INDIANA, PA – You trivia buffs (Tall Matt, Mrs. Tall Matt, Replacement Matt) may note that this town is famous for two things: A) It’s where my wife is from B) It’s the home of Jimmy Stewart. The former has yours truly here for Easter, in the bosom of her very nice family. After two Easter masses (I’m the riff-Raff Catholic, they are Presbyterian) and now a third playing on the television, I’ve been reminded/re-educated thrice tiempos now about what Resurrections are all about. Without tarnishing the one Jesus of Nazareth allegedly (Ya Gotta Believe, after all) went through, it got the ol’ noggin thinking about Resurrected MLB & NFL Stars… and along the way, we can discuss the origin of “scapegoats” for our Passover celebrant friends.
Otis “OJ” Anderson: No, this isn’t the guy that ran through airports and then STOP signs in a white Ford Bronco, preempting the Knicks in the NBA Finals. No, this was the “other” OJ, the one that helped the NY Giants stun the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl… But did you remember/know that Anderson was part of the Jints in the Big Game vs John Elway and the Broncos? Well, he was. In fact, after coming over to Big Blue in a mid-season traded in ’86, he only got 6 yards in that Super Bowl win – but one was for a touchdown. The aforementioned trivia nerds will appreciate this: Anderson is one of only four running backs in NFL history to score rushing touchdowns in two Super Bowls and win Super Bowl MVP. John Riggins, Franco Harris and Emmitt Smith are the others.
Want more on Otis’s resurrection? In 1989, he was the man for Bill Parcells‘ ball control offense and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He slugged out 14 rushing touchdowns,rushed for 1,023 yards on 325 carries and stayed on top for the Giants Super Bowl XXV win. He ended his 14-year career in 1992, leaving Cardinals fans scratching their heads.
Thomas Edward John Jr.: Likely all anyone thinks of when they hear Tommy John’s name is the cursed surgery that plagues their favorite pitchers. Met fans are so accustomed to hearing it that it’s like a disease name and not a career-saving surgery named for its Guinea pig, Herr John. 124 wins before have the radical new surgery that has become commonplace… and 164 after! Throw in World Series rings with the Dodgers and Yanks, one against each and 288 wins. That’s pretty damn good.
And finally… not Tiger.
Rocky Bleier: After captaining the Notre Dame football squad, Bleier was drafted twice. First by the Pittsburgh Steelers, then by the United States Army.
The latter had his platoon help another in August of 1969. Bleier took a bullet through the leg. Then a grenade exploded next to him. His foot was riddled with shrapnel. Bleeding profusely, he crawled through rice paddies to a chopper and was flown to Japan for an operation. Trapper and Hawkeye removed more than 100 pieces of shrapnel from his foot. He was told he might walk normally but football was out of the equation.
The NFL’s Rocky came back, alright. Four [frogging] Super Bowl rings to go with a Purple Heart. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Sports Resurrectionists!
Before we part… Did you know how the term scapegoat came about? Ben Whitney could likely fill us in but just in case he isn’t available, it goes to Yom Kippur and the Day of Atonement. Two perfect goats would be presented by the Rabbi, who slaughter one and let the other “esscape.” Over the years, the “es” was lost and it became “scape.” In modern baseball terms, it’s now known as “Any umpire when Todd Frazier whiffs.”
Happy Everything, everybody!