Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"



Back in the summer of 1992, I had an internship at the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois.

It was, hands down, the worst 2 1/2-month stretch of my life. My editor (rightly) hated me. I broke my ankle playing basketball, spent some time on crutches, returned near the end of the summer to play more basketball and—my first time on the court—badly sprained the other ankle. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment on East Green Street, and at night I’d be kept awake by the man upstairs, who sounded like he was beating his girlfriend (I was too big of a wuss to do anything). I was only 20, and sans fake ID, so when others in the sports department went out for drinks, I headed down by myself to La Bamba, the Mexican joint with “Burritos as big as your head.” (really, they were). Hell, I was so bored that I tried smoking cigarettes, just to add some spice. It didn’t take.

Two things kept me afloat during those dark days:

1. Dave Fleming, who grew up a few houses away in Mahopac, N.Y., was a rookie phenom with the Seattle Mariners.

2. The 700 Club.

Yes, The 700 Club. I had a little black-and-white TV in my apartment, but no cable. I’m pretty sure I only received a single channel, and all I remember watching were Star Trek reruns and The 700 Club. Man, did I loooooove The 700 Club. Loved it. I’d never seen such a … white television program before. Just goofy people evoking goofy Biblical references to reassure me—a New York Jew in the heartland—that everything was OK. Pat Robertson was the star, of course, and he always struck me as an odd mixture of Mr. Rogers (good) and Hitler (bad). His soft voice was reassuring and peaceful, yet the words that sometimes emerged were hurtful and, more than anything, odd.

Most nights I sat there, in my undecorated pad, riveted. Comforted. Scared. Amused. Troubled. Pat Robertson was my best friend. Pat Robertson was my worst enemy. Both? Neither? I wasn’t sure.

Anyhow, by now most everyone here probably knows about Pat’s stupid statement yesterday, when he attributed Haiti’s horrible plight to a pact the nation made with Satan. I should probably rant about him, slam him, attack him, mock him—and I’d be perfectly correct to do so.

But, mostly, I pity him.

Because, unlike those long ago days, Pat Robertson is irrelevant.

And who gives a s*** what he says?