Asymmetric Football

How can you not like the A-11 offense? Definitely in the spirit of its time. Hopefully they won’t come up with a rule change to ban it. Of course, I’m still waiting for them to bring back limited substitutions to make the game interesting again.

As an added football bonus, check out this video — filmed off a television screen — of Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem before a Raiders-Cowboys game, circa 1974. Talk about a time capsule: Marvin Gaye, Tom Landry and John Madden in the same clip.

For obvious reasons, Gaye’s 1983 NBA All-Star game anthem gets more attention. But this one speaks to the enormous contradictions of American society at that time. Gaye had released his masterpiece, What’s Going On?, with its critique of the at the time still ongoing Vietnam War, just three years earlier. Maybe it’s their game faces, or maybe it’s Gaye’s red knit ski cap, buton the sidelines (where the first player shown, if I’m not mistaken, isnone other than George Blanda, who began his career in 1950, in abarely integrated NFL), you can almost feel the gulf that — despite their long hair and sideburns — separates theplayers and coaches, on one side, from the social current Gaye — “One of the country’s fine rhythm and blues singers,” as he’sanachronistically described by the television announcer afterwords — givesvoice to, on the other.

I imagine the NFL still skews towards the right, politically speaking, but it’s noteworthy how, thirty-four years later and in the midst of two counterinsurgencies that elicit substantial opposition, America as a society has become both more culturally homogeneous, and more at ease with its differences.