It was not that long ago when the accepted wisdom in football was that the running game had to be established - that was always the obligatory verb: established - before passes could become effective. My, we know how that has changed. Now the pass is established from the get-go, and running is an afterthought.
Every now and then, I get a free ticket from someone, and I look at the price, and it says $800, and I'm thinking, 'A thousand dollars to see,' I said, 'There's no ballgame in the world worth that kind of money,' and yet the attendance for sports is more than it ever has been.
The Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, and Pistons are there today as sure as they were when what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Would you rather have a basketball team, or would you rather be Detroit?
Despite the fact that every sport this side of badminton worries about concussions that result in brain damage, CTE, the National Hockey League refuses to accept the overwhelming medical science. Good grief - the NHL still permits fights.
I remember one time I wrote something very, very critical about Wilt Chamberlain. The next time I saw him - and Wilt was not a man, as huge as he was - he was not a man of confrontation. And we were in the Lakers locker room. And he sent Jerry West over, and he said, 'Frank, Wilt would like you to leave.'
The year after Russell retired, in the famous seventh game of the NBA Finals at Madison Square Garden, Willis Reed, the New York Knicks center, limped onto the court against the Los Angeles Lakers, inspiring his team and freezing Chamberlain into a benign perplexity.
Pete Rose may not make the Hall of Fame, but a statue of him is going to be erected outside the Cincinnati Reds ballpark.
I never saw war, so that is still my vision of manhood: Unitas standing courageously in the pocket, his left arm flung out in a diagonal to the upper deck, his right cocked for the business of passing, down amidst the mortals. Lock and load.
Dan Rather pulling on a sweater and thereby winning a whole new chunk of the populace: That's television. President Reagan's press conferences: That's television. Keith Jackson is television. So are Kermit the Frog, instant replay, and the Fiesta Bowl.
In the summer of 1963, my second with 'Sports Illustrated,' Jerry Tax, the basketball editor, got the Celtics' Frank Ramsey, the NBA's first famous sixth man, to do a piece for the magazine revealing some of the devious little tricks of his trade. Things like surreptitiously holding an opponent's shorts - nickel-and-dime stuff.
When I was covering games, and this is back in the '60s, you'd go into the manager's office. I can still visualize Earl Weaver from the Baltimore Orioles. I can just see Earl now in his underwear... with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, holding court. And that was the way it was done then.
Remember when John Roberts was seeking confirmation of the Supreme Court, and he said judges should be just like umpires, just calling balls and strikes? Well, turnabout is fair play. What baseball needs behind the plate are umpires like those judges who are called strict constructionists, which means you follow subtle law to the letter.
We exalted that Michael Phelps-consecrated water. Rose petals were strewn in Peyton Manning's path when he retired. But hey, that's natural. As we should, we admire those in any craft, no less so in sports, who appear out of nowhere to achieve remarkable feats.
You can stand at a bar and scream all you want about who was the greatest athlete and which was the greatest sports dynasty, and you can shout out your precious statistics, and maybe you're right, and maybe the red-faced guy down the bar - the one with the foam on his beer and the fancy computer rankings - is right, but nobody really knows.
By coincidence, this particular tiny show on earth that consists entirely of me talking about sports on NPR is also folding its tent flaps this May of 2017. Yes, this is my swansong, my farewell, my last hurrah. Adieu, adios, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen.
How did females become 'guys?' How did everyone become 'guys?' Remember, too, that a male guy was something of a scoundrel. And a wise guy was a fresh kid, a whippersnapper. In its most other famous evocation, men in Brooklyn said 'youse guys.' Damon Runyon referred to hustlers, gamblers, and other nefarious types as guys.
Once again it is peaceful at Augusta National Golf Club, after some rather ugly stand-offs in recent years, when the club balked at changing its all-white, all-male membership tradition. African-Americans and female Americans are on the club manifest now along with other golf-Americans, and all is serene once again.
In days of yore, Opening Day of the baseball season was special, signifying that spring had come at last. Today, however, Opening Day sort of dribbles into existence, and the spiritual start of spring now belongs to the Masters golf tournament, where the azaleas and magnolias and dogwood bloom.
'Good Morning America' is television to a fare-thee-well.
If there ever was an 'America's team,' it would be itty-bitty, little Green Bay, stuck way up there somewhere, owned by the salt-of-the-Earth citizens themselves.