What Jackie Wallace Said, And Less Important Super Bowl 52 Trash Talk

Here we all are, at the end of yet another NFL, and other, football season. Like parting,the Super Bowl is always such sweet sorrow. It is the ultimate American football game, and yet it is also the end. Sure, there is the pretentious and ever petulant star driven NBA, and, sure, pitchers and catchers are reporting within days for those who think the boys of summer really belong in the pre-spring.

But, this weekend, is the Super Bowl. Even in an insanely Arctic like location as the 6º stupidity of Minneapolis, it is the biggest event there is. Sure, Goodell and the @NFL needs to encourage every franchise city to rape their taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, but placing the biggest event in American sports in insanely inhospitable locations is a craven price to pay and play.

Enough of that though. It is now Super Bowl weekend. Eagles and Patriots. There are a ton of compelling stories athletically.

Yet none of them stack up. None even hold a candle, to the story that NOLA photojournalist Ted Jackson published today about Jackie Wallace:

One foot in front of the other, the hulking old man trudged up the ramp to the Pontchartrain Expressway. A cold wind stiffened his face, so he bundled tighter and kept walking. His decision was made. A life full of accolades and praise meant nothing to him now. A man who was once the pride of his New Orleans hometown, his St. Augustine alma mater and his 7th Ward family and friends was undone. He was on his way to die.

The man was tired. In his 63 years, he had run with the gods and slept with the devil. Living low and getting high had become as routine as taking a breath. A hideous disease was eating his insides. He was an alcoholic, and he also craved crack cocaine. He was tired of fighting. He was tired of playing the game.
He crossed the last exit ramp and continued walking the pavement toward the top of the bridge. He dodged cars as they took the ramp. No one seemed to notice the ragged man walking to his suicide. If they did notice, they didn’t stop to help.

Only a half-mile more and it would all be over. One hundred and 50 feet below, the powerful currents of the Mississippi River would swallow his soul and his wretched life. He dodged another car. But why did it matter? Getting hit by a car would serve his purposes just as well as jumping.

How did it come to this? This was long after Jackie had turned his life around, or so we both thought.

Jackie Wallace played in three Super Bowls. He was not just a good player, but a great one. Yet Ted Jackson found him in a fetal position underneath a bridge in New Orleans. Yes, there was a heartwarming redemption story:

But the best was yet to come. Three years later, I sat working at my desk writing photo captions for some run-of-the-mill story. Above my desk, a large glass wall separated the photo lab from the newsroom. As I worked, I was startled by a sharp rap on the glass. I looked up to see Jackie Wallace’s 6-foot, 3-inch frame towering over me, dressed in a three-piece suit with his arms stretched as wide as he was tall.
Beaming with his gap-tooth grin, he exclaimed, “Do you believe in miracles?”

But, no, it did not end there. It went very dark. These are the NFL stories none of us want to hear. But their presence and message are all to clear. Let them whisper in your ear. Please, I implore you, read Ted Jackson’s account on Jackie Wallace. It will rip your guts out, and you will be better for that.

For Act II, I want to point out a seriously awesome contribution from my friend Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer titled, and legitimately so, “I nearly quit watching the NFL. The humanity of Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long brought me back”:

For Chris Long’s former high school football coach John Blake, there is one moment — and one image — that really showed the world what the Eagles defensive end is all about. And it wasn’t Long’s headline-grabbing announcement that he’d donate all his 2017 game paychecks to worthwhile causes, including two scholarships to send underprivileged kids to his Charlottesville, Va., alma mater, the St. Anne’s-Belfield School.

It was the preseason game back in August when the 10-year NFL veteran stood up for the national anthem and — in a gesture of solidarity and support — put his arm around his teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who was raising his fist to protest racial injustice in America. It was no little thing, as Long became the most visible white supporter of the protests that have roiled pro football for the last two seasons.

“What Chris was trying to do, basically, was to say that we need to listen — he’s got a point, all of these guys who are doing this are doing this for a reason,” said Blake, still head coach at the Virginia prep school. It was a brave political statement around the time when no less than the president of the United States was berating any athlete who protested during the anthem as a “son of a bitch,” but that arm-wrap also set the stage for all the giving-back good deeds that Jenkins, Long, and, increasingly. their Eagles teammates did in the Philadelphia community in the days that followed.

It does not end there. Will Bunch’s discussion of what Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles has done, and how he has conducted himself, is even better.

While Jenkins drew flak from some for raising his fist during the anthem, he was also forging close ties with the Philadelphia Police Department, not just meeting with top brass but riding around with rank-and-file officers to learn how cops and the communities they serve can develop better trust — a real-world strategy for reducing shootings by police. While some angry fans, with Donald Trump’s hateful “son of a bitch” rant burning in their ears, chortled that protesting black athletes didn’t even know what they were protesting for, Jenkins made a mockery of that ignorant claim. He was busy writing a searing series on criminal justice in the Philadelphia Citizen, traveling to Harrisburg to lobby lawmakers on “Clean Slate” legislation to wipe clean the records of low-level nonviolent offenders, urging sweeping reform of the broken bail system, and calling on Pennsylvania to release inmates given life-without-parole sentences as juveniles. One such ex-offender who did win his freedom recently, Kempis Songster, will be in the stands at the Super Bowl — because Jenkins paid his way to get there.

Seriously, go read it.

Okay, enough for the emotional moralizing. Though I think it is a more than decent time and platform to do so on and from. Let’s get down to the Wild Night:

Lot of people yak about the high holy commercials. Save for a couple (Hi early Apple!) I think they are WAY overrated. So, let us talk for a moment about the halftime shows. As Vulture does with many bands and things, they have drilled down to an all time ranking of Super Bowl halftime shows.

Honestly, I take issue with a LOT of their rankings. There are two I do not, however. The first is their top rank for Prince in 2007. In the driving rain, Prince was beyond awesome. That was indeed the best.

The second best, however, to me was Diana Ross at Super Bowl XXX which Vulture has at only number 6. I will have to admit, I am far from impartial as that was at Sun Devil Stadium and I was there about fifteen rows up from the floor. Diana was unreal, and the helicopter thing was simply insane. Were the acoustics etc. perfect? Nope. But Diana Ross owned the place. I wish I could describe it, but I can’t do better than that. It was more memorable than the game, and remains so to this day (Aikman and Cowboys beat Neil O’Donnell and the Steelers in a fair, but not that close game).

So, the Pats are taking on the Eagles. Who wins? For all those saying it is a slam dunk, remember, the Pats never win by much or clearly in Super Bowls. They may be the dynasty they are, but the margin in the Super Bowls, whether they win or lose (Hi Eli!) is always small, at best. This looks to be another one of those. Nick Foles is better than people give him credit for, and, AGAIN, if Doug Peterson turns Foles lose and lets him rip, this may be a far different game than most people and oddsmakers think. I see it as a pick em 24 hours ahead of time. Enjoy!

Okay, in the musical selections for this week, I may have substituted Jackie Wilson for Jackie Wallace. The joy with which Van Morrison plays on Jackie Wilson and Wild Night seem right for the joy Jackie Wallace played with in his prime. Let’s remember that, and think of Jackie and all the aging stars of our youth. They brought great joy then, time to give back that appreciation. Enjoy the Super Bowl one and all.

69 replies
  1. Bay State Librul says:

    Nice job with Trash Talk. Always look forward to your commentary.

    Prediction: Pats 31-21 over the Eagles

  2. Pete says:

    Look forward to your Trash Talks – a bit of (in)sanity in a sea of weekly (political) insanity.

    Thanks for the Jackie Wallace link.  I read it off of your Twitter post.  Agreed – a must read.

    No mention that his issues had to do with CTE – possibly if probably not – but who knows.  Another good video essay if anyone missed it: https://theintercept.com/2018/02/01/nfl-concussion-super-bowl-protocol-football/

    Local TV had a short interview with Nick Buoniconti (former Dolphin linebacker) recently and I was shocked as I had not heard of him for a while – CTE.  Recall his son, Mark,  is a quadriplegic from a spearing tackle he delivered in college at age 19.  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/nfl/os-sp-dolphins-nick-buoniconti-family-0513-story.html

    My two sons are grown.  Oldest never payed football – he was a runner.  Middle son played second string in HS and was on the team Steve Hutchison (Michigan, Seahawks, Vikings, Titans) played on.  Can’t say there is any CTE (yet) in Steve, but otherwise he is a laundry list of aches and pains.

    I imagine we could all recite one or more CTE patients that played for our NFL favorite(s).

    I don’t know what the answer is.  The human body will never evolve to sustain 250+ pound people who can run low 4 sec 40s colliding with each other at full tilt.


    • bmaz says:

      That is the thing, there is simply no way to make the game safe the way it is played today and the speed at which it is played. The league can tweak the rules and maybe equipment can get a little better, but that is marginal at best.

      • Palli Davis Holubar says:

        and that simple statement seems so incongruous with the intelligence of so many fans of the sport (my husband included)



        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, include me in that category of hypocrites. It is all true, and fans of the sport may as well admit it.

      • snotboogie says:

        So, it is what it is?

        Most of my son’s chosen past-times are inherently dangerous. I don’t like it, but I don’t believe I will ever take a stand against the super-hip x-industrial complex and declare ‘my son will never skate ramps, or snowboard, or boat whitewater…’

        Is it different because I am fully aware of all of the health risks of the activities going in? That argument must be beginning to ring false. After all whoever could have suspected that getting hit on the head could possibly have far reaching negative health consequences? Thank god for science. Thats glib, I get it. And I know the real answer is deeply entwined with econo-cultural issues of identity, inequality, race. And because of Kaep and trmp, the NFL has skirted just within throwing distance of real interesting questions this year, despite the NFL’s best efforts to steer far wide of them.

        Maybe something interesting will happen today. Maybe a performer will do something thoughtful. Maybe a naked man will run onto the field shouting that the emperor wears no clothes only to be put down by a real american. Or maybe some company dependent on foreign markets/labor will make some tepid stance against nativism with a heartwarming advert.



        • bmaz says:

          Or maybe you just wandered in here for the first time ever to spew a bunch of stupid shit. So, “what is it”?

  3. Christopher OLoughlin says:

    Hypocrisy is contrived, feigned, behavior, statements. Loving the game that simultaneously buoys the crowd and injures players is only hypocrisy if you deny the potential risk of injury to others inherent in your love of the game.

  4. emptywheel says:

    Gotta say I won’t cry if Philly wins (not least bc most of my family roots Iggles).

    And I’m donating $40/Tom Brady TD to CAIR to offset his (and Kraft’s and BillBel’s) garbage politics, in honor of the old man.

    Go Pats!

      • scribe says:

        On Boston sport-talk radio, she’d be derided as the football equivalent of a “pink hat” Sawx fan, after all the women who became Sawx fans post-2004, wearing the then-trendy pink Sawx hats.

  5. burnt says:

    Delurking to note that it was -6F when I awoke this morning with a -25F windchill. It’s noon and -1F now with a -20F windchill. Bittersweet and I are amused and wondering how our guests are taking it. Sure, Boston and Philadelphia have winter but not like this. Zygi Wilf is getting his reward from his fellow owners but I’m willing to bet it will be a cold day in Hell Minneapolis before the NFL returns to a city like ours even if some other owner manages to build another publicly-financed palace.

    • bmaz says:

      Burnt and Bittersweet – Last week here was all 80º temps. Today, am embarrassed to report is total blue skies and only a projected 79º. Seriously though, you guys come out and visit one of these winters. Summers are harder, but we know air conditioning here, is still okay.

  6. Peterr says:

    Okay, enough for the emotional moralizing . . .

    I disagree. The NFL built this weekend on emotional moralizing, and ceding the field to them is no way to win the battle against this:

    Sure, Goodell and the @NFL needs to encourage every franchise city to rape their taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, but placing the biggest event in American sports in insanely inhospitable locations is a craven price to pay and play.

    “Craven” is the standard operating procedure for the NFL. I just turned off the pregame show, after watching Herm Edwards reluctantly give his permission to athletes protesting, saying in essence, “Well, if there are at least a couple of military folks who are OK with this, and if you smile nicely at the NFL bosses, I suppose we can shake hands, declare victory, and call it a day.” To borrow a phrase, that’s mighty white of you, Herm.

    Here’s the deal with protests: they make people uncomfortable, so that you can’t avoid talking about or dealing with whatever is being protested. “I’m so upset with what’s going on, that I’m going to make sure you have to think about it too – and maybe that will make you concerned enough to help make what’s going on to quit going on.”

    The NFL has made this a day for emotional moralizing. Fine – let’s moralize.

    NFL advertisers have paid to play a part in that emotional moralizing. OK, great – moralizing is open to everyone.

    Meanwhile, as Goodell et al. want to wrap themselves in “National Pride” and “Support the Troops” and “Give Us Billions of Your Tax Dollars and Call it ‘Civic Pride’ and ‘Investing In Your Community'” there continue to be stories like these:

    The former acting chief of a Kentucky police department instructed a police recruit to shoot black teenagers on sight if caught smoking marijuana, according to court documents.

    “Fuck the right thing. If black shoot them,” assistant chief Todd Shaw wrote in response to a younger officer’s query, part of what the Jefferson County attorney’s office described as a pattern of “highly disturbing racist and threatening Facebook messages” from Shaw.

    A nearly 30-year veteran of law enforcement, Shaw, 50, was the acting chief of the Prospect police department in Jefferson County, Kentucky, when he was fired over the messages in November. The comments were uncovered by the Jefferson County attorney’s office in an unrelated investigation into whether Shaw should be prosecuted for allegedly interfering in the sexual abuse investigation of the Metro Police Explorer Program. He was cleared in that matter.

    The messages – which have been seen by the Guardian – were exchanged privately with a recruit in the Louisville Metropolitan police department, where Shaw had worked from 1995 to 2009, reaching the rank of sergeant. That recruit was not ultimately hired by the LMPD, according to officials.

    In the same exchange about shooting black teenagers, the recruit, whose name was redacted in the court documents, asked what to do with the teens’ parents in such a scenario. Shaw responded: “If mom is hot then fuck her. If dad is hot then handcuff him and make him suck my dick. Unless daddy is black. Then shoot him.”

    So long as crap like this is going on, there is not enough emotional moralizing. Not nearly enough.

      • Peterr says:

        When their branding is designed to belittle, demean, devalue, and diminish those who would question their rapacious desire for wealth and power, and put down and punish those who challenge them, then yeah, that’s a problem.

  7. Peterr says:

    That Ted Jackson piece on Jackie Wallace . . . brutal. Brutal, but needing to be told.

    Wallace put in 6 seasons (74-79), and for that got a monthly pension of about $650. In 2015, Goodell earned $31.7 million, which comes out to about $650 every 10 minutes. Yes, some of that is because Wallace played four decades ago, when the money was much smaller. But the NFL wouldn’t be where it is today, bringing in the billions, if it wasn’t for the guys like Wallace who played back then.

    Let that sink in. In the time Goodell might take in the shower each morning, he earned more than Wallace got in a month.

    Brutal is only the first word that comes to mind.



  8. scribe says:

    I’ve been giving this game a lot of thought.  And considering what to write during trash, not that I don’t do that weekly.

    I’d have loved to have read Will Bunch’s piece – I don’t always agree with him, but he says well what he says.  But the Inquirer hides behind a paywall that gives you maybe one article a month for free, and I read the one about a Bucks County judge nearly arrested outside his home, for being black.  This is one of those moments when I yearn to don robes and be a judge in that county, so I could fuck that pig of a cop on every suppression motion, probable cause hearing and charge the jury to not believe him every fucking time.

    But, the thing about the Iggles is that they seem to have pulled in good players with character.  I’ve seen a long video about Wentz and a kid, 10 or 11 y/o, a huge Iggles fan dying of some horrible disease, and Wentz all but adopted the kid and his family, even after the kid died.  Up and down the roster, there’s character.  I dunno whether that wins today, but it damn well better.

    OTOH, there’s Cheatin’ Bill and the Cheating Cheaters of Cheatertown, coming in all entitled and jaded.  Yeah, they’ll play their brains out (Gronk, already there) if only because it’s what they do, and it’s the last time this group of coaches will be together.  Patricia to the Kittehs, yadda yadda.  Good.  I’ve seen videos alleging the Patsies have secret hand signals to The League, whereby they coordinate manipulating the game so the Patsies win.  I figure it’s probably bullshit, if only because ESPN would be denying it so strongly they’d Streisand-effect it, were the allegations true.  Whatevs.

    I just want Biebs to rack up another loss.  Jim Kelly’s 4 SB losses is a record Biebs needs to aim at.

    That, and Bud Light has promised free beer in Philly for the celebration, if they win.  What could possibly go wrong with that?


    • Peterr says:

      The answer to your final question depends on what beer they will be providing? Because if it’s Bud Lite, it ain’t beer.

      • scribe says:

        If you drink enough of it, you’ll get hammered.  And that doesn’t count all the other drinking that will go on, should they win.

        I’m hoping the City of Philadelphia has to coat the light poles in Crisco again, or perhaps already has.

      • scribe says:

        If Brady had completed that last pass and tied the game, Harrison’s play boxing out the Philly runner, preventing a first down and forcing them to kick the FG rather than continue their drive and run out the clock, would have been a major turning point.  Collinsworth noted that at the time.

        Harrison had his usual good-plus game, playing most of the defensive snaps.  But he’s a vintage car you only take out on sunny days and leave in the garage the rest of the time.  Fuck Tomlin.

        • scribe says:

          And in other Stillers news, ESPN reports Ryan Shazier has regained use of his legs and is walking.

          Saints be praised.

  9. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Thanks BMAZ for the actual news about the human side.

    This game will be interesting from different angles.

    Market: Down. Historically, if NFC team wins, market up.

    Action: Way too much money on Eagles, the pointspread (4, or 4.5) does not reflect the money.

    So, who comes out ahead here? The Stock Market or the Bookies?

    I am picking the books. I think the fix is in.

    And with the bs by putin and trump about the market…

    Lay the points.

    NE by 13.

  10. bmaz says:

    This is an asinine halftime show. There used to be actual stars that played this gig.

    I am going down the street to my neighbor’s house for the second half. Enjoy and have fun one and all.

  11. jo6pac says:

    This good so far but the cheaters have way of coming back. I love Phillies style of attack and don’t stop. I do love the pass the Phillies Q as noted by others here.

    Half time getting dinner ready (reheat left overs) drink wine. The shows have become very Sad.

    Football has another 5yrs at most because of owners greed and they are bigger & faster. I can see the white elite owners filing B to not fulfill what they own cities and the players union

    f-1 They have solved of f-1 problems by firing the Grid Girls so everything is good in f-1 world.

  12. Avattoir says:

    Doesn’t the surname “Ertz” sound more like a provisional name, until something more complete or exotic gets worked up?

        • Peterr says:

          They will.

          The USWNT is very hungry to prove (again) their worth, relative to the USMNT and its financial support from US Soccer. Given that the USMNT didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Julie and her teammates are very anxious to bring their Cup home to make their point to US Soccer with extreme emphasis.

    • CTuttle says:

      But, but Bieber didn’t catch it, Rev…!  ;-)

      I have to say it was one for the ages, the most yardage produced by either side in a Super Bowl, and, the strip sack of Brady in the last 5 minutes was the only sack…!

  13. Avattoir says:

    I just feel like, what with all the evidence of permanent brain damage, the chronic inability to convince Chris Collinsworth on touchdowns, this Super Bowl is exactly the right kind of performance to call it a sport and move onto the actual football played with actual feet, like the rest of the world does. ‘Good game, everyone. That’s the final wrap. Gronk, now you can get into pro wrasslin’ like you’ve always wanted. Tom, nice job, man, joining Gordie Howie in showing that a true master can stay in a brutal contact sport well into his geriatric years, but time to let the air out of your balls and give up decision-making to Giselle, buddy, cuz your politics are also a form of evidence. Com’on, Bill, it’s time to record that PSA on brain trauma …’

  14. 4jkb4ia says:

    This is pathetic, but I cannot wait to get to the All-Star Game because Porzingis is in it this year. When Carmelo was an automatic pick I correctly understood that it was a glorified scoring demonstration. I was able to watch the Knicks bench play on a free NBA League Pass weekend and it was a delight to see them actually playing together and at a distinctly higher level than the college product.

    The NFL didn’t really deserve it, but in spite of themselves they ended up with a great story. Not only did Carson Wentz not come from a football factory, the Eagles were counted out of every single game without him and took advantage of the remaining substantial talent they had. The NYT also ran a story yesterday about the Eagles being more willing to take risks that will increase their win probability such as going for it on fourth down more often.

    (I appreciate not being banned. I thought it was a certainty.)

  15. 4jkb4ia says:

    I see how the Jackie Wallace story could be absolutely heartbreaking for those who could remember seeing him play. If you don’t remember, you couldn’t mistake that the story is telling you that drugs will take away anything good in your life you ever had. Perhaps this could not happen to the superstars with tens of millions of dollars, but it is very sobering on a day that is supposed to celebrate the NFL to think that most of the ordinary players’ lives will be post-football and open to temptation.

  16. Trip says:

    Somewhat OT, but Tone-Deaf-Trumpian-Like Commercial winner of the night:
    Dodge using MLK speech to sell trucks, with mostly white people, ‘being great’. (Hello, Colin Kaepernick?)

    Other winner: Most Milquetoast (but literally milk toast) Half-Time Performance in history goes to Justin Timberlake, (and extra credit for using a famous deceased black man he dissed in the past).

    (MAGA) Hats off for black history month!

    • Pete says:

      Thank goodness Steven Tyler showed us old farts (I dunno if you are an old fart) that there is still hope.

      Now if I could just find my car keys.

      • Trip says:

        I don’t remember Steven Tyler doing halftime. Perhaps, I missed it. But I am not a football fan which, I guess, makes me a weirdo outlier.

        • bmaz says:

          Naw Trip,you don’t have to be a football fan, or a Formula One fan, or whatever else we yammer about in Trash Talk. It is literally designed to be a catch all and release from the daily grind of difficult  subjects this blog covers. And, over the years, there have been a LOT of difficult subjects.

          But Trash is just an escape valve. Never hesitate to chime in with whatever. We talk about food, cars, saguaros (yes, cactus!) and all kinds of stuff. And even politics creeps in too. It is all good, and please join us. Football seems to dominate because Trash germinated out of my and Marcy’s trash talking each other on football before this particular blog was even born well over a decade ago.

  17. orionATL says:

    one play, one image stays in my mind. it’s almost haunting. and it’s not of a whole player, but of a hand and arm, a hand desperately reaching forward, as brandon graham’s body is falling to ground, it’s fingers moving, wiggling, searching, searching for the ball tom brady is holding. the fingers find the ball and flick it away.

      • Trip says:

        Good. It should be all of them, IMO. I know some people’s perspective is that they are respecting the office of the presidency. I understand, however, the one in office has been disrespecting that office, since he’s arrived there. He considers it a personal kingdom.

  18. Pete says:

    Firesign Theater. Now you’ve gone a done did it. Late 60s early 70s in various degrees of cognitive disassociation. You youngsters wish you had been there ;-)

    Nick Danger

  19. greengiant says:

    Trash talk genre.  Perhaps it bears repeating that certainty is at a premium. Those with insider information on Trump’s innocence or guilt have enormous opportunity to make money in equities by the usual pump and dump process. Releasing the guilty information they pull the props out from under the GOP and the market at the same time. This has been one of the oligarchs’  games for over 20 years. Having paid moles help create the crimes, get knowledge of them, falsify them or time the release of information is standard practice.

    There is money to be made if Trump is going to survive,  more if he is leaving.

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