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Monday, June 27, 2011

NY Jets #52 - Part 1

There is nothing quite like the name that sounds incomplete, or whose surname sounds like a name for short. Tommy John, Billy Joe, Billy Joel, Nicholle Tom, Adam Bob #52. That's right. Adam. Bob. He played linebacker for a single season with the Jets in 1989. Drafted out of Texas A&M that year, he is listed as suiting up for five games at linebacker for the Jets, without apparent distinction. We find him again in 1992 playing for the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football (WLAF), a league which later became NFL Europe once its North American teams like the Machine folded, which the Machine did the year Adam Bob joined them. Montreal improved their fortunes, though; they got their Alouettes back into the CFL when the CFL Baltimore Stallions failed to revive the spirit of the NFL Colts and moved back north. 

Is Adam Bob this comedian? Only Adam Bob knows.

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Are you this angry?  
Never burn bridges. Always make a friend. Cal Dixon #52 did in 2001 when he was brought in to play for the Orlando Rage, one of the franchises belonging to the mercifully brief XFL. You remember the Rage's logo (left), don't you? No?  Well, it's worth a look.

After all, don't you have days like this? "All the time?" you say. No, no, really, take a look at that face. You're not angry all the time like that. No one could be. You'd die. Maybe that's one of the reasons, among many, many others, that the XFL failed. The logo represents a cartoonish rage that even the angriest of us have to admit is unapproachable, except of course if it is feigned in an equally cartoonish bit of combat, like professional wrestling, the XFL's cousin. Did Cal Dixon look at the logo on his teammates' helmets after coming back to the huddle and say to himself, "You know? I'm just not that angry."

Dixon played center and guard in #52 for the Jets from 1992-95, and then for the Dolphins from 1996-97, retiring with back problems. Galen Hall, Head Coach and Director of Operations for the Orlando Rage, actually coached Dixon at the University of Florida and then brought him out of retirement years later. Hall had been Head Coach at Florida in the late 1980's, and he remembered Dixon fondly from Dixon's college days. The circle gets even smaller between these two men and their relationship to the Jets. Our all-too-brief study of the curse of #17 made mention that Galen Hall wore #17 for the Jets in 1963. Hall played behind Dick Wood and threw three touchdowns and nine interceptions in two starts during that season. After he was let go by Florida as a coach, Hall had second a chance in yet another  struggling league, as a Head Coach with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe, and then of course with Vince McMahon's XFL. So then he gave Cal Dixon the same second chance.  And then the league folded the year Cal Dixon joined them.  Today, Galen Hall coaches the offense at Penn State.  Where is Cal Dixon? 


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Follow this link to a 2007 JetsInsider forum on Onzy Elam #52, linebacker for the Jets from 1987-88. To a certain degree, the content is pretty much what you'd expect.  The source of the discussion is the question plaguing one man: "Jets S Abram Elam related to ONZY Elam?" I'll bury the lead here by telling you that the issue is never resolved. Abram Elam #27, of course, is the controversial defensive back who currently plays for Cleveland and who started out in the NFL with with the Jets. Onzy Elam might have been Abram's Dad if only because he was old enough (17) to father Abram, and both men were born in Florida, but that's still not enough evidence, even for people who only limit their searches to one or two web sites (I'm looking at you, man in the mirror). The forum includes a few discussions about how Onzy Elam was a highly touted draft "sleeper" who essentially "busted." I don't remember Onzy Elam; I can't be held responsible for remembering the promising draft picks of 1987 when I was in the middle of a series of late adolescent crises, some of which wouldn't even seem manageable to me today. However, I've learned now to permanently redirect and channel my emotional anxieties toward the ups and downs of my football team. That's what it means to grow up.


Jack Elam 1918-2003

My favorite contribution to the forum, however, is from "Badniss," who says, "
By the way, NO posting of Close-UP PICTURES of JACK ELAM please! I KNOW he aint related!!!!!" Maybe I judge the participants in forums harshly, as the same kind of people whose comments at the bottom of news stories on the web make us wonder whether humanity is worthy of its dominion over Earth.  I mean, how many of us are willing to reference a longtime actor in Westerns who played mostly villains and sidekicks? Very, very few.


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On the books, Jim Eliopulos #52 played linebacker for the New York Jets from 1984-85. He was drafted by the Cowboys but played his first year for the football Cardinals of St. Louis. His head shot from his Cardinal days is a bit more dashing than Jack Elam's. He is looking into your soul, whereas one of Elam's eye is looking at the wall.  What's funny is when you search for a former player on the internets, and you discover that a retired player has a Facebook page. And Jim Eliopulos has a Facebook page, just like I do. It's like we're in the phone book together. "Where's Jim Eliopulos? Well, I'll just look him up in the phone book." Remember how thumbed the phone book was? Remember the phone book? I'm always hesitant to "friend" any of these guys because I'm a fan, and fans don't run with the team. Look what happens when they do. So, Jim Eliopulos will continue to exist as part of the mythical memory, although I have to say I don't remember anything about him.  So much for myth.  

But then ask John Galvin #52 linebacker for the Jets in 1988 and in 1990-91, and he'll tell you about myth.  His name also doesn't ring a bell with me, but that's irrelevant. His Wiki is intriguing for the part I will quote below. Galvin was born in Lowell, Massachussetts, the place where Jack Keruoac was born and where Kerouac died. Galvin went to Lowell High, he went to Boston College, was drafted by the Jets, then played for the Vikings and returned to the Jets when they lacked an outside linebacker. Remember the days when the Jets had massive holes in their defense? As is noted, he got the game ball in a 1990 game against the Patriots, at a time when I might just as well have been taking a civics class on Mars as watch a Jets football game. It was the lost years.

Just before meeting the Patriots in 1988, though, someone from the Times quoted Galvin on the twilight of his great leader from Boston College, Doug Flutie, a small man for whom so many Homeric tales have been written. Today when the Jets and Patriots face off against one another on a national stage, they conjure moments from Thucydides, where fate and hubris are usually the undoing of one side or another. Back in the Walton and Coslet years (1984-93) both teams were scrambling rather half-heartedly (and not as mortal enemies, as they are today) for the scraps the Buffalo Bills left behind.  Usually both teams stayed home for the holidays to see the Bills lose in the postseason. About Doug Flutie, Galvin is quoted as saying:

He's not the player he was in college...He took over a game in college. Sometimes I didn't even know if he needed the rest of the team.

When I was in high school, that's the way I felt about Jack Kerouac - he carried a game all by himself.  Then I went to college, and I read Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Forster and Morrison and Fitzgerald and Chaucer and Ellison, and I suddenly understood what Truman Capote meant when he said that On the Road wasn't so much writing as it was typing. I still love Kerouac. For a moment in time, when American literary culture was threatened to be devoured by the very commercialism and militarism that the Beats despised, Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg conjured the transcendentally mythological, and though Homeric odes about sports figures are also easy to type, and even easier to lampoon, you cannot help but long for the mythological when you watch your favorites succeed; that transcendence is so patently missing from our world of reality television, where everyone is performing in a vast, cruel carnie show.  "The rich," as Leonard Cohen says, "have their channels in the bedrooms of the poor."  There was a time in my youth when it felt like Kerouac, a standout football player at Columbia, could carry the weight of our need to understand this world all by himself.  As Kerouac himself says, "Praised be delusion, the ripple..."


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