The quaintness of 1981

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So I’m sitting in a Los Angeles cafe, doing book research. When I handle this sort of work, I tend to watch YouTube videos—generally swiveling between sports and politics and Ellen clips. Today, for no particularly reason, I find myself watching “The Freezer Bowl”—the 1981 AFC Championship Game clash between the Chargers and Bengals in frigid Cincinnati.

I vividly recall this game from childhood, but one of the great details failed to stick in my head. Namely, Russ Washington, San Diego’s starting right tackle, refused to have his picture taken for the telecast because, he said, the last time his photo was used he got hurt.

So the good folks at NBC simply ran a black cube with the word, “Superstitious.”

Then the Chargers lost.

Luckily, life worked out quite well. Russ was ultimately inducted into the Chargers’ Hall of Fame, and today—at age 71—he owns a car wash.

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