Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Icons: Namath

The Super Bowl of American football is coming up soon. Consequently, the time is right and (as Sammy Davis, Jr. would have said) the mood is proper, to remember one of the grand moments from that greatest of all our sporting spectacles. The Guarantee.

In 1969, I was ten. The outcome of Super Bowl III was a foregone conclusion since the mighty Baltimore Colts were certainly going to steamroll over the New York Jets of the upstart American Football League. Just like the mighty Green Bay Packers had summarily dispatched the AFL champions the two previous years. Even the names of the teams were not equal. The "Colts" were a football team. The "Jets" were a little kid tennis shoe. Until the quarterback of the Jets guaranteed that they would win the game. And then made it happen. Making himself the game Most Valuable Player in the process. And insuring his place in American sporting history.

Joe Namath came from a little town in Pennsylvania called Beaver Falls. He played basketball, baseball and football at Beaver Falls High School. He routinely "dunked" the basketball when it was an uncommon feat. When he graduated, he was offered several professional baseball contracts. But his dad wanted him to go to college and, since the family had no money to pay tuition, that meant a football scholarship. His first failure was being rejected by the college of his choice because his score was three points below the minimum qualification on their entrance exam. So he went down South to talk to a man named Bryant...

People said that Namath was too free-spirited, too undisciplined, to stay on coach "Bear" Bryant's Alabama football team for a month. People were wrong. Namath led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship in 1964, his final year.

1964. The struggling American Football League was, as usual, looking for a marketing spark. The New York Jets were looking for a quarterback. Namath was the first overall pick in the AFL draft that year, gleaning a record salary of $427,000.00 a year.

The money, the city of New York and the fame all set Joe free to be whatever he wanted to be. Do what he wanted. Always with the big, goofy, grin on his face that said "man, isn't this some ride we're on?" He was the first to throw a football for 4000 yards in a career, accomplishing that feat in 1967. That was a season consisting of fourteen games. It took twelve years for the next quarterback to reach 4000 yards...in sixteen games. The ABC television network set up its first Monday Night Football broadcast to make sure Namath was playing on it. He was known too, for sartorial splendor, such as this update on the traditional sideline warmer jacket...

Not many men could get away with that look in the 1960s. Or now. Hell, not many men could afford that look, then or now.

The rest of Namath's career after The Guarantee was plagued with injuries and, to a degree, with disappointment. But injuries and a failure to return to the Super Bowl never dampened the joy with which he played. And with which he lived his public life. The infamous Beautymist pantyhose ad in 1974, for example. In which Joe wore the pantyhose. With that great big smile on his face. He went to all the best joints, met all the pretty girls, went to the Playboy mansion, was known everywhere. He even got paid to get a shave from a young lady from Texas who later became pretty famous herself...


Some gig. Watching this commercial sped the development of hair on the Epic face by at least five years, I am sure. Helped along by my use of Brut cologne. Also endorsed by Namath. Namath even made President Richard Nixon's famous list of "Political Opponents". Nobody is sure why. He was selected for the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1985...

When the superstar, the playboy, the record-setter, the most highly paid, the maker of The Guarantee, got up to give his speech and started to mention his old coach "Bear" Bryant, he broke down and cried. Coach Bryant died not long before the ceremony.

No matter what Joe Namath did, on or off the football field, two Epic notions weave their way through everything.

This is the most fun I've ever had...

They will never forget my name...

5 comments:

CashmereLibrarian said...

I grew up right across the river from Beaver Falls. Joe's dad attended our church and we knew other family members, but I never met Joe! I had a huge crush on him though, and thought we'd probably get married.

Turling said...

This is the most fun I've ever had.....if only all of us could live our lives that way.

Toad said...

SB3 was the last Superbowl game I've seen. I figured footbal peaked when the Jets won. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Preppy 101 said...

I wish I still had the poster of him that hung in my dorm room in college. We were all madly in love with him. One of my girlfriends from New Jersey sent tim a note inviting him to her prom. haha Hilarious now that I remember all that! Read his book and loved every move he made! Great post.

M.Lane said...

Cashmere, how cool! Like Conrad Hilton said, "dream big, live big"..

Turling, that is the sermon I keep on preaching...

Toad, I know what you mean. Happy Anniversary!!

Preppy, that is a great story! Your pal was betting a long shot but not an impossible one...he might have shown up!!

ML