Clint Longley Should Be Thankful for High-Definition Television

It’s the height of the football season here in the U.S. with NFL playoff games every weekend and my beloved Seattle Seahawks right in the thick of it. With so much attention on NFL football in Seattle this week, it’s triggered memories of some great experiences I’ve had with the NFL growing up. One in particular is interesting for a number of reasons because of its relation to a female body part (which apparently is funny if the Seinfeld “Mulva” episode is any measure).

I grew up playing outside like a lot of kids in my generation. Video games were not a ubiquitous possession of every household like today, but if you did have one, it was called Magnavox or Coleco (words that are actually red and underlined in the editor in which I’m writing this to denote words NOT in the dictionary!). Some had a Radio Shack (Tandy) or an early Apple computer.

So we played games outside every day – football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey (when the pond froze over in the winter). Every sport imaginable. Oh, and games like kick-the-can and hide-and-go-seek.

Because Seattle didn’t have a professional team, I was a distant observer of games during the regular season, but then very interested in the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins were my favorite team. I’m not sure why, as they were the farthest NFL team from Seattle geographically. I know I liked the combination of their aqua and orange colors, and it probably didn’t hurt that they were consistently one of the top teams with Don Shula as coach and Bob Griese at quarterback.

About this time, there was another young, lesser-known quarterback on the roster of the (Miami-nemesis) Dallas Cowboys. Yes, even back then they were America’s team and had many prominent players, including Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson and many others. But this isn’t about them; it’s about the man who was Roger Staubach’s backup.

Back then, the NFL was popular, but not like it is today. Most people didn’t tailgate 8 hours before a game, nor did they watch on 80-inch screens in high-definition in the comfort of their homes. In fact, most middle-class folks had a 30-inch, analog TV with decent video and barely audible audio. Most TV’s (finally) were color.

I was at the mall doing some holiday shopping as a young man one year and stopped into the Bon Marche (now Macy’s) to look at some of the new TV’s. Not because I’d ever think of buying a TV, but because they were showing NFL playoff games on much nicer TV’s than the 16-inch TV at my house.

The NFL playoffs were in full force. Dallas was playing the Redskins and Roger Staubach had just been taken out of the game due to injury. In came his backup, who launched a comeback in that game for the ages. And I thought his name was C*nt Longley. That’s right. I can’t actually publish what I thought his name was. I had seen his name briefly flash on the screen and heard the announcer say his name and I was sure his name had been shown and stated as C*nt (female body part)!

I was so sure of this that when I returned home and went outside to play, I told my friend James that the backup Dallas quarterback’s name was C*nt. I wasn’t trying to be facetious, flip, or disrespectful. I’d heard what I’d heard and seen what I’d seen and there was no Internet or other immediate-gratification information medium I could use to check my facts. This was the 70’s.

Jim, of course, laughed his head off at my supposition, and it wasn’t till much later that we were able to verify that the quarterback was in fact named Clint (“Clinton”) Longley. But for a short period of time back in 1975 and as preposterous as it might seem, this person of sound mind and good health (including supposedly seeing and hearing) thought that Clint was in fact C*nt (with a “u”). And that’s why Clint Longely (and perhaps all of us, including Mulva) should be thankful for HDTV.

Driving Under the Influence of Automation

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, what is currently being referred to as “driving under the influence” was referred to as “driving while intoxicated” or DWI (dee-wee!). Back then, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was a strong force, as many mothers had suffered the loss of a child in tragic car accidents.

Fast forward to 2013 and I’m watching a story on the news where a woman under the influence caused a crash that killed some innocent people. 2014 and we’re still killing and maiming people with cars.¬†Clearly, stronger laws against driving while intoxicated (or driving under the influence) have not solved the problem. Addictions are difficult to regulate!

This cold reality makes me think – makes me KNOW – that we need to come up with technology to fix this problem. Through all of the marketing, through all of the efforts made to make people aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and what do we have to show for it? Continued death of innocent people and destruction of property and people’s lives. Ugh. This sucks.

The good news is that smart people are hard at work on this problem. This time it’s not just sociologists and mad moms; it’s technologists and scientists. And they’re making some serious progress, as you’ve likely seen with the Google Prius self-driving car over the past two years. And now in 2014 most car companies have continued to add new safety features that make driving incrementally safer and are working on advanced safety features that will ultimately reduce the chance of any of us being in a car accident.

We still have a long ways to go, though, and I worry that others are going to suffer if we don’t act quickly to motivate auto companies and perhaps more importantly, care buyers, to demand revolutionary advances in safety vs. the incremental improvements we’ve been seeing.

It’s true that technology can’t solve every one of society’s problems; however, for this particular problem engineers have shown that technology, along with appropriate social services to assist people in battling their challenges, will have a positive impact on traffic deaths and property damage similar to how the polio vaccine has had a positive impact in the overall health of the world’s population.

My brother is the victim of a drunk driver. One could argue that the perpetrator got off easy – he was killed instantly – while my brother continues to suffer the effects of the accident, with nagging wrist (broke both) and hip (replaced twice already) injuries. And now I’m reading my Facebook feed and see just now a post from a friend from the past whose brother was killed in a preventable accident two years ago. Ugh. This sucks!

Are you MADD enough yet to support the bringing of safe auto technology to the market faster? I know I am.