I know it’s no big deal. I know it’s just business.
But seeing Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform was just plain weird.
Nothing else about Opening Day Sunday (oh, ‘scuse me, I’m referring of course to the NFL, as if you didn’t know) struck me as particularly earth-shaking. Sure, I’m glad my Bears won their first game, yes ‘Skins fans your new RG3 looked fantastic, and yes, the 49ers are surely the best team in football….but nothing actually compelled me to open this Microsoft Word document and start typing except seeing #18 in an orange Denver Broncos jersey.
Manning, of course, played his first 13 seasons for the Indianapolis Colts. He won 4 MVPs, broke a zillion records, did things no one will ever do again. And then, suddenly, the Colts released him. After 13 years it came down to a simple cold-blooded business decision. Here’s the mathematical formula the Colts’ owners used to help them make their decision to cut Manning: (bfc) X (dnt) = g-b
As in big fat contract multiplied times damaged neck tissue equals good-bye.
Other great quarterbacks switched teams late in their careers. And I hated it every time. Joe Namath went to the Rams and was embarrassing. Joe Montana went to the Chiefs and was pretty good, but never the same kind of genius he was for San Francisco. Old, beat-up Johnny Unitas looked so pathetic for the Chargers it almost made me cry. But the worst was my own personal sports hero, the Oakland Raiders’ Ken “Snake” Stabler. When he was traded to the Houston Oilers, and put on their ugly light blue and white uniform with the oil derrick on the helmet, I realized three things about Stabler I had never noticed before when he was a Raider and I was busy worshipping him: 1) he was fat, 2) he was old, and 3) he was kinda stupid looking.
So yes, I hate it when football icons change teams.
The difference with Manning is that he’s still great. All you needed to do to realize this was watch him on Sunday night, as he deftly carved up the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top-ranked defense. He looked just like the same old pre-neck-surgery Manning. Except that he was wearing that obnoxious orange Bronco jersey.
Yes yes yes, I hate it when football icons change teams.
I was sitting around after the Bronco/Steeler game trying to decide just how unsettling it was, trying to decide what to compare it to for you good people. I thought and I thought. And finally I hit on it.
Yep, that’s right. Spiro T. “Ted” Agnew, our very own deposed and disgraced former Vice President.
Got your attention now, don’t I?
Here’s what I’m talking about. I myself lost track of Agnew not long after he was thrown out of office for (among other things) accepting about $100,000-worth of bribes back in the early 70s, when he was Nixon’s Veep. And of course he later died. All that was a long time ago.
Fast forward to last month. I was online, browsing, shopping for what books I will read for the rest of the year. When during the course of one of my searches, I noticed that back in 1976 Ted had written a novel.
A novel? Agnew?
Well, I guess that’s what disgraced politicians do when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, I said to myself. They suddenly decide they’re writers, because, of course, writing a novel is so damned easy!!! What a miserable piece of literary pulp fluff this so-called book no doubt is, I then said to myself (yeah, I talk to myself a lot, especially when my kid’s at school and my dog isn’t in the house). And then, an impulse borne of that curiosity, I decided to buy the damned thing, just to prove it to myself and give myself a good laugh….provided it didn’t cost me more than two or three bucks, I decided. After all, I have my pride. Anyway, I was in luck.
It cost one cent.
One cent. As in one penny. That was the going rate for Agnew’s sprawling tale of global political intrigue, The Canfield Decision. Well, at least the price is right, I said to myself.
So I ordered it! Amazon duly charged my credit card exactly one cent. I’m not kidding. Which of course broke my previous record by a mile for least amount of money I had ever paid online for a book or anything else. One cent. They actually accepted a charge to my credit card of one friggin’ cent. I repeat, a book for a penny. (Well, there was also the $3.95 for shipping, so technically they charged my credit card $3.96….but I think it sounds better when I just say they charged me a penny for a whole book.)
The book winged its way across the country and arrived at my door in about two days. The mail guy brought it right to my door. I was in my bathrobe. I literally laughed when I opened the package. It felt as if I was the only one who had ordered The Canfield Decision in a couple of decades. Maybe I was.
So I started reading it. Being a snooty snobby novelist myself, I absolutely couldn’t wait to see just how bad it was. But you know what?
In fact it was pretty good. No, it wasn’t a great triumph of literature or anything (thank God), but as a hack writer Ted is pretty darn agile. He can definitely go from here to there, build on an idea, and make the reader “see”. Put it this way: As both entertainment and intellectual stimulation, Ted’s book is certainly time much better spent than a night watching The Bachelor, America’s Got Talent, or The Real Housewives Of Orange County. And millions of people do those things every week, right?
I don’t know what was more unsettling, that Ted Agnew wrote a novel, or that it wasn’t half bad. Either way, that’s how unsettling seeing Peyton Manning wearing a non-Colts uniform was. I didn’t like it.
But in the final analysis it only makes sense that The Sports Philosopher decided to write this column comparing Manning with Agnew. Because in one very fundamental way they are quite similar. Their huge oblong heads! Seriously, Manning and Agnew have two of the hugest, most definitively oblong-shaped heads you will ever see. In fact, they look alike period. When Manning is about sixty, I think he will look a great deal like Ted looked when he was writing his great literary opus.
Google them both up and study their heads. You’ll see that I’m right.
final note: Even though he’s dead, I was wondering about Ted’s royalty from my purchase of The Canfield Decision. By comparison, my last book costs you the consumer about 20 to 25 bucks a shot, depending who you order if from, and I usually get around 20%, which means I get about four or five bucks every time I sell one (which isn’t often). Based on a similar standard royalty contract, that means Ted got about one-fifth of one cent from my amazon.com purchase of his artistic labors. Geez….for their sake, I hope his heirs are not legally compelled to apply Ted’s royalties to paying back that hundred grand or so of bribes. At 20% of one cent per copy, ‘might take awhile.
meet….The Sports Philosopher!
Brad Eastland is an author, an historian, a film buff, an undiscovered literary savant, and a Chicago Bears fan through and through. Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’. His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’. Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.
*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack (and of triumph and utter despair) entitled WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title in both hardback and paperback on amazon.com, iUniverse.com, or bn.com. And then order it. And then READ it. And then tell everyone about it. And then read it again. And then post your praise on Facebook. And then order a dozen more copies to use as Christmas presents. Okay? For all this he thanks you…..