December 9, 1974. 36 years ago tomorrow.
John Lennon saw the Los Angeles Rams' game against the Washington Redskins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on ABC's Monday Night Football.
At halftime, Howard Cosell interviewed him. Cosell was already in his 40s when the Beatles arrived, so he wasn't exactly in their target audience. But, to use words he might have used, he was astute enough to recognize their cultural significance. He treated John Lennon like an honored guest.
Don Meredith wasn't in the booth that night, but was part of the MNF team for most of its early days. The ex-Dallas Cowboy quarterback and Lipton tea pitchman died earlier this week at age 72.
Frank Gifford, the former New York Giants running back, probably the premier player in that franchise's history until the 1980s, remembers it fondly:
Unfortunately, I can't find a clip of John and Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California (the game was in L.A.), talking about American football. Reagan's supporters called John a Communist and an atheist. John's supporters called Reagan a fascist, or, if they were English, a wanker -- or maybe even used John's familiar phrase from A Hard Day's Night: "Yer a swine!" But they treated each other like old friends and great entertainers. And they were great entertainers -- well, Reagan did make SOME good movies.
The Redskins won the game, beating the Rams 23-17.
December 8, 1980. 30 years ago tonight.
Another Monday night. The New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins at the Orange Bowl in Miami. And this time, Cosell did not have a special guest to present. Rather, he had some awful news:
Later reports would confirm five shots. The kicker, John Smith, was, himself, an Englishman (Leafield, Oxfordshire) named John. In case anyone cares enough to wonder about the result, the Dolphins won the game, 16-13 in overtime on a field goal by Uwe von Schamann. When these same teams played again in Foxboro 2 years later, John Smith was the beneficiary of a little snow-plowing, giving the Pats a 3-0 win over the Dolphins.
Ronald Reagan had been elected President 34 days before John Lennon was killed. It is easy to say there was no room for John Lennon in Ronald Reagan's America. I ask, Where did he more belong?
Here's Reagan's reaction. It is ironic that he spoke out against gun control, and then, within 4 months, he would be shot himself -- but survive.
John would want us to think about his life, not his death. So, to honor this man, and his bandmates, and even their sense of humor -- perhaps I should spell it "humour," since they were British...
The Top 10 Beatles Songs About Sports
Not really. I did this for Elvis last year on the anniversary of his death.
Note that bodybuilding, while a competition, is not a sport. So I'm not going to say "I'll Be Back" was by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Honorable Mentions: These are cover versions that the Beatles did, so they can't be counted in the Top 10.
"Money (That's What I Want)." How many athletes, team owners, and agents have said variations of this? The response would be "Baby, You're a Rich Man."
"Kansas City." They got some tasty little barbecue in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium for Chiefs games, and I'm gonna get me some.
Also an Honorable Mention to "Yellow Submarine," which is the nickname of Villareal Club de Football, a soccer team in Spain, due to their bright yellow home uniforms.
Another Honorable Mention to "Blue Jay Way." When the SkyDome/Rogers Centre was built as the new home of the Toronto Blue Jays, the street along its western edge was renamed Blue Jays Way.
Another Honorable Mention to "I Am the Walrus," which reminds me of golfer Craig Stadler and evil soccer manager Sam Allardyce.
Dishonorable Mention to the Whatever They're Calling Themselves Now Angels of Anaheim, and their stupid rally pet: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey."
Then there's "Back in the U.S.S.R.," which could be about any number of Russian athletes who made their fortunes in the U.S., post-1989.
The obvious one is "I'm a Loser," but there's too many examples to cite.
10a. "You Can't Do That." What someone said to a Red Sox fan wearing his cap into Yankee Stadium. Followed after the game by his response...
10b. "I Should've Known Better." Which could also by said by every baseball player who ever signed a contract with the Mets.
9. "Not a Second Time." What the Yankees should have said to the Red Sox after the 2004 World Series.
8. "I Saw Her Standing There." Sung by Joe Namath to Suzy Kolber? Terrell Owens to Nicollette Sheridan? Brett Favre to Jenn Sterger? Possibly followed by "Why Don't We Do It In the Road?"
7. "Strawberry Fields Forever." About Darryl's fielding difficulties.
6. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." What we said to Alex Rodriguez after his then-wife Cynthia wore an obscene T-shirt into the stands at the old Yankee Stadium.
5. "I'll Follow the Sun." What Walter O'Malley said, heading west with the Dodgers. The wanker. Other team owners thinking of moving their teams could be called "Nowhere Man."
4a. "Help!" The words of every Rutgers quarterback who saw his offensive line fail to protect him. Which leads to the coach telling him...
4b. "Run For Your Life."
3. "You Won't See Me." What A-Rod seems to be saying every October. Which was quite a weight on his shoulders, and we could've told him, "Boy, you've got to carry that weight, carry that weight a long time." But on November 4, 2009, he finally came to "The End" of "The Long and Winding Road." Unfortunately, in October 2010, he decided to "Get Back."
2. "Tomorrow Never Knows." What we should say to every fan who ever said, "Wait 'til next year."
1. "When I'm Sixty-Four." Said by Brett Favre when asked when he will finally retire.