Saturday, December 10, 2011

#95: The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, The Cowboys, The '70s, and the Fight For America's Soul by Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne

New York: Gotham Books, 2010. 324 pages

The Dallas Cowboys symbolize rich, snobbish entitlement. Need evidence? I give you the nickname "America's Team". No one I know voted on that. They were everything that was wrong in the 1970s and everything that is wrong with the NFL and the society in general now. Tom Landry, who blamed Duane Thomas for a Super Bowl loss after he got them there, was a prime example of the bull-shit, no emotion, corporate football that epitomized these assholes year after year. Tex Schramm, who regularly gets his ass kissed by everyone involved with the NFL, was even worse. "The whole system is based on insecurity" according to Renfield Wright. (113) One needs only look at the Republican Presidential hopefuls and President Obama to know who actually came out on top in this fight.

As I grew up, I idolized the Steelers because of their working class vibe, their anger and their absolute visceral hatred of losing. I idolize them for the same qualities now. In the 1970s, the Steel Curtain was dominant because of athletic talent to be sure. But, they were also dominant because they were highly talented men doing the best job they could do. Millman and Coyne paint a picture of a city in the 1970s on the decline, with small whiffs of the perpetual bull shit money machine that would typify the US in the 1980s and 1990s. The Burgh lived for the Steelers. One nice counterpoint in this book is the Steelers moving into Three Rivers Stadium and the creation of Franco's Italian Army. The Cowboys move to Irving, Texas (find that fucking place on a map) and then jack ticket prices up so the fans who had supported them from the beginning cannot afford a seat.

At least Clint Murchison, owner of the team, was honest. "If we discriminated against them (people making 12-20,000), we discriminated against them, but no more than all America discriminates against people who don't have enough money to buy everything they want." (98). Want some standing room only tickets at the new stadium that Texas taxpayers put $350 million towards building, not including tax hikes of .5% to their sales taxes? Cheap ones are $38. Of course, you can't see 1/3 of the field. But, you'll be in the same building as your roided up heroes! Good for you! I have been to one pro football game in my life, and that was enough.

In other words, the Cowboys are for the rich assholes and the Steelers play the role of working class hero in this text. And I say, right on! The book is a painstaking look at the value of a sports team to a city in counterpoint to the value of a city to a sports team. Many people hate the Steelers and their fans, partly because we have been so good for so long, but partly because they don't like the blue collar violence. I can't stand 49er fans because they tend to be chardonnay drinking pussies. Yes, Raider fans may knife you in an alley, but they command respect. Even the 49er fans are better than those miserable bastards who root for who wins. Ask a Patriot fan sporting a Tom Brady jersey outside of the North East who Steve Grogan or Mosi Tatupu was and you get blank stares. Ask a Raider fan who Jon Matuszek was and you may get the saying "The Tuz is Big News". That is the difference in real fans and jack offs. Real fans know history and revel in it.

This book starts off with Joe Namath snubbing Pete Rozelle after the Jets won Super Bowl III. I found that interesting because the NFL does not give a fuck about its fans unless they buy the latest jersey or the "Official NFL Draft Hat". During the 1970s, the trope of one blue collar team against a bunch of wealthy fucknuts would work. Now, it's all wealthy fucknuts. The NFL is a corporate hive of scum and villainy, but it was not always that way.

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