History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nate Wright, Drew Pearson and agony of defeat in 1975

First, some background:
I was among the teeming masses of boomers in college in 1975. We were still reveling in the lowered drinking age, a move we as a society later saw as folly. We inhaled from "cigarettes" that weren't really cigarettes. Today we want to legalize that stuff for medical purposes, at least. Oh, but that wouldn't be any fun - it needs to be illicit to be fun.
We turned the volume way up on our "stereos" to blast rock music (like Uriah Heep). Outside of these activities just listed, I'm not sure what we did or stood for. Sex of some kind was a goal. I had a psych professor at St. Cloud State who said each new generation that comes along "is the first to discover sex." (I would suggest that kids today get access to "inappropriate images" on the Internet to the point where they get sick of it - a good thing.)
Wedged in among our diversions was Minnesota Vikings football. Nothing was more "cool" in Minnesota in the 1970s than the Vikes.
Today the biggest threat to football might be saturation or overexposure. Mark Cuban aired this clarion call for the game. He's not the first. Troy Aikman, the former player and now commentator, made a strong point about this before. For us boomer college kids in the 1970s, big-time football was "appointment TV." It was far more restricted in its availability. Us males would get goosebumps just listening to the opening theme music for "Monday Night Football."
The supply of football was shy of the demand. Breakthroughs in media technology sure solved that. It's a whole different world now, one which young people take for granted. We used to change channels using a "knob." When I was a young kid, we only had one channel available to us where we lived: the Alexandria channel, an NBC affiliate. We watched "The Virginian" and not "Gunsmoke," "Huntley and Brinkley" and not Walter Cronkite.
Minneotans in the 1970s were highly emotionally invested in the Minnesota Vikings. It was a tie not like today. It was a defensive kind of loyalty, an effort to show the world we can be just as flashy, successful and "cool" as the teams from major media markets.
Today we can consume a substantial amount of sports on TV not involving the Minnesota teams, if we choose. Up through the 1970s, to the extent we got TV coverage of sports, it was almost exclusively focused on the Minnesota teams. "Monday Night Football" was an exception.
One reason we watched Monday Night Football and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, is that we could see star players who we read about all the time, and see what they actually looked like in live action. On Many Sundays the Alexandria TV channel would give us only one NFL game. It was a treat to get those "doubleheaders" when we might see some marquee players who were familiar to us through the print media. Finally we could see them play. I remember a friend calling me on a Sunday once seeing if I was available to play some tennis, but I said "no" because of a chance to watch Dan Fouts play for San Diego. Fouts was putting up big numbers for that time. It seems foolish now that I would choose that way.
With the wisdom coming from age - I'm 59 - I'm trying to live without being distracted by sports at all. All those Vikings players of yore whom we lionized, well, they weren't Greek gods or anything out of this world - they were most definitely human beings who in their post-football lives have struggled in significant ways. I was the lucky one, just watching them on TV.
Mid-1970s drama at the "Met"
In 1975 I was glued to the tube like countless others, watching our Minnesota Vikings play those dastardly Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach. Dallas was a nemesis. Damn "America's team." The Vikings seemed at the height of their 1970s glory. All the signature names were at the forefront.
I surely could have found better things to do with my time on that December 28 afternoon. The holiday spirit was prime and we should have just let that prevail. But no, we had to park ourselves close to the tube and see how "the purple people" were going to fare in the NFC divisional playoff. The action was at our Metropolitan Stadium.
Games were more low-scoring then than now. Passing success was a little harder to come by. Our Fran Tarkenton was able to overcome that to a large extent. This he did with a "nickel and dime" passing approach that at times seemed like a glorified running game (and sure built up his completion percentage). It was an overcast day, 27 degrees, with winds out of the south at 9 MPH.
I am profoundly embarrassed to think how emotionally attached I was to the Vikings then. We were lemmings with our loyalty.
Our bad habit of investing our hopes and dreams in a football team was punished by God, it would seem, as Minnesota was dealt perhaps the most heartbreaking loss in its history. The game went into historical annals as "the Drew Pearson miracle catch game." The Vikings may have had their best team of the decade but we lost 17-14. With 24 seconds remaining, Staubach threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Pearson, who beat cornerback Nate Wright.
Some will forever insist that Pearson pushed Wright in order to catch the ball, creating an act of offensive interference. We were stunned for days in the aftermath. But we sure came back for more in the fall of 1976. We also watched TV shows like "Happy Days," "Mork and Mindy" (with the young Robin Williams in his breakthrough role) and "Laverne and Shirley." "Laverne and Shirley" was just a spinoff but now, in retrospect, it seems to reflect 1970s tastes more than any other show. It was escapist tripe. We wanted to escape the economy of the 1970s. The TV sitcoms of the previous decade, those '60s, were innocent and funny. The shows of the '70s were funny (sometimes) but not quite so innocent. A more earthy, blunt or cynical tone was setting in.
On to the Super Bowl in 1977
Escapism was also furthered by our Vikings, who in 1976-77 broke through to the Super Bowl. How we reveled in that, like on December 18, 1976, when not only did the Vikings win, they did so amidst perfect fall weather at Metropolitan Stadium. It was 38 degrees, clear and sunny, with a southeast wind at 8 MPH.
Minnesota beat the Redskins 35-20. There was no raging debate about the "Redskins" name then. Buoyed by that game, the Vikings took the field at "the Met" again on December 26 (the date of my parents' wedding anniversary) and beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-13.
Today Los Angeles doesn't even have a football team, which seems absolutely incredible. Life can go on as normal in a huge metropolitan market without an NFL football team. So, is it a myth that an NFL team is an essential amenity? I'd say "yes." But we in Minnesota got led along by the nose and by Governor Mark Dayton, approving an opulent new football palace for our team owned by (shady) New Jersey real estate interests. Again, incredible. Again, we're lemmings.
We were all quite content with our Met Stadium on the Bloomington prairie in 1976. Beating the Rams on December 26 put the Vikings in their fourth Super Bowl. What ecstasy we felt on December 26 of 1976, as Bobby Bryant made a 90-yard touchdown return of a blocked L.A. field goal attempt. The day was beautiful by December standards: sunny, clear and 12 degrees at game time, with a northwest wind at 13 MPH.
Jack Youngblood of the Rams didn't like the weather. He said "eskimos don't go out in weather like this." Wasn't it Youngblood who later slammed Tommy Kramer to the ground so hard it looked like Kramer was dead, with his hands even quivering? The media behave like they want to forget that. Today the media are easily awakening to the barbaric and inhuman nature of the pro football game. There is a cloud over the sport.
I can completely live without the sport.
We remember the days when we loved the Minnesota Vikings of those four Super Bowls. We never got "one for the thumb" (LOL).
Boomers may still nurse a subconscious element of defeatism, although maybe our baseball Twins cured that in 1987 and 1991. Have we forgotten the four dagger-like Super Bowl losses? Have we forgotten our young boomer lifestyle/vices which may have canceled out a large number of our brain cells?
Have we put "Laverne and Shirley" behind us? Or, "Smokey and the Bandit?" We blend the good and bad in our memories.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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