Although it’s been a long time since I enthusiastically watched a Monday Night Football game, I will never forget tuning in the December 8, 1980, ABC telecast of New England v Miami, thirty-five years ago last night. I hadn’t remembered, until doing some research, the teams playing that night, their records, the score, or if the bloody game even mattered in the season’s final standings. But I will never forget as the game entered the final thirty seconds, Howard Cosell making reference to an important piece of news upcoming. Normal coverage continued until three seconds remained on the game clock; timeout was called as New England prepared to attempt a field goal; then Dandy Don Meredith teed it up for Howard, who said:
“Yes, we have to say it. Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival.”
I remember hoisting Brian, our then nine-month-old son, to my shoulders in San Diego’s Balboa Park the following weekend amidst a crowd of stunned mourners. I tried to join the crowd singing Imagine, and I wondered what our young boy made of his father struggling to voice the lyrics between sobs.
With apologies to John’s band mate, George: to this day, my guitar gently weeps for my idol, who—had he lived—would have turned 75 this year. Now, we can only imagine what might have been ….
Please, in memory of John and all of those taken by a mad “man’s” bullet, support improved care for the mentally disturbed and a national ban on military-grade weaponry and multi-round magazines.