Monday, April 20, 2009

Doc Felix Blanchard

The death of Doc Blanchard today reminds us that once upon a time there were more important things than football. Blanchard was one of the greatest college fullbacks of all time and, with Glenn Davis, lead Army to two national championships and a 27-0-1 record over three years. In his final game for West Point he scored three touchdowns against Navy. Drafted third overall by the Pittsburg Steelers in 1947, he never played professional football. After completing his military obligation he stayed in as a fighter pilot. When the Army Air Corps became the Airforce, he stayed then too. He served a twenty five years in the military, fighting in Korea and Viet Nam, and retired with the rank of colonel.

Can you imagine? I mean, I know: Army guys don't get drafted very often, though Caleb Campbell and two others were drafted last year. There was a new policy in place that would have allowed them to play while on active duty for two years and then buy out the rest of their commitment, but the policy was suspended in last July and Campbell reported to active duty (which apparently means he's coaching). Reportedly, he cried. Nowadays you are supposed to want the money. Even if you do serve, like David Robinson when he came out of Navy as a basketball star, you are expected to bolt for fame and fortune as a pro athlete as soon as your commitment is up. After all, the money is so much greater now than it was back in 1947, and we are all supposed to want fame: it's the number-one currency in a postmodern world. You are supposed to want to play ball. You certainly aren't supposed to want to serve your country for your entire career, fight in two wars, and never play football again. Who does that?

(besides Pat Tillman, of course)


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