Mature Focus E Edition Page 5

Mature Focus September 2015 5 By Mark Vasto Truly, there can be no profes- sional sports without an announ- cer. It just doesn't work any other way. Think about it ... when you were a kid, playing football or baseball down the street and ruining Mrs. Johnson's front yard, the voices you heard in your head weren't the kind that got you put away upstate for awhile ... they were the dulcet tones of the many maestros of the microphone! To the untrained eye, sure, you were a 16-year-old string bean wearing sweat pants, but when you went up for the Nerf, you were like Lynn Swann, and when you ran unabated into the end- zone, you followed in the well- worn footsteps of Tony Dorsett or Walter Payton. That time you caught a five-yard curl and pro- ceeded to drag half of the little brothers on the block that you agreed to let play that "one time" 50 yards after the catch for a touchdown like Mark Bavaro? It would have been all for naught had you not been piping in the play-by-play to yourself ala Keith Jackson, Marv Albert, Gil Santos, Bill Grigsby, Hank Stram or Pat Summerall. That was a different era, to be sure. It was a time when football coaches wore suits and fedoras on the sideline, a time when Michelob used to come in funky bottles emblazoned with gold and red ribbons and was considered a premium beer, a time when you didn't need a $66 billion search engine in order to figure out what channel the game was on, because there were only three channels. And on Monday night, you can bet that all the Mr. Johnson's of the world were watching Monday Night Football. Frank Gifford was a star long before he was the tolerant All- American glamor boy in the booth, the guy who used to break the games down while prevent- ing Howard Cosell from having a breakdown. Cosell was the sports announcer who could never be ignored, whose arro- gance often transcended his greatness, particularly when he felt he had to do something beneath himself, like announce football with jocks like Don Meredith and Frank Gifford. But it was Frank who won everyone over. He was a trail- blazer - the first guy to transition into the booth after his Hall of Fame football career. And for all of Cosell's bluster, when it came time to break the news to the world that John Lennon had been killed, he froze, and he looked over to the guy seated at his right, the other guy in the gold blazer. The golden boy, Frank Gifford himself. MVP in 1956. Hall of Famer, triple threat. And he said to the man with all the words, the man who never played the game, that it was just that: a game. "Got to do it," Gifford said. So, what would Cosell say today upon learning of the pass- ing of Francis Newton? They called him "Frank" because quite frankly, he was New York's first football star. The Yankees had the Babe and the Iron Horse. The Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn had Jackie Robinson. The Jets had Joe Willie, and the Mets had the "Say Hey Kid." But for Big Blue, their first shining star was truly a Giant. Frank Gifford, the man who could kick, run and pass, passes from this vale of tears at age 84. He will be missed. Condolences to Kathy Lee and family. Mark Vasto is a veteran sports- writer who lives in Kansas City. To be Frank was to be a giant Mature Focus, Inc. is a monthly newspaper, distributed to the greater Quad-City area, Geneseo, Muscatine, Aledo, DeWitt, Iowa City, Coralville, Cedar Rapids, North Liberty, Kalona, Solon, Tipton and Washington. It is designed to inform, serve and entertain mature readers. Publication of columnists' views, as well as advertising herein, does not constitute endorsement. Mature Focus reserves the right to reject or edit any advertising. Letters to the editor must be signed and include the writer's address and phone number for verification. All letters must be received no later than the 15th of the month preceding publication. Annual subscription - $20. 2015 Mature Focus, Inc. Publisher Kevin Ferris Associate Publisher Schary SantAmour Layout Design Tonya Ranum P.O. Box 1031 Moline, IL 61266-1031 (309) 277-2000 Read the digital edition of Mature Focus at LIFE & LIVING CELEBRATING September 2015 Volume 24 Issue Number 5 "Your Complete Carpet Care Co." Serving the QCA since 1987 Residential Commercial Carpet & Furniture Cleaning Carpet Repair Stain Removal Pet Odor Control Scotchgard Smoke & Fire Damage Restoration Emergency Services FAST PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 309-797-2100 563-359-3058 309-721-3222

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