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Following the advice I got from the user Semaphore I would like to split my original airport security question into separate parts and go into a bit more detail in regards to what I would like to know about those pictures, and this one in particular.
Just hate going through airport security with all those new gizmos, c. 1960.
Taken at Atlanta Municipal Airport during testing for their first security instruments.
That was before the first hijacking of a commercial flight in the US, if I am not mistaken!
Do you think it is real?
It seems to be taken at that time indeed, but… What sort of device would it be technically? The graphs on the paper show some repeating cycles… And the two vertical bars in there do not really look like a magnetometer to me. Also I do not think such things were even being developed back in those days as something for use on humans…
Even if the picture postdates the first hijackings, my impression is still that before 1968, both the airlines and the passengers viewed them as more of an inconvenience, rather than terrorism act or something. So, everyone was opposed to the idea of screening passengers, as that would just scare them off, and lead to costs for the carriers. Federal agents could be deployed on flights upon request from 1961… Apparently it was considered sufficient back then really. On top of that I do not think Atlanta was a place very popular with hijackers…
Also the facial expression of the woman and the other photographer in the background suggest that it was something staged. I feel it could be that someone just found it, and said it was airport security as a joke or a prank, because that was the first thing they thought upon seeing this…
The picture is circulated in the web with this description, but I could not find any more information on it. And that just makes me even more interested to know what is actually happening there.
If anyone knows what these things are all about, and how it used to work back then, I would absolutely love to hear that. So any explanations strongly appreciated! Thank You!
Magnetometer technology certainly existed back then and could easily have been packaged in two poles like that. I'd guess that they were a fairly low-frequency resonant circuit where the field sort of just sits there between the two antennae humming quietly and happily as long as there's no metal in the middle. If metal comes through, the resonance is disrupted and the current changes. The strip-chart recorder would be displaying the current and would show a blip characteristic of the amount and type of metal and the speed of movement. I can't say for sure that that's what it is, but it certainly could be.
There would be years of testing before anything went into production and use.
OTOH, I agree that the picture looks staged.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom Civil Rights Era (1950&ndash1963)
The NAACP’s legal strategy against segregated education culminated in the 1954 Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. African Americans gained the formal, if not the practical, right to study alongside their white peers in primary and secondary schools. The decision fueled an intransigent, violent resistance during which Southern states used a variety of tactics to evade the law.
In the summer of 1955, a surge of anti-black violence included the kidnapping and brutal murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, a crime that provoked widespread and assertive protests from black and white Americans. By December 1955, the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr., began a protracted campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest segregation that attracted national and international attention.
During 1956, a group of Southern senators and congressmen signed the “Southern Manifesto,” vowing resistance to racial integration by all “lawful means.” Resistance heightened in 1957&ndash1958 during the crisis over integration at Little Rock’s Central High School. At the same time, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights led a successful drive for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and continued to press for even stronger legislation. NAACP Youth Council chapters staged sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters, sparking a movement against segregation in public accommodations throughout the South in 1960. Nonviolent direct action increased during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, beginning with the 1961 Freedom Rides.
Hundreds of demonstrations erupted in cities and towns across the nation. National and international media coverage of the use of fire hoses and attack dogs against child protesters precipitated a crisis in the Kennedy administration, which it could not ignore. The bombings and riots in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 11, 1963, compelled Kennedy to call in federal troops.
On June 19, 1963, the president sent a comprehensive civil rights bill to Congress. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28 roused public support for the pending bill. After the president’s assassination on November 22, the fate of Kennedy’s bill was in the hands of his vice president and successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the United States Congress.
Roy Wilkins NAACP’s Longest Serving Leader
Roy Wilkins (1901−1981) was born in St. Louis, the son of a minister. While attending the University of Minnesota he served as secretary of the local NAACP. After graduation he began work as the editor of the Kansas City Call, a black weekly. The headline coverage Wilkins gave the NAACP in the Call attracted the attention of Walter White, who hired him as NAACP assistant secretary in 1931.
From 1934 to 1949, Wilkins served concurrently as editor of The Crisis, the NAACP’s quarterly journal. In 1950 he became NAACP administrator and cofounded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He succeeded Walter White as executive secretary of the NAACP in 1955. Under his leadership the NAACP achieved school desegregation, major civil rights legislation, and its peak membership. Wilkins retired in 1977 as the longest serving NAACP leader.
Roy Wilkins. New York: M. Smith Studio, between 1940 and 1950. NAACP Records, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (078.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP
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A Fact Sheet on Cloture
In February 1952 the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) held a meeting in Washington to discuss Senate Rule XXII on cloture, a procedure that Southern senators utilized to block civil rights bills in debate by filibuster. In 1952, Rule XXII required a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate to invoke cloture to break a filibuster. Senators had also liberalized Rule XXII by subjecting “any measure, motion, or other matter” to cloture. At the start of each new Congress the LCCR lobbied for a revision of Rule XXII to lessen the obstacles to passage of civil rights bills. Joseph Rauh was the chief strategist for the LCCR’s Rule XXII campaigns.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Fact Sheet on Cloture. Typescript, ca. 1951. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (079.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP
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Educator and Civil Rights Activist Harry Tyson Moore
Educator and civil rights activist Harry Tyson Moore was one of the earliest leaders to be assassinated during the modern phase of the civil rights movement. Moore was a leader in voter registration efforts and worked as a statewide organizer for the NAACP in Florida and concentrated on establishing branches in rural areas. He began his career teaching in the public school system in Brevard County, Florida, first in an elementary school and later as principal of Mims Elementary School. He and his wife, Harriette, who also taught school, joined the NAACP in 1933. They organized a local chapter in Brevard and filed a lawsuit in 1937 challenging the unequal salaries of black and white teachers, the first of its kind in the South. In 1951, Moore and his wife were the victims of Ku Klux Klan terror, when a bomb exploded in their home.
Harry T. Moore. Photograph, ca. 1950. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (249.00.00)
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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
“I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids&mdashand I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
Writer Ralph Waldo Ellison completed only one novel during his lifetime, the critically acclaimed Invisible Man, published in 1952. It is recognized as one of the most influential masterpieces of the twentieth century, earning honors and awards for Ellison. In the novel Ellison addresses what it means to be an African American in a world hostile to the rights of a minority, on the cusp of the emerging civil rights movement.
Gordon Parks (1912&ndash2006). Ralph Ellison. Photograph, ca. 1950. Ralph Ellison Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (081.00.00)
Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914&ndash1994). Draft page of Invisible Man. Page 2. Transcript, 1952. Ralph Ellison Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (080.00.00)
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Work with African Freedom Movements
In 1952, Bayard Rustin joined A. Philip Randolph, George Houser, William Sutherland, and others to form Americans for South African Resistance, the first organized effort in the U.S. on behalf of the liberation struggle in Africa. Later that year, Rustin traveled to West Africa under the auspices of the American Friends Service Community and Fellowship of Reconciliation to assist African leaders Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikiwe with organizing nonviolent campaigns against colonialism. In 1953, Rustin became executive secretary of the War Resisters League. In this letter Rustin reports on William Sutherland’s work with African freedom movements cosponsored by the League.
Bayard Rustin to supporters of the War Resisters League, December 1, 1953. Bayard Rustin Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (117.00.00) Courtesy of Walter Naegle
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Supplemental Brief in the Brown Cases
Brown v. Board of Education was a watershed moment for American civil rights law. The Supreme Court of the United States held that Jim Crow laws that segregated public school students on the basis of race were unconstitutional, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Brown explicitly overturned the court’s prior decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, where it had held that segregated public facilities were constitutional, provided they were separate but substantially equal. This event was the culmination of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund’s campaign against segregation in schools. Despite this landmark decision, desegregation of public schools was often met with delays or outright opposition.
Supplemental Brief for the United States on Reargument in the Cases of Brown v. Board of Education: Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education, Kansas et al., 1953. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (082.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP
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Attorneys for Brown v. Board of Education
The Supreme Court bundled Brown v. Board of Education with four related cases and scheduled a hearing for December 9, 1952. A rehearing was convened on December 7, 1953, and a decision rendered on May 17, 1954. Three lawyers, Thurgood Marshall (center), chief counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and lead attorney on the Briggs case, with George E. C. Hayes (left) and James M. Nabrit (right), attorneys for the Bolling case, are shown standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court congratulating each other after the court’s decision declaring segregation unconstitutional.
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NAACP Secretary Mildred Bond Roxborough Interviewed by Julian Bond in 2010
Longtime secretary of the NAACP Mildred Bond Roxborough (b. 1926) discusses the achievements of the organization in an interview conducted by Julian Bond (b. 1940) for the Civil Rights History Project in 2010.
Civil Rights History Project Collection (AFC 2010/039), American Folklife Center
Warren’s Reading Copy of the Brown Opinion, 1954
Chief Justice Earl Warren’s reading copy of Brown is annotated in his hand. Warren announced the opinion in the names of each justice, an unprecedented occurrence. The drama was heightened by the widespread prediction that the Court would be divided on the issue. Warren reminded himself to emphasize the decision’s unanimity with a marginal notation, “unanimously,” which departed from the printed reading copy to declare, “Therefore, we unanimously hold. . . .” In his memoirs, Warren recalled the moment with genuine warmth. “When the word ‘unanimously’ was spoken, a wave of emotion swept the room no words or intentional movement, yet a distinct emotional manifestation that defies description.” “Unanimously” was not incorporated into the published version of the opinion, and thus exists only in this manuscript.
Earl Warren’s reading copy of Brown opinion, May 17, 1954. Earl Warren Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (084.00.00)
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"A Great Day for America"
Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) was a triumphant moment for Civil Rights and underscored Chief Justice Earl Warren’s effectiveness in leading the Court. Chief Justice Warren recognized the importance of issuing Brown v. Board as a unanimous decision, ensuring opponents of the decision would not be emboldened by a dissenting opinion. Associate Justice Harold H. Burton sent this note to Chief Justice Warren on the day that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board was announced. He said, “Today I believe has been a great day for America and the Court. . . . I cherish the privilege of sharing in this.” In a tribute to Warren’s judicial statesmanship, Burton added, “To you goes the credit for the character of the opinions which produced the all important unanimity. Congratulations.”
Harold H. Burton to Earl Warren, May 17, 1954. Holograph letter. Earl Warren Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (84.01.00)
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Two Reactions to the Brown v. Board U.S. Supreme Court Decision
In this live television discussion, broadcast on May 23, 1954, Illinois Senator Paul Douglas (1892&ndash1976) and Texas Senator Price Daniel (1910&ndash1988) answer questions about the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision handed down six days earlier. In response to Brown v. Board, Daniel, along with 100 other lawmakers, signed the Southern Manifesto two years later, protesting the Supreme Court’s “abuse of judicial power.” This excerpt is from American Forum of the Air: The Supreme Court’s Desegregation Decision, broadcast on NBC.
Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Courtesy of NBC News
NAACP lawyer Benjamin Hooks interviewed by Renee Poussaint in 2003
NAACP lawyer and minister Benjamin Hooks (1925&ndash2010) explains the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case in an interview conducted by Renee Poussaint for the National Visionary Leadership Project in 2003.
National Visionary Leadership Collection (AFC 2004/007), American Folklife Center
Six Years after Brown, Atlanta Citizens Discuss Their Schools
In response to the Brown v. Board decision, Georgia passed legislation requiring the closing of public schools that had been forced to integrate by court orders and their conversion to private schools. After a federal judge ordered the Atlanta School Board to submit a desegregation plan, Governor Ernest Vandiver established a committee to hold public forums on the issue. The March 1960 hearings in Atlanta, portions of which were broadcast nationally in CBS Reports: Who Speaks for the South? on May 27, 1960, drew a large crowd and speakers with diverse opinions. In 1961, the Georgia legislature revoked its school segregation law. A court-ordered desegregation plan did not take effect, however, for another decade.
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”
The song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” was composed by jazz pianist and educator Dr. Billy Taylor (1921−2010). Although penned in 1954, the piece did not enjoy popularity until the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and became notable in the 1960s with a recording of the song by singer Nina Simone. The title expresses one of the fundamental themes of the movement&mdashthe wish to live free with dignity in America.
Billy Taylor. “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” Holograph manuscript, 1954. Page 2. Billy Taylor Papers, Music Division, Library of Congress (085.00.00)
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Paul Robeson’s Telegram about the Till Trial
Singer, actor, and civil liberties advocate Paul Robeson (1898&ndash1976) sent this telegram in response to an all-white jury acquittal of two white men accused of the murder of Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, who went to visit relatives in Leflore County, Mississippi, in the summer of 1955. The verdict stirred the nation to outrage. A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and elder statesman of the civil rights movement, called for a mass demonstration.
Paul Robeson to A. Philip Randolph, September 24, 1955. Telegram. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (087.00.00) Courtesy of the A. Philip Randolph Institute
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The Murder of Teenager Emmett Till
Emmett Till was brutally murdered on August 28, 1955, at the age of fourteen, for allegedly whistling at a white woman while visiting in Money, Mississippi, with friends. The woman’s husband and his friends kidnapped Till, beat and shot him, and tossed his body into the Tallahatchie River where it was discovered three days later. He could only be identified by a ring on his finger. The decision by Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Bradley, to have his body returned to their home in Chicago and her insistence in having an open casket resulted in bringing national attention to social conditions within the country. Published photos of Till created a global uproar for change and an end to discrimination and white supremacy.
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Civil Rights Activist Joyce Ladner Interviewed by Joseph Mosnier in 2011
Civil rights activist Joyce Ladner (b. 1943) discusses post-war Southern black youth in the movement in an interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier (b. 1962) for the Civil Rights History Project in 2011.
Civil Rights History Project Collection (AFC 2010/039), American Folklife Center
NAACP Field Secretary Medgar W. Evers
Medgar W. Evers (1925&ndash1963), the son of a farmer, was born in Decatur, Mississippi. After graduating from Alcorn Agriculture and Mechanical College in 1952, he went to work for a black insurance company in the Mississippi Delta. At the same time Evers began organizing for the NAACP. In 1954 he became the NAACP’s first field secretary in the state. His main duties were recruiting new members and investigating incidents of racial violence. Evers also led voter registration drives and mass protests, organized boycotts, fought segregation, and helped James Meredith enter the University of Mississippi. In May 1963 his home was bombed after he stepped up protests in Jackson, Mississippi. On June 11, he was murdered in his driveway.
Medgar W. Evers. Photograph, between 1950 and 1963. NAACP Records, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (088.00.00)
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Medgar Evers and the Jackson Movement: “Until Freedom Comes”
NAACP field secretary in Mississippi Medgar Evers (1925&ndash1963) was assassinated at his home in Jackson, Mississippi, a few hours after President Kennedy made a nationally televised speech in which he announced he soon would ask Congress to enact civil rights legislation. A portion of a speech by Evers during a direct action campaign to desegregate Jackson was featured in this excerpt from NBC’s The American Revolution of ’63, broadcast September 2, 1963, which also includes footage of sit-ins, beatings, and arrests of protesters in Jackson.
The NAACP’s Report on the Emmett Till Murder
In the fall of 1955, NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers, Southeast Regional Director Ruby Hurley, and Amzie Moore, president of the Bolivar County branch in Mississippi initiated an investigation of Emmett Till’s lynching and secured key witnesses. In his annual report, Evers included an account of Till’s kidnapping, lynching, and the trial of his killers.
Medgar W. Evers. Annual Report Mississippi State Office National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1955. Typescript. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (089.00.00, 089.01.00)
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Rosa Parks Arrested and Fingerprinted
Rosa Parks was a leader in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, which demonstrated that segregation would be contested in many social settings. A federal district court decided that segregation on publicly operated buses was unconstitutional and concluded that “in the Brown case, Plessy v. Ferguson has been implied, though not explicitly, overruled.” The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court without opinion, a common procedure it followed in the interim between 1954 and 1958.
Rosa Parks’ arrest record, December 5, 1955. Page 2. Frank Johnson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (091.00.00)
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Civil Rights Activist Ruby Sales Interviewed by Joseph Mosnier in 2011
Civil rights activist Ruby Sales (b. 1948) describes the central role and importance of Rosa Parks and other working women for the freedom struggle in an interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier for the Civil Rights History Project in 2011.
Civil Rights History Project Collection (AFC 2010/039), American Folklife Center
Rosa Parks Being Fingerprinted
On December 1, 1955, forty-three-year-old Rosa Parks was arrested for disorderly conduct for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Her arrest and fourteen-dollar fine for violating a city ordinance led African American bus riders and others to boycott Montgomery, Alabama, city buses. It also helped to establish the Montgomery Improvement Association led by a then unknown young minister from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr. The boycott lasted for one year and brought the civil rights movement and Dr. King to the attention of the world.
Mrs. Rosa Parks being fingerprinted in Montgomery, Alabama. Photograph, 1956. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (090.00.00)
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Rosa Parks’ Instructions for Bus Boycott
The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 5, 1955, to direct the black boycott of the city’s segregated buses. Martin Luther King, Jr., was elected its president and Rosa Parks served on the executive board of directors. Parks also worked briefly as a dispatcher for the MIA Transportation Committee. In this capacity, she was responsible for connecting people who needed rides with drivers of private cars and church owned station wagons. In these notes, Parks describes the creation of this volunteer transportation system and offers detailed instructions to riders and drivers to resolve "Transportation Problems."
Rosa Parks’ notes concerning the early days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, . Autograph notes. Page 2 - Page 3. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (277.00.00, 277.00.01) Courtesy of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
Montgomery Fair date book with Rosa Parks’ notes concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955&ndash1956. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (322.00.00) Courtesy of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
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Rosa Parks’ Travels on Behalf of the Boycott
In 1956 Rosa Parks traveled across the U.S. making appearances on behalf of the bus boycott and the NAACP. In the spring she flew to Detroit, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, and Indianapolis, before spending two weeks in New York. There she addressed a civil rights rally and fundraiser at Madison Square Garden and met Roy Wilkins, Thurgood Marshall, and A. Philip Randolph. She left New York to address the annual NAACP Convention in San Francisco. After a summer respite in Montgomery, Parks resumed her tour as the featured speaker at a September mass meeting in Baltimore organized by Lillie Jackson, the NAACP branch president and mother-in-law of Clarence Mitchell.
NAACP Baltimore Branch flyer advertising a lecture by Rosa Parks at the Sharp Street Methodist Church, September 23, 1956. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (321.00.00) Courtesy of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929&ndash1968) was a Southern Baptist minister who followed in the footsteps of his father by embracing a pacifist philosophy. One of his first roles as a civil rights leader was with the Montgomery bus boycott, inspired by the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat. At the end of the year-long boycott, King emerged as a central figure in the struggle for civil rights by using his considerable oratorical skills to take his message on the road in speaking engagements across the country.
King led nonviolent protest marches in one of the South’s most segregated states&mdashAlabama. As the founder and leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), he was approached to join with the five key civil rights groups to support the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, solidifying his place in the history of the civil rights movement. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The next year, he began the Selma Voting Rights movement and in 1966, began his “northern campaign” in Chicago.
Associated Press Photo. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photograph, 1964. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (092.00.00)
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Martin Luther King, Jr., on Nonviolence
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929&ndash1968) discusses the tactic and philosophy of nonviolence in excerpts from an interview conducted by Martin Agronsky at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King was the pastor. The interview was broadcast on October 27, 1957, in the NBC television Look Here series.
Civil Rights Activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth on Bombings and Beatings in 1950s Birmingham
In an interview broadcast May 18, 1961, on CBS Reports: Who Speaks for Birmingham? Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth (1922&ndash2011), one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the leading civil rights figure in Birmingham, Alabama, discusses the violence he suffered in 1955 and 1957 (shown in archival footage).
The original English language comic book, published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1957, was discovered by Egyptian activist Dalia Ziada in 2006. Determining that a nonviolent protest should be the preferred method for reform, Ziada translated the comic book into Arabic, received approval from the government censors, and published the work in 2008. It is credited with helping to inspire the Egyptian Arab Spring protests at Cairo’s Tahrir Square that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, 2011.
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, Arabic edition, 2008. Comic Book Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (093.00.00)
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, 1957. Comic Book Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (093.01.00)
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Southern Negro Leaders Conference
In the fall of 1956, Bayard Rustin discussed with Martin Luther King, Jr., the need for an organization larger than the Montgomery Improvement Association that could sustain protest in the South. With contributions from civil rights activists Ella Baker and Stanley Levison, Rustin drafted seven working papers for a workshop on nonviolent social change. After studying the papers, King called a conference at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in January 1957. There he discussed with more than sixty ministers their common problems of the Southern struggle. The group voted unanimously to form a permanent organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Bayard Rustin. Southern Negro Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration, Working Paper # 1, . Bayard Rustin Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (096.00.00) Courtesy of Walter Naegle
Bayard Rustin. Southern Negro Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration, Working Paper # 7, . Bayard Rustin Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (096.01.00)
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Attorney Clarence Mitchell
Baltimore native Clarence Mitchell attended the University of Maryland Law School. He began his career as a reporter. During World War II he served on the War Manpower Commission and the Fair Employment Practices Committee. In 1946 Mitchell joined the NAACP as its first labor secretary. From 1950 to 1978, he served concurrently as director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, the NAACP’s chief lobbyist, and legislative chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Mitchell waged a tireless campaign on Capitol Hill to secure the passage of a comprehensive series of civil rights laws&mdashthe 1957 Civil Rights Act, the 1960 Civil Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
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Prayer Pilgrimage, 1957
In 1957, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Roy Wilkins cosponsored the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom to demand federal action on school desegregation and demonstrate support for the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Held at the Lincoln Memorial on May 17, the third anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Pilgrimage attracted a crowd of about 25,000. The turnout was smaller than the organizers had predicted but was still the largest civil rights demonstration to date. The Pilgrimage launched the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and helped establish Martin Luther King, Jr., as a national leader.
Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. Program, 1957. NAACP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (099.00.00) Courtesy of the NAACP
Live: Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
The Beatles’ only visit to Atlanta lasted around 10 hours, but was remarkable for one key reason: monitor speakers on the stage allowed them to hear themselves play – a rarity during the whirlwind of Beatlemania.
The group landed at Atlanta Municipal Airport at 2pm, having flown in on a chartered aeroplane from Canada. Although crowds of fans were at the airport to greet them, the plane taxied to a remote area where they discreetly boarded, along with their entourage, three limousines.
#OTD 18AUG1965 Q: You fellas seem to have started a complete new trend in music, clothes, and hairstyles. Are you proud of it? George: Yes. pic.twitter.com/BtM4qk3z87
— George Harrison (@GeorgeHarrison) August 18, 2017
The Beatles were taken to the baseball stadium, where a locker room had been designated as their dressing room and headquarters. Some tables and chairs had been assembled in the area, and temporary beds, known locally as ‘cots’, were also provided. Ringo Starr, amused at the word, climbed into one and sucked his thumb loudly.
The hired caterers offered to make The Beatles hamburgers, but they requested corn on the cob instead. Their meals also included top sirloin, leg of lamb and pork loin, along with the corn, pole beans, fruit and apple pie. The group was so impressed with the quality of the food that they signed the china plates for the caterers.
18 August was a hot day, and as there was no air conditioning in the stadium Paul McCartney requested a large fan for the backstage area, although it made little difference. A number of local VIPs were present, and The Beatles posed for photographs and signed numerous autographs.
Atlanta Stadium – later renamed the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium – had only been recently opened. Tickets for the show had gone on sale two months earlier, with field level seats costing $5.50 and upper level ones $4.50. Fans had begun arriving at the stadium from 4.30am on the morning of the show.
A press conference was held at the stadium from 5pm, and was attended by around 150 reporters.Q: I want to ask what your unfulfilled ambitions are.
Paul McCartney: “Er, I haven’t got any.
Ringo Starr and George Harrison: Neither have I.
John Lennon: Me too.
Q: How are The Beatles enjoying their tour here in America?
John Lennon: Very much, thank you. Hello, hello.
George Harrison: Yeah, it’s great.
Ringo Starr: Having a great time.
Q: Is Ringo going to be a father soon, and if so, what will he name his child?
Ringo Starr: I am gonna be a father soon, and I haven’t got a name yet.
Q: How come you’re not hitting more southern cities on your tour?
John Lennon: We don’t know, you know. It’s not up to us where we go. We just climb in the vans.
Paul McCartney: Philosophical.
Q: George, you being the only single one of the group…
George Harrison: What about Paul? Haven’t you heard about him? Let me introduce you.
Paul McCartney: Hello – you goofed!
Q: May I continue? What are your matrimony plans?
George Harrison: Well that question, you know, it’s stupid for a start because Paul isn’t married either, is he? So if you’d like to ask the question again and count Paul in.
Paul McCartney: Right, and we’ll both talk at the same time.
Q: What are your matrimony plans?
George Harrison: I haven’t any.
Q: Paul, what about you and Jane Asher? What’s the story?
Paul McCartney: What about us?
Ringo Starr: Go on, tell them.
Paul McCartney: Well, I haven’t said anything to anyone. But people keep writing about it, and putting it in papers and things. So, erm, you know, I’m getting to believe it. It’s daft, you know. I never said a word about it, anyway. They just keep quoting.
Q: Do the boys have any Atlanta acquaintances?
John Lennon: Not yet.
Ringo Starr: No.
Q: I’d like to ask George Harrison: You fellas seem to have started a complete new trend in music, in clothes, and in hairstyles. When you think about what you started, are you proud of it?
George Harrison: Yes.
50 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1969
A half century ago, humans first set foot on the moon, hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in New York’s Catskill Mountains for a music festival that became a cultural milestone, and the war in Vietnam dragged on while protest and resistance grew. It was the year that Sesame Street premiered on Public TV, British troops were first sent into Northern Ireland, the Manson Family murders took place, that Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States, and much more.
A portrait of the crew of NASA's Apollo 11 mission to the moon from left, the astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong, as they pose on a model of the moon in 1969 #
Chief Justice Earl Warren administers the oath of office to Richard Nixon, who became the 37th president of the United States, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 1969. #
Original caption: "A hippie demonstrator is restrained by police during a 'Counter Inaugural' parade staged along Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon. Several demonstrators were arrested by police." #
A U.S. Cobra helicopter gunship pulls out of a rocket and strafing attack on a Vietcong position near Cao Lanh in the Mekong Delta on January 22, 1969, during the Vietnam War. #
A modern portable house called "Futuro," manufactured by Oy Polykem AB of Helsinki, made of glass-filled polyester resin, photographed on January 14, 1969 #
A view of an unidentified dancer on the short-lived television show Turn-On, in Los Angeles, California, in February of 1969. The show, canceled after one episode, featured comedy sketches, animation, surrealism, and computerized music (from a recently invented Moog synthesizer). Here the dancer appears to be involved in a primitive form of motion capture to render the stick figure on the monitor. #
Students attending the last day of the U.S. Senate Youth Forum on February 8, 1969, in Washington, D.C., meet with President Nixon, and use their cameras to record the visit. #
A view of the set of the public-TV series Sesame Street featuring Big Bird. Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969. #
The singer James Brown poses at Los Angeles International Airport with his Lincoln Continental and a waiting Learjet. #
Original caption from April 9, 1969: "Off the ground for the very first time is the British-built prototype of the Anglo-French supersonic airliner 'Concorde 002' The liner, piloted by test pilot Brian Trubshaw, made her maiden flight to the nearby Fairford, spending some 21 minutes in the air." #
Queen Elizabeth travels on the London Underground after officially opening the Victoria Line service. #
Janis Joplin performs in concert with her final group, the Full Tilt Boogie Band, in 1969. #
The Apollo 9 astronaut Dave Scott opens the hatch of the command module and moves toward the lunar module while in Earth orbit on March 6, 1969. The Apollo 9 mission tested the readiness of the Lunar Module and EVA procedures, ahead of the scheduled Apollo 11 mission to the moon. #
FBI agents carry the Vietnam War draft resister Robert Whittington Eaton, 25, from a dwelling in Philadelphia on April 17, 1969, where Eaton had chained himself to 13 young men and women. The agent leading the way pushed one of the group who tried to block the path to the sidewalk. At least six young persons were taken away with Eaton. #
Original caption: "Special Delivery. Dong Ha, South Vietnam: A helicopter drops another howitzer for a contingent of the U.S. 3rd Marine Division that is occupying a high area near the Laotian border. Some 5,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops massed to stage a drive against an area near the abandoned allied fortress at Khe Sanh in a search for North Vietnamese regulars and the equipment." #
A South Vietnamese woman mourns over the body of her husband, found with 47 others in a mass grave near Hue, in April of 1969. #
Juanita Boyd, the wife of Secretary of Transportation Alan S. Boyd, and Anna Chennault talk on a roof deck of the Watergate East co-op apartment building after having tea, in Washington, D.C. #
The American Falls at Niagara Falls, New York, dried up to little more than a trickle, giving visitors an unusual chance to see the rocks normally hidden from view by the water, in June 1969. For several months, the U.S. Army diverted the flow of the river to study the underlying geology and the cliff face below the falls. #
Original caption: "Biltmore, a millinery manufacturer, creates the look of knit by stitching green jersey for a snug helmet. An added feature of a wide plastic visor to protect the eyes from the sun, windy days or unidentified flying objects." #
Lynn Montgomery of Seattle heads for the water after his hydroplane flipped and sailed into the air twice, then disintegrated when it smashed back into the water, on June 2, 1969, during the Green Lake Memorial Inboard Regatta races in Seattle, Washington. Montgomery was thrown out head over heels and spun around side to side, and he emerged with a broken arm. #
Tropicana dancers dress for a show in Las Vegas celebrating the centennial of the original Folies Bergere, which opened in Paris in 1869. #
The rock and roller Mick Jagger performs onstage in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969, during the "Stones in the Park" outdoor festival. Marianne Faithfull is visible just behind the photographers. #
A tracking camera follows the Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 spacecraft shortly after its July 16, 1969, launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. #
A crowd watches as the Apollo 11 crew lands on the moon, on giant video screens in New York's Central Park on July 20, 1969. #
The astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., the lunar-module pilot of the first lunar-landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the moon. The astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, the commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar-surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM, the "Eagle," to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, the astronaut Michael Collins, the command-module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. #
Some 1969 fashion shots. At left: an example from Italian Winter and Fall dresses, July 17, 1969. Middle: an unidentified model from the Black Beauty agency dressed in a red, black, & white harlequin-print sweater suit. Right: a single-breasted overcoat of gold, yellow woolen double jersey, with an original lacing. #
Original caption: "Edgartown, Massachusetts: A frogman attempts to raise a car eight hours after it plunged into a pond here with Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy behind the wheel, on July 19. Mary Jo Kopechne, 29, was killed in the crash. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence." #
Original caption: "Saigon, South Vietnam: Troops of the Ninth Division pick up Viet Cong suspects for questioning in the delta area south of Saigon in the summer of 1969." #
During the 1969 to 1974 Mauna Ulu eruption in Hawaii, a lava fall cascades into Alae Crater. Lava falls higher than Niagara Falls began to fill Alae Crater on August 5, 1969, following a catastrophic draining on August 4. Renewed fountaining at Mauna Ulu sent lava into Alae, starting to refill the crater. #
Original caption: "Lahore, Pakistan. U.S. President Richard Nixon springs down from the trunk of a limousine which carried him and Pakistani President Yahya Khan (left, background) in a motorcade to Government House after Nixon's arrival August 1. The Pakistani President seems to take a more cautious way down." #
The new World Trade Center is shown under construction in New York City in August of 1969. #
Police wearing gas masks fire cartridges of tear gas in front of a bookmaker's shop during the Ulster riots in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on August 12, 1969. #
Amid a cloud of confetti and paper, the returned Apollo 11 astronauts (from left) Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins, and Neil Armstrong wave to crowds on New York's 42nd Street from atop the rear of an open-top automobile as they head for the UN building and an award presentation by UN Secretary General U Thant. #
A wide-angle view of the audience and stage at the Woodstock music festival in New York's Catskill Mountains in August of 1969. Woodstock became a major cultural event, a festival planned for 50,000 attendees, but swarmed by more than 400,000, amplified by news coverage, a popular documentary film, and the music that became symbolic of an era. #
Participants and attendees at Woodstock #
The 5-year-old Adrian Cox watches Flyer model cars race around a Flyaway loop track. #
The Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan people, is pictured in 1969 at an unknown location. #
Pass Christian Civil Defense Director Parnell McKay looks over the town’s main business district in Mississippi on August 23, 1969, after Hurricane Camille passed through. Hurricane Camille destroyed much of the Mississippi coastline, killing 259 people. #
Original caption: "Former Dodger great Jackie Robinson signs autographs before the start of the 'Old timers' game between the Angels-Dodgers at Anaheim Stadium. Robinson was elected to Hall of Fame in 1962, NL's most valuable player in 1949 and was the NL batting champ in 1949. He retired in 1956." #
U.S. Army First Air Cavalry division troopers lie on stretchers out in the open after they were wounded in an enemy rocket and mortar fire attack at Fire Base Ike, about 60 miles from Saigon, Vietnam, on September 5, 1969. #
Expo pavilions take shape as they are built in Osaka, Japan, in September 1969. #
Original caption: "Every Kid's Dream. London: Yes, it's real, a genuine fire-engine, and these kids have got it for their very own. Hoses, pumps, and all to play with whenever they like. The whole machine, built in 1951, has been declared obsolete by London Fire Brigade who don't think it's adequate to deal with modern requirements. Rather than sell it as scrap, they've given it to children at Vernon House School, in Willesden, London. It's undoubtedly going to earn a real return in fun and make-believe from its new owners, and all the volunteer crews for thousands more 'fires' to come." #
Original caption: "Madison, Wisconsin: This cameraman stood between the points of Wisconsin National Guardsmen bayonets on September 30, during a demonstration here of welfare mothers, led by Milwaukee civil rights leader Father James Groppi, who were protesting the cuts made in welfare funds. The guard was called out when the demonstrators occupied the state assembly chamber for 10 hours." #
A wide view of the Moratorium Day demonstration in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1969. The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was a broad single-day protest calling for the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. #
Original caption: "Los Angeles, California: The kids test-driving this naturally air-conditioned Volkswagen say it runs fine on the beach, but miniskirts may pose a problem in traffic. Its entire body is constructed out of white wrought-iron. The car, built as part of Volkswagen's exhibit at the international auto show here, is complete with black vinyl upholstery and all running gear." #
Original caption: "Adam Nordwall, 40, a Chippewa Indian, stands at the rail of the three-masted clipper Monte Cristo as it sails past Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on November 9, 1969. Nordwall led a group of Indians in a proposal to purchase the Island for $24 in beads and cloth and suggested it be made into an Indian center. Nordwall hopes to make the proposal to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and possibly to President Nixon. Disposition of the island has been under discussion." Two weeks later, some of Nordwall's group landed on Alcatraz and began an occupation that lasted more than a year and a half. #
The Empire State Building is visible in a hazy New York City skyline, circa 1969. #
Original caption: "A U.S. soldier puts a village to torch where Viet Cong hid in South Vietnam in 1969." #
Charles Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy-murder charges in connection with the Sharon Tate murder case on December 11, 1969, in Los Angeles, California. #
Original caption: "New York City, December 15, 1969: Sign on Times Square reads 'War is Over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko.' The sign was one of several large billboards purchased in 11 major world cities to display the Lennon's Christmas message for peace." #
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Is this 60's Atlanta airport security picture geniuine, and if so, what is happening here? - History
The Museum reopened on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, in line with the Coronavirus Ordinance of the State of Baden-Württemberg issued on 14 May 2021. Guided museum tours with up to 20 people can be booked again, factory and site tours are unfortunately still not offered until further notice. Due to the current low incidence, we are pleased to be able to make it possible to visit our museum without prior testing or prior registration.
News The success story at Le Mans has made memories that will last for eternity at Le Mans. In the coming months, the Museum will be dedicating itself to a special topic: “The success story at Le Mans”. In the first episode, host Timo Bernhard talks to Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport at . Digital tour of the special show The motto of the "International Museum Day" in 2021 is "Museums inspire the future". On this occasion, we will take you virtually through our special exhibition "25 years of ". 25 years of the The mid-engine is one of 's successful technical concepts for series and racing vehicles. The 550 and 718 racing cars use this engine configuration, as did the 914 later. The mid-engine has been firmly anchored in the model range for almost 25 years. To mark the 25th anniversary of the , the Museum tells the story of the successful mid-engine roadster and its predecessors. Find out more Sound Night “Next Level”
After a two-years break, it is back - louder than before! The first digital sound night for fans from all over the world. A place to dream. With your eyes wide open.
The dream of a sports car. This becomes reality in the Museum. Immerse yourself in the exciting world of the sports car manufacturer. Nearly 100 cars and more than 200 small exhibits are waiting to be discovered by you &ndash either on your own or as part of a guided tour.
Let us spoil you with culinary delights in one of our restaurants or our coffee bar. The Museum also offers space for elegant and unforgettable events. Be it conferences or galas, delight your guests with a breathtaking location. With our 4Kids and 4School formats, younger fans can also discover the fascination of in a playful way.
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Find out more Our guided tours We offer a wide range of museum tours - from open and private museum tours, to tours for people with disability, to awareness tours and tours for children. Private tours for up to 10 people can be booked by prior arrangement. Offers for children and schoolparties 4Kids 4School Find out more Drive Rental At some point I'll drive a . How about now?
What Caused the Riots
The riot was not an isolated event, with multiple urban riots across the country taking place in 1964 and 1965 prior to the Watts explosion.
In 1964, there was a three-day riot in Rochester, NY, leaving four dead in the New York City neighborhoods of Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, a six-day riot involving as many as 4,000 people following the shooting of a young Black man in Philadelphia, a three-day riot following the arrest of a Black couple who had gotten into a scuffle with police and a three-day riot in Chicago when a Black woman attempting to shoplift alcohol was attacked by the store owner and crowds later gathered to protest.
Some blamed the Watts riots on outsider agitators, but most understood it as the result of continuing dissatisfaction about living conditions and opportunities, and long-standing tension between police and residents.
In 1961, the arrest of a Black male in Griffith Park for riding a merry-go-round without a ticket resulted in crowds throwing rocks and bottles at police. In 1962, the police raided a Nation of Islam mosque and killed an unarmed man, resulting in massive protests.
Over the two years leading up to the riot, 65 Black residents were shot by police, 27 of them in the back and 25 of them unarmed. During that same period, there were 250 demonstrations against the living conditions there.
What Could Have Been
This is when directors or writers release details about plots, characters, backstories, or other elements they thought about adding to the story at one point but ultimately never did. Unlike All There in the Manual, however, this new information is not released as Word of God with the intention of being added to the Canon. These elements are only What Could Have Been but never were and never will be part of the story proper.
Some may quickly find a home in Fan Work. Many fans love hearing the possible paths their favorite story could have taken. even while breathing a sigh of relief (or feeling disappointed) that they ultimately didn't come to be.
This can also refer to a Sequel Hook that never got a payoff, alternate casts or directors, or even tantalizing news that the entire story was completely different from the one we all know, when it was first conceived.
Just a few typical reasons for why stories get altered along the way:
- The Media Watchdogs or executives said, "No," or at the very least, "Yes, but only if you change this."
- Technical reasons: the people who were originally hired to do it backed out, the special effects plans didn't play out in their favor, there was not enough money in the budget to include it.
- Writing Around Trademarks They couldn't get the legal rights to it.
- Story quality The writers simply decided on something different instead because some ideas, no matter how cool they sound when they first come to you, just have to go (or, in the case of comedies, the joke wasn't as funny as it should have been). Maybe the author realizes the fans wouldn't be too happy about seeing the death of a sympathetic or popular character you originally planned to kill off (not that it stops afewpeople). Or maybe you realize what sounds oh so cool in your head pushes Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far on film or paper. Or maybe it was a bad idea with which to begin. In any case, someone eventually had a better idea.
A good place to find What Could Have Been is in DVD Commentary and out-of-continuity pilots used to pitch a show.
Keep in mind that Tropes Are Tools and that the ideas and concepts implemented into the final product are sometimes better than What Could Have Been.
See also The Other Marty, Vaporware, Development Hell, Dummied Out, Mid-Development Genre Shift, Uplifted Side Story. Contrast with Offscreen Moment of Awesome where a particularly grand moment is seemingly perfectly set up to happen but then isn't seen, and They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot for when they used an awesome idea in a less than ideal way. Occasionally something that was removed survives in another part of the series, then it is Refitted for Sequel.
Have in mind that, although the name may suggest otherwise, this trope is for divergent aspects of the work which were actually considered by the creators in the real world. A story (usually not canon) that takes the plot of an older story, alters a detail and shows how such change would have made things play out differently is a What If? &mdash if changes concern history in fiction, it's Alternate History. If you want to discuss how the work could have been better if some detail was different (with that detail being just your own idea), start a Wild Mass Guessing.
Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl
Grim notes of a failed fan… Mano a mano with the Oakland Raiders… Down and out in Houston… Is pro football over the hump? A vague and vengeful screed on Texas, Jesus and the political realities of the NFL…
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson's Most Recent Stories
Larry Csonka, of the Miami Dolphins, breaks free on a long run during Super Bowl VIII against the Minnesota Vikings in Houston, Texas on January 13th, 1974.
Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty
“. . .and whosoever was not found written into the book of life was cast into the lake of fire…” &mdash Revelations 20:15
This was the theme of the sermon I delivered off the 20th-floor balcony of the Hyatt Regency in Houston on the morning of Super Bowl VIII. It was just before dawn, as I recall, when the urge to speak came on me. Earlier that day I had found &mdash on the tile floor of the Men’s Room on the hotel mezzanine &mdash a religious comic book titled “A Demon’s Nightmare,” and it was from the text of this sleazy tract that I chose the words of my sermon.
The Houston Hyatt Regency &mdash like others designed by architect John Portman in Atlanta and San Francisco &mdash is a stack of 1000 rooms, built around a vast lobby at least 30 stories high, with a revolving “spindletop” bar on the roof. The whole center of the building is a tower of acoustical space. You can walk out of any room and look over the indoor balcony (20 floors down, in my case) at the palm-shrouded, wood and naugahyde maze of the bar/lounge on the lobby floor.
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Closing time in Houston is 2:00 AM. There are after-hours bars, but the Hyatt Regency is not one of them. So &mdash when I was seized by the urge to deliver my sermon at dawn &mdash there were only about 20 ant-sized people moving around in the lobby far below.
Earlier, before the bar closed, the whole ground floor had been jammed with drunken sportswriters, hard-eyed hookers, wandering geeks and hustlers (of almost every persuasion), and a legion of big and small gamblers from all over the country who roamed through the drunken, randy crowd &mdash as casually as possible &mdash with an eye to picking up a last-minute sucker bet from some poor bastard half-mad on booze and willing to put some money, preferably four or five big ones, on “his boys.”
The spread, in Houston, was Miami by six, but by midnight on Saturday almost every one of the two-thousand or so drunks in the lobby of the Regency &mdash official headquarters and media vortex for this eighth annual Super Bowl &mdash was absolutely sure about what was going to happen when the deal went down on Sunday, about two miles east of the hotel on the fog-soaked artificial turf of Rice University stadium.
AH … BUT WAIT! Why are we talking about gamblers here? Or thousands of hookers and drunken sportswriters jammed together in a seething mob in the lobby of a Houston hotel?
And what kind of sick and twisted impulse would cause a professional sportswriter to deliver a sermon from the Book of Revelations off his hotel balcony on the dawn of Super Sunday?
I had not planned a sermon for that morning. I had not even planned to be in Houston, for that matter. … But now, looking back on that outburst, I see a certain inevitability about it. Probably it was a crazed and futile effort to somehow explain the extremely twisted nature of my relationship with God, Nixon and the National Football League: The three had long since become inseparable in my mind, a sort of unholy trinity that had caused me more trouble and personal anguish in the past few months than Ron Ziegler, Hubert Humphrey and Peter Sheridan all together had caused me in a year on the campaign trail.
Or perhaps it had something to do with my admittedly deep-seated need to have public revenge on Al Davis, general manager of the Oakland Raiders. … Or maybe an overweening desire to confess that I had been wrong, from the start, to have ever agreed with Richard Nixon about anything, and especially pro football.
In any case, it was apparently something I’d been cranking myself up to deliver for quite a while … and, for reasons I still can’t be sure of, the eruption finally occurred on the dawn of Super Sunday.
I howled at the top of my lungs for almost 30 minutes, raving and screeching about all those who would soon be cast into the lake of fire, for a variety of low crimes, misdemeanors and general ugliness that amounted to a sweeping indictment of almost everybody in the hotel at that hour.
Most of them were asleep when I began speaking, but as a Doctor of Divinity and an ordained minister in the Church of The New Truth, I knew in my heart that I was merely a vessel &mdash a tool, as it were &mdash of some higher and more powerful voice.
For eight long and degrading days I had skulked around Houston with all the other professionals, doing our jobs &mdash which was actually to do nothing at all except drink all the free booze we could pour into our bodies, courtesy of the National Football League, and listen to an endless barrage of some of the lamest and silliest swill ever uttered by man or beast … and finally, on Sunday morning about six hours before the opening kickoff, I was racked to the point of hysteria by a hellish interior conflict.
I was sitting by myself in the room, watching the wind & weather clocks on the TV set, when I felt a sudden and extremely powerful movement at the base of my spine. Mother of Sweating Jesus! I thought. What is it &mdash a leech? Are there leeches in this goddamn hotel, along with everything else? I jumped off the bed and began clawing at the small of my back with both hands. The thing felt huge, maybe eight or nine pounds, moving slowly up my spine toward the base of my neck.
I’d been wondering, all week, why I was feeling so low and out of sorts … but it never occurred to me that a giant leech had been sucking blood out of the base of my spine all that time and now the goddamn thing was moving up towards the base of my brain, going straight for the medulla … and as a professional sportswriter I knew that if the bugger ever reached my medulla I was done for.
It was at this point that serious conflict set in, because I realized &mdash given the nature of what was coming up my spine and the drastic effect I knew it would have, very soon, on my sense of journalistic responsibility &mdash that I would have to do two things immediately: First, deliver the sermon that had been brewing in my brain all week long, and then rush back into the room and write my lead for the Super Bowl story. …
Or maybe write my lead first, and then deliver the sermon. In any case, there was no time to lose. The thing was about a third of the way up my spine now, and still moving at good speed. I jerked on a pair of L.L. Bean stalking shorts and ran out on the balcony to a nearby ice machine.
Back in the room I filled a glass full of ice and Wild Turkey, then began flipping through the pages of “A Demon’s Nightmare” for some kind of spiritual springboard to get the sermon moving. I had already decided &mdash about midway in the ice-run &mdash that I had adequate time to address the sleeping crowd and also crank out a lead before that goddamn blood-sucking slug reached the base of my brain &mdash or, even worse, if a sharp dose of Wild Turkey happened to slow the thing down long enough to rob me of my final excuse for missing the game entirely, like last year. …
What? Did my tongue slip there? My fingers? Or did I just get a fine professional hint from my old buddy, Mr. Natural?
Indeed. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. John Mitchell said that &mdash shortly before he quit his job and left Washington at 90 miles an hour in a chauffeur-driven limousine.
I have never felt close to John Mitchell, but on that rotten morning in Houston I came as close as I ever will because he was, after all, a pro … and so, alas, was I. Or at least I had a fist-full of press badges that said I was.
And it was this bedrock sense of professionalism, I think, that quickly solved my problem…which, until that moment when I recalled the foul spectre of Mitchell, had seemed to require a frantic decision between either delivering my sermon or writing my lead, in the space of an impossibly short time.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
I suspect it was somebody from the Columbia Journalism Review, but I have no proof … and it makes no difference anyway. There is a bond, among pros, that needs no definition. Or at least it didn’t on that Sunday morning in Houston, for reasons that require no further discussion at this point in time…because it suddenly occurred to me that I had already written the lead for this year’s Super Bowl game I wrote it last year in Los Angeles, and a quick rip through my fat manila folder of clips labeled “Football ” turned it up as if by magic.
I jerked it out of the file, and retyped it on a fresh page slugged: “Super Bowl/Houston .” The only change necessary was the substitution of “Minnesota Vikings” for “Washington Redskins.” Except for that, the lead seemed just as adequate for the game that would begin in about six hours as it was for the one that I missed in Los Angeles in January of .
“The precision-jackhammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Minnesota Vikings today by stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another up the middle, mixed with pinpoint-precision passes into the flat and numerous hammer-jack stops around both ends …”
The jangling of the telephone caused me to interrupt my work. I jerked it off the hook, saying nothing to whoever was on the other end, and began flashing the hotel operator. When she finally cut in I spoke very calmly. “Look,” I said. “I’m a very friendly person and a minister of the gospel, to boot &mdash but I thought I left instructions down there to put no calls &mdash NO CALLS, GODDAMNIT! &mdash through to this room, and especially not now in the middle of this orgy … I’ve been here eight days and nobody’s called me yet. Why in hell would they start now?… What? Well, I simply can’t accept that kind of flimsy reasoning, operator. Do you believe in Hell? Are you ready to speak with Saint Peter? … Wait a minute now, calm down … I want to be sure you understand one thing before I get back to my business I have some people here who need help … But I want you to know that God is Holy! He will not allow sin in his presence! The Bible says: ‘There is none righteous. No, not one. … For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ That’s from the book of Romans, young lady. …“
The silence at the other end of the line was beginning to make me nervous. But I could feel the sap rising, so I decided to continue my sermon from the balcony… and I suddenly realized that somebody was beating on my door. Jesus god, I thought, it’s the manager they’ve come for me at last.
But it was a TV reporter from Pittsburgh, raving drunk and demanding to take a shower. I jerked him into the room. “Nevermind the goddamn shower,” I said. “Do you realize what I have on my spine?” He stared at me, unable to speak. “A giant leech,” I said. “It’s been there for eight days, getting fatter and fatter with blood.”
He nodded slowly as I led him over to the phone. “I hate leeches,” he muttered.
“That’s the least of our problems,” I said. “Room service won’t send any beer up until noon, and all the bars are closed. … I have this Wild Turkey, but I think it’s too heavy for the situation we’re in.”
“You’re right,” he said. “I got work to do. The goddamn game’s about to start. I need a shower.”
“Me too,” I said. “But I have some work to do first, so you’ll have to make the call.”
“Call?” He slumped into a chair in front of the window, staring out at the thick grey mist that had hung on the town for eight days &mdash except now, as Super Sunday dawned, it was thicker and wetter than ever.
I gave him the phone: “Call the manager,” I said. “Tell him you’re Howard Cosell and you’re visiting up here with a minister in 2003 we’re having a private prayer breakfast and we need two fifths of his best red wine, with a box of saltine crackers.”
He nodded unhappily. “Hell, I came here for a shower. Who needs the wine?”
“It’s important,” I said. “You make the call while I go outside and get started.”
He shrugged and dialed “O” while I hurried out to the balcony, clearing my throat for an opening run at James 2:19:
“Beware!” I shouted, “for the Devils also believe, and tremble!”
I waited for a moment, but there was no reply from the lobby, 20 floors down &mdash so I tried Ephesians 6:12, which seemed more appropriate:
“For we wrestle not,” I screamed, “against flesh and blood &mdash but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world &mdash and, yes &mdash against spiritual wickedness in high places!”
Still there was no response except the booming echoes of my own voice…but the thing on my spine was moving with new vigor now, and I sensed there was not much time. All movement in the lobby had ceased. They were all standing still down there &mdash maybe 20 or 30 people…but were they listening? Could they hear?
I couldn’t be sure. The acoustics of these massive lobbies are not predictable. I knew, for instance, that a person sitting in a room on the 11th floor, with the door open, could hear &mdash with unnerving clarity &mdash the sound of a cocktail glass shattering on the floor of the lobby. It was also true that almost every word of Gregg Allman’s “Multi-Colored Lady” played at top volume on a dual-speaker Sony TC-126 in an open-door room on the 20th floor could be heard in the NFL. press room on the hotel mezzanine … but it was hard to be sure of the timbre and carrying-power of my own voice in this cavern it sounded, to me, like the deep screaming of a bull elk in the rut … but there was no way to know, for sure, if I was really getting through.
“Discipline!” I bellowed. “Remember Vince Lombardi!” I paused to let that one sink in &mdash waiting for applause, but none came. “Remember George Metesky!” I shouted. “He had discipline!”
Nobody down in the lobby seemed to catch that one, although I sensed the first stirrings of action on the balconies just below me. It was almost time for the Free Breakfast in the Imperial Ballroom downstairs, and some of the early-rising sportswriters seemed to be up and about. Somewhere behind me a phone was ringing, but I paid no attention. It was time, I felt, to bring it all together … my voice was giving out, but despite the occasional dead spots and bursts of high-pitched wavering, I grasped the railing of the balcony and got braced for some flat-out raving:
“Revelations, Twenty-fifteen!” I screamed. “Say Hallelujah! Yes! Say Hallelujah!”
People were definitely responding now. I could hear their voices, full of excitement &mdash but the acoustics of the place made it impossible to get a good fix on the cries that were bounding back and forth across the lobby. Were they saying “Hallelujah”?
“Four more years!” I shouted. “My friend General Haig has told us that the Forces of Darkness are now in control of the Nation &mdash and they will rule for four more years!” I paused to sip my drink, then I hit it again: “And Al Davis has told us that whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire!”
I reached around behind me with my free hand, slapping at a spot between my shoulder blades to slow the thing down.
“How many of you will be cast into the lake of fire in the next four years? How many will survive? I have spoken with General Haig, and…”
At this point I was seized by both arms and jerked backwards, spilling my drink and interrupting the climax of my sermon. “You crazy bastard!” a voice screamed. “Look what you’ve done! The manager just called. Get back in the room and lock the fucking door! He’s going to bust us!”
It was the TV man from Pittsburgh, trying to drag me back from my pulpit. I slipped out of his grasp and returned to the balcony. “This is Super Sunday!” I screamed. “I want every one of you worthless bastards down in the lobby in ten minutes so we can praise God and sing the national anthem!”
At this point I noticed the TV man sprinting down the hall toward the elevators, and the sight of him running caused something to snap in my brain. “There he goes!” I shouted. “He’s headed for the lobby! Watch out! It’s Al Davis. He has a knife!”
I could see people moving on all the balconies now, and also down in the lobby. Then, just before I ducked back in my room, I saw one of the glass-walled elevators starting down, with a single figure inside it… he was the most visible man in the building a trapped and crazy animal descending slowly &mdash in full view of everybody from the busboys in the ground-floor coffee-shop to Jimmy the Greek on the balcony above me &mdash to certain captivity by that ugly crowd at the bottom.
I watched for a moment, then hung the Do NOT DISTURB sign on my doorknob and double-locked the door. That elevator, I knew, would be empty when it got to the lobby. There were at least five floors, on the way down, where he could jump out and bang on a friendly door for safe refuge…and the crowd in the lobby had not seen him clearly enough, through the tinted-glass wall of the elevator, to recognize him later on.
And there was not much time for vengeance, anyway, on the odd chance that anyone cared.
It had been a dull week, even by sportswriters’ standards, and now the day of the Big Game was finally on us. Just one more tree breakfast, one more ride, and by nightfall the thing would be over.
The first media-bus was scheduled to leave the hotel for the stadium at 10:30, four hours before kickoff, so I figured that gave me some time to relax and act human. I filled the bathtub with hot water, plugged the tape recorder with both speakers into a socket right next to the tub, and spent the next two hours in a steam-stupor, listening to Rosalie Sorrels and Doug Sahm, chewing idly on a small slice of Mr. Natural, and reading the Cocaine Papers of Sigmund Freud.
Around noon I went downstairs to the Imperial Ballroom to read the morning papers over the limp dregs of NFL’s free breakfast, then I stopped at the free bar for a few bloody marys before wandering outside to catch the last bus for the stadium &mdash the CBS special &mdash complete with more bloody marys, screwdrivers and a roving wagon-meister who seemed to have everything under control.
On the bus to the stadium I made a few more bets on Miami. At that point I was picking up everything I could get, regardless of the points. It had been a long and jangled night, but the two things that needed to be done before game-time &mdash my sermon and my lead &mdash were already done, and the rest of the day looked easy: Just try to keep out of trouble and stay straight enough to collect on all my bets.
THE CONSENSUS AMONG the 1600 or so sportswriters in town favored Miami by almost two to one … but there are only a handful of sportswriters in this country with enough sense to pour piss out of their own boots, and by Saturday night there was an obvious drift among the few “smart” ones to Minnesota, with a seven-point cushion. Paul Zimmerman of the New York Post, author of A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football and the sportswriting fraternity’s scaled-down answer to the Washington Post‘s political guru David Broder, had organized his traditional pressroom betting pool &mdash where any sportswriter who felt up to it could put a dollar in the pot and predict the final score (in writing, on the pressroom bulletin board, for all the world to see) … and whoever came closest would pick up a thousand or so dollars.
Or at least that was the theory. But in reality there were only about 400 writers willing to risk a public prediction on the outcome of a game that &mdash even to an amateur like me &mdash was so obvious that I took every bet I could get against the Vikings, regardless of the spread. As late as 10:30 on Sunday morning I was calling bookies on both coasts, doubling and tripling my bets with every point I could get from five to seven … and by 2:35 on Sunday afternoon, five minutes after the kickoff, I knew I was home free.
Moments later, when the Dolphins drove the length of the field for another touchdown, I began collecting money. The final outcome was painfully clear less than halfway through the first quarter &mdash and shortly after that, Sport Magazine editor Dick Schapp reached over my shoulder in the press section and dropped two bills &mdash a five and a twenty &mdash in my lap.
I smiled back at him. “Jesus,” I said. “Are you giving up already? This game is far from over, my man. Your people are only 21 points down, and we still have a whole half to go.”
“You’re not counting on a second-half rally?” I asked, pocketing his money.
He stared at me, saying nothing … then he rolled his eyes up toward the soupy mist above the stadium where the Goodyear Blimp was hovering, almost invisible in the fog.
IN THE INCREASINGLY rigid tradition of Super Bowl games, this one was never in doubt. The Dolphins took the opening kickoff and stomped the Viking defense like they were a gang of sick junkies. The “Purple People Eaters” &mdash Minnesota’s fabled “front four” &mdash ate nothing but crow on that long afternoon in Houston. It was one of the dullest and most predictable football games I’ve ever had to sit through, on TV or anywhere else. My final score prediction in Zimmerman’s pool had been Miami, 27-10 &mdash three points high, on both sides, from the final score of 24-7. It was not close enough, apparently, to win the sportswriters’ pool &mdash but it was close enough to beat most of the bookies, wizards and experts.
There is a definite, perverse kind of pleasure in beating the “smart money” &mdash in sports, politics or anything else &mdash and the formula for doing it seems dangerously simple: Take the highest odds you can get against the conventional wisdom &mdash but never bet against your own instinct or the prevailing karma.
Moments after the game, standing in the sawdust-floored circus tent where the players were being led in, one by one, for mass interviews with the sporting press, I was approached by Larry Merchant, author of a recently published book called The National Football Lottery, a shrewd layman’s analysis about how to beat the bookies by betting on pro football games. I was just finishing a long talk with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie about the relationship between national politics, pro football and the cruel fate of our mutual friend, George McGovern, when Merchant tapped me on the shoulder with one hand and handed me a $50 bill with the other. He said nothing at all. I had given him Minnesota with six and a half. The final spread was 17.
I smiled and stuck the bill in my wallet. Joe Robbie seemed not to notice. Gambling on the outcome of games is strictly verboten among owners, players, coaches and all other employees of the National Football League, and being seen in public in the presence of an obvious gambling transaction makes these people very uncomfortable. The only thing worse than being seen with a known gambler is finding yourself in the white-light glare of a network TV camera in the company of an infamous drug abuser … and here was the owner of the winning Super Bowl team, moments after accepting the Lombardi trophy in front of 300 cameras, talking with obvious enthusiasm &mdash about the likelihood of President Nixon’s impeachment &mdash to a person long-since identified by the NFL security watchdogs as both a gambler and a drug-freak.
I half-expected Robbie to jerk his coat over his head and sprint for the tent-exit, but he never even blinked. He kept right on talking about the McGovern campaign, then shook my hand again and invited me out to the Dolphin victory party that night at the Marriott Motor Hotel. “Come on out and celebrate with us,” he said. “It should be a nice party.”
“Why not?” I said. Behind me I could hear George Kimball, bellowing in the throes of a long-delayed acid frenzy … and as I turned to deal with Kimball I remembered that Joe Robbie was originally a politician &mdash a candidate for Congress, among other things, on the left-wing Farmer-Labor ticket in Minnesota &mdash and there was something about him that suggested a sense of politics or at least political sensitivity that you rarely encounter among men who own and run professional football teams. Both Robbie and his coach, Don Shula, seem far more relaxed and given to quick flashes of humor than the kind of militaristic, puritanical jocks and PR men you normally have to deal with on the business/power levels of the NFL. This was just as obvious &mdash especially with Shula &mdash before the game, as well as after it.
In stark contrast to Shula, Viking coach Bud Grant spent most of Super Week acting like a Marine Corps drill sergeant with a terminal case of the piles. Grant’s public behavior in Houston called up ominous memories of Redskin coach, George Allen’s, frantic pregame bitching last year in Los Angeles.
The parallel was hard to miss, and it seemed almost certain &mdash in both cases &mdash that the attitudes of the coaches had to either reflect or powerfully influence the attitudes of the players … and in high-pressure games between supposedly evenly-matched teams, pre-game signs like confidence, humor, temper tantrums and bulging eyeballs are not to be ignored when betting-time comes.
Or at least not by me … although there is definitely another side to that coin, and it comes up just often enough to keep the game interesting. There is a factor known among players as “flakiness,” which translates roughly as a kind of “team personality,” characterized by moodiness and an almost manic-depressive unpredictability both on and off the field.
Miami is decidedly not a flakey team they are consistent to the point of tedium. “We’re a money team,” says all-pro defensive back Jake Scott. “When something has to be done, we do it.” And the record is there to prove it: The Dolphins have won two straight Super Bowls and lost only two games in the past two years. One of these was a meaningless, late-season giveaway to Baltimore last season, when Shula was resting his regulars for the play-offs &mdash and the other was a potentially ominous 12-7 loss, in the second game of this season, to the Oakland Raiders &mdash known throughout the League as the flakiest team in pro football.
When I began this doom-struck story many months ago, the idea was to follow one team all the way to the Super Bowl and, in the process, try to document the alleged &mdash or at least Nixonian &mdash similarities between pro football and politics. The problem, at that time, was to decide which team to follow. It had to be one with a good chance of going all the way, and also a team I could get along with over an extended period of time.
That was in early November, and the list of possibilities included about half the League, but I narrowed it down to the four teams where I already knew some of the players: Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and Oakland … and after many days of brooding I chose Oakland.
There were two main factors involved: 1) I had already made a large bet, at 8-1 odds, on Oakland to go all the way &mdash as opposed to a 4-1 bet on the Redskins and 2-1 against Minnesota … and 2) When I checked with Dave Burgin, a former San Francisco Examiner and Washington Star-News sports editor, he said there were only two teams in the whole League flakey enough for me to identify with in any kind of personal or human way: One was Pittsburgh and the other was Oakland.
WELL … IT IS three months later now, and the question that still haunts me is, which jail, morgue or asylum would I be in today if I’d happened to pick one of the other teams.
Even now &mdash almost 2000 miles and two months removed from the Raider headquarters in Oakland &mdash I still want to reach for an icepick every time I see a football … and my only consolation, looking back on that nightmare, is that I might have decided to “cover” the Dallas Cowboys. Just before talking to Burgin, in fact, I read a savage novel called North Dallas Forty, by ex-Cowboy flanker Pete Gent, and it had cranked up my interest in both Dallas and the Cowboys enough so that I was right on the brink of dumping Oakland and heading for Texas. …
Fortunately, I was shrewd enough to choose Oakland &mdash a decision that resulted, less than three weeks after I made it, in a series of personal and professional disasters ranging from massive slander and a beating by stadium-cops outside the Raider dressing room, to total banishment from the field, locker room, press box, and for all practical purposes &mdash because of the dark assumptions that would inevitably be made about any player seen with me in public &mdash from any bar, restaurant, zoo or shotgun store in the Bay Area frequented by any Raider players.
The reasons for all this are still not entirely clear &mdash or maybe they are, and I still can’t grasp the real meaning of what happened. Perhaps it was merely a case of the chickens coming home to roost, accompanied by three giant condors.
In any case, the telling of this tale requires a massive flashback &mdash to the good old days, as it were, when I was still enjoying pro football, before either NFL or Raider investigators decided that I was a dangerous dope fiend, and certainly long before I was stricken from the book of life and cast into the lake of fire.
The Raiders kicked you out? For what? Drug rumors? [Laughter] Well, it’s nice to know they’re starting to give writers the same kind of underhanded chickenshit they’ve been laying on players for ten years. … Yeah, it varies from team to team: Like, for me, getting traded to Pittsburgh after all that time in Oakland was like finally coming up for air. As a matter of general philosophy, though, the National Football League is the last bastion of fascism in America.
&mdash Tom Keating, defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To reach the Oakland Raiders’ practice field you drive from San Francisco across the Bay Bridge and then south on U.S. 17 to Exit 98 at Hegenberger Road at the south end of Alameda Bay … turn right at the off-ramp that leads to the Oakland International Airport glance back at the Edgewater Inn and the squat-white concrete-block building right next to the Edgewater that says “Oakland Raiders” and then swing north again.
About six miles past the Airport entrance, the Oakland Hilton and a speedboat raceway &mdash the road gets narrow and seems to be heading downhill, through a wet desert of stunted jack-pines (or scrub-oaks, or whatever they call those useless little trees that grow on the edge of swamplands all over the country, near places like Pensacola and Portland) … but this is Oakland, or at least San Leandro, and when you drive 20 miles out of San Francisco to a lonesome place like this, you want a pretty good reason.
… Or at least a decent excuse.
The only people who make this run regularly, in the autumn months between late August and December, are Bay Area sportswriters and people on the payroll of the Oakland Raiders &mdash players, trainers, coaches, owners, etc. &mdash and the only reason they make this grim trip day after day is the nervous fact that the Raiders’ practice field and daily headquarters is located, for good or ill, out here on this stinking estuary across the bay from San Francisco.
It is a hard place to find unless you know exactly where to look. The only sure giveaway sign, from the highway, is a sudden rise of thin steel scaffolding looming out of the jack-pines about 200 yards west of the road &mdash and two men in cheap plastic ski jackets on a platform at the top of the tower, aiming big grey movie cameras down at whatever’s happening on the other side of that tree-fence.
Turn left just beyond the film-tower, park in a muddy lot full of new Cadillacs and flashy sports cars, and walk up a grassy bank to a one-story concrete-block building that looks like a dog-kennel or a Pepsi-Cola warehouse in St. Louis … push through a big metal fire-door & along a naked corridor decorated on both sides with black and grey helmets, sharp-edged footballs, red-white-and-blue NFL stickers … and finally around a corner into the weight-room, a maze of fantastically-complicated machinery with signs all around warning “unauthorized persons” to keep their goddamn hands off of everything. One of the weight-machines costs $6500 and is designed to do nothing but stretch knots out of trapezius muscles another, costing $8800, is a maze of steel cables, weights and ankle-hooks that will &mdash if used properly &mdash cure kinks, rips and contusions out of every muscle from the hip to the achilles tendon. There are other machines for problems of the feet, neck and elbows.
I was tempted to get physically involved with every machine in the building &mdash just to know how it felt to get jerked around by all that fantastic machinery. I was also tempted to speak with the trainers and sample whatever medications they had to offer &mdash but pro football locker rooms are no longer the wholesale drug dispensaries that they were in the past. National Football League Commissioner “Pete” Rozelle &mdash along with “President” Nixon and the network TV moguls &mdash have determined that drugs and pro football won’t mix at least not in public.
On my first visit to the locker room &mdash and on all other visits, for that matter &mdash I avoided both the weight machines and the trainers. There was no point, I felt, in compromising the story early on although if I’d known what kind of shitrain I was heading into I would have sprung every machine in the building and gobbled every pill I could get my hands on.
But I felt a certain obligation, back then, to act in a “professional” manner … and, besides, for my first look at the Raider practice field I was accompanied by a friendly little fellow named Al LoCasale, who had told me when I called on the phone that he was “executive assistant” to the Raiders’ general manager and would-be owner, Al Davis.
LoCasale led me through the locker room, past the weights and the trainers, and out through another small door that opened onto a long green pasture enclosing two football fields, four goal posts, many blocking sleds and tackling dummies, and about 60 men moving around very actively, gathered in four separate groups on both fields.
I recognized John Madden, the head coach, running the offensive unit through short-pass drills on the field to my right … and on the other field, about 50 yards to my left, another coach was running the defensive unit through some kind of drill I couldn’t recognize.
Far down at the other end of the field where the defensive unit was working, I could see George Blanda, the Raiders’ 46-year-old reserve quarterback and premier place-kicker, working with his own set of handlers and banging one kick after another “through the uprights” &mdash from the 30 or 35 yard line. Blanda and his small crew were paying no attention to what was happening on the offensive and defensive fields. Their job was to keep George sharp on field-goals, and during the two hours I was there, that afternoon, he kicked at least 40 or 50, and I never saw him miss one.
There were two other solitary figures moving around on the field(s) beyond the small enclosure near the locker-room door where LoCasale and several assistants made sure the half-dozen local sportswriters stayed. One was Ray Guy, the rookie punter and number one draft choice from Mississippi, who spent all afternoon kicking one ball after another in tall spiraling arcs above the offensive unit to a brace of ball-boys just in front of the sportswriters’ huddle … and the other was a small wiry man in a tan golf jacket with a greasy duck-tail haircut who paced along the sidelines of both fields with a speedy kind of intensity that I never really noticed until he suddenly appeared very close to me and I heard him ask a sports-writer from the San Francisco Chronicle who I was and what I was doing there. …
The conversation took place within 10 yards of me, and I heard most of it.
“Who’s the big guy over there with the ball in his hand?” asked the man with the DA.
“His name’s Thompson,” replied Chronicle sports-writer Jack Smith. “He’s a writer for Rolling Stone.” “The Rolling Stones? Jesus Christ! What’s he doing here? Did you bring him?”
“No, he’s writing a big article. Rolling Stone is a magazine, Al. It’s different from the Rolling Stones they’re a rock music group…Thompson’s a buddy of George Plimpton’s, I think … and he’s also a friend of Dave Burgin’s &mdash you remember Burgin?”
“Holy shit! Burgin! We ran him out of here with a cattle prod!”
I saw Smith laugh at that point, then he was talking again: “Don’t worry, Al. Thompson’s okay. He wrote a good book about Las Vegas.”
Good god! I thought. That’s it. … If they read that book I’m finished. By this time I’d realized that this strange-looking bugger named “Al,” who looked like a pimp or a track-tout, was in fact the infamous Al Davis &mdash general manager and de facto owner (pending settlement of a nasty lawsuit scheduled for court-action early this year) of the whole Oakland Raider operation.
Davis glanced over his shoulder at me, then spoke back to Smith: “Get the bastard out of here. I don’t trust him.”
I heard that very clearly &mdash and if I’d had any sense I’d have abandoned the whole story right then, for reasons of extreme and unnatural prejudice call the office and say I couldn’t handle the bad vibes, then jump the next plane to Colorado. … I was watching Davis very closely now, and it occurred to me that the fiendish intensity of his speech and mannerisms reminded me very strongly of another Oakland badass I’d spent some time with, several years earlier &mdash ex-Hell’s Angels president Ralph “Sonny” Barger, who had just beaten a multiple-murder rap and then copped out, they said, to some kind of minor charge like “Aggravated Assault with Intent to Commit Murder,” or “Possession of Automatic Weapons” (submachine-guns), “Possession of Heroin (four pounds) with Intent to Sell, and Sexual Assault on Two Minors with Intent to Commit Forcible Sodomy”…
I had read these things in the Chronicle … but … What the hell? Why compound these libels? Any society that will put Barger in jail and make Al Davis a respectable millionaire at the same time is not a society to be trifled with.
IN ANY CASE, the story of my strange and officially ugly relationship with Al Davis is too complicated for any long explanations at this point. I spent several days pacing the sidelines of the Raider practice field with him &mdash prior to the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Kansas City games &mdash and the only thing I remember him talking about is “Environmental Determinism.” He spoke at considerable length on that subject, as I recall, but there is nothing in my notes to indicate precisely what he said about it.
Shortly after I heard him tell Smith to get rid of me on that first afternoon, I walked over to him and somehow got wound up in a conversation about how he was having trouble buying property in Aspen because “some people out there” thought his money was “dirty” because of his known connections in Las Vegas. “Hell, that’s no problem,” I told him. “I once ran for sheriff in Aspen I know the place pretty well, and I can tell you for sure that at least half the money out there is dirtier than any you’re likely to come up with.”
He stopped and eyed me curiously. “You ran for sheriff?” he said. “In Aspen, Colorado?”
I nodded. “Yeah, but I’d rather not talk about it. We didn’t lose by much, but losing in politics is like losing in football, right? One vote, one point &mdash “
He smiled crookedly, then began pacing again. “I don’t give a damn about politics,” he said as I hurried along the white-lime sideline to keep up with him. “The only things that interest me are economics and foreign affairs.”
Jesus christ! I thought. Economics, foreign affairs, environmental determinism &mdash this bastard is sandbagging me.
We paced back and forth a while longer, then he suddenly turned on me: “What are you after?” he snapped. “Why are you out here?”
“Well… “I said. “It would take me a while to explain it. Why don’t we have a beer after practice tomorrow and I’ll &mdash “
“Not tomorrow,” he said quickly. “I only come out here on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They get nervous when I’m around, so I try to stay away most of the time.”
I nodded &mdash but I didn’t really understand what he meant until an hour or so later, when Coach Madden signaled the end of that day’s practice and Davis suddenly rushed onto the field and grabbed the quarterback, Ken Stabler, along with a receiver and a defensive back I didn’t recognize, and made them run the same pass pattern &mdash a quick shot from about 15 yards out with the receiver getting the ball precisely at the corner of the goal line and the out-of-bounds line &mdash at least twelve consecutive times until they had it down exactly the way he wanted it.
That is my last real memory of Al Davis: It was getting dark in Oakland, the rest of the team had already gone into the showers, the coach was inside speaking sagely with a gaggle of local sportswriters, somewhere beyond the field-fence a big jet was cranking up its after burners on the airport runway … and here was the owner of the flakiest team in pro football, running around on a half-dark practice field like a king-hell speed freak with his quarterback and two other key players, insisting that they run the same goddamn play over and over again until they had it right.
That was the only time I ever felt that I really understood Davis. … We talked on other days, sort of loosely and usually about football, whenever I would show up at the practice field and pace around the sidelines with him… and it was somewhere around the third week of my random appearances, as I recall, that he began to act very nervous whenever he saw me.
I never asked why, but it was clear that something had changed, if only back to normal. … After one of the mid-week practices I was sitting with one of the Raider players in the tavern down the road from the fieldhouse and he said: “Jesus, you know I was walking back to the huddle and I looked over and, god damn, I almost flipped when I saw you and Davis standing together on the sideline. I thought, man, the world really is changing when you see a thing like that &mdash Hunter Thompson and Al Davis &mdash Christ, you know that’s the first time I ever saw anybody with Davis during practice the bastard’s always alone out there, just pacing back and forth like a goddamn beast. …“
IN THE MEANTIME, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen, I was trying to learn as much as possible about the real underbelly of pro football by watching a film of the Denver-Dallas game with several Raider players who provided a running commentary on the action &mdash trying to explain, in language as close as they could cut it for the layman’s slow eye, what was happening on the screen and how it might or might not relate to the Denver-Oakland game coming up next Sunday.
The purpose of the film-session was to show me some of the things &mdash in slow motion and repeated instant replay &mdash that nobody in the stands or the press box will ever understand. It was done as a personal favor, at a time when neither I nor any of the Oakland players realized that I was about to be banished. If I’d been writing a story on Evel Knievel at the time, I would have asked him to do the same thing &mdash sit down for an evening with some films of his jumps, and explain each one step-by-step, along with whatever was going through his head at any given moment.
What follows, then, is a random commentary by some pro football players just a few games away from the Super Bowl, watching a film of a game between two teams &mdash one of which they will have to beat on Sunday, to make the playoffs, and another they might have to beat in the Super Bowl itself. The film we were watching was the Denver-Dallas game on December 2nd. Dallas won, 22-10 &mdash which hardly matters, because pro football players don’t watch game-films to see who won or lost. They watch for patterns, tendencies and individual strengths or weaknesses … and in this case they were trying to translate their reactions into language I could get a personal grip on, which accounts for some of the awkward moments.
Under normal circumstances I’d identify all of the voices in this heavily-edited tape transcript &mdash but for reasons that will soon become obvious if they aren’t already, I decided that it would probably be more comfortable for all of us if I lumped all the player voices under one name: “Raider.” This takes a bit of an edge off the talk, but it also makes it harder for the NFL security watchdogs to hassle some good people and red-line their names for hanging around with a Dope Fiend.
RAIDER: Okay, here’s the thing. Dallas is going to attack Denver a lot differently than we’re going to probably attack them. But the big main point I want you to see in this film is that Denver’s totally aggressive and that’s the way they win their games. They got linebackers that are in motion all the time, tryin to make tackles &mdash the backs jump up quick &mdash they’re tryin to stop runs. They’re tryin to knock people’s heads off all the time.
HST: Their defense against Dallas was really good. It was the offense that broke down.
Raider: Yes, that’s right. They’ll make a lot of big plays against us, just like you see here against Dallas &mdash they’ll make a lot of play passes, a lot of big yardage &mdash but that’s what’s losin this game for them. What was the final score? They got annihilated.
HST: For the first time. Usually it was the defense that cracked.
Raider: Okay, let me show you something. This defense they run primarily is not a basic four-man line. It’s a four-man line that’s overshifted to the weak side.
Raider: Look, if you can stop their pass rush, you can hold their linebackers in &mdash which is pretty easy. There are massive holes for completions &mdash people get wide open against Denver. Okay, now watch this wide receiver here. They got three linebackers there across the front. Those linebackers are ready to take somebody’s head off &mdash they’re really aggressive type guys. They want to be run against. They want people to run against ’em because that’s what they’re tough against. They bring both linebackers in and they end up crushing the quarterback, forcing the Cowboys to fumble. If you’re gonna pass against them &mdash they’re not bad against the pass, but they’d rather be playing against the run because they’re aggressive. They want to beat people up. Now, look at this wide receiver, look how wide open he is. I mean he’s very wide open &mdash
HST: Whose fault is that? The linebackers?
Raider: ‘Yeah, that and the fact that they’re not playing cohesive defense. They’re playing a different style of defense. Instead of having the linebacker on the tight end, they have a defensive end overshifted so he’s outside the tight end. The linebacker that’s supposed to be on the tight end is on the outside &mdash the defensive tackle has shifted where the defensive end normally is, and Paul Smith is playing over the center when he normally may be playing over the left guard. Okay, well what we’re gonna try to do against ’em is that those linebackers aren’t very big &mdash and we’re gonna try and run right at those linebackers and beat ’em up &mdash all day long. So we may not score a lot in the first half but by the second half we think what we’ve done to them by that time is beaten them so badly, physically, that they no longer want to take on our run any longer.
HST: That’s what Dallas did to Buonocotti in the Super Bowl, isn’t it?
Raider: Right. That’s what you gotta do. There are certain smaller players, you know &mdash that’s basically what we did to Kansas City last week. We beat ’em into submission. If you’re playing against a defensive end who weighs like 260 and you weigh 220 or 230 &mdash what they hope would happen is the guy can intimidate you into not blocking him most of the time, and that would hurt your strong side running. … That’s one of the theories behind the defenses they run all the time: that a guy can intimidate you. But if you don’t let him intimidate you &mdash and you block him all the time &mdash all of a sudden the defense becomes a lot weaker.
HST: How long does it take to know when you’re getting intimidated?
Raider: You can tell after the first three or four plays if you’re allowing them to intimidate you or not.
HST: Right away?
Raider: Yeah, it happens right away and he’s gonna try it. There are some teams, especially Pittsburgh, for example, that the guy on the first couple of plays won’t even think about making a tackle &mdash all he’ll think about is trying to take your head off. Now here’s an example of what will beat Denver. It’s a play action pass. Look at the strong safety. See, he wants to get up and make the tackle on the sweep &mdash so watch the quarterback. The quarterback fakes to the halfback or the fullback coming through &mdash fakes &mdash and look at the strong safety react &mdash trying to stop the run. Look where the tight end goes! He’s wide open! He just beat the hell out of him simply because he wants to make a tackle … you see he overthrows him but that was a touchdown if he throws the ball right. Denver’s in a situation where every time they see a hand off attempted, they’re gonna try and knock the hell out of the guy who’s carrying the ball. That’s how you beat a team that’s this aggressive &mdash play action passes.
HST: Why do you say they’re playing over their heads? It looks to me like they’re already doomed.
Raider: No, they’re really high, right now. They’re playin over their heads because they’re play in that kind of ball. If a team’s gonna play conservative against ’em &mdash they just might beat ’em because they’re going to force fumbles and force mistakes. … Yes, there’s one thing we’re gonna do that a lot of teams won’t do. Look what Dallas is doing &mdash Dallas is throwing the ball all the time. They’re tryin to sweep ’em &mdash How many times have you seen Dallas run up the middle? They haven’t run up the middle once since this film started. … Okay, so here’s what’s gonna happen. Here’s what the difference is … they’re tryin to throw the ball up the middle &mdash tryin to run sweeps on ’em &mdash trying to beat ’em like that. Well, that’s where a team like this is pretty good &mdash they’ll stop sweeps, they’ll stop this kind of stuff, but if you run right at them and try to beat them up all day &mdash
HST: There we go, look at that &mdash straight ahead.
Raider: Yeah, see what happens? You can blow ’em right out.
HST: What interests me is why you say Dallas is essentially a good defensive team and Denver is playing over their heads. What’s the difference? Why do you say that?
Raider: Watch what happens here …
HST: Holy fuck &mdash who the hell is supposed to be on him?
Raider: Right. He should have caught the ball. He’s wide open. The linebacker’s supposed to cover that. That’s because they’re too aggressive.
HST: You recall that they beat Pittsburgh the week after Pittsburgh stomped you, and here &mdash A really heavy physical show.
Raider: Yeah, they did. No question about it. I’m not belittling them.
HST: Well, I just wondered. I was surprised. How could they stomp Pittsburgh and then have Dallas pick them apart like that?
Raider: Well, the difference is that Pittsburgh was falling to pieces at the time &mdash we outgained Pittsburgh 395 yards to 195. We got beat by ’em because we made a lot of mistakes, but then Pittsburgh lost the next two games after that. Denver was a team that was comin up. Dallas right now is a team that’s goin up and Denver’s goin down . … Denver’s not a good enough team to beat Dallas on a good day and they’re also not good enough to beat us on a good day. … But the point is whether or not we’re gonna have a good day against ’em. You can’t tell &mdash you can’t get too carried away until you get out on the field and start playing. Sure, they can run around and they can beat the hell out of us. If we allow them to beat the hell out of us, they’re gonna win the game.
HST: But you’re not going to know until five or ten minutes into the game. …
Raider: Right. I’d like to say I could predict it totally, but that’s just not the way we’ve played all year.
HST: You really can’t get a sense of what’s happening until it actually starts?
Raider: No, you don’t. You don’t know how it’s gonna go.
HST: That’s what Davis said. Is there any difference in the way you deal with a bad team, or a team with mediocre talent that’s high &mdash as opposed to a really good team that’s not high?
Raider: Well, I’ll tell you: There are two problems. The biggest problem is trying to deal with them emotionally, because we know right now, without any doubt, that we should beat Denver. And you can sit around and say, “We should beat Denver, we should beat Denver.” But you face a team like Kansas and if you’re not totally ready to play against them, they’re gonna kick your ass. They’re gonna beat the hell out of you.
HST: You couldn’t tell last week until you got out on the field?
Raider: I knew after the first couple of series we were gonna beat ’em. But before the game there was no way &mdash and this week we face the same problem.
The small signs of nervousness I’d noticed in Davis on the practice field soon mushroomed into a series of incidents that seemed harmless at first, but which crystallized very suddenly when I made what I felt was a routine request for a “field pass” for the Oakland-Denver game. Some of the players had told me that I couldn’t really get a feel for the action up there in the press box or the stands. “You’ve gotta be down on the field,” they said, “and have Jack Tatum really crack somebody right in front of you. You’ll fell it, man. It’ll scare the piss out of you, just watching it.”
“Why not?” I said. “I’ll tell LoCasale I need a field pass this week.”
Which I did, via the standard press-credential channels that necessarily involved Rolling Stone Managing Editor John A. Walsh &mdash a former sports editor at Newsday in New York, who knew, from his experience with teams like the Jets and the Giants, that any legitimate request for a field pass would be granted automatically.
HUNTER &mdash CALLED LOCASALE this morn and he sed the foloing.
I sed Hunter wud like photo credentials for sunday and I mentioned that you would be going to follow pro football right up to the super bowl.
He sed that in his best judgment he had to turn you down on both counts &mdash sunday and for the super bowl &mdash because of your personal involvement in the drug scene. There’s too much at stake, he sed. he also sed that he would be happy to talk things over with you if you called or dropped by.
My interp is that they may have put one of the NFL private Is on you or something like that, anyway you can’t pass up talking with the people.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH, 1973.
“Good morning, the Oakland Raiders.”
“Hello, is Al LoCasale there?”
“Hunter Thompson … From Rolling Stone.”
“Say, I just talked to John Walsh &mdash and well, I’m sure you know what kind of message I got &mdash first it’s sort of vague and disturbing but I can see your point &mdash I wonder if you could possibly elaborate a bit on that.”
“Well, I tried to keep it vague to him because I don’t know your relationship with him and I didn’t want to say anything …”
“Well, I’m sure he knows at least as much as you do, whatever it is &mdash All I got was ‘personal involvement in the drug scene.'”
“Yeah, you know I’d say &mdash I’d rather not go any farther and just say &mdash well, you know &mdash ah, on the information we have I feel it would be better if we asked you not to come by.”
“Well, I can see that &mdash and I’m certainly not going to cause you any trouble or any kind of hassles but I think if in all fairness that’s such a broad thing &mdash like I read the other day in the Columbia Journalism Review where someone accused me of being a junkie &mdash “
“No, I’m not accusing you of that &mdash it’s just that the information that I have is such that I would prefer &mdash particularly at this stage, while we’re actively participating in the season &mdash that we keep a little distance between you and us.”
“Well, I guess I understand your position and I want to be as cooperative as possible but you see it’s put me in an odd position too. It’s so vague &mdash that’s the thing &mdash I wonder, say, if I applied for credentials for the Super Bowl &mdash if my name is on some list as a drug peddler.”
“No, I don’t think so &mdash no, I don’t think the League has a list and you know the Super Bowl and the Championships &mdash they’re League-run games &mdash they would have to make a decision &mdash but you know this is a Raider game &mdash so the decision is ours …”
“Well, I’ll abide by it. I’m not going to come over and hassle you or anyone else, at least not right now.” “I appreciate that.”
“But I wonder would it be of any benefit if, say, I came over there and we had a sandwich or a beer or something and &mdash “
“After the season’s all over, possibly …”
“Well, it wouldn’t do me a hell of a lot of good, then. The story would be dead. Well … it’s the vagueness of the goddamn thing that worries me at this point. I’m sure you’re aware I’m not the only person who might have a personal involvement in whatever ‘the drug scene’ means. You can go out on the practice field and see a lot of people &mdash both in uniform and out …”
“You see that’s not what I’m writing about anyway. …“
“If I knew anything specific in the area you just mentioned then I’d have to take some action. But in your case, you know, the information seems to be reliable and you don’t deny it, and therefore I think it just would be better if …”
“Deny it? Hell, I don’t even know what information you’re talking about. I’m just … well … if you really want to get technical, coffee’s a drug … no, I’d be foolish to sit here and say I know nothing about drugs, but it’s kind of disturbing to have it laid on me across the board … and I think it’s fair if I say I won’t come over there anymore, and I won’t either embarrass you or screw the team up &mdash it seems only fair that you should tell me what you’re really talking about.”
“Well, you know I would prefer to remain just general and just say that the information that we’ve obtained is such that I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t ask you to &mdash “
“You know our reputation has to be a helluva lot &mdash at least effort has to be made by us to keep our reputation much more, ah, untainted than that of America in general &mdash let’s put it that way.”
“Yeah, but it puts me into the odd position &mdash in that I can get credentials to fly on Nixon’s press plane &mdash clearance from the Secret Service and all that sort of thing … but, then this vague charge &mdash “
“No, I’m not making a charge of any kind &mdash I’m just saying it’s not in our interest &mdash “
“Don’t worry, I agree to that. But what I’m trying to find out is whether there’s some massive blackball that’s been sent down &mdash “
“No, no &mdash in fact, I have checked with the League &mdash but not by name &mdash that is I just checked with the League on the position the League would have in general on someone who’s not a member of the pro football writers &mdash you know &mdash not a regular &mdash who had a background where evidence had been submitted to us that he was involved to some degree in the drug scene &mdash and they said &mdash the League &mdash while they agree with us that journalistic freedom is something that should be preserved under those circumstances &mdash they would take a position where they would ask the person to not come around and I told them that would probably be the position we would take too. But you know &mdash like we just left it there &mdash as a hypothetical situation &mdash “
“Yeah, well, I’m not going to do this &mdash but I’m just wondering if I &mdash since it does puzzle me &mdash what if I called the League office &mdash I’d like to know more about it frankly &mdash because it could come up again and again and I have no idea what the hell I’m being charged with &mdash “
“No, well the League office doesn’t know anything about it &mdash I just presented to them a hypothetical situation because the final decisions &mdash many times, the Commissioner, as an ex-PR man, gets involved &mdash and he’ll say, you know like when Lombardi threw out certain reporters out of the practice field Pete stepped in and said ‘Wait a minute &mdash I’ll make the decision there and they’re either coming back, or you throw everybody out.'”
“Well, you’d have to throw about half the press out, on this sort of vague charge &mdash what worries me is that some weird information or rumor has come down that it’s much worse than. …“
“Personally, I would tell you whatever I was involved in. Hell, everybody else seems to know.”
“No, the information I have would probably not disturb &mdash you know &mdash general society but it has to disturb us, because we’re entrusted with the reputation of a football team and a game that has to have standards higher than that of the general public.”
“Yeah, well &mdash at least it has to appear to have standards higher than that.”
“Well, we have to make every effort &mdash “
“You know, I just finished reading Peter Gent’s book for instance &mdash I’ve been in this business fourteen years and I know &mdash I know &mdash they did something from Sunday to Sunday other than screw, drink and take dope because I’ve been at it 14 years &mdash “
“I probably agree with you, but it would certainly be hard to deny that that sort of thing doesn’t go on to some degree &mdash 5 per cent &mdash 10 per cent &mdash “
“Yeah, but you know the degree that the book connotates. Is that all that goes on. …“
“And you know &mdash the first 9 or 10 years I was in pro football as a head scout and I was very close to the athletes because I signed them &mdash found them and signed them &mdash and used to socialize and was part of their circle &mdash and I just know that’s not the way life went on &mdash at least not with the three ball clubs I was involved in &mdash “
“Well, ah, you know times are changing, Al &mdash I hate to, ah …”
“I don’t disagree, but I think that pro football players as a group &mdash their standards are higher than their own peer group. That is, people their own age, with a similar background, are more involved in the drug scene than pro football players are &mdash but the standards applied are different, too.”
“Yeah, I can see that, but put yourself in my place &mdash whatever in hell it is right now &mdash I wonder what kind of onus has been laid on me: for instance, what if I applied for credentials to the Super Bowl…?”
“That will be a decision from the League office.”
“But as far as you know, I’m known as a drug user or maybe even a peddler &mdash you see that’s what disturbs me.”
“No, as far as I know the League would have no knowledge &mdash now the League might through their own sources &mdash I know that they’re familiar with some of the things you’ve written &mdash “
“No, no because weeks and weeks ago when you first came out here I had mentioned to somebody &mdash because I was familiar with the name &mdash it rang a bell &mdash but I wasn’t nearly as familiar with your writing as some other people who said ‘oh yeah, he wrote this and he wrote that,’ so there are people back there who knew of you &mdash you know, as a writer &mdash ” “Yeah, well that occurred to me &mdash I told Jack Smith &mdash “
“Yeah, I’m sure of that. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, and the last thing I’d want to do would be to come out and cause a scene. It’d be very unpleasant for me and I’d gain nothing from it, so I assure you &mdash “
“Well, it’s just like last week I had a long talk with that young boy who admitted that he kind of stole [that press pass for the game last month]. …“
“Yeah, well you see &mdash I was too embarrassed about that to even talk about it &mdash “
“Yeah, well he stole that. He admitted he stole it.”
“That little bastard, goddamn him &mdash I felt like a fool &mdash “
“He kind of leads himself &mdash I said ‘well did you take it out of his pocket? I mean did you pick pocket it’ &mdash and he just laughed &mdash and he said, ‘well, I think I found it on the ground &mdash “
“No &mdash he took it out of my rear hip pocket &mdash I knew exactly where it was &mdash I was so embarrassed about it I didn’t want to &mdash “
“No, I spotted him &mdash the kid, he hangs around the dressing room area each week and finds some way to get in that stadium every game.”
“He must have just recognized that envelope sticking out of my pocket &mdash I was wearing levis and that’s the tightest pocket I have. …Well, Jesus Christ, this was supposed to be a fun story, sort of a vacation from politics &mdash but it’s turned into a nightmare…“
“Hunter, I have to head downtown for a booster club meeting right now. As I say, we have tried to keep it low key because to me it’s not that kind of a problem, it’s just something that I feel &mdash if it grew into something big, and somebody made a big todo about your having been there &mdash having been around &mdash then I would have been remiss in not trying to cut it off before we got to the pass and the sheriff showed up.”
“Well, tell me this then, before you go &mdash is this situation based mainly on what I’ve written?”
“No, I don’t think it’s based on your writings at all.”
“So &mdash it’s possible that there’s a rumor around somewhere that I’m a drug peddler or something like that, which is not true.”
“No &mdash there is just rumor around that you have experimented to some degree.”
“And I dare say that if we were all honest about it, you’d be shocked to find people in your own crowd over there who would have to say the same thing.”
“No &mdash no one is painting you as a sinister man &mdash someone who by his personal contact would taint the world &mdash “
“Well, the Secret Service cleared me to travel with Nixon.”
“The Secret Service has cleared just about anybody. No I’m being facetious &mdash that is &mdash I mean as long as you’ve contributed the right amounts to the right party, I think Stalin himself could probably make the trip with them. No &mdash I’m just being facetious.”
“I understand what you mean. For that matter the Secret Service is not clean &mdash I know that for a fact.”
“Well, never mind all that… this thing still disturbs me because it’s so vague … but … you say we’re not talking about rumors of me peddling drugs to players and that sort of thing.”
“No, no &mdash not even to the President.”
“Well, I did actually sell a lot of drugs to the President.”
“Okay, okay, Hunter &mdash well &mdash I have to take care of my end first &mdash “
“Yeah, I understand that but I hope you can see where it puts me in a little of a gray area where I’m not sure just what &mdash “
“Yeah, I can appreciate your problem.”
“Okay, now if I call the League and apply for credentials and I actually push it &mdash then we’re not going to come down to the point where Al LoCasale said that Thompson’s a drug pusher and he shouldn’t be allowed in the press box at the Super Bowl?”
“No &mdash I would definitely not say that.”
“Well, I don’t have any information that it would be and I would not assume it is.”
“No &mdash I have better sense than to deal with that end of it &mdash “
“Well, my first impression is that you’re a far too intelligent person for that kind of situation.”
“Yeah, I haven’t existed as long as I have with the kind of work I’ve done by going out and peddling drugs. …“
“Right. Well, okay, sorry it turned out this way, but what the hell &mdash “
“So am I &mdash it’s nice to have intelligent people &mdash more intelligent people on the practice field on occasion.”
STORY: Oakland Raiders
FROM: Raoul Duke
COMMENTS: The fact that the would-be author has been barred from any public association with the Oakland Raiders is not a serious problem at this time unless the veto originated at NFL (league-office) level & extends across the board &mdash including all other teams and especially the question of personal access to all functions during Super Bowl week in mid-January. … Without access to the Super Bowl spectacle in all its gross & loathsome details, the would-be author is not in a position to lash this ill-advised scumbag together except as a desperate make-work gig designed almost entirely to justify the would-be author’s expense tab &mdash which hovers, even now, on the brink of malignancy.
This is the central & overweening problem with the story: Not that it can’t be jerked up & beaten back to life, but that any long-term effort to do so might result in massive financial losses to the would-be author &mdash who has already been barred from the Raider camp due to his “personal involvement with the drug scene.” The extent of this onus is unknown at this time. All signs pointing to it in the past six weeks were dismissed as “paranoia,” whereas they were in fact real evidence of what was happening.
Given these realities, the possibility of further discrimination against the would-be author should not be dismissed as paranoid delusions, but treated instead as a genuine possibility … and the question of access to the Super Bowl action now becomes one of paramount importance, not withstanding the fact that Walsh has received verbal “assurance” from the NFL publicist that RS will be granted credentials to cover the SB scene in Houston. If this works out, I think the story can be salvaged … but, if not, it’s fucked.
This is why the question of the origin of the allegations vis-a-vis the would-be author is critical to the life of the story. At one point (in the wake of the Keating revelations), we assumed that the problem was isolated on the player-level … which was wrong, because several weeks later we learned that it had long since been festering on the (Raider) management level. The question now is whether or not we’re dealing with the NFL front office &mdash and on that score any gibberish about “paranoia” would seem to be out of order right now. Having stupidly under-estimated our problem in the past, I think the thing to do now is to assume the worst & operate on that basis &mdash which will require some relatively heavy-handed movement on the part of somebody who can deal with the situation on a professional rather than a personal basis. For obvious reasons, this is a difficult argument for me to make on a personal basis &mdash especially since we have no real idea what information the buggers have based their judgment on. The possibilities vary from some hazy ho-ho rumor out of the Lion’s Head all the way to the chance that my appearance in the Raider camp caused the NFL office to assign one of their investigators to what was already an active case in re: Oakland.
If the former is true, I think we can neutralize the problem by (implicitly) threatening the Raiders with a whack of bad publicity or perhaps even a First Amendment lawsuit &mdash a de facto out of court settlement, as it were. But if this rap on me came down from Rozelle & the front office, even an implicit threat on our part could open a nasty can of worms that might cause serious damage to individuals whose cooperation made the story available in the first place &mdash and this, to me, is a paramount consideration. I don’t mind writing a story that will permanently cripple an asshole, but putting the screws to a friend (or even a chance acquaintance who’s been promised immunity) is not my gig.
Which gets us back to the problem of determining just how serious these charges really are &mdash not just to me & this story, but to the whole notion of a journalist’s access to a story being determined by rumors concerning his or her personal habits, preferences or even perversions.
What we have here is really a Civil Liberties (or First Amendment) case &mdash complete with the old adage that “the weakest link in any good civil liberties case is usually the defendant.”
In any case, I think it would be a serious mistake to leave the situation as it is. If a reporter for a national publication can be barred from covering a story of national interest because of rumors concerning his private behavior, we are looking at a very heavy precedent. There are very few writers on RS &mdash or any other national magazine, for that matter &mdash who would be immune to this kind of personal screening.
Consider, for instance, the idea of assigning Felton to cover an appearance by the Pope in St. Louis, for the purpose of laying a Golden Egg on the banks of the Mississippi … would the Vatican press office be justified in barring Felton from the event on the grounds that he was not a “good Catholic”?
Would an Alcoholic Jew from the New York Times be allowed to cover such a story? Would the Vatican press office be justified in barring journalists who happened to be winos, dope addicts, lesbians, nigras, etc. from watching the Pope lay a Golden Egg in St. Louis?
My own biased guess is that a poll of daily newspaper editors in America would run about 9-1 in favor of the Vatican. RS‘s position on that spectrum is a thing I’d just as soon not speculate on at this moment in time, as it were… but what the hell? This memo is running out of control & I suspect the point was made several pages back.
If not, the nut appears to be this: Neither the health of journalism nor the cause of Civil Liberties in America is going to suffer drastically for lack of a kinky piece in RS on the psychic link between the NFL & Politics… or even a straight, fact-heavy expose, for that matter … but if these fascist cocksuckers who run this billion-dollar freak show can get away with barring any reporter on the basis of rumors (or even valid information) concerning his personal behavior, I think we’ll all live to regret the precedent we’ll be setting by caving in on this point.
My feeling at the moment is that we should at least do something. Nothing heavy or violent, but at the very least a forceful demand by somebody representing the magazine (if such a person can be found & pressed into service at this point in time) that the Raider management and/or the NFL give “us” a formal explanation of the charges, rumors, reasons, evidence, etc. that cause me to be physically, officially (& on at least one occasion, legally) excluded from any personal contact with the Oakland Raider football team &mdash and perhaps from the entire NFL.
I frankly don’t give a flying fuck about the long-range effect of this thing on me, personally. I suspect I can live with the nightmare of being accused by some flack from the Oakland Raiders of being “personally involved in the drug scene,” whatever in hell that means … but I have to wonder how I’d feel if they’d barred me for something like “personal involvement with dangerous political behavior.”
Which is probably no less valid &mdash from their point of view &mdash than the drug charges. What if I’d been barred on grounds that I was “immoral”? Or “weird”?
Probably not until somebody grabs these bastards by the ears and bangs them against the nearest solid object … Haldeman, Ehrlich-man, Rozelle, Goebells, Al Davis, Tex Colson.
Cazart. I sense this is getting a bit heavy. We are, after all, dealing with a story that was essentially Continued Continued without a spine until now.
Ah, madness madness … let’s end this thing quick.
Mr. Al LoCasale
7811 Oakport Oakland, Calif. 94621
Dear Mr. LoCasale: I have tried to reach both you and Al Davis for three days now, but my calls have not been put through. I understand that this may not be the best time in the football season to try to reach you by phone. Playoffs, travel arrangements and ticket purchasing procedure do not make it easy for you to answer a phone call from a magazine, so I decided to send you this letter.
We at Rolling Stone were taken a bit by surprise when you decided to bar Hunter Thompson from covering Raider games and practice sessions. We decided to allow Hunter to deal with the matter himself, but when he informed us that he did not receive any substantial explanation for the move the matter became most disturbing. As I understand it from our brief conversation and from Hunter, the reason that you have barred him from covering pro football is “because of his personal involvement in the drug scene.” I am sure that you understand that such an unspecified charge, with not even a hint of evidence to back up the charge, raises some serious questions about journalistic freedom and the First Amendment. If we were to allow such a vague charge to stand up, we would be certainly remiss in our pursuit of journalistic integrity and freedom. The same kind of generality could prevent Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal and even William F. Buckley, Jr., from covering major sporting events. We at the magazine feel it is our duty to defend our and their right to cover such events. As a matter of fact, I personally have been involved in sports for four-and-a-half years on a day-to-day basis. During that time, publications I worked for had a circulation of less than 7000 and were still credentialed to cover pro football games and World Series games. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall being turned down for credentials. Now a reporter for a national magazine with a circulation of around 350,000 has been told that not only can he not cover practice sessions, but that he cannot have even a pass for the press box.
This letter is not meant to be a threat Rolling Stone has not decided to take any kind of action at this time against the Oakland Raiders or pro football. Journalistically, Hunter Thompson was going into the assignment with an open mind about the sport but, unfortunately, the events of the past two weeks, I suspect, may be changing his attitude. I have no reason not to believe him when he tells me that he has no intention of writing a negative article about the Raiders or pro football. As a matter of fact, as I explained to you a couple of times on the phone, the experiences of the Raider games and practice sessions were going to be used merely to background Hunter so he could cover the Super Bowl. I get the impression from talking with Hunter that he feels he is being forced to write a negative article. I hope it doesn’t turn out that way.
We still hope that Hunter can cover the Super Bowl and I hope that our requests for credentials for any future games are fulfilled.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible about this matter. I think you can understand our viewpoint: We just can’t let an unspecified attack like this prevent us from doing what we consider our journalistic duty.
John A. Walsh
cc: Mr. Al Davis, President
7811 Oakport Oakland, Calif. 94621
Mr. Hunter Thompson
Mr. Jann Wenner
Anyway, the thing I sensed from remembering that conversation was a definite possibility that LoCasale (and maybe Davis, too) might be serious about that offhand commitment he made to “explain things” to me “after the season.” So … on the strength of that possibility, I think we might be well advised to let the buggers forget about me for a while, and then try to work on the basis of “goodwill” immediately “after the season.” Whenever that happens to be.
It might be a nice twist, in fact, to send them a quick and formally friendly little’ note to the effect that Dr. Thompson has now recovered (at his spa in the Rockies) from the massive ego-shock of being barred from covering the only story in his long and brutal career that he ever really had a personal affection for, and that he looks forward to speaking “with you and Al, after the season.”
The ultimate fate of the story, I think, now depends on my Super Bowl Credentials &mdash not just a ticket to the game, but total access to all the week-long pre-game press freakshow. With that as a nut &mdash in addition to all this vicious background &mdash I feel the first stirrings of a real appetite for this story. Somebody is going to pay for putting me thru this kind of shit.
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Ah yes, Mother Roberts. . … I found her card on the bus and jammed it into one of my pockets, thinking that maybe I would give her a call on Monday and make an appointment. I had a lot of heavy questions to lay on her like “Why am I here, Mother Roberts? What does it all mean? Have I finally turned pro? Can this really be the end? Down and out in Houston with &mdash
“No, I was just kidding, Mother Roberts, just putting you on &mdash just working a bit of the test on you, right? Yes, because what I was really leading up to is this extremely central question. …No, I’m not shy it’s just that I come from way up north where people’s lips are frozen about ten months every year, so we don’t get used to talking until very late in life…what? Old? Well, I think you just put your finger or your wand or whatever, right smack on the head of the nail, Mother Roberts, because the godawful truth of the whole matter is that I’ve been feeling extremely old this past week, and … What? Wait a minute now, goddamnit, I’m still getting up to the main question, which is … What? No, I never curse, Mother Roberts that was a cry of anguish, a silent scream from the soul, because I feel in serious trouble down here in this goddamn town, and … Yes, I am a white person, Mother Roberts, and we both know there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Are you prejudiced?. …No, let’s not get into that. Just let me ask you this question, and if you can give me a straight and reasonable answer I promise I won’t come out to your place … because what I want you to tell me, Mother Roberts &mdash and I mean this very seriously &mdash is why have I been in Houston for eight days without anybody offering me some cocaine? . … Yes, cocaine, that’s what I said, and just between you and me I’m damn serious about wanting some. …What? Drugs? Of course I’m talking about drugs! Your ad said you could answer my questions and lift me out of sorrow and darkness. …Okay, okay, I’m listening. …Yeah, yeah. …But let me tell you something, Mother Roberts: My name is Al Davis and I’m the Editor of Reader’s Digest. …Right, and I can have you busted right now for false advertising. …Yeah, well I think I might pick up some of my people and come out to see you later on today we want some explanations for this kind of anti-christ bullshit. This country’s in enough trouble, goddamnit, without people like you running around selling drugs like cocaine to people in serious trouble…“
Mother Roberts hung up on me at that point. Christ only knows what she thought was about to come down on her when dusk fell on Houston. …Here was the Editor of the Reader’s Digest coming out to her house with a goon squad, and all of them apparently stone mad for cocaine and vengeance … a terrible situation.
It was not until Monday afternoon that I actually spoke with Mother Roberts on the telephone, but the idea of going over to Galveston and dealing with the whole Super Scene story from some rotten motel on the edge of the seal-wall had been wandering around in my head almost from the first hour after I checked into my coveted press-room at the Hyatt Regency.
And in dull retrospect now, I wish I had done that. Almost anything would have been better than that useless week I spent in Houston waiting for the Big Game. The only place in town where I felt at home was a sort of sporadically violent strip joint called the Blue Fox, far out in the country on South Main. Nobody I talked to in Houston had ever heard of it, and the only two sportswriters who went out there with me got involved in a wild riot that ended up with all of us getting maced by undercover vice-squad cops who just happened to be in the middle of the action when it erupted.
Ah … but that is another story, and we don’t have time for it here. Maybe next time. There are two untold sagas that will not fit into this story: One has to do with Big Al’s Cactus Room in Oakland, and the other concerns the Blue Fox in Houston.
There is also &mdash at least in the minds of at least two dozen gullible sportswriters at the Super Bowl &mdash the ugly story of how I spent three or four days prior to Super Week shooting smack in a $7 a night motel room on the seawall in Galveston.
I remember telling that story one night in the press lounge at the Hyatt Regency, just babbling it off the top of my head out of sheer boredom. … Then I forgot about it completely until one of the local sports-writers approached me a day or so later and said: “Say man, I hear you spent some time in Galveston last week.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I hear you locked yourself in a motel over there and shot heroin for three days.” I
looked around me to see who was listening, then grinned kind of stupidly and said “Shucks, there wasn’t much else to do, you know &mdash so why not get loaded in Galveston?”
He shrugged uncontrollably and looked down at his Old Crow and water. I glanced at my watch and turned to leave. “Time to hit it,” I said with a smile. “See you later, when I’m feeling back on my rails.”
He nodded glumly as I moved away in the crowd … and although I saw him three or four times a day for the rest of that week, he never spoke to me again.
Most sportswriters are so blank on the subject of drugs that you can only talk to them about it at your own risk &mdash which is easy enough, for me, because I get a boot out of seeing their eyes bulge but it can be disastrous to a professional football player who makes the casual mistake of assuming that a sportswriter knows what he’s talking about when he uses a word like “crank.” Any professional athlete who talks to a sportswriter about “drugs” &mdash even with the best and most constructive intentions &mdash is taking a very heavy risk. There is a definite element of hysteria about drugs of any kind in pro football today, and a casual remark &mdash even a meaningless remark &mdash across the table in a friendly hometown bar can lead, very quickly, to a seat in the witness chair in front of a congressional committee.
Ah … drugs that word again. It was a hard word to avoid in NFL circles last year &mdash like the “missle gap” in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election, or “law and order” in 1968.
1973 was a pretty dull press-year for congressmen. The Senate’s Watergate Committee had managed, somehow, to pre-empt most of the ink and air-time … and one of the few congressmen who managed to lash his own special gig past that barrier was an apparently senile 67-year-old ex-sheriff and football coach from West Virginia named Harley Staggers.
Somewhere in the spastic interim between John Dean and “Bob” Haldeman, Congressman Staggers managed to collar some story-starved sportswriter from the New York Times long enough to announce that his committee &mdash the House Subcommittee on Investigations &mdash had stumbled on such a king-hell wasps nest of evidence in the course of their probe into “the use of drugs by athletes” that the committee was prepared &mdash or almost prepared, pending further evidence &mdash to come to grips with their natural human duty and offer up a law, very soon, that would require individual urinalysis tests on all professional athletes and especially pro football players.
These tests would be administered by professional urinalysists &mdash paid by the federal government, out of tax-monies &mdash and if any one of these evil bastards passed urine that turned red (or green, or blue, or whatever), they would be … ah … well … the Staggers Committee is still mulling on the question of penalties.
Maybe studying is a better word. Or pondering. … That’s right, they’re still pondering it … and God’s mercy on any muscle-bound degenerate whose piss turns red if Harley ever passes his law. The rumor on Capitol Hill is that Rep. Staggers is even now in the process of arranging for the construction of a model, medium security JOCK/DRUG PENITENTIARY AND REHABILITATION CENTER on the site of an abandoned missile base near Tonopah, Nevada.
MEANWHILE, THE VICE President of the United States has been lashed out of office and disbarred in his home-state of Maryland, the President himself is teetering on the brink of a Burglary/Conspiracy indictment that will mean certain impeachment, and the whole structure of our government has become a stagnant mockery of itself and everybody who ever had faith in it.
What all this means to Harley Staggers is hard to say. I am tempted to call him: It is 7:02 in Washington and I suspect he’s wide awake, administering the daily beating to his pit-bulls in the backyard garage and waiting for calls from reporters:
“What’s up Harley? Who’s gonna get it?”
“Well… let me say this: We know, for a fact, that the situation is out of control and I mean to put a stop to it or fall down trying…“
“Nevermind that. You know what I mean.” (pause) “Let me ask you something: Does a phrase like “The playing fields of West Virginia” mean anything to you?” (pause) “Wait a minute &mdash where were you raised? What’s wrong with &mdash ” (click). …
Ah, Jesus … another bad tangent. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recall signing a contract that said I would never do this kind of thing again one of the conditions of my turning pro was a clause about swearing off gibberish. …
But, like Gregg Allman says: “I’ve wasted so much time … feelin guilty…“
There is some kind of back-door connection in my head between Super Bowls and the Allman Brothers &mdash a strange kind of theme-sound that haunts these goddamn stories no matter where I’m finally forced into a corner to write them. The Allman sound, and rain. There was heavy rain, last year, on the balcony of my dim-lit hotel room just down from the Sunset Strip in Hollywood … and more rain through the windows of the San Francisco office building where I finally typed out “the story.”
And now, almost exactly a year later, my main memory of Super Bowl VIII in Houston is rain and grey mist outside another hotel window, with the same strung-out sound of the Allman Brothers booming out of the same portable speakers that I had, last year, in Los Angeles.
There was not much else worth remembering from either game &mdash or at least not much that needs writing about, and the clock on the wall reminds me, once again, that a final deadline looms and there is hungry space to fill out there in San Francisco. …Which means no more thinking about rain and music, but a quick and nasty regression to “professionalism.”
Which is what it’s all about.
Indeed, I tend, more and more, to forget these things. Or maybe just to ignore them.
But what the hell? Retirement is just around the corner, so why not wander a bit?
“You grow up fast in Texas
and you got to lay it down
Or you’ll be working for somebody
way cross town.”
&mdash Doug Sahm
THE FLOOR OF the Hyatt Regency men’s room was always covered, about three-inches deep, with discarded newspapers &mdash all apparently complete and unread, except on closer examination you realized that every one of them was missing its sports section. This bathroom was right next to the hotel newsstand and just across the mezzanine from the crowded NFL “press lounge,” a big room full of telephones and free booze, where most of the 1600 or so sportswriters assigned to cover The Big Game seemed to spend about 16 hours of each day, during Super Week.
After the first day or so, when it became balefully clear that there was no point in anybody except the local reporters going out on the press-bus each day for the carefully staged “player interviews” that Dolphin tackle Manny Fernandez described as “like going to the dentist every day to have the same tooth filled,” the out-of-town writers began using the local types as a sort of involuntary “pool” … which was more like an old British Navy press gang, in fact, because the locals had no choice. They would go out, each morning, to the Miami and Minnesota team hotels, and dutifully conduct the daily interviews … and about two hours later this mass of useless gibberish would appear, word for word, in the early editions of either the Post or the Chronicle.
You could see the front door of the hotel from the balcony of the press lounge, and whenever the newsboy came in with his stack of fresh papers, the national writers would make the long 48-yard walk across to the newsstand and cough up 15 cents each for their copies. Then, on the way back to the press lounge, they would stop for a piss and dump the whole paper &mdash except for the crucial sports section &mdash on the floor of the men’s room. The place was so deep, all week, in fresh newsprint, that it was sometimes hard to push the door open.
Forty yards away, on comfortable couches surrounding the free bar, the national gents would spend about two hours each day scanning the local sports sections &mdash along with a never-ending mass of almost psychotically detailed information churned out by the NFL publicity office &mdash on the dim chance of finding something worth writing about that day.
There never was, of course. But nobody seemed really disturbed about it. The only thing most of the sportswriters in Houston seemed to care about was having something to write about … anything at all, boss: a peg, an angle, a quote, even a goddamn rumor.
I remember being shocked at the sloth and moral degeneracy of the Nixon press corps during the 1973 presidential campaign &mdash but they were like a pack of wolverines on speed compared to the relatively elite sportswriters who showed up in Houston to cover the Super Bowl.
On the other hand, there really was no story. As the week wore on, it became increasingly obvious that we were all “just working here.” Nobody knew who to blame for it, and although at least a third of the sportswriters who showed up for that super-expensive shuck knew exactly what was happening, I doubt if more than five or six of them ever actually wrote the cynical and contemptuous appraisals of Super Bowl VIII that dominated about half the conversations around the bar in the press lounge.
Whatever was happening in Houston that week had little or nothing to do with the hundreds of stories that were sent out on the news-wires each day. Most of the stories, in fact, were unabashed rewrites of the dozens of official NFL press releases churned out each day by the League publicity office. Most of the stories about “fantastic parties” given by Chrysler, American Express and Jimmy the Greek were taken from press releases and rewritten by people who had spent the previous evening at least five miles from the scenes described in their stories.
The NFL’s official Super Bowl party &mdash the “incredible Texas Hoe Down” on Friday night in the Astrodome &mdash was as wild, glamorous and exciting as an Elks Club picnic on Tuesday in Salina, Kansas. The official NFL press release on the Hoe-Down said it was an unprecedented extravaganza that cost the League more than $100,000 and attracted people like Gene McCarthy and Ethel Kennedy. … Which might have been true, but I spent about five hours skulking around in that grim concrete barn and the only people I recognized were a dozen or so sportswriters from the press lounge.
Anybody with access to a mimeograph machine and a little imagination could have generated at least a thousand articles on “an orgy of indescribable proportions” at John Connally’s house, with Alan Ginsberg as the guest of honor and 13 thoroughbred horses slaughtered by drug-crazed guests with magnesium butcher knives. Most of the press people would have simply picked the story off the big table in the “work-room,” rewritten it just enough to make it sound genuine, and sent it off on the wire without a second thought.
THE BUS-RIDE to the stadium for the game on Sunday took more than an hour, due to heavy traffic. I had made the same six-mile drive the night before in just under five minutes … but that was under very different circumstances Rice Stadium is on South Main Street, along the same route that led from the Hyatt Regency to the Dolphin headquarters at the Marriott, and also to the Blue Fox.
There was not much to do on the bus except drink, smoke and maintain a keen ear on the babble of conversations behind me for any talk that might signal the presence of some late-blooming Viking fan with money to waste. It is hard to stay calm and casual in a crowd of potential bettors when you feel absolutely certain of winning any bet you can make. At that point, anybody with even a hint of partisan enthusiasm in his voice becomes a possible mark &mdash a doomed and ignorant creature to be lured, as carefully as possible, into some disastrous last-minute wager that could cost him every dollar he owns.
There is no room for mercy or the milk of human kindness in football betting &mdash at least not when you’re prepared to get up on the edge with every dollar you own. One-on-one betting is a lot more interesting than dealing with bookies, because it involves strong elements of personality and psychic leverage. Betting against the point spread is a relatively mechanical trip, but betting against another individual can be very complex, if you’re serious about it &mdash because you want to know, for starters, whether you’re betting against a fool or a wizard, or maybe against somebody who’s just playing the fool.
Making a large bet on a bus full of sportswriters on the way to the Super Bowl, for instance, can be a very dangerous thing because you might be dealing with somebody who was in the same fraternity at Penn State with one of the team doctors, and who learned the night before &mdash while drinking heavily with his old buddy &mdash that the quarterback you’re basing your bet on has four cracked ribs and can barely raise his passing arm to shoulder level.
Situations like these are not common. Unreported injuries can lead to heavy fines against any team that fails to report one &mdash especially in a Super Bowl &mdash but what is a $10,000 fine, compared to the amount of money that kind of crucial knowledge is worth against a big-time bookie?
The other side of that coin is a situation where a shrewd coach turns the League’s “report all injuries” rule into a psychological advantage for his own team &mdash and coincidentally for any bettor who knows what’s happening &mdash by scrupulously reporting an injury to a star player just before a big game, then calling a press conference to explain that the just-reported injury is of such a nature &mdash a pulled muscle, for instance &mdash that it might or might not heal entirely by game time.
This was what happened in Houston with the Dolphins’ Paul Warfield, widely regarded as “the most dangerous pass receiver in pro football.” Warfield is a game-breaker, a man who commands double-coverage at all times because of his antelope running style, twin magnets for hands, and a weird kind of adrenaline instinct that feeds on tension and high pressure. There is no more beautiful sight in football than watching Paul Warfield float out of the backfield on a sort of angle-streak pattern right into the heart of a “perfect” zone defense and take a softly thrown pass on his hip, without even seeming to notice the arrival of the ball, and then float another 60 yards into the end zone, with none of the frustrated defensive backs ever touching him.
There is an eerie kind of certainty about Warfield’s style that is far more demoralizing than just another six points on the Scoreboard. About half the time he looks bored and lazy &mdash but even the best pass defenders in the league know, in some nervous corner of their hearts, that when the deal goes down Warfield is capable of streaking right past them like they didn’t exist. …
Unless he’s hurt playing with some kind of injury that might or might not be serious enough to either slow him down or gimp the fiendish concentration that makes him so dangerous … and this was the possibility that Dolphin coach Don Shula raised on Wednesday when he announced that Warfield had pulled a leg muscle in practice that afternoon and might not play on Sunday.
This news caused instant action in gambling circles. Even big-time bookies, whose underground information on these things is usually as good as Pete Rozelle’s, took Shula’s announcement seriously enough to cut the spread down from seven to six &mdash a decision worth many millions of betting dollars if the game turned out to be close.
Even the rumor of an injury to Warfield was worth one point (and even two, with some bookies I was never able to locate) … and if Shula had announced on Saturday that Paul was definitely not going to play, the spread would probably have dropped to four, or even three. …Because the guaranteed absence of Warfield would have taken a great psychological load off the minds of Minnesota’s defensive backs.
Without the ever-present likelihood of a game-breaking “bomb” at any moment, they could focus down much tighter on stopping Miami’s brutal running game &mdash which eventually destroyed them, just as it had destroyed Oakland’s nut-cutting defense two weeks earlier, and one of the main reasons why the Vikings failed to stop the Dolphins on the ground was the constant presence of Paul Warfield in his customary wide-receiver’s spot.
He played almost the whole game, never showing any sign of injury and although he caught only one pass, he neutralized two Minnesota defensive backs on every play … and two extra tacklers on the line of scrimmage might have made a hell of a difference in that embarrassingly decisive first quarter when Miami twice drove what might as well have been the whole length of the field to score 14 quick points and crack the Vikings’ confidence just as harshly as they had cracked the Redskins out in Los Angeles a year earlier.
IT IS HARD to say, even now, exactly why I was so certain of an easy Dolphin victory. The only reason I didn’t get extremely rich on the game was my inability to overcome the logistical problems of betting heavily, on credit, by means of frantic long-distance phone calls from a hotel room in Houston. None of the people I met in that violent, water-logged town were inclined to introduce me to a reliable bookmaker &mdash and the people I called on both coasts, several hours before the game on Sunday morning, seemed unnaturally nervous when I asked them to use their own credit to guarantee my bets with their local bookies.
Looking back on it now, after talking with some of these people and cursing them savagely, I see that the problem had something to do with my frenzied speech-pattern that morning. I was still in the grip of whatever fiery syndrome had caused me to deliver that sermon off the balcony a few hours earlier &mdash and the hint of mad tremor in my voice, despite my attempts to disguise it, was apparently communicated very clearly to all those I spoke with on the long-distance telephone.
How long, O lord, how long? This is the second year in a row that I have gone to the Super Bowl and been absolutely certain &mdash at least 48 hours before game-time &mdash of the outcome. It is also the second year in a row that I have failed to capitalize, financially, on this certainty. Last year, betting mainly with wealthy cocaine addicts, I switched all my bets from Washington to Miami on Friday night &mdash and in the resulting confusion my net winnings were almost entirely canceled by widespread rancor and personal bitterness.
THIS YEAR, IN order to side-step that problem, I waited until the last moment to make my bets &mdash despite the fact that I knew the Vikings were doomed after watching them perform for the press at their star-crossed practice field on Monday afternoon before the game. It was clear, even then, that they were spooked and very uncertain about what they were getting into &mdash but it was not until I drove about 20 miles around the beltway to the other side of town for a look at the Dolphins that I knew, for sure, how to bet.
There are a lot of factors intrinsic to the nature of the Super Bowl that make it far more predictable than regular season games, or even play-offs &mdash but they are not the kind of factors that can be sensed or understood at a distance of 2000 or even 20 miles, on the basis of any wisdom or information that filters out from the site through the rose-colored, booze-bent media-filter that passes for “world-wide coverage” at these spectacles.
THERE IS A progression of understanding vis-a-vis pro football that varies drastically with the factor of distance &mdash physical, emotional, intellectual and every other way…Which is exactly the way it should be, in the eyes of the amazingly small number of people who own and control the game, because it is this finely managed distance factor that accounts for the high-profit mystique that blew the sacred institution of baseball off its “national pastime” pedestal in less than 15 years.
There were other reasons for baseball’s precipitous loss of popularity among everybody except old men and middle-aged sportswriters between 1959 and now &mdash just as there will be a variety of reasons to explain the certain decline of pro football between now and 1984 &mdash but if sporting historians ever look back on all this and try to explain it, there will be no avoiding the argument that pro football’s meteoric success in the 1960’s was directly attributable to its early marriage with network TV and a huge, coast-to-coast audience of armchair fans who “grew up” &mdash in terms of their personal relationship to The Game &mdash with the idea that pro football was something that happened every Sunday on the tube. The notion of driving eight miles along a crowded freeway and then paying $3 to park the car in order to pay another $10 to watch the game from the vantage point of a damp redwood bench 55 rows above the 19-yard line in a crowd of noisy drunks was entirely repugnant to them.
And they were absolutely right. After ten years of trying it both ways &mdash and especially after watching this last wretched Super Bowl game from a choice seat in the “press section” very high above the 50-yard line &mdash I hope to christ I never again succumb to whatever kind of weakness or madness it is that causes a person to endure the incoherent hell that comes with going out to a cold and rainy stadium for three hours on a Sunday afternoon and trying to get involved with whatever seems to be happening down there on that far-below field.
At the Super Bowl I had the benefit of my usual game-day aids: powerful binoculars, a tiny portable radio for the blizzard of audio-details that nobody ever thinks to mention on TV, and a seat on the good left arm of my friend, Mr. Natural. … But even with all these aids and a seat on the 50-yard line, I would rather have stayed in my hotel room and watched the goddamn thing on TV or maybe in some howling-drunk bar full of heavy bettors &mdash the kind of people who like to bet on every play: pass or run, three to one against a first down, twenty to one on a turnover. …
This is a very fast and active style of betting, because you have to make a decision about every 25 seconds. The only thing more intense is betting yes or no on the next shot in something like a pro basketball game between the Celtics and the Knicks, where you might get five or six shots every 24 seconds … or maybe only one, but in any case the betting is almost as exhausting as being out there on the floor.
I STAYED IN Houston for two days after the game, but even with things calmed down I had no luck in finding the people who’d caused me all my trouble. Both Tom Keating and Al LoCasale were rumored to be in the vicinity, but &mdash according to some of the New York sportswriters who’d seen them &mdash neither one was eager to either see or be seen with me.
When I finally fled Houston it was a cold Tuesday afternoon with big lakes of standing water on the road to the airport. I almost missed my plane to Denver because of a hassle with Jimmy the Greek about who was going to drive us to the airport and another hassle with the hotel garage-man about who was going to pay for eight days of tending my bogus “Official Super Bowl Car” in the hotel garage … and I probably wouldn’t have made it at all if I hadn’t run into a NFL publicity man who gave me enough speed to jerk me awake and lash the little white Mercury Cougar out along the Dallas freeway to the airport in time to abandon it in the “Departures/ Taxis Only” area and hire a man for five dollars to rush my bags and sound equipment up to the Continental Airlines desk just in time to make the flight.
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS later I was back in Woody Creek and finally, by sheer accident, making contact with that twisted bastard Keating &mdash who bent my balance a bit by calmly admitting his role in my Problem and explaining it with one of the highest left-handed compliments anybody ever aimed at me. …
“I got nothing personal against Thompson,” he told another NFL player who happened to be skiing in Aspen at the time: “But let’s face it, we’ve got nothing to gain by talking to him. I’ve read all his stuff and I know how he is he’s a goddamn lunatic &mdash and you’ve got to be careful with a bastard like that, because no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t help but tell the truth.”
When I heard that I just sort of slumped down on my bar-stool and stared at myself in the mirror … wishing, on one level, that Keating’s harsh judgment was right … but knowing, on another, that the treacherous realities of the worlds I especially work in forced me to abandon that purist stance a long time ago. If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people &mdash including me &mdash would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.
It is also a rare and dangerous commodity in the National Football League, or at least that western 26th of it that may or may not be the eminent domain of Al Davis and his executive fixer, LoCasale &mdash who finally, after all other dodges had failed, came out of his closet just long enough to welsh publicly on his personal agreement with me, to explain the roots and circumstances of my banishment “when the season is over.”
Which it was, for the Raiders, when they got stomped out of the playoffs by Miami, back in December. I waited several days, out of common decency, before calling LoCasale at the Raider office in Oakland, with the idea of setting up a mutually agreeable time and place &mdash perhaps on one of those empty afternoons during Super Week down in Houston &mdash for us to sit down with some green enchiladas and six or eight Dos Equis and get the whole problem untangled, or at least explained to whatever extent he seemed to have in mind when he set that “after the season” timetable back in December.
LoCasale was not in the office when I called. Neither was Al Davis. But I had a friendly talk with whichever one of their secretaries was handling the phone that day, and she assured me that one of them would be back very soon and would certainly return my call. I thanked her and left an Operator Number, so that the call would be on my tab.
SIX HOURS LATER I called the Raider office again, but there was nobody home. The answering service operator said that Mr. Davis and Mr. LoCasale had both gone home for the day, but if I wanted to leave my number she would get the message to both of them tomorrow, and either one of them &mdash or maybe both &mdash would call me as soon as possible.
Well … it is probably a sad commentary on my journalistic sense and also my personal naivete to admit, at this point, that I honestly believed that either LoCasale or Davis would soon return my call(s).
But they didn’t, and after two or three weeks of this bullshit &mdash including a week in Houston, where LoCasale somehow managed to avoid me for eight days and Al Davis never showed up at all &mdash it finally dawned on me that neither one of these devious bastards had any intention of ever talking to me again under any circumstances.
It was not really much of a shock, by this time. I had already checked with the NFL security office in New York and been assured that whatever foul information LoCasale felt he had on me had not come down from the League. “If you were as dangerous as LoCasale thinks you are,” one of the security men said, “we sure as hell wouldn’t have accredited you for the Super Bowl.”
It seemed like a reasonable premise until I tried it out on two NFL players. They both said the thing had all the hoof-prints of a League security operation, and both of them warned me against believing anything I’d heard or might ever hear in the future out of NFL headquarters. “It would stagger your goddamn mind to know how vicious those security bastards can be,” one of the players told me. “If they’re convinced you’re a dope freak, they’ll do anything they figure is necessary to get you out of their hair &mdash and if they can’t find anything on you, they’ll arrange for the local cops to stop you for speeding and find something. You want to be very careful with those bastards they’re absolutely ruthless.”
Jesus christ, I thought, this story was supposed to be a vacation from politics &mdash but dealing with these pigs is worse than dealing with Ziegler.
Walsh, in the meantime, was pursuing the Davis-LoCasale connection from so many angles and via so many surrogates that we finally got through &mdash by using a sort of Trojan Horse approach on Al Davis. But the result was not much better than all the blanks we’d drawn before. “It is not my policy,” Davis intoned to the sports-writer who finally reached him on our behalf, “to explain the decisions of my executives.”
And that, I think, is the only possible ending to this heart-rending tale of “How I never got it on with Al Davis, or even Pete Rozelle” . … And all that remains, now, is a vague sense of embarrassment with the idea that I could ever have taken pro football so seriously in the first place. Dealing with the combined treacheries of the NFL and the Oakland Raiders is like trying to cover the National Swineherds Convention with a head full of PCP or spending 90 days as an out-patient at Folsom Prison.
WHAT WAS EASILY the most provocative quote of that whole dreary week came on the Monday after the game from Miami linebacker Doug Swift. He was talking in his usual loose “What? Me worry?” kind of way with two or three sportswriters in the crowded lobby of the Marriott. Buses were leaving for the airport, Dolphin supporters and their wives were checking out, the lobby was full of stranded luggage, and off in one of the corners, Don Shula was talking with another clutch of sportswriters and ridiculing the notion that he would ever get rid of Jim Kiick, despite Kiick’s obvious unhappiness at the prospect of riding the bench again next year behind all-pro running back Mercury Morris.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the lobby, Doug Swift was going along with a conversation that had turned, along with Shula’s, to money and next year’s contracts. Swift listened for a while, then looked up at whoever was talking to him and said:
“You can expect to see a lot of new faces on next year’s [Miami] team. A lot of important contracts are coming up for renewal, and you can bet that the guys will be asking for more than management is willing to pay.”
Nobody paid much attention to the decidedly unnatural timing of Swift’s matter-of-fact prediction about “a lot of new faces next year,” but it was not the kind of talk designed to tickle either Shula’s or Joe Robbie’s rampant humours that morning. Jesus, here was the team’s Player Representative &mdash a star linebacker and one of the sharpest & most politically conscious people in the League &mdash telling anyone who cared to listen, not even 12 hours after the victory party, that the embryo “Dolphin Dynasty” was already in a very different kind of trouble than anything the Vikings or the Redskins had been able to lay on them in two straight Super Bowls.
SWIFT’S COMMENT WAS all the more ominous because of his stature as the team’s spokesman in the NFL Players’ Association &mdash a long-dormant poker club, of sorts, that in recent years has developed genuine muscle. Even in the face of what most of the player reps call a “legalized and unregulated monopoly” with the power of what amounts to “life or death” over their individual fates and financial futures in the tight little world of the National Football League, the Players’ Association since 1970 has managed to challenge the owners on a few carefully chosen issues… The two most obvious, or at least most frequently mentioned by players, are the Pension Fund (which the owners now contribute to about twice as heavily as they did before the threatened strike in 1970) and the players’ unilateral rejection, last year, of the “urinalysis proposal” which the owners and Rozelle were apparently ready and willing to arrange for them, rather than risk any more public fights with Congress about things like TV blackouts and antitrust exemptions.
According to Pittsburgh tackle Tom Keating, an articulate maverick who seems to enjoy a universal affection and respect from almost everybody in the League except the owners and owner-bent coaches, the Players’ Association croaked the idea of mass-urinalysis with one quick snarl. “We just told them to fuck it,” he says. “The whole concept of mass urine tests is degrading! Jesus, can you imagine what would happen if one of those stadium cops showed up in the press box at half-time with a hundred test tubes and told all the writers to piss in the damn things or turn in their credentials for the rest of the season? I’d like to film that goddamn scene.”
I agreed with Keating that mass-urinalysis in the press box at half-time would undoubtedly cause violence and a blizzard of vicious assaults on the NFL in the next morning’s papers … but, after thinking about it for a while, the idea struck me as having definite possibilities if applied on a broad enough basis:
Mandatory urine-tests for all congressmen and senators at the end of each session, for instance. Who could predict what kind of screaming hell might erupt if Rep. Harley Staggers was suddenly grabbed by two Pinkerton men in a hallway of the US Capitol and dragged &mdash in full view of tourists, newsmen and several dozen of his shocked and frightened colleagues &mdash into a nearby corner and forced to piss in a test tube?
Would Staggers scream for help? Would he struggle in the grip of his captors? Or would he meekly submit, in the interest of National Security?
We will probably never know, because the present Congress does not seem to be in a mood to start passing “Forced Urinalysis” laws &mdash although the Agnew-style Supreme Court that Nixon has saddled us with would probably look with favor on such a law.
In any case, the threat of mandatory urinalysis for professional athletes will probably be hooted out of Congress as some kind of stupid hillbilly joke if Staggers ever gets serious about it. He is not viewed, in Washington, as a heavy Shaker and Mover.
WHEN DOUG SWIFT made that comment about “a lot of new faces on next year’s team,” he was not thinking in terms of a player-revolt against forced urinalysis. What he had in mind, I think, was the fact that among the Dolphin contracts coming up for renewal this year are those of Larry Csonka, Jake Scott, Paul Warfield, Dick Anderson and Mercury Morris &mdash all established stars earning between $30,000 and $55,000 a year right now, and all apparently in the mood to double their salaries next time around.
Which might seem a bit pushy, to some people &mdash until you start comparing average salary figures in the National Football League against salaries in other pro sports. The average NFL salary (according to figures provided by Players’ Assoc. general counsel, Ed Garvey) is $28,500, almost five grand less than the $33,000 average for major league baseball players, and about half the average salary (between $50,000 and $55,000) in the National Hockey League. …But when you start talking about salaries in the National Basketball Association, it’s time to kick out the jams: The average NBA salary is $92,500 a year. (The NBA Players’ Association claims that the average salary is $100,000.)
Against this steep-green background, it’s a little easier to see why Larry Csonka wants a raise from his current salary of $55,000 &mdash to $100,000 or so, a figure that he’d probably scale down pretty calmly if Joe Robbie offered him the average NBA salary of $92,500.
(A quick little sidelight on all these figures has to do with the price TV advertisers paid to push their products during time-outs and penalty-squabbles at the Super Bowl: The figure announced by the NFL and whatever TV network carried the goddamn thing was $200,000 per minute. I missed the telecast, due to factors beyond my control &mdash which is why I don’t know which network sucked up all that gravy, or whether it was Schlitz, Budweiser, Gillette or even King Kong Amyl Nitrites that coughed up $200,000 for every 60 seconds of TV exposure on that grim afternoon.)
But that was just a sidelight … and the longer I look at all these figures, my watch, and this goddamn stinking mojo wire that’s been beeping steadily out here in the snow for two days, the more I tend to see this whole thing about a pending Labor Management crunch in the NFL as a story with a spine of its own that we should probably leave for later.
The only other thing &mdash or maybe two things &mdash that I want to hit, lashing the final pages of this bastard into the mojo, has to do with the sudden and apparently serious formation of the “World Football League” by the same people whose record, so far, has been pretty good when it comes to taking on big-time monopolies. Los Angeles lawyer Gary Davidson is the same man who put both the American Basketball Association and the World Hockey League together &mdash two extremely presumptuous trips that appear to have worked out very nicely, and which also provided the competition factor that caused the huge salary jumps in both basketball and hockey.
Perhaps the best example of how the competition-factor affects player salaries comes from the ledger-books of the NFL. In 1959, the average salary in pro football was $9500 a year. But in 1960, when the newly formed AFL began its big-money bidding war against pro football’s Old Guard, the average NFL salary suddenly jumped to $27,500 &mdash and in the 13 years since then it has crept up another $1000 to the current figure of $28,500.
The explanation for all this &mdash according to Garvey and all the players I’ve talked to about it &mdash is rooted entirely in the owner-arranged merger between the NFL and the AFL in 1966. “Ever since then,” says Garvey, “it’s been a buyer’s market, and that’s why the NFL’s average salary figure has remained so stagnant, compared to the other sports.”
Garvey said he’d just as soon not make any public comment on the possibility of a players’ strike next summer &mdash but there is a lot of private talk about it among individual players, and especially among the player reps and some of the politically oriented hard rockers like Swift, Keating, and Kansas City’s Ed Podolak.
The only person talking publicly about a Players’ strike is Gary Davidson, president of the new World Football League &mdash who called a press conference in New York on January 22nd to announce that the WFL was not only going after the top college players and the 35 or so NFL veterans who played out their options last year &mdash but, in a sudden reversal of policy that must have sent cold shots of fear through every one of the 26 plush boardrooms in the NFL, Davidson announced that the WFL will also draft “all pro football players, even those under contract,” and then begin draining talent out of the NFL by a simple device called “future contracts.”
If the Boston Bulls of the WFL, for instance, decided to draft Dolphin quarterback Bob Griese this year and sign him to a future contract for 1975, Griese would play the entire season for Miami, and then &mdash after getting a certified deposit slip for something like $2 million in gold bullion from his bank in Zurich &mdash he would have a round of farewell beers with Robbie and Shula before catching the plane for Boston, where he would open the 1976 season as quarterback for the Bulls.
This is only one of several hundred weird scenarios that could start unfolding in the next few months if the WFL franchise-owners have enough real money to take advantage of the NFL Players’ strike that Gary Davidson says he’s waiting for this summer.
Why not? Total madness on the money front: Huge bonuses, brutal money raids on NFL teams like the Dolphins and the Raiders wild-eyed WFL agents flying around the country in private Lear jets with huge sacks of cash and mind-bending contracts for any player willing to switch. …
The only sure loser, in the end, will be the poor bastard who buys a season ticket for the Dolphins season and then picks up the Miami Herald the next day to find a red banner headline saying: GRIESE, KIICK, CSONKA, SCOTT, ANDERSON JUMP TO WFL.
Which is sad, but what the hell? None of this tortured bullshit about the future of pro football means anything, anyway. If the Red Chinese invaded tomorrow and banned the game entirely, nobody would really miss it after two or three months. Even now, most of the games are so fucking dull that it’s hard to understand how anybody can even watch them on TV unless they have some money hanging on the point spread, instead of the final score.
Pro football in American is over the hump. Ten years ago it was a very hip and private kind of vice to be into. I remember going to my first 49er game in 1965 with 15 beers in a plastic cooler and a Dr. Grabow pipe full of bad hash. The 49ers were still playing in Kezar stadium then, an old grey hulk at the western end of Haight Street in Golden Gate Park. There were never any sellouts, but the 30,000 or so regulars were extremely heavy drinkers, and at least 10,000 of them were out there for no other reason except to get involved in serious violence. …By half time the place was a drunken madhouse, and anybody who couldn’t get it on anywhere else could always go underneath the stands and try to get into the long trough of a “Men’s Room” through the “Out” door there were always a few mean drunks lurking around to punch anybody who tried that … and by the end of the third quarter of any game, regardless of the score, there were always two or three huge brawls that would require the cops to clear out whole sections of the grandstand.
But all that changed when the 49ers moved out to Candlestick Park. The prices doubled and a whole new crowd took the seats. It was the same kind of crowd I saw, last season, in the four games I went to at the Oakland Coliseum: a sort of half-rich mob of nervous doctors, lawyers and bank officers who would sit through a whole game without ever making a sound &mdash not even when some freak with a head full of acid spilled a whole beer down the neck of their grey-plastic ski jackets. Toward the end of the season, when the Raiders were battling every week for a spot in the playoffs, some of the players got so pissed off at the stuporous nature of their “fans” that they began making public appeals for “cheering” and “noise.”
It was a bad joke if you didn’t have to live with it &mdash and as far as I’m concerned I hope to hell I never see the inside of another football stadium. Not even a free seat with free booze in the press box.
That gig is over now, and I blame it on Vince Lombardi. The success of his Green Bay approach in the ’s restructured the game entirely. Lombardi never really thought about winning his trip was not losing. …Which worked, and because it worked the rest of the NFL bought Lombardi’s whole style: Avoid Mistakes, Don’t Fuck Up, Hang Tough and Take No Chances. … Because sooner or later the enemy will make a mistake and then you start grinding him down, and if you play the defensive percentage you’ll get inside his 30-yard line at least three times in each half, and once you’re inside the 30 you want to be sure to get at least three points. …
Wonderful. Who can argue with a battle-plan like that? And it is worth remembering that Richard Nixon spent many Sundays, during all those long and lonely autumns between 1962 and , shuffling around on the field with Vince Lombardi at Green Bay Packer games.
Nixon still speaks of Lombardi as if he might suddenly appear, at any moment, from underneath one of the larger rocks on the White House lawn. … And Don Shula, despite his fairly obvious distaste for Nixon, has adopted the Lombardi style of football so effectively that the Dolphins are now one of the dullest teams to watch in the history of pro football.
But most of the others are just as dull &mdash and if you need any proof, find a TV set some weekend that has pro football, basketball and hockey games on three different channels. In terms of pure action and movement, the NFL is a molasses farm compared to the fine sense of crank that comes on when you get locked into watching a team like the Montreal Canadiens or the Boston Celtics.
One of the few sharp memories I still have from that soggy week in Houston is the sight of the trophy that would go to the team that won the Big Game on Sunday. It was appropriately named after Vince Lombardi: “The Lombardi Trophy,” a thick silver fist rising out of a block of black granite.
The trophy has all the style and grace of an ice floe in the North Atlantic. There is a silver plaque on one side of the base that says something about Vince Lombardi and the Super Bowl … but the most interesting thing about it is a word that is carved, for no apparent or at least no esthetic reason, in the top of the black marble base:
That’s all it says, and all it needs to say.
The Dolphins, I suspect, will be to pro football what the Yankees were to baseball, the final flower of an era whose time has come and gone. The long and ham-fisted shadow of Vince Lombardi will be on us for many more years. …But the crank is gone. …
Should we end the bugger with that?
Why not? Let the sportswriters take it from here. And when things get nervous, there’s always that smack-filled $7-a-night motel room down on the sea-wall in Galveston.
Is this 60's Atlanta airport security picture geniuine, and if so, what is happening here? - History
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This now iconic image of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara depicts him at the March 5, 1960 funeral for the victims of the La Coubre explosion. Guevara believed that the destruction of the French freighter in Havana harbor and the 75-100 resulting deaths were a deliberate act of sabotage on the part of the U.S. because of Cuba's new communist government following the revolution the year before.
Guevara helped carry out that revolution before attempting to foment similar uprisings elsewhere around the world, which helped make him an enemy of the U.S. Eventually, in 1967, C.I.A.-assisted Bolivian forces captured Guevara in Bolivia and executed him. Alberto Korda/Wikimedia Commons
At 12:30 p.m. CST, on Nov. 22, 1963, the world was still moving. President Kennedy's uncovered 1961 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible limousine had just entered Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
Nellie Connally, the First Lady of Texas who was riding in the front seat of the president's car, turned herself around and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."
President Kennedy's reply were his last words: "No, you certainly can't."
Seconds later, the fatal shot was fired. Wikimedia Commons
While the 1960s brought extraordinary progress for civil rights, the decade also brought violent setbacks.
On July 12, 1967, an act of police brutality against an African-American man in Newark, N.J. sparked riots throughout the city that would last for six days and leave 26 dead and hundreds injured. -/AFP/Getty Images
Rumors of an affair between President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe persist to this day. Perhaps fueling the rumors more than any other incident was Monroe's sultry rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung to Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962.
Pictured: Kennedy (right), Monroe, and Kennedy's brother Robert backstage just after Monroe's performance. This is one of the few photos of Monroe and Kennedy together. Wikimedia Commons
For 13 days in the fall of 1962, it seemed as if the world was going to end. Known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, this tense period saw Soviet forces attempt to move nuclear missiles to Cuba, just 90 miles from the coast of Florida. The U.S. responded by blockading Cuba with its own military forces. It was the closest the Cold War ever came to all-out nuclear annihilation.
Ultimately cooler heads prevailed and both sides agreed to back their nuclear weapons farther away from the enemy's borders.
Pictured: A U.S. navy aircraft flies above a Soviet freighter carrying two bomber planes in late 1962. Wikimedia Commons
The following summer, President John F. Kennedy traveled to Berlin, Germany, the city that stood at the border of the communist and non-communist worlds, literally divided down the center by a wall.
In Berlin, Kennedy hoped to underline U.S. support for all people on the non-communist side of the world's great political divide, famously declaring "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a citizen of Berlin"), which many incorrectly mistranslated as Kennedy proclaiming himself to be a jelly doughnut. AFP/Getty Images
Joining activists and political leaders like King at the March on Washington were folk singers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
Artists like these had come to represent the voice of both the younger generation and highlight the plight of nation's oppressed through verse -- a trend that would only grow as the decade went on. Wikimedia Commons
Jackie Kennedy (right), still wearing the suit stained with her late husband's blood, looks on as Lyndon B. Johnson takes the presidential oath aboard Air Force One in Dallas just two hours and eight minutes after the assassination.
The suit remained out of public view in the National Archives in Maryland, together with an unsigned note reading "Jackie's suit and bag worn Nov. 22, 1963" until 2103. Its precise location is kept a secret. It was never cleaned. Wikimedia Commons
Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as Dallas police escort the latter to a transport vehicle the day after Kennedy's death.
Ruby told several witnesses immediately after shooting Oswald that he was trying to help the city of Dallas "redeem" itself in the public's eye, and spare ". Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial." Wikimedia Commons
On March 26, 1964, the decade's two most prominent civil rights leaders shared their only meeting.
As Martin Luther King Jr. (left) was leaving a news conference, Malcolm X (right) stepped out of the crowd, extended his hand, and smiled.
"Well, Malcolm, good to see you," King said.
"Good to see you," X replied.
The gaggle of photographers surrounding the men took photos to immortalize the historic moment that lasted all of about one minute. Wikimedia Commons
As was the case with music and politics, fashion also took a bold leap forward in the 1960s.
The famous 1965 Mondrian Collection by French designer Yves Saint Laurent took an innovative approach to fashion by combining classical Western forms with the aesthetics of modernist fine art.
Today, some of these dresses themselves are displayed at museums around the world. AFP/Getty Images
A U.S. helicopter pilot runs from his aircraft after Vietnamese forces shoot it down in early 1965.
The U.S. had just begun bombing operations and troop deployment in Vietnam, for the first time escalating in earnest the conflict that would make the 1960s a truly bloody decade. AFP/Getty Images
Muhammad Ali knocks out Sonny Liston after a one-minute-long championship match in Lewiston, Maine on May 25, 1965. Just seconds after the knockout, referee Joe Walcott, holds Ali back.
Ali's courage both in and out of the ring would come to define the decade. -/AFP/Getty Images
On Aug. 11, 1965, the Los Angeles Police Department pulled over an African-American man named Marquette Frye for drunk driving. His arrest soon evolved into a roadside scuffle and many quickly accused the officers of police brutality. Six days of riots followed in the city's predominantly African-American Watts neighborhood.
To contain the riots, the LAPD needed nearly 4,000 members of the California Army National Guard. In total, the riots resulted in 34 deaths and $40 million in property damage. Wikimedia Commons
More than any other two people, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson (meeting here in the White House on March 18, 1966) may have had the greatest impact on civil rights in the 1960s -- the former as the movement's de facto leader and the latter as the one who pushed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
While they differed in approach, the two held each other in high esteem. As King later wrote of Johnson: "His approach to the problem of civil rights was not identical with mine — nor had I expected it to be. Yet his careful practicality was, nonetheless, clearly no mask to conceal indifference. His emotional and intellectual involvement was genuine and devoid of adornment. It was conspicuous that he was searching for a solution to a problem he knew to be a major shortcoming in American life." Wikimedia Commons
The following year, on April 4, 1968, the civil rights movement took another devastating hit with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the hands of James Earl Ray (pictured).
After a failed career as a pornographer in Mexico, Ray had returned to the U.S. -- where he was wanted for escaping prison -- to take dance and bartending lessons before setting in motion his plan to kill King.
Ultimately, Ray's crimes earned him 99 years in prison, where he died in 1998 at age 70. Wikimedia Commons
King's assassination once again brought racial tensions to a head in more than 100 cities across the country.
Washington, D.C. (pictured) saw the worst of it. Over the five days following King's death, rioters burned more than 1,000 buildings, causing about $27 million in damage and prompting President Johnson to call in 13,600 federal troops. Wikimedia Commons
In early 1968, the violence intensified overseas as well, as fighting in Vietnam reached new heights with the communists' devastating Tet Offensive and the Americans' brutal My Lai Massacre.
Pictured: American soldiers burn a Viet Cong base in My Tho on April 5, 1968. NATIONAL ARCHIVES/AFP/Getty Images
A female Viet Cong soldier fires an anti-tank missile during a fight in the southern Cuu Long delta during the Tet Offensive.
The surprise attack on nearly 100 targets in South Vietnam marked a turning point in favor of the communists. AFP/Getty Images
A turning point for Suzi came 25 years ago when her mother Mariana suddenly died aged just 62 from a heart attack.
'Mum was overweight, verging on alcoholism and took no exercise, but it was still a massive wake-up for me,' she said.
'As a woman in my 40s I was increasingly aware of every wrinkle, and the hours and lifestyle weren’t doing me any favours, so I decided to prioritise my health and try a different tack.'
As a journalist Suzi had enjoyed years of hard drinking and chain smoking but she quickly gave it all up and spent the next three years training to become a nutritionist.
She said: 'There’s this outdated notion that, as a woman, when you reach "a certain age" you have to disappear, but as I’ve passed all these dreaded milestones, I’ve embraced ageing. I want to grow old positively, naturally and certainly not invisibly' (Pictured in Jaipur)
On top of her sudden lifestyle change, she decided she needed to find a new scene as well, and moved from London to Brighton in 2000.
She said: 'I’d just turned 50 and was tired of the same staid black uniform people seemed to wear in London – and suddenly I felt irrelevant. Brighton’s liberalism was a complete epiphany for me.'
In 2003 she published her first healthy lifestyle book, and wrote two more before her godchildren convinced her to start a blog.
She started out by interviewing people out on the street, finding her inspiration in the roller-blading 70-year-olds, grannies with brightly-coloured hair and people skinny dipping in the sea.
She told the Mirror: 'I’d spent my life interviewing people, so had no shame, and uncovered the most incredible tales – it was like digging into a new layer of my home town and its people.'
Suzi is doing anything but hiding, sharing photos such as this one with hashtags including '#greyhairdontcare' and #kissmyage', and blogging about topics such as the menopause and the 5:2 diet
It wasn't always easy but after being interviewed by Instagram her follower count shot up to just over 11,100 - and amazingly, more than half of them are under 30.
Although previously feeling burnt out from the hours of carefully curating content for her blog and Instagram page, Suzi now feels younger than ever thanks to her new hobby.
She added: 'My mind’s significantly sharper now than it was five years ago, and by walking the talk of the advice I give out, I feel healthier now than I have for decades.
'I just want to spread my message – to embrace ageing, to inspire people to make positive, small changes, not to aspire to some unrealistic portrayal of how you should be. It’s nothing short of a privilege to know I have over 11,000 people wanting to hear my thoughts, and something I’m immensely proud of.
'Instagramming and blogging are my way to stand up, and to inspire others to live their lives to the full, however old you are.'
She added: 'We’re like a secret tribe - women over 50 who don’t want to be invisible, who love music, festivals, and take good care of themselves. I can’t believe I’m two years off 70 – I don’t feel it, and I hope I don’t look it.'
In 2003 she published her first healthy lifestyle book, and wrote two more before her godchildren convinced her to start the blog. Now she has more than 11,000 followers