August 9, 2021
I once heard Bobby Bowden say … / and More
This is not a Bobby Bowden Tribute column. 90% of today’s incredible insights have nothing at all to do with Bobby Bowden. It is just an apt way to begin what with his passing last week.
To those who follow celebrity deaths … Markie Post ( Christine from “Night Court”) also passed away last week from a year-long bout with cancer. She was 70 (I woulda guessed “maybe 50”). As did a childhood friend of mine from Kinston. … sigh.
It was 12-15 years ago at an FCA Banquet at The NC State Fairgrounds. Bowden addressed a concern that his detractors (“hated rivals”) had voiced for many years …
Why did he persist in giving 2nd – 3rd – 4th chances to his endless succession of “Crimi-noles”?
I had wondered that too. I just assumed that – like 95% of Major College FB/BB coaches – his job security rested totally on his many Ws and far fewer Ls; and NOT on his self-appointed role as “Tallahassee’s Father Flanagan”. I was wrong.
He did not dispute that “many” of his players had indeed run afoul of the law and contrary to “acceptable behavior” as defined by mainstream America. Remember this was 15+ years ago.
His justification was that he – Coach Bobby Bowden – was “their last chance” to avoid almost certain imprisonment and/or an early death. If he gave up on them … that would likely be their fate within a few years.
Bobby Bowden did indeed see himself as “Tallahassee’s Father Flanagan” with FSU as his “Boy’s Home” Reformatory. … Channeling their aggressive anti-social tendencies into the legally violent world of Big Time Football was the only option.
I’m not making light of Bowden’s approach or his sincerity but … “situational ethics” creep into every aspect of our lives … sports, politics, religion, et al.
I do wonder how successful Bowden’s approach was in incorporating X number of those notorious Crimi-noles into productive citizens. It did lead him to over 700 Ws over 40 years.
Regular BLSays viewers know I am a HUGE fan of author C.J. Box’s “Joe Pickett” series of 20+ novels. If Box is not my #1 Favorite Author he is on the short list for that honor.
“Joe Pickett” is a modern day Wyoming Game Warden based in the mythical Wyoming town of “Saddlestring”. He loves his family … and his duties as a game warden.
Wife “Mary Beth” is the epitome of the modern Pioneer Wife/Mother raising their three daughters, attending to her duties as Saddlestring’s librarian, and doing her best to keep Joe alive and employed despite him regularly risking both.
Box has written his 20+ novels in true chronological order so the characters grow older in each succeeding novel. He does provide abbreviated back stories for new readers but starting with Book One is recommended.
Joe Pickett is a “Dudley DoRight”. He encounters all manner of uber-nefarious characters in the Wyoming wilderness and equally nefarious government bureaucrats. Hard to say which bunch Joe despises the most.
Unlike most heroes in action fiction, Joe is not “former Spec Ops” or a martial arts master. By his own admission he is not even “a good shot”. Preferring a shotgun when a firearm is called for.
Joe Pickett is “just a game warden” who loves his family and his job. Alas, counting elk and dealing with adolescent daughters does not sell action novels. For that C.J. Box created …
Nate Romanowski … one of THE most iconic characters in the action literary genre.
Nate surely belongs in the lofty pantheon with “Reacher” … Mitch Rapp … Scot Horvath … Gabriel Allon … Case Lee … Spenser’s Hawk … etc etc. Nate’s only competition in his genre is Robert Crais’ “Elvis Cole’s psycho sidekick – Joe Pike“. OK… and maybe “Win” in Harlan Coben’s “Myron Bolitar” series.
Nate IS “former Spec Ops” and a martial arts master … and “a Master Falconer”. If (1) Joe and his family are safe and in no danger and (2) the world leaves Nate alone to train his birds … then Nate is a contented Master Falconer. Otherwise …
Nate straps on his .454 Casull and heads are going to explode. With due respect for Harry Callahan’s .357 Magnum, Nate’s .454 Casull IS “the most powerful handgun made. Nate’s trademark tactic in close-in fighting is ripping off bad guys’ ears.
When storm clouds are rolling in for The Family Pickett … Nate’s going to show up.
“Sheridan, Joe’s oldest daughter, awakes from a drug-induced stupor … she had been kidnapped from her dorm a week before. She has no idea by whom or where she was …. she is tied up in some sort of shed.
Suddenly a face appears in the shed’s small window. Sheridan blinks. She can’t believe it … Yes, she can … It’s Nate!” … … of course it’s Nate!
Box has other terrific reoccurring characters. Among my favorites are Governor Spenser Rulon and Joe’s mother-in-law “Missy”.
Rulon rules Wyoming like Huey Long in Louisiana – as his personal fiefdom but that’s a good thing. He uses Joe as his personal “fix-it guy”. Forever sending him on special assignments to clean up messes … “I don’t care how … just get’er done”. That invariably means Nate will get involved … ears ripped off … heads will explode … etc.
“Missy” is an oft-married “barracuda” who has married / divorced 5-6 times each time to a wealthier mogul than the last one. She decries that daughter MaryBeth settled for a “lowly game warden” when she coulda followed in her mother’s stilettoed footsteps. Think Donna Mills in Knots Landing.
OK BobLee … This is fascinating but What’s Your Point?
After 20+ best sellers … Hollywood came a callin’ to author Box last year. What a great TV series “Joe Pickett” would make. YES it would …
ASIDE: Bet you can tell this ain’t gonna end well. “Well” is a relative term. According to who? I think it ends just right.
“The suits” offered mega-bucks and – as is standard – required author Box to give up his characters to their purpose. A purpose not necessarily the same as C.J.’s. … Uh oh …
When their casting choices were announced … KABOOM!
Hollywood decided Nate Romanowski would be “a black dude” played by Mustafa Somebody.
The resultant EXPLOSION was akin to the Yellowstone Caldera blowing its top. Millions of “Joe Pickett” fans going BAT-S***T on social media. DO NOT MESS WITH NATE!
C.J. tried to be a diplomat assuring one/all “it will be OK … they know what they are doing … blah blah …”.
Sorry C.J. … NOBODY bought it. DO NOT MESS WITH NATE!
Within a month of the casting announcement, C.J.’s attorneys found some fine print in the contract and kiboshed the whole deal. C.J. didn’t need the $$$$ and he knew he owed his success to his loyal legion of fans.
Before you jump to conclusions about the reasons for the massive fan blowback ….
Imagine “Shaft” played by Ben Affleck.
Imagine Spenser’s “Hawk” played by (insert name of some white dude).
Screwing around with Very popular iconic characters is REALLY STOOPID! Ask Lee Child about choosing Tom Cruise for “Reacher”. After two controversial movies, Child has admitted it was a huge mistake.
“Reacher” should be either Liam Nissen or Jim Caviezel. Everybody knows that.
Did you know… Clark Gable was NOT David O. Selznick’s choice for Rhett Butler. Selznick wanted Gary Cooper but Cooper thought the script was horrible and turned it down.
Ian Fleming sold the rights for the Bond movies and quickly regretted his decision. He did NOT approve of the no-name Scottish actor chosen for the lead in Dr No. Sean Connery was NOT Fleming’s image of his literary creation.
In his autobiography, Fleming noted that as the movie production proceeded he realized Sean Connery’s “Bond” was PERFECT for the movies.
Whattaya gonna do … ???