Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fallen Heroes, Flaming Heteros

While surfing for some Curt Gowdy data the other day (after learning of his passing less than an hour after I had included his name in that day's Pitchfork pontification), I stumbled across a site (which shall remain unnamed) and scrolled through the thumbnail high points:
Born: 31-Jul-1919
Birthplace: Green River, WY
Died: 20-Feb-2006
Location of death: Palm Beach, FL
Cause of death: Cancer - Leukemia
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Radio Personality, Journalist
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Voice of the Red Sox
Military service: US Army Air Corps

For a lot of us, Curt Gowdy will remain as that inimitable voice in our minds ... that friendly, folksy narrator of our favorite Rose Bowl, our favorite Super Bowl or our favorite World Series.
So uncluttered.
To others, Curt Gowdy will be remembered as the Straight White Male US Army Air Corps Voice of the Red Sox Radio Personality Journalist who was born in Green River, Wyoming and died of leukemia in Palm Beach.
Notice how "straight" was listed first.

Curt Gowdy's passing makes a lot of us (well, me n' Smitty, anyway) ponder our own immortality in conjunction with the epitaph slated for our own grave plates.
It's very important to make sure that the paperwork at the county clerk's office is typed up professionally and adequately.
Y'know, delicate matters which extend beyond the Page 9 obit -- "sexual orientation."
My worst fear is the day when Mrs. PF7 is walking out of the county clerk's office with the urn of the Former PF7's ashes tucked under her arm and then, when she gets to the car, notices that there's a misprint or two on Line 15(c): "Sexual orientation: N/A."

No one wants to die as an "N/A."
But, that's the burden of every dead hetero and every soon-to-be-dead hetero (I mean, if I keep wolfing down cigs at this rate) ... ensuring that the S.O. Paradigm is adequate and operational.
Curt Gowdy did -- and now, most of us Americans who viewed him as somewhat iconic, can sleep at night.
Quality announcer ... respected outdoorsman ... digs the ladies.

Still, ya can't help but wonder if when it comes to submitting paperwork to That Big Processor In The Sky, if maybe you can't distinguish varying degrees of straight-ness.
I'm shooting for an upgrade from "N/A" to "undeniably straight." That would definitely contradict the reports from my college days when those gals' assessment reports graded me out with remarks ranging from "borderline straight" to "clumsily hetero" to "hard to say ... he always sings along to that 'Rio' video by 'Duran Duran.' "
What can I say? It was a jaunty, light-hearted song that didn't get all preachy and ...

Hey, we're talkin' 'bout Curt Gowdy, not me.
And, when it comes to sportscasters' sexuality, I usually leave such matters to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" (sitting in for Wolf today: Kitty Pilgrim).
It's refreshing that somebody out there has addressed the public's right to know in matters of Curt Gowdy's sexuality. It takes too much time to research whether he was a good husband and a proud father and a reliable friend, so, at least the nuts n' bolts were listed.
Kinda makes me wonder that if I go surfing for data on, oh, let's say another sportscaster, such as Marv Albert. What will I find in his S.O. Paradigm.
Answer: Straight.*
(Note: The asterisk means "extenuating circumstances," circa 1997)

Sorry ... I'm not interested in learning if Mike Tirico is gay or straight, but that ESPN book from a few years ago didn't paint him in a good light.
Sexual innuendo aside, America's 2006 Monday Night Football audience is going to absolutely adore the manner in which Tirico has an orgasm every time a running back breaks into the clear and HE'S AT THE 30! THE 20! THE 10!
For us college football diehards, we've been earwitnesses to such broadcasting.
Tirico ... good for golf, but ...

Personally, I care a lot more if a sportscaster is a straight-shooter who likes his whiskey straight rather than the knowledge of whether he's gay or straight.
But, in the name of fairness, it's good to be thorough when completing the bio.
On the other hand, when Curt Gowdy was calling Super Bowl VII, he could've watched that botched Yepremian field goal/fumble-pass unfolding and, without getting into hot water, could've said, "That was one queer play, Al! But, the Redskins are back in the game and they sure look gay."

As you would expect, I can incorporate Curt Gowdy into a "What does this have to do with the Steelers winning the Super Bowl?" since, after all, it was Curt Gowdy who was doin' the play-by-play for NBC in Super Bowl IX when the Steelers won their first. And, he was there for Super Bowl XIII when the Steelers beat Dallas, 35-31.

One of Tom Landry's Dallas assistant coaches back in those days was Ernie Stautner, who -- I'm sexually at ease with myself to say -- was a handsome, silver-haired man with firm, square jaw and the broad shoulders even though Landry, back in the day, had all of his assistants wearing those powder-blue sweaters.
Probably just as many people who didn't realize that Ernie Stautner passed away last week also don't realize that Ernie Stautner is the Hall of Famer who spent 14 years (1950-63) playing for some god-awful Steeler teams.

And, Ernie Stautner's jersey #70 is the only one that the Steelers have officially retired. I've often thought about retired Steeler jersey numbers every time that I think about Antwaan Randle El wearing John Stallworth's #82 and Matt Kranchick (yeah, THAT Matt Kranchick) being the most-recent of many to wear Swannie's #88.
It seems as though Bradshaw's #12 is unofficially permanently off-limits ... same deal with Franco's #32, Lambert's #58, Ham's #59, and Mean Joe's #75.
Scott Shields (yeah, THAT Scott Shields) was wearing Mel Blount's #47 a few years ago and Willie Parker was wearing Bobby Walden's #39.
How dare he!
When Rod Woodson gets into the Hall of Fame a few years from now, will Deshea Townsend still be around wearing #26? And, will that jersey number, too, be unofficially off-limits?

It's times like these when I wish Steve Sabol would toss me the keys to the NFL Films warehouse and say, "Go nuts."
Just so I could track down some archived Ernie Stautner footage.
And a few of the A-list games which Curt Gowdy announced.

In case you're keeping score at home re: Ernie Stautner:
Born: 20-Apr-1925
Birthplace: Prinzing-by-Cham, Germany
College: Boston College
Occupation: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys assistant coach
Sexual orientation: Does slamming QBs STRAIGHT to the ground count?
Years played in NFL: 1950-1963
Hall of Fame: 1969

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