Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Dance of Ambiguity....

Several of my older sibs are long-suffering New York Jets fans.  I know not what it is about our family and our allegiance to certain teams that far more often than not break our hearts.  I suppose we can trace the etiology of this particular mental illness to Mom and her Brooklyn Dodgers....or perhaps Dad and his Rangers.  Whether it is the Jets, the Rangers or in the case of Jill and I (at least on the gridiron) our Alma mater, our family has long gone to extraordinary lengths to prove Yeats correct, "Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

I have never embraced the charms of the J-E-T-S.  I do not root against them.  I reserve my New York-based enmity for the Islanders.   For most of my life I have been entirely apathetic towards them.  However I must confess that during that all-too-brief period of time in which Bill Parcells - who has been my favorite NFL Coach since he got the Giants job a lifetime ago - was running things for the boys from Hess Tech I rooted for them.  I simply could not root against "The Tuna".   Once he moved on to greener pastures, the Jets ceased to occupy even a small segment of my attention span. 

Since I am not a life-long Jets fan, my familiarity with George Sauer, Jr. is limited to knowing that he was - along with Don Maynard - one of Joe Namath's favorite receivers.  In Super Bowl III, with Maynard slowed by a hamstring injury, Sauer caught eight passes in helping the Jets pull off an upset for the ages. 

I did not know until I read his obituary about a week or so ago that George Sauer died on May 7, 2013 at his home in Ohio.  He was sixty-nine years old but four-plus decades earlier - when he was but twenty-seven years old - he had walked away from his NFL career.  The reason for his retirement?  He had grown to hate the game.   

In the obituary I read on the New York Times website, the writer included a snippet from a piece that Sauer (who published books of poetry and novels after he stopped playing professional football) had written for the Times thirty years ago in which Sauer reiterated his disillusionment with his former means of earning his living:

Football is an ambiguous sport, depending both on grace and violence. It both glorifies and destroys bodies. At the time, I could not reconcile the apparent inconsistency. I care even less about being a public person. You stick out too much, the world enlarges around you to dangerous proportions, and you are too evident to too many others. There is a vulnerability in this and, oddly enough, some guilt involved in standing out.

Pretty heady stuff.  When I read I felt as if I had missed out on something by not having known more about Sauer's career and his life.  The force and effect of the language is - to me - simply stunning.  And it seems to me that Sauer's sentiments apply to a certain degree (at the very least) to each and every one of us....

....irrespective of whether we measure progress in ten yard increments or not.   


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