“You may say I’m a dreamer … but I’m not the
only one.” Neither was John Lennon. He said
so himself in the song Imagine. Know who
wore number one? John Smith. Kicker. New England
Patriots. December 8, 1980.
By now all of my friends and family know
the code Lorde spoke about cracking. It’s a key
stone made of clay. It’s been obliterated
by time, space and monkeys like me. Let’s go back
to that fateful night when Howard Cosell asked
if he should pass on the tragic knowledge of
John Lennon’s assassination in New York.
After all, the score was tied with 3 seconds
left as lonesome kicker John Smith came trotting
onto the field with a chance to beat da Fish.
Let me put you right in that situation:
The game went down in the old school Orange Bowl.
The Patriots hadn’t beaten Miami
in Coral Gables since 1966.
It was Monday Night Football in the eighties.
Everyone and their mama was watching.
Earlier that day, a news reporter named
Alan Weiss was in a motorcycle wreck
in New York City. He was transported to
Roosevelt hospital and assigned a bed.
As he lay resting, Alan heard a ruckus
and saw Lennon’s body roll past, then heard the
shriek of a voice he knew was Yoko, going,
“Oh no! No! I just saw him! He was alive!”
Back in Miami the production truck got
a call from New York telling them what went down.
Mark David Champman. Three
or four bullets. Lennon arrived D.O.A..
Cosell asks his team what to do. Frank Gifford
advises Howard to tell the world. Does he?
Check out the You Tube clip sometime. It’s like this:
The score is 13 to 13. Gifford says,
and this is verbatim: “Time out is called. Three
seconds remaining. John Smith is on the line,
and I don’t care what’s on the line, Howard,
You have got to say what we know in the booth.”
Old number one jogs onto the field. Howard
builds anticipation for the reveal and just
as he says the name John Lennon, this pops up:
1 – JOHN SMITH … FIELD GOALS: 2 … ATTEMPTS: 2. … LONGEST:
33. The graphic remains on screen while
the kicker grooves out a spot with his right hoof
like some kind of goat man, then turns to his left
and looks at the camera through his single-
bar mask as Cosell says, “Dead on Arrival.”
After that John puts his head down, like he’s sad,
and stares at the chunk of earth he’s disturbed. A
zebra walks past, turns, and says something. Smith
wipes the sweat off of his brow, even though
he’s wearing a football helmet. Kickers, right?
The ball is snapped. The kick is blocked. Dolphins win,
16 to 13, in overtime. Oh yeah,
anyone know where Smith was raised? England. As
in Jolly Old. Bet he didn’t take life too
serious ’til he missed that kick. El oh el.