From time to time, major events bring about everlasting changes to our lives, culture, or for our favorite team. One period in history ends and another one begins. We are seeing so many changes now that some may feel like it’s… the end of time.
I’m not talking about climatic changes, cataclysmic events or even Armageddon. So, don’t run out and start building a bomb shelter. Transitional periods happen in all of our lives, individually, collectively and regularly.
Remember the house you lived in when you were growing up? Me too. Remember that four year stretch when Priest Holmes rushed for 5,482 yards and scored 76 TDs? Boy do I. Do you recall the last time you had to set your clock forward for Daylight Savings time? Yea?
Individually, collectively and regularly.
We also often look at our lives in segments. There was the Hank Stram segment. The Marty Shottenheimer segment. The Dick Vermeil segment. However, in the time in between, it’s hard to see the evolution taking place or to know whether or not things are getting better or worse.
We’re in the middle of one of those evolutionary passing periods right now.
In the Past Eight Months
Consider… Jim Tressel’s resignation. Very few college athletic programs have the history, clout and backing that Ohio State has had over the years. From the NCAA’s standpoint, when one of your prize programs goes astray, you can only look away for so long, until you have to do something about it. Coach Tressel would not have quit unless he had to. There… a change… is a huge shift.
Consider… the NBA finals. For the first time in 13 years the finals will not have either… Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil or Tim Duncan… participating. And the new NBA Champion? That’s going to be either… a team with 3 players who bypassed a GM, deciding for themselves where they were going to play… or… a team that’s never been good enough to win it all, yet. One way or the other the winner presents a pretty big change for the NBA. Go Mavs!
Consider… Jack LaLanne’s passing. Jack was the fitness craze decades before the fitness craze. I remember my mother doing jumping jacks along with Jack in front of an old tube type television. Most people will remember LaLanne from his recent late night commercials pedaling his juicer for a healthier life. We should all be so healthy. He died at 96 years of age and was an icon of the late 1900s.
Consider… Osama bin Laden’s death. He may have been the ultimate enemy in American society. When the #1 Most Wanted Criminal and Terrorist is at last apprehended, it’s significant. In the history of our country perhaps only Hitler was a bigger antagonist.
Consider… President Obama passing universal health care. This transcends the democracy vs. socialism debate. Whether you agree or disagree with universal health care, providing each and every person in our country with health care is monumental and historical.
Consider… Oprah’s retirement. When an archetype who has advocated, educated and contributed so positively to the consciousness and physical needs of the masses for as long as she has, and then leaves the grand stage, it’s big. It leaves many wondering who will fill the void.
In the Past 24 Months
Two years can make a great difference on a historical timeline.
How much did things change from 1999 to 2001, pre and post 9-11?
How much did things change from 1989 to 1991, pre and post Berlin Wall and Cold War?
In 1970, the Pittsburgh Steelers were 5-9 and in 1972 they went 11-3. From 1933 to 1970 the Steelers had 7 total winning seasons. Since 1970, they have been the best franchise in football. Hopefully, the K.C. Chiefs, who are in the middle of a two-year-turn-around, are headed in the right direction.
Sometimes you can name a moment or a date when things changed. V-Day. The day the Beatles came to America. The Congressional hearings on steroids in Baseball.
Or how about draft day in 1989, when the Chiefs drafted Derrick Thomas. He was Arrowhead’s brutal Picasso, leaving us with his own twisted, stunning, imagery.
In death, eras can come and eras can go. Mostly go. In just the past two years, there have been some other noteworthy people who have died including:
Elizabeth Taylor- an acting legend from Hollywood’s golden age
Geraldine Ferraro- first female Vice Presidential candidate
Les Paul- pioneer of the solid-body electric guitar marvel
Roy Disney- nephew of Walt, instrumental in revitalizing Disney’s animation legacy
Ed McMahon- best known as, Heeeerrreee’s Johnny, Carson’s sidekick and the Publisher’s Clearance House Sweepstake’s spokesperson
Eunice Kennedy Shriver- sister of JFK, was a founder of the Special Olympics in the 1960s
Barbara Billingsley- portrayed June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver, the classic 50s & 60s family values sitcom
Blake Edwards- director famous for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther
Don Kirshner- renowned music producer, promoted: Carole King (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?), Bobby Darin (Splish Splash), Neil Sedaka (Breaking Up is Had to Do, Love Will Keep Us Together, Bad Blood), Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (Last Train to Clarksville and Steppin’ Stone), Neil Diamond (the one and only), Kansas (Dust in the Wind), and The Monkees (he created them) and The Archies (Sugar, Sugar). Produced and hosted Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert from 1973-82, a weekly pre-cable television rock concert event
Farrah Fawcett- played Jill Munroe on original Charlie’s Angels, an international pop culture icon, made hair big again, had the poster of the century
Bob Guccione- his Penthouse magazine was to Playboy, what the Rolling Stones were to the Beatles
Jackie Cooper- original member of The Little Rascals, long time producer, television director, and actor best remembered as Perry White in Superman, 1978
Susan Atkins- a murderer for the Charles Manson clan, in part responsible for Sharon Tate’s and Leno LaBianca’s deaths in 1969: seven were killed and Tate was eight months pregnant
John Forsythe- was the Bachelor Father in the 50s, the voice and unseen boss on Charlie’s Angels, played Blake Carrington on Dynasty
Tony Curtis- movie star legend of over 100 movies. I can’t even grasp that accomplishment.
Eddie Fisher- 35 songs in the Top 40, was the real father of Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher
Walter Breuning- died at the age of 113 on April 14th, just six weeks ago. He was born in 1896. Walter was the oldest, undisputed American-born man on record before his death.
Needles to say this group has had a wide area of influence but, now they’re gone. Things change. They’re moving on. The combination of these lives leaving us… plus major recent developments… has significantly altered our world.
If you look at the past two years for the K.C. Chiefs franchise, they are still in the midst of a transition that is as big as any in their history and certainly the biggest since the 1988-1990 time period.
I’ve seen my parents pass and most all of the icons, of their era, with them. Now, another era is coming to an end. This is not about me or the Baby Boomers winding down. Boomers, or GenX kids, as they’ve come to call themselves, have had a tendency to separate each generation into diverse factions. No, what is remarkable is… these icons passing, plus the current cultural events… have had their effects on all of us, from all generations… and in the sports world too.
In the past two years, in our wonderful world of sports, so many have gone and left their lasting mark and in such unique ways. Lives such as: Paul Splittorff, John Wooden, George Steinbrenner, Don Meredith, George Blanda, Merlin Olson, Duke Snyder, and Harmon Killebrew. Their memories will not soon fade.
They are all from an era that has now come to a close.
They each leave us with their irrefutable highlights playing like a YouTube loop inside our heads and have given us an indelible life experience… an experience that will stay with us until we take the stroll beyond our own field of dreams.
Just as surely as the Civil War changed our world, we are changed. Just as surely as the Great Depression of the 1930s changed our world, we are changed. Just as surely as 9-11 changed our world, we are changed.
And now, we are about to be changed again.
They leave us at the precipice of a new era. The first step in honoring them is remembering them. For us it is the end of an era and the beginning of another. For them it marks the end of time.
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day that music died.
~American Pie, Don McLean, 1971