Tuesday, August 21, 2007
It's Alright To Cry
Rosey Grier, a six-foot-five, 285-pound mountain of a man (huge for his time), played defensive tackle for two of the NFL’s all-time great defenses. Playing alongside the likes of Sam Huff and Andy Robustelli, Grier won a championship with the 1956 New York Giants and then in the 1960’s Grier became one of the Rams’ famed Fearsome Foursome. In his 11-year career, Grier faced the greatest offensive lineman of his day, but one opponent was always tougher than all the rest. Total Football II informs us that his “toughest battles were with his weight, which sapped his stamina as the season progressed. In training camp, he was a permanent member of the 'fat man' table, suffering through endless meals of lettuce and Jell-O salads as he tried to lose weight." Despite his ongoing battle of the bulge, Grier's fierce play earned him three Pro Bowl trips. As great as Grier may have been though, all that came before my NFL-watching days began. To me, Rosy Grier’s no ex-football star but rather a beloved TV performer. Actually, most of the Fearsome Foursome achieved a measure of television success. Who could forget Deacon Jones encouraging Peter Brady to raise his voice in song and slough off his schoolmates taunts of “canary”? Should their cruel mocking continue Deacon would just have to head-slap their asses into oblivion! And no doubt thanks to owning some incriminating photos of Michael Landon, Merlin Olsen had recurring roles on television for years. But the greatest Foursome performance of them all hands down has to be Mr. Roosevelt Grier on Marlo Thomas’ now-legendary/insufferably preachy 1974 TV Special “Free To Be, You And Me” (and the earlier 1972 record album). Rosy stole the show with his performance (singing and playing) of “It’s All Right to Cry”. My buddy Lewis and I thought this was one of the greatest things we’d ever heard in our entire lives (then and now). It changed us. Ever after, one of us need but sing the title phrase to detonate hysterical laughter in the other. For who could ignore this powerful message, delivered in song by this gentle giant, this ferocious football player, needlepoint aficionado, ordained minister, actor-singer and bodyguard to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy? Nobody that’s who! Clearly the song’s simple honesty overwhelmed Lew and I and we covered up our childhood insecurities by derisively laughing in the face of truth. You doubt? Well, thanks to YouTube you can listen for yourselves. Do it now. It might make you feel better.