Imagine the Sunday silence.
No concrete and grass Cathedrals.
No Gladiator grunts, nor skill to avoid collision. “The violence. The violence”, a few men say. “Eighteen dead in a year is enough. The Coliseums need to be gone.” Imagine the Sunday silence.
For most of us who follow the great American pastime, “Eighteen dead playing the game of football in 1905”, seems like a shocking statement if there ever was one. Imagine for a second what Sundays would be like without the National Football League up and down the tv dial, or what Saturdays would be like without the energy of the College game. As crazy as all this might sound it might never have happened; which is amazing. In fact, thanks only to the straight-talking tough-as-nails American President at the time, this game might never have happened, and never is scary for sure; Sundays might have been silent forever.
“Nearly every death may be traced to unnecessary roughness”, The Post wrote on October 15, 1905.
Led by Harvard Yale and Princeton, this great game almost never materialized, almost never ingrained-itself into the consciousness of the American Soul. The Harvard Dean, Mr. Charles William Eliot, called for its’ demise… there was no Professional Football at the time, only Colleges played the sport. The ball was roughly the size of a watermelon, and forward passes were forbidden absolutely, akin to rugby at this turn of the century moment, only short lateral tosses were legal as large scrums of unshackled Marauders hunted down the dreaded ball-carrier. The stands were barely occupied; baseball was the most valued ticket of this bourgeoning land. An ex-gridiron star, President Teddy Roosevelt called for the introduction of the forward pass and other rule changes immediately; using his bully-pulpit like it had never been used before. “The Game must be saved”, he bellowed, “it sculpts the body and challenges the mind.”
On November 1st, 1913 it finally happened. Thankfully a chorus of New York Sportswriters were present to inform the Nation. “The Stadium is full to capacity”, the papers yelled.
Notre Dame 35
Army Cadets 15 “And the forward pass was a beautiful thing to see.” David had defeated Goliath with this new innovation. The wild crowd concurred. American heroes were born.
“Sunday will never be silent.”