A Guarantee From Joe Willie

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Sometimes, it’s as simple as doing the eye test.

Last night, Randolph-Macon invaded the Wilkins Center as the number-one ranked NCAA D-3 men’s basketball team in the nation. You didn’t have to scratch your head and ask “why?” The Jackets quickly pulled away amidst a hailstorm of 3-pointers and the game was over almost as soon as it started. It didn’t help that the Shenandoah Hornets shot 25 percent in the first half, but it wouldn’t have mattered.

What I saw from RMC was a talented, disciplined, well-coached team. Every pass had a purpose, and the Jackets were loaded with dead-eye shooters.

While it’s not fun to be on the short end of a 102-51, I’ll bet most players want to test their skills against the very best. Number One is what you should aspire to be, and Macon provided the measuring stick last night. Sometimes it hurts , though, to get whacked with it.

Changing gears, I’m going to make you feel old. This Sunday is the playing of the 55th Super Bowl, the conclusion of a season like no other. Someone asked me this week what the first Super Bowl was that I remember. That answer is easy: It is Super Bowl III, featuring the upstart New York Jets from the AFL against the heavily-favored NFL Champion Baltimore Colts.

The Colts were a juggernaut and were heavily favored by somewhere in the 18-point range. The game is memorable for the bold “guarantee” made by Jets’ QB “Broadway Joe” Namath in the week leading up to the game. From a chaise lounge in Miami, donning shades and swim trunks, drink-in-hand, Joe Willie guaranteed a win against the mighty Colts, and then delivered with a 16-7 triumph.

But the game is burned into my memory, because Super Bowl 3 was a microcosm of what was going on in the country at the time. 1968 was one of the most divisive years in US history. The Vietnam War, Summer riots, and the assassinations of MLK and RFK threatened to tear the country apart. In addition, the lines were drawn demographically. A youthful, more liberal America was seen as a threat to an older, more conservative USA.

The Jets, with the long-haired Namath as it’s frontman, represented that new, vibrant America. The Colts, represented by the flat topped, high-topped Johnny Unitas, were the face of the “establishment.” And the game itself was seen not just as the AFL against the NFL, but as a matchup of young versus old, liberal versus conservative.

I’m sure that many households were like mine on that January day in 1969, as fathers and sons were glued to their Magnavox console TVs, the dads cheering for Earl Morall and Johnny U, and the sons rooting for Broadway Joe and the underdog Jets.

Super Bowl III was more than a football game, and it will always remain so for me.

Until the next visit from The Booth, enjoy the Big Game, and GO HORNETS!