Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Requiem for a Superstar

One by one, pieces of my Sunday afternoons keep whirling off.

A few months ago it was Doug Buffone, No. 55 to Dick Butkus' 51, Robin to his Batman, twin pillars of all those flawed Chicago Bears teams that filled my autumn Sundays in the 1960s.

Then, less than a month ago, it was Charlie Sanders, the old Lions tight end, the one Bill Munson or Greg Landry threw to on those same autumn Sundays when it seemed if the Bears weren't playing the Packers or Vikings, they were playing the Lions.

And now?

Now comes word that Mel Farr is gone, and God bless him. If the Bears had Gale Sayers, the Lions had Farr and Altie Taylor, part of a cavalcade of running backs I can tick off to this day. Leroy Kelly in Cleveland. Johnny Roland in St. Louis. Tom Woodeshick in Philadelphia ... Dan Reeves and Don Perkins in Dallas ... Donny Anderson and Elijah Pitts in Green Bay ... Tom Matte in Baltimore.

And then, on the late game: Dick Bass of the Rams vs. Ken Willard of the 49ers. Because, you know, they played each other every week on the late game, or at least that's how I remember it.

Mel Farr fit as neatly into that catechism as any, and now he is gone. And with him, with all of them, go my Sunday afternoons, piece by piece.

But, hey. When Mel Farr retired, he became Mel Farr, Superstar -- a car dealer in Detroit who starred in his own TV commercials, sporting a red cape. My former colleague Justin Cohn, a Detroit homey, introduced me to them awhile back, for which I'm eternally grateful. Because now, no matter how much my Sunday afternoons recede, I'll always have this.

That's something, right?

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