Stadium Jam

The Wall Street Journal (now with questionable sports bona fides!) published today, in oral-history style, a feature on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1974 summer stadium tour. An introductory excerpt:

On July 9, 1974, a month before President Richard Nixon resigned, with albums by Elton John and John Denver at the top of the charts, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young reunited to begin an ambitious nine-week tour of the U.S., Canada and England. Produced by Bill Graham, most of the 31 concerts were performed at stadiums and speedways with lengthy sets and clear, audible sound—firsts for an outdoor rock tour. Tickets cost about $7.50 (or $36 in today’s dollars).

Although the band hadn’t had a top-10 album since 1971, CSNY performed three-hour sets before crowds averaging 50,000 per concert, paving the way for rock stadium tours that followed.

Graham Nash: The idea for the tour was Bill Graham’s. Bill called me in my room at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles in early ’74. Bill said a lot of money could be made, and we knew Bill was used to putting on large events and had just produced Bob Dylan’s 40-date tour. Bill also pointed out that something on this scale had never been tried before, which sounded pretty cool to us.

For our music-sports nexus, the article also sheds a little light on Stephen Stills’ well-photographed penchant for wearing football jerseys onstage and on album covers:

[Tour photographer Joel] Bernstein: Stephen started wearing football jerseys on stage that year. The jerseys had a practical purpose—they were big and loose and perfect for a guitarist on stage. But they also were a statement. Remember, there were no NFL stores back then. All of those jerseys were originals, given to him by NFL players. I think for Stephen, they symbolized being in a stadium on a great team. There probably was a certain amount of irony there, too—he was a big football fan.

Speaking of photographs, the article includes a slideshow, which is the real gem here. High-quality audio and video from the tour are due out next month, but HD sideburn images are just a click away.   Continue reading

NFL Quick Hits 2013: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have developed a new secret this offseason, but the Wall Street Journal got the scoop. What is it? Geometry, of course. Step one “set off a panic in the room” when it was announced. What was it? Become “intensely familiar with the Pythagorean theorem.” Professor Jason Garrett, a Princeton man and the head coach of the Dallas squad, delivers regular lectures on the Greek geometric theorem that go something like this: “‘You know what the hypotenuse is? You’ll say, ‘Yeah, it’s the long side of the triangle,’ and he’ll say, ‘Well, you’re taking the hypotenuse to get to this point instead of taking the two shorter distances, so don’t run [long] around there.'” Garrett also warns against “concepts that are collinear,” because they are potentially “devastating.” Garrett is qualified to opine on such topics because of his Ivy League education: while at Princeton, he set (and still holds) the league record for football pass completion percentage, and sport is why the Ivy League is prestigious. Garrett’s peers unsurprisingly yield to his intellectual authority: “I’ve worked with Jason. He’s very smart and I wouldn’t pass one of his geometry tests,” Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. Prof. Garrett even gives homework assignments, which some of his players think is total bullshit because they didn’t come to the NFL to play school. Cowboy receiver Dwayne Harris: “I’m terrible at math. The only know math I know is dollar signs.” (Look for Harris to run a lot of serpentine patterns when he reads a double safety blitz this year.) A return to simple geometry may be appropriate for this team, however. Here’s some basic math: since 1997, the Cowboys have won one playoff game. A compass may be just the thing they need to find postseason success.


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Paul Newman’s Last Race Car To Be Auctioned Saturday (via WSJ)

A lot of movie stars have gotten into racing cars in their spare time, but few, if any, were as good at it as Paul Newman.

The actor began racing in the early 1970s, not long after starring as an Indianapolis 500 driver in the 1969 film “Winning.” He continued to take to the track until shortly before his death in 2008. In between he amassed a long list of wins and impressive finishes in sports car racing including second place in the classic 24-Hour race at Le Mans, France in 1979.

Now RM Auctions, a company specializing in collectible cars, will offer Newman’s last race car, a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, this Saturday at its Amelia Island, Fla., sale.

The car, which began life as a Trans Am racer, was piloted to three wins, eight top-five finishes and five poles by racing great Butch Leitzinger during the 2002 season. It has a 346-cubic inch V8 engine under the hood that puts out 700 horesepower.

Newman and his business and racing partner Michael Brockman acquired the car the following year, painted it in Newman’s longtime signature red, white and blue livery and ran it in the Sports Car Club of America series. Newman continued to race competitively, at or near the front of the grid, from 2003 through 2007. He won his last race at Lime Rock, Conn., just about a year before he died.

The auction house estimates the car will fetch between $250,000 and $350,000. However, its connection to Newman could push bids considerably higher.

(via WSJ)
(HT: @telegrphtelegrm)

Football is Better than Soccer: An Englishman Abandons the Beautiful Game for the NFL (via WSJ)

In its energy and complexity, football captures the spirit of America better than any other cultural creation on this continent, and I don’t mean because it features long breaks in which advertisers get to sell beer and treatments for erectile dysfunction. It sits at the intersection of pioneering aggression and impossibly complex strategic planning. It is a collision of Hobbes and Locke; violent, primal force tempered by the most complex set of rules, regulations, procedures and systems ever conceived in an athletic framework.

Soccer is called the beautiful game. But football is chess, played with real pieces that try to knock each other’s brains out. It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that. … Read More

(via WSJ)
(HT: VC)

Not Every Team Needs Cheerleaders (via WSJ)

If the Dallas Cowboys don’t win the Super Bowl this year, owner Jerry Jones should turn his ire to the sidelines. No, not head coach Jason Garrett—the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Based on recent history, having cheerleaders on the sidelines may be the ultimate championship killer. There are six teams in the NFL that don’t have cheerleaders: the Bears, Browns, Giants, Lions, Packers and Steelers. Those franchises have won four of the last six Super Bowls and have made up half of the Super Bowl participants during that span.

Last year, Green Bay beat Pittsburgh in the first-ever Super Bowl that did not include cheerleaders from either squad. The Steelers won Super Bowls XLIII (2009) and XL (2006), while the Giants stunned the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (2008). The Bears played in Super Bowl XLI (2007), but not having cheerleaders wasn’t enough to overcome the Indianapolis Colts.

This season is no exception. The Packers and Steelers are once again among the best teams in their respective conferences, while the Lions have clinched a wild-card spot and the Giants remain in playoff contention. (The Browns are in last place, but some teams are simply beyond help.)

Of course, at least one of the six teams that doesn’t have cheerleaders may be wishing it still did. The Bears disbanded their cheerleading squad, the Honey Bears, right after the 1985 season—the last time they won the Super Bowl.

(via WSJ)