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Monday, October 8, 2012

NY Jets #63 - Part 3

Lamont Burns #63 played one season in Parcells' first year with the Jets, in 1997. The year after that, he played one season with the Washington Redskins. After that, he played the one and only season of the cartoonish XFL for the Las Vegas Outlaws. His player page for the Outlaws is filled with the usual stuff that Vince McMahon probably encouraged his people to include in bios. It's mentioned that his nickname "is 'Dirtbag.'" The final analysis is that he was "a very versatile lineman with great size and solid technique. He is a tough mauler and presents a problem for defensive linemen."

The other day I was driving with my wife, and we noticed a particularly aggressive guy driving a Mercury Marauder, a very lowbrow modern version of a muscle car that could not possibly compete with the beautiful yet loudly powerful 1968 Cougar. It was black, with blackened windows, a car whose features were clearly chosen to cultivate some kind of primitive sense of fear in people driving at the speed limit. Why a person - well, a man between the ages of 18-40 - requires something like this in order to satisfy some unmet childhood need, as opposed to owning car that simply attracts women, is completely lost on me. "Oh dear," I said blandly. "Not the Mercury Marauder."

"Isn't a marauder supposed to be some kind of plundering rapist, like a soldier in some sort of raping army?" she asked. She looked it up, and indeed, one definition suggests that a marauder goes "around in quest for plunder;  make a raid for booty."

At the war's end the country had been marauded by returning 
bands of soldiers.

That's not good. It's the the "returning" that scares me. Sort of like Soviet soldiers on the Eastern Front of World War II. The kinds of guys who actually make war look even worse that it already is.

The "mauler" is a little gentler. First, a "maul" is originally a word for a large, sharp hammer, not unlike an axe, which then turned into a verb, as nouns invariably do in the English language, to mean "striking with blunt force," "to batter or lacerate," especially "with a heavy weapon." A "maul" in rugby is also "a loose scrum that forms around a player who is holding the ball and on his feet." No wonder that a football player is called a mauler on the line, but in the larger sense, it would seem that a marauder would need to maul in order to do his business, and that at times a mauler and a marauder can be interchangeable.

This is obviously getting us nowhere, unless you remember that Vince McMahon once referred to the NFL as "pantywaist" football, even if his threats to turn America's Game into Rollerball ran out of money very, very quickly. I only mention this because anyone who has played the game will tell you that it is already intensely violent. I was pleased to see that Lamont Burns checked in on the excellent Dave Pear's Blog in 2010 to ask a question about the class action lawsuit filed against the NFL regarding group licensing agreements, officially launched by NFL Hall of Famer Herb Adderley. Pear's blog is a constant work of eloquence about the various injustices surrounding ex-player treatment, especially when we consider the mauling done to players' minds.

***

The first official New York Jet to wear #63 was Bob Butler at guard, in 1963. The terrific Coffin Corner overview of the Jets' first season mentions Butler as a former Eagle who started one game that season.

Carlton Haselrig #63 returned to football in 1995 after signing with the Jets - this after three great seasons with Pittsburgh that were followed by bouts with addiction and legal troubles. Then toward the end of a ruinously bad Jets season, he disappeared altogether and lost out on his opportunity to remain in the league. But Haselrig is one of those people who manages a return from the metaphorical dead, when people have given up on him, or have written the kinds of narratives that usually accompany guys who fall into the miseries of substance abuse and jail. Perhaps it's possible to be the kind of person he is, a phoenix, especially if you're smart enough to imagine yourself in a variety of guises in the world.

Haselrig was an unbeatable college wrestler at Pittsburgh-Johnstown, then a Pro Bowl guard in 1993 for the Steelers after never playing football in college. When his career in the NFL was officially over, he would go to prison a few more times, and would be estranged from his wife and children. But then as recent as 2009, he was a mixed-martial arts fighter, apparently finishing with a record of 3-2.

Now he is remarried, and listed at the above Pitt link from 2009 as having nine children, a responsibility that seems impossible, unmanageable even for someone like me with a very limited relationship with the law (may it remain so). To quote a friend who recently spoke so well at the funeral of a young student, it seems that as adults we lose the desire to pursue new things. With our many responsibilities, with our desire for well-defined roles in society, with obligations we seek out and then speak ill of because they exhaust our energy, we miss the point of being capable of recreating ourselves and our lives. The whole point of living a full life is having the imagination to do as we are told as children, and to imagine ourselves as whatever we want to be and then to go out and be that thing.

**

While looking for anything on John Hennessy #63, who played linebacker for the Jets from 1977-79, I actually came across something a bit more interesting - a story of what is apparently the NFL's first female scout, Connie Nicholas Carberg. Her story is here. She insists that much of her inspiration came from watching former interim Jets' coach (and Boston Patriots' coach in the 60's) Mike Holovak, whom, she says, as Personnel Director, was most responsible for the Jets' long-desired success in the early 1980's. The breakdown of picks over 1976-77 is here, and John Hennessy, who started every game in 1978, is mentioned there. It's convincing evidence of a time when the Jets got the draft right. It was not always thus, and it would not be thus for many more years. In fact, we could use a little Holovak and Carberg right about now.

2 comments:

Slimbo said...

Pittsburgh Maulers. USFL.

Martin Roche said...

Mike Rozier's team. How did I miss that?