"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Let's pray that Alan Page can retain sound mind

Associate Justice Alan Page
It's an unspoken worry but one that has had to make the rounds. Alan Page is on the Minnesota Supreme Court. We elected him. We pray he doesn't show symptoms of mental decline from his years of playing big-time football. He played for Notre Dame and was a fixture in that special era of Minnesota Vikings football known as "the purple people."
The Minnesota citizenry, so enraptured at the time, were naive and hardly gave a thought to what those poor souls might be experiencing out on that field at Met Stadium. Wally Hilgenberg, RIP, was a casualty.
Fred McNeill and Brent Boyd are still alive and dealing with symptoms that we can presume will only get worse.
At the time of their playing heyday, we would have loved trading places with any of those Vikings out there. Now we know we were the lucky ones. The vicarious experience was 100 per cent better.
Maybe the venerated Alan Page will be lucky and somehow skate past the consequences of all his physical, intense play as a lineman - "in the trenches" as they say.
Ah, war terminology applied to football. We used to think it was cute. George Carlin had a routine that played on this. The comedian compared football and baseball terminology, the latter suggesting a peaceful, pastoral game, played in a "ballpark." Whereas, football involved such things as "bombs and blitzes," the comedian said while laughter erupted.
Carlin said that in contrast to the pleasant "ballpark," football was played in a stadium - "War Memorial Stadium" (an actual place). That was the payoff line: "War Memorial Stadium."
Back in the days when "Monday Night Football" was new and novel, there was a regionally produced pregame show that had an intro segment showing the most violent possible hits. We heard the audio of players making the kind of exclamatory sounds that accompany such hits.
We were supposed to be mesmerized and impressed, respecting these men willing to go all-out in this macho "man's game."
Holy cow, how quaint and regressive now, these attitudes about football being such an exhibit of ultimate manliness.
There's nothing manly about the older men we see in the news today nursing the effects of years of playing football, not able to hold a job etc. In high school they were at the top of the social totem pole with their ability through sheer strength and speed to knock opposing players on their rear end.
And to think our schools, of all institutions, should have been a party to promoting this model of how we designate heroes. We are so human an animal.
One of the "cute" anecdotes of Vikings history has Carl Eller smashing a chalkboard at halftime of the Minnesota-Washington divisional playoff game in 1973. Washington was leading 7-3 at halftime. The Vikings went on to win 27-20, and according to the team's lore it was Eller's fit of anger that helped "inspire," I guess, when it was really just an exhibit of anger management problems. 
The Vikings beat the Washington. . .Redskins. Oh my, there's a whole other issue. It gets lots of attention today, this racially denigrating nickname of the Washington team. I recall no such talk in 1973 which was the year I graduated from high school.
Big-time football is whistling past the graveyard. It has to address the "Redskins" name, it has to confront the horrible toll of head injuries, and now it must discourage all anti-gay talk and attitudes - anathema to what big-time football has stood for, i.e. "manliness."
We learned with Junior Seau that the sheer length of his career may have doomed him. He just couldn't leave the game. He played linebacker which is a physically brutal position. He once said he had only one concussion but "it lasted 20 years." He and Dave Duerson represent the worst of what can happen from a football career.
Many other former players are falling into a challenged category. They may once have been "studs," to use the terminology of a less-enlightened culture. Today they might forget their names or be unable to control their bathroom functions. Welcome to the real world, and try dismissing the "dream factory" that is big-time, big money entertainment, a world that takes talented people and exploits them, discarding them when more attractive (younger) options emerge.
It happens in Hollywood like in football. But in acting you are not dealt countless concussions and sub-concussive hits.
The absolutely most pathetic aspect is that our high schools are a party to keeping the football animal alive. There are more and more skeptical voices all the time. But change takes time.
The "legacy" attractiveness of football will be extremely formidable to overcome. Football coaches, that big fraternity of "macho" males, will try to discourage the "negativity."
Let's re-define "positive" and "negative" on this. Let's apply the wisdom of someone like Alan Page. Let's cross our fingers and pray for him.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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