Hall of Influence – Class 2

The time has come to add to the hallowed chamber that is The Hall of Influence. Today we will be inducting three new members from diverse fields…sports, literature, and music. Though these areas of interest may not measure high on the scale of significance in the big picture that is our universe, I am sure most will concede that they do add immeasurable joy, pleasure, and interest to most of our lives to some degree.

 

Let us first venture onto the football field. Anyone who meets me knows within 10 minutes that I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and have been for over 30 years. I began to be interested in and understand football at a very young age, even before I started school. Living in the state of West Virginia there are no professional sports teams because there just isn’t the population or economic base to support such a venture. However, I am fortunate to live within a couple of hours of the city of Pittsburgh, and I just happened to be born right as the heretofore hapless Steelers were morphing from a team that had never been very competitive to one that would ultimately come to be thought of as NFL royalty, one of the most successful franchises in team sports. They were the first team to ever win 4 Super Bowls, winning back to back titles twice within a 6 year period from 1974-1980 and have won two more since that time. When contemplating just who should represent the Steelers in The Hall of Influence many names ran through my mind. Terry Bradshaw was the quintessential franchise quarterback and led the team to all four of those 1970’s titles. Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert were the leaders of the most infamous defense in football, The Steel Curtain. Lynn Swann was poetry in motion and one of the most acrobatic wide receivers ever to catch a football. Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were the leaders of a hard-nosed, smash mouth rushing attack that defined Steeler football. Less heralded players like center Mike Webster, safety Donnie Shell, and wide receiver John Stallworth embodied the blue collar attitude of a city and a team. All of these men were guided by the stoic, quiet, firm hand of head coach Chuck Noll. However, my choice to represent the Pittsburgh Steelers and my undying love for them is the family that has owned and operated the team since its inception in 1933, the Rooney family. The patriarch was Art Rooney Sr., The Chief, who used his winnings from time spent at the horse track to start a brand new NFL franchise. The Chief was a driving force in the growth of the league as a whole, and helmed the ship as the Steelers became a powerhouse team. He was aided by his son Dan, who worked alongside his father beginning in the late 1960’s. Dan ran the organization’s daily operations from the late 1970’s until 2003, when he handed over the job to his son Art Rooney II. In a world where many teams seem so unstable…changing coaches, owners, and even cities at the drop of a hat…The Rooney Family has been steady and consistent. Their long term leadership has been a major reason why the Steelers have been among the elite for such a long time, and that success has provided me with countless hours of happiness and entertainment.

 

One of the other ways I entertain myself is reading. I love a good book. My all time favorite literary series is The Sherlock Holmes canon, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I intend to go into a more detailed analysis of the books and my enjoyment of them in a piece for The Bookshelf section of The Manofesto, so I will keep my comments short for now. Suffice to say that Sherlock Holmes is one of the most endearing characters in all of literature, and he cannot really be separated from his creator Doyle. Therefore I have chosen to initiate both sides of the same coin into the Hall of Influence. I cannot thank them enough for all the times they have magically transported me to Victorian England and allowed me to forget about my problems for awhile. I would encourage any bookworm who enjoys a good mystery to give Holmes a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Our third and final inductee today is from the world of music. In my mind he is the ultimate musical performer…classic, timeless, the standard to which all others need to be compared. I am speaking of Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, The Voice…..Frank Sinatra. I tend to have rather eclectic musical tastes. I like everything from hard rock to blues to 80’s pop to big band. Amongst the crowd of pretenders to the throne…Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson…only one man clearly stands above the rest. I am not saying those performers and many many others are not talented and deserving of their accolades, just that in my universe they are all a bit overrated. No one can ever legitimately call Mr. Sinatra that, not even close. During a career that spanned nearly 60 years, he had numerous #1 songs and albums, won 11 Grammys, and tried his hand at acting and won an Academy Award. Somewhere along the line Sinatra segued from a top selling singer to a legendary cultural icon. I was first introduced to Sinatra during my youth by my father. Like most youngsters I wanted to be cool and hip and thought Dad was just an old fogey, so I didn’t pay too much attention to his music. But as I grew older and began to have more of an appreciation for quality and excellence and became less concerned with fitting in with the crowd I began to develop an appreciation for various musical genres, including swing, jazz, and “crooners”. There’s no one that embodies all of those better than Frank Sinatra. With it being almost a foregone conclusion that all great (and even not so great) bands will eventually reunite for a big money tour and knowing that no musician ever really retires, it makes me sad to know that I will never have the opportunity to see Sinatra in concert because…well, he’s dead. But the music lives on. So while others waste their time gushing over the latest MTV/American Idol wannabe and embrace what is clearly a lower standard of musical mediocrity played on the radio these days, I will happily be listening to my Sinatra CDs and appreciating the greatest singer to ever live. For his many contributions to music and culture Frank Sinatra is a well deserving member of The Hall of Influence.

 

 

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