The Golden Age of Sports

Quote of the Day     “The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand.”    –Howard Cosell

October is one of the best sports months of the year. College and NFL Football are in full swing, the MLB playoffs and World Series are underway, Nascar’s Chase is winding down, and basketball camps are opening up. It’s a great month for sports, and if you’re a kid, you will remember it all in twenty years or more as a golden age.

TB’s golden age of sports was from 1970-1986. There is no chance any other time period since then or yet to come will ever be better for me. What made this era so great?

In the NFL, the Cowboys were America’s Team. They were the only team with freshly painted helmets each week. All the other teams’ helmets were beat to hell and back, tough looking, as they should be. The Cowboys could get away with the fresh look because it was unique. Back then, quarterbacks wore number 12, as God ordained. Bob Griese, Joe Namath, Snake Stabler, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Ferguson–all number 12.  Billy Johnson wore white shoes and danced in the end zone, and nobody else did, at least for awhile. Speaking of dancing in the end zone, it was an era of classic celebrations beginning with Billy White Shoes Johnson’s hands on knees dance, moving to the California Quake by Butch Johnson, through the Skins’ Fun Bunch and ending with Mark Gastineau’s sack dance. The Immaculate Reception happened during this era as well as the original Hail Mary. Saints fans started the bag over the head routine during their memorable 1-15 campaign and the Dolphins completed their undefeated season. Instead of “Ocho Cinco” and “TO” we had real nicknames like “Hacksaw” and “Mean Joe”. And of course we kept up with it all thanks to Monday Night Football with Gifford and Dandy Don and Cosell’s halftime highlights.

Baseball in this period was maybe even greater. Day games were the only option for the Cubs and were featured in the Playoffs and World Series, as God ordained. The NL and AL hotly contested the all-star game each year, for pride. The last three Dodgers-Yankees World Series took place, not to mention the greatest series ever between the Reds and Red Sox. U.L. Washington chewed a toothpick at bat, George “Boomer” Scott wore a helmet in the field and Gary Matthews flicked his helmet off as soon as he left the batters box. We had the Pine Tar game and the greatest baseball brawl ever on WTBS between the Braves and Padres. Morganna the kissing bandit showed up at all All-Star games and most Steve Garvey games. Mike Schmidt showed emotion when he hit his 500th home run. It was the first time in his life. Ozzie Smith hit his first home run in something like 95,000 at bats to win the Cards a playoff game, just after the stat was flashed on how unlikely an Ozzie homer would be. We pulled for guys called “Charlie Hustle”, “Mr. October”, and “the Penguin” instead of “Man-Ram” and “A-Rod”. And Chris Berman gave a nickname to everyone who was missing one and it was a fresh idea–Daryl “Motley” Crue, Bert “Be Home” Blyleven, Oddibe “Young Again” McDowell. The era ended with a ball rolling between Bill Buckner’s legs, and I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when it happened.

It wasn’t all about the NFL and MLB. The NBA had its Bird-Magic era, Nascar gained popularity when Cale Yarborough got in a fight with the Alabama gang, and Sugar Ray Leonard beat Roberto Duran in the “no mas” fight. College football came on TV once a week and there were four big bowls on New Year’s with one big argument on who should be the champs. And in 1980, Mississippi State beat Alabama 6-3. I wasn’t there, but I know where I was. I remember how it felt. It was golden.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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25 Responses to The Golden Age of Sports

  1. Jessie Lou says:

    I also remember that infamous MS State win over Alabama. I was proud to have an autographed picture of John Bond on my wall around that time which was my senior year. As for pro ball my greatest memory was seeing the Jets play the Saints in NOLA at what I believe was the Tulane Stadium (was it called the Fish Bowl?). Many of the fans were yelling “Joe Namath wears panty hose” since it was about that time the commercial came out. It was also likely my first trip to the French Quarter which is another story entirely. I was about 12 and very impressed.

  2. sweet says:

    Walter Payton – Mississippi born, one of the top 5 runnigbacks of all time
    Brett Favre – Miss born , 3 time NFL MVP, statistically the greatest QB of all time (even though he is a dumbass)
    Jerry Rice – Miss born, undisputed greatest wide receiver of all time
    Ray Guy – not Miss born, but USM alum, arguably the greatest punter of all time
    None of these studs went to a major title winning type college, two were SWAC…..Steve McNair SWAC…whats up with that

  3. Madd Dawg says:

    Did you also proudly wear one of those 6-3 t-shirts that State fans wore around wore many year after that game? I think TB had one, probably still keeps it under his pillow.

    There is also Jackie Slater, one of the greatest O linemen of all time, who was born in MS and went to Jackson State plus Deacon Jones, one of the greatest D linemen of all time, not born in MS but attended MS Valley State. Not coincidentlaly, both were Rams back when the Rams were a solid franchise.

  4. sweet says:

    Good add to the list, but still my question remains unanswered

  5. BR says:

    Those were the good ole days!!! Orange Crush
    Denfence was my favorite i remember in 3RD
    grade drawing a picture of Randy Gradishar.
    Sweet i have 2 to add to your list.
    Lance Alworth and L.C. Greenwood.

  6. Jessie Lou says:

    MD – I am sorry to say I didn’t get the tshirt. TB probably still holds on to it on gameday – not that there is anything wrong with that. I also have some fond memories of USM/Ole Miss football games Jackson. I had a “Go To Hell Ole Miss” black and gold pin that we wore to the games. I was never a die hard fan for any Mississippi school but leaned more toward Ole Miss since my uncle played quarterback there forever ago. Eli wore his number. Plus having an UM grad for a son I tend to favor them more these days.

  7. sweet says:

    Nice calls BR, Bambi was raised in nelms hometown of Brookhaven

  8. Orange Crush…nice; how about Luv ya Blue, the Purple People Eaters, the Hogs, Doomsday Defense, no-name Defense, Killer B’s, Steel Curtain, and in Hattiesburg they had the Nasty Bunch

    I should’ve found a place in my post for Fred Bilitnekoff and Lester Hayes and their stickum

  9. sweet says:

    Fav nickname- Bert Be home Blylevin (who should also be in the HOF)
    Fav moment as a fan – Kirk Gibson ’88

  10. smilyj says:

    What? No Mention of Dan Marino? Somethings wrong here. Also, I believe we are in, as maddog would say, probably the greatest decade of sports in the 21st century!

  11. Madd Dawg says:

    it’s hard to argue with that statement sEan.

    yea sweet, my dad spoke always spoke very highly of Alworth in the context of on-the-field performace and, more importantly, off the field behavior.

    We also missed Hugh Green, who was an absolute beast in college at Pitt.

  12. Madd Dawg says:

    oops, I just read the new Rooster Jones post which mentions Hugh Green, so I withdraw my last comment on him.

    I remember one time Hugh Green had a meeting with my dad and uncle as he was considering buying their car dealership in Brookhaven, but the deal never happened.

  13. larry says:

    What about Archie????

    Wilbur Montgomery also led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, from Greenwood.

    I always liked the Game of the Week on Sat. with Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek or Vin Scully. The only game you got. It was almost always the Reds. Mel Allen still did TWIB. Not to mention baseball cards still meant something to kids and there was nobody like The Huck trying to profit off of the kids. As sports has become big or bigger business, the greed by owners and players has has just about ruined it for me. Nobody seems to play for the love of the game anymore. Pete Rose bet on baseball, but I have never question that he loved the game. I question Man Ram, T.O., and others.

  14. sweet says:

    Damn Right (My slogan in 2012)…….has hockey started?

  15. BR says:

    Phi Slamma Jamma (Akem and Clyde) great
    memory of college basketball.

    and my favorite baseball player from Ms.
    Oil Can Boyd who played for the Red Sox.
    i Believe he was from Merid.

  16. BR says:

    own the Dan Marino comment he could not
    hold Elway’s jock strap.

  17. Archie Who?

    TWIB was in my mind and I forgot to add it to the post. I loved the last 5 minutes when Mel did the bloopers followed by the best plays.

    Oil Can is one of the great nicknames of all time and that dude was a crazy sumbitch. I think I’ll do a post devoted just to nicknames, so ya’ll save up your best ones for that.

  18. face says:

    Dale Murphy and the Braves on TBS every night.

    But, I must say I prefer having the option of watching every game (MLB or NFL) on satellite like I do now.

  19. face says:

    By the way, Pete Rose is, was, and always will be a terd.

  20. I saw Pete last year at the memorabilia shop in Vegas where he signs autographs. It was one of the most pathetic sights I’ve ever seen. But I enjoyed him as a ballplayer when I was a kid. If he was playing now, I’d hate him.

    All of that aside, its stupid for him to remain excluded from the Hall.

    I never could stand Murphy. I was more of a Bob Horner fan when it came to the Braves. Foreshadowing how I’d turn out I guess.

  21. sweet says:

    Rose is in the Hall along with Shoeless Joe and Blyleven

  22. OB says:

    TB, that is probably my favorite era also. Growing up in the 70’s most of my time was spent outdoors playiong whatever sport happened to be in season at the time.

    When it was football season I’d immitate Archie Manning passing to Wes Chandler or trying running the ball like Earl Cambell. It was tough trying to portray Earl the Pearl, because I lacked size, but it was fun. I’d try and punt a mile high like Ray Guy and kick straight on like the old timers.

    When it was basketball season I’d act like Larry Bird shooting fron long range or immitating Kareem’s Sky Hook or dribbling and passing like Pistol Pete. Those Celtics-Lakers games were the best!

    During Baseball season I’d try and copy Steve Carlton’s windup or Dale Murphy’s swing or Pete Rose’s head-first slide. I think my windup ended up being like a cross between Mark Langston and Wild Thing Mitch Williams.

  23. ZEEK says:

    TB, I have been making this claim for years about that era, no doubt that all sports from that era were at their heights. I believe it’s because they had all evolved and become more sophisticated but the greediness and business side had not totrally corrupted it. It was like guys played for the love of the game, like kids.

    Shoeless Joe, Blyleven, and Rose should definitely be in the Hall.

    How come it took Larry to bring up Archie? How was he forgotten? Let’s not forget Charlie Connerly, Jake Gibbs, D.D. Lewis, Dizzy and Daffy Dean, the list goes on. Miss. is the most athletically gifted state per capita in the nation.
    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  24. ZEEK says:

    Oh I forgot to throw in Jim Rice as a should-be Haller, had to put that in.

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