I doubt there are many people around who can make the above statement. Well, anyone could make it, I guess, but not necessarily truthfully. I can and as this is the 45th and 35th anniversary of both historic moments, it’s a fitting time to tell the tale, such as it is.
In 1968, the 2-12 season which marked the last year of Jerry Wolman’s ownership of the Eagles franchise, I was editing and producing the home game programs on a freelance basis. Teams did their own programs in those days and ours was, I have been told, voted the league’s best that year. Hey, when you produce to do seven programs, all of which followed a loss (11 straight at one point), just getting them out at all should have been voted something at least. I was given a seat high up in the Franklin Field stands as part of my compensation and bought three others. My wife and I were at that historic event with a couple who lived down the hall in our apartment building as guests. That’s all I can tell you, actually, because we noticed none of the fuss nor the snowballing of the substitute Santa.
In 1978, another wife and I were at the Meadowlands as the guest of an old pal from New York. We were likely the only Eagles fans for three sections in either direction. I can tell you very specifically about that particular bit of football history because we were seated down low at the 25 yard line and the play happened right in front of us. It was so clear and obvious as it unfolded that my wife, who kept asking “where’s the ball?” after most running plays actually started shouting “He’s got the ball! He’s got the ball!” as Herm Edwards picked up NY Giant QB Joe Pisarcik’s botched hand off and ran it in for the game-winning touchdown. The stands, which had been in a cheerful uproar all day long went dead silent and all I could do was laugh and laugh at the ridiculous wonder of it all. The only downer of it all was that writer Harlan Ellison, about whom I had written a profile for a national skin magazine a year or so earlier, happened to be in New York that weekend and I’d call and made arrangements to visit with him at his hotel following the game, but the traffic mess getting out the Meadowlands parking lot and an equal tie-up on the NY Turnpike made that impossible to pull off.
I suggest you bookmark this post, by the way. It may be yet another historic event, the first time NFL football and Harlan Ellison were mentioned in the same story.