Thursday, December 9, 2010

NFL Picks Week Fourteen: In Which I Talk About John Lennon

Unless you decided to spend your free time under a rock yesterday, you probably heard that it was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon being shot to death outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City by an awfully disturbed individual named Mark David Chapman. Now, I'm pretty quick to point out that my favorite band of all time is The Beatles, without a doubt, and while I actually enjoy George Harrison's solo work the best of the Fab Four, Lennon's individual oeuvre is still fantastic, and his musical genius is clearly evident throughout The Beatles' musical arc.

I try not to be a sap on too regular a basis, but I spent most of yesterday listening to Lennon's later work -- Imagine, Double Fantasy, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band -- on a loop for most of the afternoon because, well, if you watched ESPN for four minutes at any given time yesterday you were reminded that Lennon's death was first announced to the world by Howard Cosell during a Patriots-Dolphins game on Monday Night Football. ESPN put on a fairly interesting piece, which, bizarrely, didn't mention that New England's kicker that night, who was preparing for a game-winning kick as the news was announced, was the only Englishman in the game at the time. A written version of the story takes a much larger focus on Smith.

The most interesting thing for me about this entire thing is that the piece shows behind the scenes footage of Cosell debating with Frank Gifford on whether or not to reveal the news. In retrospect, I have difficulty finding it appropriate to announce the murder of a cultural icon during the midst of a football game, to say nothing of the bombastic tone of Cosell's voice at all times, but it's a fascinating moment both because of the news being announced and because of the remarkable contrast with today's media circuit. With the immediacy of 24-Hour News channels, the internet and, maybe most importantly, twitter, that kind of information would never be kept under wraps before falling in the lap of a sports announcer, regardless of how famous he is.

The contrast is almost staggering, particularly for someone who works in sports media and gets most of his advance warning at the trading deadline by following various reporters in the twittersphere. It's also interesting to note that Cosell and Lennon, despite coming from dramatically different ends of the social spectrum, were apparently quite good friends following an interview Lennon did while at a Rams game on Monday Night Football in 1974.

I bring this all up because, as someone who makes his bread in sports media, I find both the changes in media over the last 30 years and the intersection of sports and pop culture to be particularly interesting. And I also think it's interesting to note because in all likelihood, the combination of one major cultural pillar (Cosell) and a timeless cultural icon (Lennon) intersecting in such a dramatic way in such a dramatic moment is almost certain never to happen again.

I'd be absolutely astonished if it happened, say, this weekend. And speaking of which, let's do this whole "picks" thing.

Last week: 7-8-1
Season: 95-88-10

Indianapolis (-6) over TENNESSEE
NY Giants (-3) over MINNESOTA
Cleveland (+1) over BUFFALO
Green Bay (-7) over DETROIT
PITTSBURGH (-9) over Cincinnati
Tampa Bay (-3) over WASHINGTON
Atlanta (-8) over CAROLINA
Oakland (+5) over JACKSONVILLE
NEW ORLEANS (-10) over St. Louis
Seattle (+6) over SAN FRANCISCO
New England (-3) over CHICAGO
NY JETS (-6) over Miami
ARIZONA (+6) over Denver
SAN DIEGO (-7) over Kansas City
DALLAS (+4) over Philadelphia
Baltimore (-3) over HOUSTON

And that's all for this week. Enjoy your weekends.

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