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Thursday, September 8, 2011

NY Jets #50 - (Redux)

This is an entry on #50 that should have been completed months ago. I inadvertently omitted mention of seven whole human beings in this discussion of #50. I am forced to locate my own error - a labor with which better read contemporaries don't have to worry themselves - and am now correcting it. My apologies, phantom reader. Let me continue. 
S, M, L, XL (XXL not yet available)
Carl McAdams #50 was an All-American linebacker coming out of the University of Oklahoma in 1967. He was drafted by the Jets and played for two more seasons after that, which included Super Bowl III. He is the big guy at extreme right in this Daily News photograph just after the team had gotten its Super Bowl rings on July 14, 1969, two days before the launch of Apollo 11. You see from left to right Emerson Boozer, Curley Johnson, John Elliott, and Carl McAdams - a big guy, even by today's XXL standards. He technically played for the Jets at both linebacker and defensive tackle, which seems funny to think of now. He would definitely fit in with today's linebackers because of his documented speed, but on defensive lines that are too big to fail, McAdams would have been a little out of place.

Just after the Super Bowl between the Saints and Colts, McAdams was interviewed by a local Oklahoma station about his role in the game of games. He shows off the ring that he received in the photograph above. I think it's interesting that he also confesses to what Mike Curtis and Bill Curry say about Super Bowl III in the NFL Network's story on the 1970 Colts - that on any other day, the 1968 Colts would almost certainly have beaten the 1968 Jets. Today, McAdams sells real estate, and if you're interested in obtaining life, home or auto insurance from someone in the general vicinity of Antlers, OK, you might be able to speak with a veteran of the most important Super Bowl of them all.

***

Mike Mock #50 has a tough name. It sounds tough to carry around too. On an alphabetical list, it appears as "Mock, Michael," which must have been a little trying, after countless first days of classes at school, being asked by teachers "Do people mock, Michael?" or saying, "I don't think you should be mocked, Michael." Maybe I'm investing too much humor in the lives and work of teachers in the places where where Mock grew up. But the truth is that Mock was born in Trondheim, Norway, a harbor town located on the Nidelva River, so I guess his teachers didn't do that. The Internet tells me that "spotte" is Norwegian for "mock," but how long did he live there? He was drafted by the Jets out of Texas Tech, so maybe his parents were just passing through. "Mock" is not, that I know of, a Norwegian name, though being a linebacker means you can be named anything - Lipshitz, Sukoff. It's all in the attitude you carry with it, and if anything, a player can live up to the name of "mock" by being irreverent and droll. In any event, Mike Mock wore #50 on the sidelines for the 1978 season and doesn't seem to have an NFL record beyond that, which is why I bothered to fret about his name.

***

Kelvin Moses, LB
Drafted out of Wake Forest, Kelvin Moses #50 is as tall as I am (six feet even) and, when he played for the Jets, he weighed about 50 pounds more than I do (185) now. Fifty pounds of muscle, no doubt. I would have liked to have said the same about myself, but I had the distinct displeasure of looking at myself in the mirror this morning, and I saw a sagging, prematurely aged middle aged man with what looks like a layer flab at his midsection that his skin is holding back with less and less enthusiasm. I imagine anyone performing my autopsy would say this was a layer of fat sadly reminiscent of most grown, sedentary men - men who spend most of their time hunched over, writing, all the while remaining staunchly attached to the notion that they are physically about as healthy as a person half their age. If you are out there, Kelvin Moses, beware. Like Phlebus, whose dead body decayed in the water while turning in the gyre of the whirlpool, I can only act as a warning now to you, who are still young, but older, and who may be holding onto that weight you carried back in 2001-02 when you played predominantly special teams for the Jets. We see him in the attached photograph above in one of his last regular season games, a happy occasion, when the Jets beat the Patriots 30-17 and put themselves in a position to win the division, which they did. It's the last division title they've won.

                          Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.*
***

Wayne Mulligan #50 was another former Cardinal that Charley Winner brought over from St. Louis when he replaced his father-in-law Weeb Ewbank as Head Coach of the Jets in 1974. Mulligan was the center who handed off to Joe Namath in the two games I saw with my Dad in 1975, games that resonate in my mind like personal myths. Where did we sit? How many off-duty cops were there sitting in front if us? What did Dad get me to eat? I still hold that the greatest piece of mystery is how my mind was able to not see the Mets' infield and home plate that remained left over in the Jets' season at Shea. I don't recall it at all, though I do recall the disappointment I felt when I noticed it in 1978, when Dad took me to the Jets-Dolphins' season opener at Shea. Did my brain not actually see the infield in 1975 because I wasn't expecting to see it? Was it like the apocryphal story of the natives who could not see Columbus' ships on the horizon because they had no prior basis for understanding something like that could exist?

Mulligan appears to have retired after the 1975 season. He was replaced by rookie Joe Fields, who would snap the ball to Joe Namath, Richard Todd, Pat Ryan, Matt Robinson, and Ken O'Brien. And Phil Simms in 1988, when he became a Giant for one season. Centers act as the keystone to the line, the transitional arc from one side of the line to the other, with their posteriors pointed toward the most important man on the field. It's such an odd place for anyone to find himself, and I suppose centers, whom you rarely hear about, have to have as good a sense of humor about themselves as Mike Mock does about his name. Do we never hear about the center because we are too embarrassed to admit that the game we love requires a man to have the ball fed to him between another man's legs? Anyone not already acclimated to the absurdities of this great game would likely be suspicious. "You construct intricate rituals," Barbara Kruger once said in one of her works, "which allow you to touch the skin of other men."

Regardless, Wayne Mulligan was the transitional point in the arc between John Schmitt #52 (1966-73) and Joe Fields #65 (1976-87). That's a total of 22 seasons among three men at one position. Only at the quietly devout position of center (and placekicker) is something like that even remotely possible.

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