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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

HUTSON IS ONE!
2/23/2012 5:14:20 AM
These op-ed columns normally appear on Saturdays, but this week the Feb 25 effort will be published around Thursday, the 23rd. It will remain up a full 9 days until March 3 (or thereabouts).

Check your diary: our youngest grandson is a full year old on Sunday, February 26, and it occurred to us we’d probably be long gone before he’s old enough to even remember us. We should be disintegrating into dust by the time he is pushing puberty.

Too bad. Truly a short shrift; no time to really get to know us, poor fellow!

His name, by the way, is Hutson—and that alone is an achievement to be reckoned with. Hutson. Not HUDSON. Hutson. H-u-t. With a T—as in Hutsut-Ralston-on-the Rilla-rah and a Brawla-Brawla Suet.

How many people you know named Hutson? According to the National Census Bureau in Washington, there have been only nine in the U.S. and twenty-one worldwide since the agency was established in 1903. Google lists about 389,000 entries under Hutson, but not one is a Christian or first name—just sur names, and mostly organizations, not people.

The most prominent human entry is Don Hutson, the first Superstar wide receiver in NFL history; he attended the University of Alabama and played eleven seasons for the Green Bay Packers. A Hall-of-Famer (inducted in 1963 along with Sammy Baugh and Jim Thorpe,) his number (14) was retired in 1951; and the renowned receiver passed away in 1997, at 84.

After-dinner speakers and self-appointed TV sports aficionados say Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver ever, but most claim Hutson could have been Rice’s equal if he’d played at the same time, or vice versa. Rice’s record is precisely twice Hutson’s 99 touchdown receptions, but Rice played nine more seasons with 16 games each year, plus playoffs, to Hutson’s eleven years with 10-12 games and no playoffs. Say what you want, Hutson’s remarkable record lasted forty-four years!

Speaking of NFL records, Hutson held 22 at retirement, including most consecutive league-leading scorer (5), most league receptions for touchdowns (9), most receptions (488), most receiving yards (7,991), most receiving yards in a season (1,211), and most touchdowns in a season (17). The majority of these achievements have never been surpassed. Wow.

In college, Hutson played on the same team as Bear Bryant. After the Rose Bowl in 1935, Bryant referred to himself as the Crimson Tide’s “other end”. In that game against Stanford (‘Bama won 29-13) Hutson caught six passes for 165 yards—and two touchdowns! Double wow.

1988’s Super Bowl XXII (Washington 24, Denver 10) was dedicated to Don Hutson, and he was escorted out on the gridiron to conduct the pre-game coin toss. His name was never mentioned during Super Bowl XLVI, but, to Cris Collinsworth’s credit, Scott Norwood’s was. Ironically, Al Michaels was the play-by-play man when that unfortunate Bill missed a 47-yard field goal attempt with just seconds to play in Buffalo’s 1-point world championship loss to the Giant’s. Collinsworth, who had spent his entire NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals (after an illustrious four years at the University of Florida) was thirty-two years old that memorable day in 1991.

My wife turned to me and asked, “I wonder what Norwood’s doing today?”

Scott Norwood, born the same day as me in July, only in 1960, is now fifty-two and lives in Fairfax County, Virginia (I know this because I once lived in Princess Anne County.) He is the father of three kids, now burgeoning adults, none of which is reputed to ever mention football or the Super Bowl in his presence. His second greatest claim to fame is that he inspired the Sean Young character “Ray Finkle” in Jim Carrey’s ACE VENTURA, PET DETECTIVE.

I sucked the meat off my final chicken wing. “Last I heard,” I mumbled, chewing rudely during the fourth quarter, “he was selling insurance and houses.”

My wife said, “Oh. I’m going to Wendy’s and get some Frosties. You want one?”

“Don’t you wanna watch the end of the game?”

She shrugged. “What for? I watched Madonna.”

I did, too; I admire that at fifty-three she can still do multiple squats, while singing and dancing and not even breathing hard. But I particularly enjoyed the young rapper and hip-hopper who shared the stage with her and gave the audience “the bird”. That impromptu gesture had to net the culture icon a cool million, if she ever collects on the bet.

“Watch me!” she said. “I’m gonna give ‘em all the finger!”

“No you ain’t!”

“Betcha a million dollars I do!”

My wife asked, “Is Eli Manning still the quarterback?” When I nodded, she said, “He’ll throw a touchdown pass, and the Giants’ll win. They always do. Come on, Sam, wanna go for a ride?”

Of course, she was right. Sam, our dog, always wants to go for a ride. . . .

So, we’ll head out for Nashville eventually to celebrate Hutson’s first birthday. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy his recent photo as a screensaver on my computer. He greets me each morning, and I can’t help but chuckle in sheer delight. His face is the last I see when I log off at night.

Hutson. A kid as unique as his name.

I wish I had about sixty more Super Bowls to watch. That would make Madonna 116. No more squats — for either of us (I’d be 140. Hutson will only be sixty-one, the brat.)


Copyright©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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