Roy Exum: The Pause That Refreshes

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
It sure didn’t take long for Peyton Manning’s fabled “Omaha!” yell to turn into “Oh m’god!” during Sunday night’s Superbowl. When the first snap sailed past Manning’s head we sensed the Broncos were in trouble but, Lordy, the 43-8 plastering Seattle put on Denver brought back memories of the yawners we endured in the ‘80s and ‘90s when a full 75 percent of the predicted “classics” ended with margins of 10 or more points.

But there were some highlights indeed and we would be remiss if we let these slip by …

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THE COCA-COLA AD did exactly what it was intended to do with the shortened version of “America, The Beautiful” being sung in different languages. The one-minute spot promoting unity promptly inflamed many viewers who feel our nation should demand an “English-only” rendition of our popular patriotic song. But what people should remember is that Coca-Cola’s new breed of leadership carefully engineered the instant controversy.

Face it, while Coca-Cola is hardly the America-loving company that sent millions of cases at no cost to GIs in World War II, I chose to believe the “pause that refreshes” people are intent on bringing our many voices together in harmony. Yes, I think the driver’s license test should be given in English-only because police instructions come in English-only but I’m proud to live in a country where people from many lands are united by freedom.

And if you wonder why Coca-Cola would take such risk at $4 million every 30 seconds, remember that Coca-Cola’s big charity every Christmas is to “Save the Polar Bear,” of all things.

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LOUD-MOUTH RICHARD SHERMAN, who many feel made a fool of himself following Seattle’s win over San Francisco, hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter of his team’s great win but here is what the all-pro cornerback said on the Mike & Mike radio show yesterday:

"When I was walking up to my press conference, well limping up to my press conference and trying to make it up the stairs, somebody taps me on the shoulder and extends their hand and asked am I alright. And my eyes trying to make it out to see who it is, and it's Peyton, fully dressed in his suit,” said Sherman.

“Obviously, really concerned about my well-being,” the Seahawk added. "After a game like that, biggest stage ever, a guy who’s still classy enough to ask ‘How are you doing?’ and really be genuinely concerned about an opponent. That shows an incredibly different amount of humility and class and I think that deserves to be known."

Earlier Tuesday morning Sherman had tweeted: “Peyton is the classiest person/player I have ever met! I could learn so much from him! Thank you for being a great competitor and person”

* * *

JOE NAMATH, the great quarterback whose famous "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it!” boast on the Thursday night before his Jets upset the Colts is undoubtedly the Greatest Super Bowl Prediction Ever, had tongues wagging when he showed up in a jazzy fur-coat for this year’s coin toss but that’s because the younger fans don’t remember wild-and-wooly Namath.

On Sunday night Namath almost got an early “flag” when he flipped the coin before the Seahawks captain could make the call but the laughing referee gave Joe another try, which Seattle won, but it is a shame the younger NFL fans don’t remember the flamboyant “Broadway Joe” because he was technicolor while the rest of the world was still black-and-white.

After he starred at Alabama, and signed with the Jets for an unheard-of $400,000, “Broadway Joe” took on New York at full throttle and quickly opened a famous bar called Bachelors III. The fur coats were his hook; he even starred in a panty-hose commercial. So Sunday’s fur coat was as carefully planned as the Coca-Cola ad but far more delightful.

A quick history lesson: Namath was at his prime in 1969 when the upstart Jets (18-point underdogs) played Baltimore in Super Bowl III in the Orange Bowl. As he got his often-battered knees treated in the Jets training room that Thursday night before the Sunday showdown, several knew that Joe had been liberally imbibing in scotch and was believed by some reporters to have made the fabled promise in jest. But he wasn’t kidding.

During the entire game Namath didn’t throw a TD pass, a rarity and, for that matter, didn’t even throw during the entire fourth quarter but earned MVP honors in the historic game; it was the first time an American Football Conference team had ever won the Super Bowl over the staid NFL. At a party Namath hosted at Bachelors III several days later, Joe poured champagne on television great Johnny Carson’s head and Carson quipped, “First time I’ve ever known you to waste the stuff!”

A personal aside: I can remember standing beside Joe at Coach Bear Bryant’s burial in Birmingham’s Elwood Cemetery in January of 1983 and Namath wore an ankle-length black beaver fur coat. That’s “Broadway Joe” and that explains his Sunday night attire.

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