywhere. Chilly. But that’s better than it being 80 and raining. The Chiefs are in Foxborough Sunday night  (if you live in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas or western Missouri and don’t know it yet, you are living under a rock), then are on Sunday night the NEXT week to host the Bengals. That means sports fans in Kansas City can make both the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race in the afternoon and the football game in the evening. YIPPPIEEE!!!

The rain will definitely affect the big high school football game in Overland Park tonight between Bishop Miege and St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’ stadium at least has some bleachers on the visiting side, unlike Miege, where fans from Rockhurst had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder two weeks ago. A game of this magnitude should be at a larger facility. Children’s Mercy Park, looking in your direction…or what about Kansas’ stadium in Lawrence?

What do I do with this weather? At least until I go to Minsky’s this afternoon. Maybe I’ll see Tori Smith (nee Weber) at Buffalo Wild Wings. She got married last month to her longtime beau Micah. I sent her a (inexpensive) gift from their registry even though I wasn’t invited. I would have (politely) said no anyway. It has nothing to do with the last two wedding receptions I’ve been to. Just wasn’t in the mood.

Last full day of my 42nd year began at 0916.

The meaning of Epton…before it’s too late

Wondering why I use Epton instead of “before it’s too late”? Here is the explanation.

Bernard Epton was a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives for seven terms, first elected in 1968 and staying on through the 1982 session. He chose not to run for re-election to the Illinois House in 1983, instead entering the Chicago mayoral race.

As a Republican in a city which had been dominated by Democratic machine politics since the Great Depression, Epton faced a steep uphill climb. Few paid much attention to his campaign during the primaries, instead focusing on a heavyweight battle on the Democratic side.

Chicago mayoral elections are now non-partisan, but they were not in 1983. Therefore, the three most visible candidates would have to battle one another, with only one advancing to the general election.

The incumbent mayor, Jane Margaret Byrne, was the first woman to be elected mayor of one of America’s 10 largest cities. In 1979, she upset Michael Bilandic, who became mayor upon the death of Richard J. Daley, the Boss of Chicago, in December 1976. Bliandic’s inaction during a January 1979 blizzard and Byrne’s subsequent hammering of Bilandic over the issue of snow removal helped her win.

Richard J. Daley’s son, Richard M. Daley, then the District Attorney of Cook County, where Chicago is located, threw his hat into the ring with the support of many of his father’s old supporters and ward bosses.

The third major Democratic candidate was U.S. Representative Harold Washington, vying to become the city’s first black mayor. Washington obviously was much farther to the left than either Byrne or Daley, and he began running for mayor during the first year of his first House term. He was re-elected in 1982 to Congress because his House district was, and still is, overwhelmingly black, but he was drawing the Congressional salary without doing very much on Capitol Hill, instead campaigning for the one job he coveted.

The black vote carried Washington to a narrow victory in the Democratic primary. It figured in the overwhelmingly Democratic City, Washington was home free, right?

Not quite.

Many of the old-line Daley loyalists threw their support to Epton, not wanting a black man to occupy the mayor’s office. Some of Epton’s most conservative backers produced a commercial which ended with the line “Epton…Before It’s Too Late”.

Epton himself was very uncomfortable with the racial overtones of the campaign. He was a liberal and was active in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. However, the racially charged campaign continued all the way to the end, where Washington won by a very narrow margin.

Washington won by a more comfortable margin in 1987, but he collapsed and died of a heart attack in his office the day before Thanksgiving 1987. Epton died only three weeks later.

I didn’t follow the election as it happened in 1983, since I was too young to understand. However, I read about it two years later as Washington was in the midst of his first term.

That election came up in a course on Louisiana politics during my first semester at LSU in the fall of 1994. The professor, Louisiana legend T. Wayne Parent, one of the country’s foremost political scientists, tried to explain how the closed primary system worked, since many in Louisiana, especially those who didn’t start voting until 1975 or later, had only know the open primary, where all candidates run on a single ballot, and if nobody gets an outright majority in the first election, then a second primary (or general election or runoff) is held.

Dr. Parent explained how Washington advanced to the general election even though he did not get a majority over Byrne and Daley. He couldn’t quite remember the Republican candidate, so I shouted EPTON! He and my classmates were amazed.

Louisiana politics was one of my three favorite classes at LSU. The others were involving constitutional law during my last full year there. If I could do it all over again, I think I would have done much better in a lot of my classes. I’m not blaming my autistic spectrum disorder, but I think it didn’t help.

Sunshine State Sicko

A sick living organism walked into a high school in south Florida today and killed 17 people and wounded many others using an AR-15 rifle. The vermin pulled the fire alarm to force students into the hallway so he could acquire more targets.

The school is in northern Broward County, a little more than 26 miles (42 kilomteres) southwest of where Dawn is moving to. I’m sure this made her shudder.

The walking piece of fecal matter was caputred alive, unlike Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the lowlife scum who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999. Harris and Klebold were yellow-bellied cowards who didn’t want to face justice, so they shot themselves after ruthlessly executing Rachel Scott, Cassie Bernall, Dave Sanders and 10 others, while wounding dozens more and leaving many survivors with permanent damage.

I’m not getting into the gun control debate. I know it won’t change anybody’s mind one way or the other.

Of course, the entertainment industry is all over social media begging for gun cotnrol, while those on the other side like Laura Ingraham, Dana Loesch, Tomi Lahren and the man occupying the White House are all calling this the work of a sick mind, and that gun control would have not stopped him.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said it best when he tweeted that this is not the time or place for politics. The thoughts and prayers should be with the victims of this horrific crime.

It has been said the shooter had exhibited warning signs on social media that he would do something drastic. That’s where the big difference with Columbine lies. If there were Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites in 1999, would Harris and Klebold have been brazen enough to broadcast their intentions? And if so, would authorities in Littleton been able to prevent it? We’ll never know.

I hope Harris and Klebold are rotting in hell, along with the Virginia Tech shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, Charles Whitman from the Unvieristy of Texas Memorial Tower shooting in 1966, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins (who acutally killed Sharon Tate), Ted Bundy, and the pride of Emporia, Mark James Robert Esssex, the infamous New Orleans sniper.

Speaking of New Orleans, there were two shootings along the parade route Tuesday. One person died, and two others were wounded. Maybe it is time for the major krewes–Rex, Zulu, Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, Proteus–to threaten to pull their parades off the street unless things are done to tighten security for the people who attend the spectacle. That might sound like giving in to the criminals, but it has to stop.

How can some human beings be so evil? I wanted to use some really bad language, but I promised Peggy and many others I would not, starting today and hopefully continuing for the rest of time.

The vast majority of humanity chooses good over evil. Sadly, the fecal matter that chooses evil gets all the attention.

Mardi Gras: why did I bother?

It’s just another Tuesday in most of the United States. Most high school basketball teams in Kansas are in action tonight, although Russell High is not one of them. Norton is back on the court tonight vs. Hoxie, and I’m making the 120-mile trek to see Peggy. It means a late night, but I don’t have much work to get done tomorrow morning, so it won’t really put me behind.

In south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast all the way to the Florida panhandle, it is Mardi Gras, the day where people dress in silly costumes and celebrate the last day before Lent, the 40-day period where Christians are supposed to repent for their sins and make sacrifices. It also means no meat tomorrow, nor for the next eight Fridays. It used to be Catholics had to abastain from meat EVERY Friday, but starting in 1967, meat was supposedly okay on most Fridays, especially in the United States and Canada. Some more traditionalist countries still require abstience from meat every Friday, including Ireland and Great Britain.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is two big attractions in the same city.

One is the French Quarter, where hundreds of thousands of strangers from across the world rub elbows–and many more body parts–getting drunk and having a good time. Pretty much anything goes in the Quater during Carnvial, except complete nudity, sexual acts, and violent crime. The police know they’re not going to get anywhere by arresting every woman who flashes her bare breasts, becuase they would make enough arrests to fill every jail in Louisiana, not just New Orleans. I have never understood why women would show their breasts for plastic beads which cost four cents per pair at the Mardi Gras supply store.

The other main attraction are the parades, where the laws apply and are strictly enforce. Don’t try flashing on St. Charles Avenue; if you do, you’ll have free accomodations in the New Orleans lockup. Parades are supposed to be family friendly, with ornate floats decorated around a central theme, marching bands and other groups which are common sights to those who have been to the pagents more than a few times.

I went to many parades during my formative years. Now that I’ve been gone from Louisiana for 12 1/2 years, I look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

There used to be several parades in St. Bernard Parish (county), the suburban area east of New Orleans where I grew up. I marched in a few of those parades when I was with the Arabi Park Middle School band in the sixth and seventh grades. The worst was marching in one on a Tuesday night, not getting home until after midnight, then having to go to school in the morning. There were also a couple of parades where the temperatures were below freezing, and that was pure misery. In warmer weather, the band uniforms were tortuously hot. I’m glad I got out of marching band in high school, because I would have hated to have to sit in the bleachers at football games in those hot things.

My parents, brother and I used to go to all of the parades in St. Bernard. There was a parade on Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Arabi, named after the westernmost community in the parish, the one where I grew up. Every Fat Tuesday, the four of us would park in an open lot at the corner of Judge Perez Drive and Rowley Boulevard, and we could wait in the car until the parade passed by. When the parade was ready to come by, we walked to the median (called the neutral ground in New Orleans0 and watched the floats and bands passed. We always ate Popeye’s fried chicken, fitting since the first Popeye’s opened in 1972 at the corner of Judge Perez and Rowley.

The last Krewe of Arabi parade was in 1987. In 1988, we started going to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, west of the city. Finally, in 1991, we went to the big kahuna, the Krewe of Rex, who is known in the city as the King of Carnival.

My parents were not keen on us going to parades in New Orleans proper. There was much crime on the parade routes, especially at night, and they had seen it first hand in their early days of marriage. We went to Mid-City from 1986 through ’91, but that was a daytime parade in an area of the city which was nowhere near as dangerous as some areas of St. Charles.

We went to the Krewe of Ednymion, one of the so-called “Super Krewes”, for three years in the early 1990s. The first two years, we stood on Canal Street in the same place we held for Mid-City, then shifted to Orleans Avenue near the start of the parade in 1992. In 1993, my dad and I alone went to Poydras and St. Charles to see Endymion, but we left before the first float arrived.

In 1994, Endymion was the first parade I went to alone. I saw a few of my adult friends at a tavern near the start of the parade route, and that is where I had my first taste of alchol, not counting communion wine.

Ray Maher had the bartender at the Parkway Tavern slip bourbon into my Coca-Cola. I tasted something funny right away, and I immediately washed it out. Ray and the older guys hooted and hollered about that one and reminded me of it for the next 11 years. I am grinning about it right now, but 24 years ago, it had me a little concerned.

Ray and several of my adult friends in New Orleans are members of the Krewe of Thoth, which has the longest route of any Mardi Gras parade.

Thoth starts much farther west than most parades that roll along St. Charles Avenue. It starts at the corner of Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las) and State Streets by the Missisippi River and goes north on Henry Clay to Magazine, and then to Napoleon, where it follows the route taken by Bacchus and most other Uptown parades (not Rex, which starts at the corner of South Claiborne and Napoleon to head south towards St. Charles). The Thoth route takes in numerous hostpitals for people with special needs, and Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s elite pediatric faciltiies.

I atteneded Thoth in ’92 and ’93 with my dad, then ’94 alone. The good thing about Thoth’s starting potnt was there was plenty of parking at the Audubon Zoo, which was not that far of a walk to Henry Clay Avenue. In those days, the parade started at the corner of Henry Clay and Magazine and headed south towards Tchoupitoulas, so I would go down Henry Clay and see eveyrone I knew before the parade started.

Every time I was at Thoth, I was bombarded with beads, doubloons and cups. There was a scramble among other parade goers for the trinkets. Looking back, I should have let them have most of it.

The 1994 Thoth parade is the last one I ever attended. Two days later, Mardi Gras came and went with me sitting at home. By Mardi Gras 1995, my life was in total turmoil, and I was seriously considering the end. I had a terrible go of it at LSU that year, and I wondered if life was worth living. However, most of it was self-inflicted.

If I ever returned to New Orleans, Thoth would be the ONLY parade I would consider attending. And even then, it would be only 50/50.

Bacchus and Endymion, the parades which feature celebrity guests, are too big for my taste. I can only remmeber John Goodman and Chicago appearing in Endymion one year. I can’t tell you who was there in the other years. This year, Rod Stewart rode in Endymion with former Saints player Steve Gleason and current player Alvin Kamara. J.K. Simmons was King of Bacchus.

Sorry, I don’t need to see celebrities in person to feel my life has meaning. I got my fill in July 1992 when I happened to see Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging in downtown St. Louis during their campaign.

During the rest of my years in Louisiana, I often had sporting events to keep my mind away from Mardi Gras, whether it be LSU baseball games or high school events. When Mardi Gras fell late in the calendar (late February or early March), it happened to be on a day when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association scheduled basketball playoff games. The LHSAA would grant south Louisiana schools the option to play the game Monday or Wednesday of that week, but in north Louisiana, the games went on as scheduled, and many south Louisiana schools had to give up Mardi Gras to drive four to five hours for a game, then make the long return trip. Fortunately, the players and coaches could sleep in because there was no school on Ash Wednesday.

Sadly, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, traditionally the last parade of Mardi Gras, has not held a parade since 1991, due to a boneheaded ordinance by the late Dorothy Mae Taylor, who insisted all krewes must prove to the city that they do not discriminate based upon race or religious orientation.

Comus and two-other old-line krewes, Momus and Proteus, quit parading, although Proteus returned in 2000 after a seven-year hiatus.

Most of Comus’ members–all male, all white, all Protestant–are also members of the Pickwick Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. How exclusive? Drew Brees can’t get in after winning a Super Bowl, simply because he’s a native of Texas. Warren Buffett? Nope. Bill Gates? Nope. Donald Trump? Nada.

Rex’s members are members of the secretive Boston Club. Until the ordinance, Rex was also all WASP, but now the krewe admits blacks, Catholics and Jewish men. The original ordinance would have forced krewes who wanted to parade to be coed, but that was removed to allow the all-male and all-female krewes, which are most, to parade as long as their racial barriers came down.

Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and money with it anyway.

Zulu has been rolling for over two hours now, and Rex for over an hour. Yippee. It’s just another day for me.

Hard for me to get up

If you have not seen my Instagram or Facebook accounts in the last 30 hours, you may not know I stopped on top of Interstate 435 at the Kansas-Missouri state line yesterday between Wyandotte County and Platte County.

Here are a couple of pictures I took:

It took a bit of courage for me to get out of my car and take those photos. I am afraid of heights.

Very afraid.

There were so many things I missed out on when I was a child because I was too scared to go up.

Now I did ride a gondola suspended over the Mississippi River with my father and brother during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. How I convinced myself to go, I still don’t know. Of course, the only cameras around back in 1984 used film, and most were quite bulky, so it wasn’t practical to take photos. Too bad, because they would have been breathtaking.

A few months after hovering over the Mississippi, my family made the infamous trip to Disney World, one which I’ve discussed ad nauseam in this blog. I had no desire to go on any roller coasters or other dangerous rides, even though I met the height requirement.

Four years later, the Steinle family went to Astroworld in Houston. My father and brother went on a few high-rise rides, but my mother and I wussed out and stayed on the ground.

In 1992, again, my father and brother went to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. My mother and I were not having it. I was very tempted to go up in the Arch when I was in the area for Lisa’s wedding last October, but since I was staying in St. Peters, 35 miles west of downtown, I didn’t do it. If Lisa and Jeff would like to take me up in the arch, I’m game.

I could not stand sitting in high seats at outdoor sports stadiums. I was just fine sitting at the top of the Superdome, simply because there was a roof and I had no idea the sky was above. But outdoors? Forget it.

In 1992, my father, brother and I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium. The first night, we sat in the outfield bleachers, about 440 feet from home plate. The second night, my father bought tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. I couldn’t do it. I walked around the concourse all night while my brother watched the game. My father stayed with me much of the time, and I feel terrible. Really terrible.

My fear of heights was a reason we sat in the ridiculously hot bleachers at the Texas Rangers’ old Arlington Stadium instead of the upper deck behind home plate. I feel bad for making my family accommodate my fear of heights.

I am very glad I never sat in the upper decks of LSU’s football stadium. I went up there one Saturday morning a few hours before a game, but I got scared. Really scared. I ran down the ramps as fast as I could.

Some of the high school football stadiums I covered games were harrowing.

University High, a laboratory school on the east side of the LSU campus, played its home games on one of the fields at LSU’s practice facility when I was covering games in Baton Rouge. The “press box” was actually an open-air shelter which was only accessible by a rickety old ladder. While some could climb the thing in 30 seconds, it took me more than one minute, sometimes two or three, to make it all the way up there. I was shaking like a leaf every time I was up there.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have covered the games from the field. I proved I could do it just fine when I moved to Kansas, writing down the information then feeding it to the computer. But I was on a deadline in Baton Rouge, and doing stuff on the field would have cost me 20-30 minutes, which could have been very bad if a game ran late.

Today, University High plays at a modern stadium with a real press box nowhere near as high.

Memorial Stadium is Baton Rouge’s largest high school stadium, seating over 20,000. It was once a home for Southern University’s football team, and hosted many small college bowl games and playoffs. It was once home to numerous teams in Baton Rouge, but now only a handful of teams use it, since the rental fees charged by the Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) are too high for most schools to afford. Many of the public schools, especially those in more economically depressed areas, can’t make enough off ticket sales to pay the rent, plus officials and security.

In November 1999, I covered a high school football playoff game at Memorial Stadium between Eunice and Capitol, which is about a mile from Memorial Stadium. I was also asked by the local cable company to provide color commentary for its tape-delayed broadcast in place of Rob Musemeche, the usual color man who could not be there that night due to a family commitment.

About 45 minutes prior to kickoff, the play-by-play man, Dennis McCain, and myself went to the top of Memorial Stadium’s press box.

I did not fare well.

I was very unsteady, and I could feel my knees quaking. Dennis was very patient with me and helped me a lot, and we made it through the opening spiel before returning to the press box for the game.

I wish I had a camera to take a picture from the top of the Memorial Stadium press box. You can get a great shot of the Louisiana capitol, the tallest in the United States, as well as traffic flowing on nearby Interstate 110 and other state government buildings.

My biggest fear of driving in Louisiana was breaking down and/or getting into an accident on one of the numerous bridges over the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The I-435 bridge in western Kansas City is high, yes, but nowhere near as high as the structures in Louisiana, most of which are more than 100 feet over “Old Man River”.

I would like to stop on the Kit Bond Bridge in Kansas City and get a shot, but there is too much traffic to do it safely.

As for high places in Kansas City, I have gone to the top of Kauffman Stadium to take pictures. I have considered watching a game from there.

We all have our fears. Maybe I need to conquer some. Heck, I’m going to be 42 later this year. Gotta start sometime.

State of the Union? No thanks

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. Article II, SEcti0n 3 of the United States Constitution requires the president to periodcally report to Congreses on the State of the Union.

The first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, delivered speeches to Congress in the early years of the republic following ratification of the Constitution. However, the next 24 presidents–Thomas Jefferson through William Howard Taft–did not deliver a single State of the Union speech to Congress, instead delivering it as a written report to the House and Senate.

In 1913, Woodrow Wilson became the first president since John Adams in 1800 to address the Congress to deliver the State of the Union in person. Every president since has followed the tradition of personally delivering the State of the Union to Congress. Presidents in their first year in office do not officially issue a State of the Union, but every one since George H.W. Bush in 1989 has addressed a joint session of Congress early in their terms.

I did not watch the State of the Union. Trump probably talked a good game, but honestly ,will anything substantial get done? I doubt it. Nearly every member of Congress is only concerned about one thing, and that is saving his or her own ass. Getting re-elected is the only rule of politics which matters today, and most of the 535 members of Congress (435 in the House, 100 in the Senate) couldn’t care less about their constituents. They only care about getting back to Capitol Hill and collecting enough years to qualify for a full pension, which is more in one month than what the average Social Security recipient receives in a year.

I followed politics religiously throughout high school. My seventh grade social studies teacher, Lydia Gattuso, a very close friend of my mother, got me interested, and that interest piqued during my senior year at Brother Martin with my civics teacher, Eileen Depreo.

By time I got to LSU, I was still interested in politics, but that began to wane as I got more and more involved working with the athletic department. I just didn’t have time to follow what was going on on Capitol Hill or even at the state capitol, which is two miles north of the LSU campus.

Today, I’m so disillusioned I can’t take it anymore. I used to listen to the political talk channels on SiriusXM on my long drives across Kansas, but today, I’m either playing music from my iPod or listening to the sports talk radio stations out of Kansas City.

Robb and Dawn are progressives, and they have opened up my horizon. There was a time when I was very conservative and could not be persuaded to listen to the other side, but now, I’m willing to consider everything in play. I still consider myself more conservative than progressive, but I am much more pragmatic than I was 20 to 25 years ago.

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Today marked two historic events, both of which had serious repercussions.

The first was in 1948, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by right-wing Hindi nationalists who believed Gandhi had capitulated to Muslims during India’s fight for independence, which was achieved in 1947.

Such a shame that a man committed to non-violence met a violent death. Sadly, history repeated itself 20 years later in Memphis.

The second anniversary was one many American would rather forget.

On January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army attacked South Vietnamese and American camps during Tet, the lunar new year. The United States believed there would be no fighting during Tet, but Hanoi, desperate to hang on after taking heavy losses throughout 1967, launched the surprise attack.

Although the anti-Communist forces were victorious eventually, it was reported throughout the United States that the Communist forces were successful. Near the end of the Tet offensive, CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite stated the Vietnam war was
“unwinnable” and the best the Americans could hope for was a “stalemate”.

When he watched Cronkite’s report on February 27, 1968, President Johnson stated “if I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America”. Thirty-three days later, LBJ announced he would not seek the Democratic nomination for president that year.

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The Washington Redskins have agreed to acquire Alex Smith in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Coincidentally, one of the Redskins’ greatest days was 35 years ago today.

On this date in 1983, John Riggins rushed for 166 yards as the Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII. It was Washington’s first NFL championship since 1942, and the Dolphins were denied their first title since they won Super Bowls VII and VIII in 1972-73.

That Miami got to the Super Bowl in the first place is a tribute to the late Bill Arnsparger, the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator who constructed two outstanding units during his time with Shula.

The first was the No-Name Defense, the backbone of the team which went 17-0 in 1972. That unit featured future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott, the latter of whom was the MVP of Super Bowl VII, and a stout defensive line anchored by tackle Manny Fernandez, who was part of 17 tackles in the 14-7 victory over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

In 1982, Arnsparger’s latest creation, the Killer Bees, were the NFL’s best defense. That unit featured nose tackle Bob Baumhower, inside linebacker A.J. Duhe, and defensive backs Lyle and Glenn Blackwood, who were not related.

Duhe was an All-SEC performer at LSU as a defensive tackle. Arnsparger tried Duhe at tackle and end before successfully converting him into an inside linebacker in the Dolphins’ 3-4 defense.

Miami’s offense was great rushing the ball (3rd in the NFL), but putrid passing it (27th, as in next to last). The Dolphins were in a quarterback black hole following Bob Griese’s retirement, with Shula forced to alternate David Woodley and Don Strock (“Woodstrock”), because neither was good enough to win the job full-time.

Thanks to the Killer Bees and a strong running game led by Tony Nathan and Aundra Franklin, Miami went 7-2 in the strike-shortened regular season, then ousted the Patriots, Chargers and Jets in the expanded playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.

Woodley was named the starting quarterback on media day, making him the first–and to date, last–LSU alum to become a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl.

Few expected the Redskins to get to Super Bowl XVII, considering the turmoil the team suffered through only two years prior.

In 1980, Riggins held out for the entire season in a contract dispute with owner Jack Kent Cooke, who in 1979 was ordered by Judge Joseph Wapner, later the star of The People’s Court, to pay $42 million in a divorce settlement to his wife of 45 years, Barbara. The settlement forced Cooke to sell the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings to Dr. Jerry Buss, who developed the former into an NBA dynasty in the 1980s.

Washington went 6-10 in 1980 and fired coach Jack Pardee. His successor was Joe Gibbs, a 40-year old career assistant who gained fame as the architect of the “Air Coryell” offense in San Diego which featured Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson, and later Chuck Muncie and Wes Chandler.

Gibbs flew to Centralia, Kansas to meet Riggins on his farm, and convinced “The Diesel” to return to the NFL. However, Gibbs at first did not make Riggins the focal point of his offense, instead choosing to install the full Air Coryell package, with Art Monk filling the role Joiner did in San Diego.

Gibbs also did not believe Joe Theismann was the right man to run the offense. The Redskins tried backup Tom Owen in the preseason, but the experiment failed miserably. Theismann got his job back when the regular season began, but the Redskins lost their first five games under Gibbs, thanks to a leaky defense.

Gibbs saw the light and realized he had the plowhorse running back he didn’t have for most of his tenure in San Diego. The Redskins became more balanced, and won eight of their last 11 games of 1981.

In 1982, the Redskins’ offense was the most diversified in the NFL, with Riggins and Theismann protected by a massive offensive line known as “The Hogs”. In addition to Monk, Washington struck gold with tiny receivers Charlie Brown and Alvin Garrett, nicknamed “The Smurfs”.

Meanwhile, Washington’s defense was vastly improved under coordinator Richie Pettitbon, an All-Pro defensive back during his playing days with the Bears, Rams and Redskins. The Redskins had a fearsome front four, led by Dave Butz and Dexter Manley, a solid linebacking corps anchored by Neil Olkewicz, and a ball-hawking secondary featuring Mark Murphy, Tony Peters and Jeris White.

However, the Redskins’ Most Valuable Player was its straight-ahead kicker, Mark Moseley, who set an NFL record at the time by converting 23 consecutive field goals. The 1982 season was so strange that Moseley was named the league’s MVP by the Associated Press, the only time a specialist has won the honor.

The 1982 Redskins won all but one of their nine regular season games, losing in week five to the Cowboys. In the playoffs, Washington steamrolled the Lions and Vikings before ousting Dallas 31-17 in the NFC championship game, the third consecutive year the Cowboys fell one win short of the Super Bowl. Following its loss in ’82, Dallas did not get that far again until 1992, when Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII.

Washington was clearly the superior team throughout Super Bowl XVII, but somehow the Dolphins led 17-10 at halftime. Miami got both of its touchdowns on big plays, a 76-yard pass from Woodley to Jimmy Cefalo and a 98-yard kickoff return by Fulton Walker, the first kickoff return TD in Super Bowl history.

The Redskins used a 44-yard gain on a reverse by Garrett to set up a field goal in the third quarter. Theismann was intercepted twice in the period, and a third pass was almost picked off.

Late in the quarter, Theismann found himself under siege from Duhe, Baumhower and Kim Bokamper. Theismann attempted to pass, but Bokamper batted the ball high in the air. The Dolphin end caught the ball at the Redskins’ 1-yard line, but before he could secure the pigskin, Theismann knocked it away.

That play turned momentum permanently in favor of Washington.

With a little over 10 minutes to go, the Redskins had a fourth-and-inches at the Miami 43. Gibbs did not hesitate, keeping his offense on the field and sending in extra tight ends for the short-yardage play.

The call: 70 chip.

The Redskins lined up a tight I formation, with two tight ends, Rick “Doc” Walker and Don Warren, and a third, Clint Didier, in as a wingback. Didier motioned from left to right, stopped in front of Walker, then came back left.

Miami cornerback Don McNeal attempted to follow Didier in motion, but as Didier cut back, McNeal slipped. He quickly regained his feet, but the slip was enough to alter NFL history.

Theismann handed to Riggins, who followed massive left tackle Joe Jacoby. The Diesel broke through the line and was met by McNeal, who could only grab a hold of Riggins’ jersey.

Riggins easily busted through McNeal’s  attempted tackle and outran Glenn Blackwood to the end zone.

Touchdown, Redskins. Game, set and match.

Even though Miami was down only 20-17, it was finished. The defense had been on the field too long, and the offense was totally impotent. Shula pulled Woodley for Strock, but it did no good. The Dolphins could not move, and when the Redskins got the ball back, they bled seven minutes off the clock before scoring on a touchdown pass from Theismann to Brown.

Fortunately for Shula and Dolphins, most of the rest of the NFL–the Redskins excepted–did not believe Dan Marino could be a starter in the NFL. When he was still sitting there at the 27th overall selection, Shula pounced. That turned out well for the most part, although Marino only played in one Super Bowl, losing to Joe Montana’s 49ers in Super Bowl XIX after Marino’s second season.

The Redskins were even better in 1983, scoring 541 points, but they were destroyed 38-9 by the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. Theismann would never play in another Super Bowl, suffering a gruesome broken leg in a 1985 Monday Night Football game vs. the Giants which ended his career. Gibbs, however, would lead the Redskins to victories in Super Bowls XXII and XXVI with different quarterbacks, Doug Williams in the former and Mark Rypien in the latter.

Thank you for reading yet another novella. Have a good night and a better tomorrow.

Day of memories

A lot of things happened on January 22 in the past.

Three of those came before I was born.

On January 22, 1973, the following occurred:

  • The Supreme Court of the United States legalized abortion in Roe v Wade. Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion, although much of it was crafted by William Brennan, the leading progressive on the court for over 30 years. Byron White and William Rehnquist dissented. If you’re looking for my opinion on this case, keep waiting. Not here. Not now.
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, died of a massive heart attack at his ranch in Johnson City, Texas. LBJ was in poor health throughout his post-presidential life, and it was only a matter of time before his bad habits caught up with him.
  • George Foreman battered Joe Frazier in Jamaica, winning by TKO in the second round to claim the World Heavyweight Championship. Referee Arthur Mercante, also in charge of Frazier’s epic 15-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali in 1971 in New York City, mercifully stopped the fight after Frazier was knocked down for the sixth time. Howard Cosell shouted “DOWN GOES FRAZIER” after the first knockdown, the most iconic line uttered by the man who always bragged he “Tells It Like It Is”.

January 22 just happened to be one busy day in one of the most hectic months of the last 50 years. To wit:

  • January 7–Mark James Robert Essex went full commando in downtown New Orleans, killing seven–including three members of the New Orleans Police Department–and wounding 19 others in a siege at the Downtown Howard Johnson’s Hotel. It was discovered later that Essex killed two other NOPD members on New Year’s Eve and also was the probable culprit for the Rault Center fire of November 29, 1972, which killed six.
  • January 14–The Dolphins defeated the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII to complete their 17-0 season. Also that day, Elvis Presley performed in Honolulu to a worldwide audience over over one billion (none in the United States and Canada; the concert was not aired until April in those countries).
  • January 27–The Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Two events of January 22 in the 1980s I remember much better.

The first Super Bowl I recall watching from beginning to end was Super Bowl XVIII, January 22, 1984 in Tampa.

The Redskins were the defending champion, having beaten the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Washington went 14-2 in 1983, scoring a then-NFL record behind a dynamic offense led by quarterabck Joe Theismann, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and running back John (The Diesel) Riggins, who scored a then-NFL record 24 touchdowns. Theismann had one of the NFL’s best receivers in Art Monk, who would be healthy for Super Bowl XVIII after missing the 1982 playoffs with a leg injury. Washington’s defense was overshadowed by its offense, but the Redskins had a stout unit, led by tackle Dave Butz, end Dexter Manley, linebacker Neal Olkewicz, and safety Mark Murphy, as well as a rookie cornerback from Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) named Darrell Green.

The Raiders were in their second season in Los Angeles. They had a superstar running back of their own in Marcus Allen, as well as speedy receiver Cliff Branch and sure-handed tight end Todd Christensen. Jim Plunkett did not have the big numbers Theismann had, but he was a fearless leader who had survived terrible stints in New England and San Francisco. Oakland’s defense was powered by a secondary led by cornerback Lester Hayes and safety Mike Haynes, acquired from the Patriots during the season. Up front, Oakland had a pair of studs at end, Lyle Alzado and Howie Long, while linebacker Ted Hendricks was still going strong in his 15th–and final–NFL season.

Washington defeated the Raiders 37-35 at RFK Stadium in week five, rallying from a 35-20 deficit in the fourth quarter to do so. The Redskins’ only losses were each by one point on Monday Night Football, at home vs. the Cowboys in the opener and at Green Bay two weeks after the game with the Raiders.Washington blew away the Rams 51-7 in the divisional playoffs, but barely beat the 49ers 24-21 in the NFC championship. San Francisco coach Bill Walsh (he will be mentioned later in this post, and with good reason) was incensed over two very marginal penalties called against the 49ers on the drive which led to the Redskins’ game-winning field goal, and he would use those calls as  a rallying point for 1984, when San Francisco tore apart the league by going 15-1 in the regular season and winning Super Bowl XIX.

Los Angeles lost twice to division rival Seattle and suffered an inexplicable December loss at home to the Cardinals, but came on strong in the playoffs, routing Pittsburgh 38-10 and Seattle 30-14.

Many of the scribes who considered themselves experts on professional football felt Super Bowl XVIII had the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls ever.

Instead, it was a super rout.

The Raiders scored following Washington’s first possession when Derrick Jensen blocked a Jeff Hayes punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. A touchdown pass from Plunkett to Branch early in the second quarter made it 14-0. The Redskins got a field goal later in the period, but one of the most disastrous plays in the history of championship football was about to occur.

The Redskins had the ball inside their own 20 with 12 seconds to go in the first half. The smart play would be for Theismann to take a knee and for Joe Gibbs and his players to regroup during the long halftime.

Instead, Gibbs sent in a play called Rocket Screen.

During the October game with the Raiders, Theismann and Joe Washington executed it to perfection. Theismann dumped off to Washington in the right flat, and the ex-Oklahoma speedster took it for 67 yards to set up a Redskin touchdown as part of the Redskins’ 17-point rally in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles defensive coordinator Charlie Sumner believed Gibbs might call the play even though very little time remained in the half, and made an important substitution.

Sumner sent in 6-foot-4 reserve linebacker Jack Squirek, a second-year player from Illinois, in for Matt Millen (yes, THAT Matt Millen). Millen was angry that Sumner removed him, but Squirek was a better pass defender than Millen, who was a defensive tackle at Penn State before becoming a linebacker when he was drafted by the Raiders in 1980.

Squirek was asked to play man-to-man coverage against Joe Washington. If Washington caught the screen pass and broke contain, he would have a chance to gain enough yardage to set up Moseley for a field goal attempt to end the first half.

Rocket Screen did lead to a score.

Theismann dropped back and looked left for Joe Washington. Instead, Squirek caught the ball in stride at the 5 and pranced into the north end zone of Tampa Stadium.

Game, set, match, Raiders. It was 21-3 at halftime, and the Redskins’ reign as champion had 30 minutes to run.

Washington scored a touchdown on its first drive of the second half, but it was far too little, too late.

Later in the third quarter, Allen gobbled up huge chunks of real estate on his way to a then-Super Bowl record 191 yards. He scored two touchdowns during the stanza, the second on a remarkable 74-yard run on the final play of the period.

On the play, 17 Bob Trey O, Allen started out as if he would sweep left end, but reversed his field when confronted by Redskins strong safety Ken Coffey. Allen found a crease up the middle and avoided a diving tackle attempt by Olkewicz near midfield. Green and Anthony Washington gave chase, but were hopelessly behind the 1981 Heisman Trophy winner from USC.

The 74-yard jaunt sewed up MVP honors for Allen and was the icing on the cake of the Raiders’ 38-9 victory.

However, to many who watched, Super Bowl XVIII is not remembered for Allen, Squirek or Theismann, but instead for a commercial which aired during the third quarter.

In honor of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949, Apple Computers aired a commercial where its new product, the Macintosh, would free the human race from the sinister grip of Big Brother and allow for the continued free will of man and the free exchange of ideas.

The commercial, created by famous movie director Ridley Scott, never aired again, but it is remembered by many not only as the greatest Super Bowl ad ever, but the greatest ad ever, period, regardless of air time or air date.

Five years later, the second–and last–Super Bowl played on January 22 produced one of the great championship games in NFL annals.

Super Bowl XXIII, played on January 22, 1989, marked the return of the big game to South Florida after a ten-year absence. This was the first Super Bowl played in the Dolphins’ palatial new facility, known then as Joe Robbie Stadium, in honor of the Miami owner, who built the $115 million stadium without a dime of taxpayer assistance.

The stadium now known as Hard Rock Stadium is a much better facility for football today than it was when it opened in 1987.

Robbie built the stadium with baseball in mind as well, thinking the area would receive a Major League Baseball expansion team in the near future, which it did when the Marlins joined the National League in 1993.

When the Marlins received their own stadium in 2012 (that’s another story for another post), the NFL required the Dolphins to make major renovations to the facility in order to host another Super Bowl. Current owner Stephen Ross complied, and the Super Bowl returns to South Florida in February 2020.

Super Bowl XXIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, with the Bengals taking on the 49ers.

Some of the same players who were part of the 49ers’ first championship team in 1981 were still with the squad seven years later, most importantly Joe Montana. However, Montana had gone through a dip in his career following the victory over Miami in Super Bowl XIX after the 1984 season. He had a major back injury in 1986 which required surgery, and although he led the 49ers to an NFL-best 13-2 record in 1987, he struggled in a divisional playoff loss to the Vikings and was pulled from the game in favor of Steve Young, who had been acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay before the 1987 draft.

In 1988, Walsh could not make up his mind between Montana and Young through the first half of the season. San Francisco was wildly inconsistent, one week defeating Minnesota when Young scored the game-winning touchdown on a 49-yard scramble around left end on which Young somehow kept his balance, then losing the next week to the Cardinals by blowing a 23-0 lead and losing 24-23.

With the Niners 6-5 and two games behind the Saints in the NFC West, Walsh made Montana the full-time starter. The move paid off, as San Francisco won its next five games, including a 30-17 victory over New Orleans in week 15, to clinch the division championship.

In the playoffs, the 49ers blasted the Vikings 34-9, then went to Chicago and pummeled the Bears 28-3 despite a minus-18 wind chill factor.

This would be the first Super Bowl appearance for Jerry Rice, who had already established himself as one of the NFL’s all-time great receivers in just his fourth season. The Mississippi Valley State product set the league on fire in 1987 when he caught a record 22 touchdown passes in only 12 games. That record would stand for 20 years, when Randy Moss took advantage of the full 16-game slate to haul in 23 scoring passes from Tom Brady.

San Francisco’s underrated defense still featured Ronnie Lott in the secondary, but had a new star in pass rushing ace Charles Haley, who had the freedom to roam and line up at either end or linebacker. 0

The Bengals were a vastly different bunch from the 1981 team which lost to the 49ers in the Pontiac Silverdome, save for veterans Cris Collinsworth, Eddie Edwards and Reggie Williams.

In 1984, Boomer Esiason took over the quarterback duties from all-time Bengals passing leader Ken Anderson. By 1988, the left-hander from Maryland was the NFL’s leading passer, triggering a no-huddle attack which featured fleet receivers Eddie Brown and Tim McGee, plus bruising tight end Rodney Holman. Esiason was protected by an offensive line anchored by Anthony Munoz, one of the NFL’s all-time best offensive tackles.

The Bengals’ running game was led by the versatile James Brooks and a tough fullback from UNLV named Elbert Woods, who became famous as Ickey Woods. The Ickey Shuffle, Woods’ dance after touchdowns, became a national fad as the Bengals began the season 6-0 and went on to a 12-4 record, a far cry from the 4-11 mark of 1987.

Cincinnati defeated Seattle and Buffalo to win its second AFC championship and send coach Sam Wyche, a former Bengals quarterback, into a matchup against his mentor. Wyche was an assistant to Walsh in 1981. Walsh was also a longtime Bengals assistant under Paul Brown before becoming the coach at Stanford in 1977.

The expected offensive explosion didn’t happen in the first half. Each team could muster only a field goal, and each team saw a player suffer a horrific injury.

First to go was 49ers offensive tackle Steve Wallace, who suffered a broken ankle. A few plays later, Bengals nose tackle Tim Krumrie also broke an ankle, but his injury was even more gruesome than Wallace’s.

The first touchdown did not come until late in the third quarter, and it was on a kickoff  return by the Bengals’ Stanford Jennings. The 49ers went to the final period down 13-6.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Montana hit Roger Craig for 40 yards to the Bengal 14. Monata’s next pass was almost disastrous for San Francisco, for it hit Cincinnati defender Lewis Billups in the hands.

Had Billups hung on, it might have been curtains for the 49ers.

Instead, Montana made the Bengals pay dearly. He found Rice in the left flat, and #80 did the rest, battling his way past the Bengals secondary to the pylon for the touchdown which tied the game at 13.

With 3:20 to go, Jim Breech nailed a 40-yard field goal which put Cincinnati up 16-13. The 49ers could only return the ensuing kickoff to their own 15, but were further backed up by an illegal block in the back.

With 3:10 remaining, San Francisco was at its own 8-yard line. It would take at least 60 yards to get into field goal range, but that was no sure thing, as Mike Cofer shanked a 19-yard attempt in the second quarter.

Before the first play of the drive, Montana added some levity to the situation when he pointed to the big television screen in the west end of the stadium and said “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?”.

It worked.

Montana led the 49ers on a drive for the ages, as 10 plays moved the ball 82 yards to the Cincinnati 10 with 39 seconds to play. Now the Bengals had to stiffen and hope they could force the 49ers to try a field goal.

With everyone expecting Montana to look for Rice, who finished with 11 receptions for 215 yards, both Super Bowl records, Joe Cool instead found the other wideout, John Taylor, in the middle of the end zone.

Montana’s dart nestled snugly in Taylor’s hands as the clock showed 34 seconds to play.

San Francisco was Super Bowl champion for the third time, 20-16. Walsh announced his retirement in the locker room immediately after the game. Rice, of course, was named MVP.

It’s almost January 23, so that’s it for now.