Jackie at His Pique

Apparently a fire burned in his older brother, too. Mack Robinson is said to have been the better athlete, and he finished second to Jesse Owens in the 200 at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But when he came home to Pasadena with his silver medal, Mack discovered that that qualified him to be a city street sweeper. His response? He went to work each day wearing his U.S. Olympic jacket, an ironic rebuke to society befitting Jackie himself.

In the end, what does it say that Robinson always judged his baseball career one of the less important aspects of his life? Or that he titled his later autobiography I Never Had It Made? Or that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called Robinson "a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides"? Or that, even after his stock as a civil-rights advocate and black business leader had precipitously dropped, he continued to speak out on social issues?

Why do we demand perfection from our heroes and sacred symmetry in our myths? Who had the gall to put twelve-inch-high Jackie Robinson busts on the market for $29.95? Or to plaster his face on three kinds of Wheaties boxes? What does it say that this summer's outpouring of emotion in the name of Jackie Robinson favors the god but gives short shrift to the man?

It's that thing you put your cereal in. It's the first syllable (more or less) of the owner's name. It's the local obsession that won't go away, even though the team might.

It's Bowl, as in Super Bowl, and there's scarcely a high-altitude human on the street this week who isn't thinking how Biff and T.D. and Shannon and the boys put twenty unanswered points on the board in a season-building second half against New England Monday night, who isn't thinking that the boys are going back to the Super Bowl, who isn't thinking that this time, finally, at long last, the boys are gonna get that donkey off their back.

Do the Broncomaniacs dare to dream anew? Does the fellow without a tendon in his noble right arm dare to consider another January run-in with the goliaths of the NFC? Do the conspiracy buffs dare to believe that Jacksonville or Pittsburgh, just this once, won't be lurking out there on the grassy knoll with their rifles locked and loaded?

What the hell. Salute this.
Your Broncos have won the first set six-love, and if that hasn't aroused the curiosity of assorted Packers, 49ers, Cowboys and Bucs (not to mention the dwarfs of the junior varsity), nothing will. A glance at the standings reveals that this is the only undefeated team left in the league, that maybe navy blue agrees with them, and that maybe, come what may, these guys are willing to do it one more time, to risk breaking our hearts all over again, to finally grab the rings.

"We haven't played our best game yet," 171-yard man Terrell Davis said Monday night.

Glad to hear it. Save the best--for once--for last.

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