UPDATED: Friday, 10 a.m.:
What made it into this week’s media column:
The John F. Kennedy assassination 50 years ago and the legend of why the NFL decided to play its slate of games just 48 hours later is definitely worth revisiting. with a couple of things in mind: Did the media really rail against commissioner Pete Rozelle’s decision to play on? Do those of you who were around back then even remember watching any of those games on TV? What’s real, and what’s held up as myth?
What wasn’t included in the column or notes, but could have:
== It must be noted that NFL Films, the NFL Network and NFL.com did a remarkable job combining their efforts for this multifaceted series relating to JFK stories posted this week online as well as incorporated into the network programming.
Carmen Dukes, the network’s director of digital features, said it “was very cool to gather together on a single vision and come up with something so compelling for the fans. It’s exciting to get this out there.”
Part of what makes this work as well are the succinctness of each segments presented. Not that any of them could have been expanded into their own half-hour special, but their ability to fit within the consumer’s time frame demands probably made them all more accessible.
Brian Lockhart, the coordinating producer for NFL Network Features, said this is “in some ways just sratching the surface in combining our resources without an agenda. It’s robust content out there that we think cuts through, giving us something that we couldn’t have arrived as working individually.”
Writers such as Judy Battista, Mark Kreigel and Steve Cyphers were also instrumental in pulling together themes and offering contextual opinions for the whole series.
Among the gems uncovered to be re-examined: How TV had a parallel influence on both the rise of JFK’s prominence as well as the NFL’s success, and the story about how the Kennedy family had once considered buying the Philadelphia Eagles when they were up for sale in 1962.
To find the series, go to NFL.com, or click on the individual elements:
= The prologue: The day in Dallas
= An introduction to the series: “Jack would say we should play”
= The Dallas Cowboys component
= The Kennedys and their football tradition
= The voices of that time
= The games
= The impact
The NFL Network’s “NFL GameDay First” (starting at 4 a.m. Sunday) will include the Rozelle Decision piece, while “NFL GameDay Morning (6 a.m.) will have “The Kennedys: First Family of Football.”
== Also, our previous blog post this week on how Life magazine had to change on the fly — JFK cover in, Roger Staubach cover out.
== One of the things that Michael H. Gavin, author of “Sports in the Aftermath of Tragedy: From Kennedy to Katrina”
discusses in his book is the concept of sports writers using the JFK assassination as a way to mourn — which could have led to taking out their grief on NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and his decision to let the games go on.
The concept of an “elegy” (not to be confused with an eulogy) comes from literary terms, from the Greek word to lament. It is a poem done as a way of mourning, as a way to help a writer recover from the situation.
“In the book, there are many moments of tragedy where people are killed, and the writers provide to their readership some way of coping with it, providing a way of healing,” said Gavin. “In some ways, the writer feels he has a pulse on what he perceives that readers need to feel better about them themselves in these national moments.
“My perception of this is that when Kennedy was assassinated in this Cold War era, the president was a war hero. The Army-Navy game had all the pomp and circumstance as well as athletes associated with the military. So that game, and most games following a national tragedy, allow the media to have material to work with on that analogy. You could make the analogy that the idea comes from Freudian theory, where at a funeral, one takes a rose from a grave to replace the person’s body in memory. You can make that kind of case with sports in the events after Kennedy or 9/11. Sports is the replacement story that can divert our attention as we recover, not having to do with the tragedy itself.”