Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mysteries R Us

James O. Born

I like to solve mysteries. Whether it's watching a movie, reading a book or in real life, I find satisfaction in solving mysteries both simple and complex. By nature I'm extremely curious and if I get interested in something I tend to do research until I know the subject matter clearly.

Sometimes I don't even realize there's a mystery and it’s solved. Little mysteries from my own childhood occasionally become clear after some chance encounter or a random news story. That's what happened to me today, just in time to write about it on the blog. I was flipping through the channels and saw a show on the NFL Network called Classic Games. Before I hit info, I said to myself that unless it's one of the Dolphins’ early 1970s games, I'm really not interested. And sure enough it was the 1974 AFC championship between the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders. These were not the irrelevant Oakland Raiders of today. The ones driven to mediocrity by a crazy-assed owner and salary cap nightmare. These were the scary, dominating Raiders of the 70s. And while watching the show there was a picture of a relatively young John Madden, the coach of the Raiders at the time. And suddenly a minor mystery from my childhood was solved.

For most of the time that I've been interested in professional football, John Madden was nothing more than the goofy, endearing, corny commentator who didn't like to fly, had his own special bus and made up the grossest fake turkey at Thanksgiving. I don't know if any of you remember it, but the turkey would have six or eight legs and used to freak me out even as an adult. So it always surprised me that my father didn't like John Madden at all.

I've written about my father before, but for this blog all you need to know is that he was one of the easiest going, most likable guys Good ever put on Earth. I cannot recall him ever saying he didn't like anyone except for Richard Nixon and John Madden. Nixon, I could understand but Madden always surprised me. Why would anyone dislike a tubby TV commentator who really never says anything except what's obvious.

But watching a thirty-five-year-old football game rebroadcast on the NFL Network this afternoon it finally hit me. My father, like me, was a hard-core Miami Dolphins fan and John Madden was the Bill Belichick of his day. My father thought he was a "fat slob" simply because he had Don Shula's number in a couple of key games. It was just that simple.

What are some of the little mystries in your life that weren't solved until you were an adult?


  1. I discovered my sister slept with my boyfriend thirty years after the fact.

    That had been a real mystery.

  2. It's funny EVERYONE refers to that as the AFC Championship Game because it was such a classic. But it was the first round of the playoffs, and it's probably the most heartbreaking loss ever for the Fins. Kenny Stabler falling down, floating the pass to Clarence Davis, who takes the ball away from two Miami defenders in the last 30 seconds of the game.

    And...put it in context...the Dolphins had won the two prior Super Bowls. Oh...the humanity!

    Yeah, I'm with your Dad. Screw John Madden and all that homespun Uncle Charlie stuff.

  3. Everything is still a mystery to me.

  4. James O. Born7/16/2009 7:24 PM

    You're, Paul, you old Dolfan