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Broadway Joe Got the Led Out


    There are dates in history that roll off the tongue, are instantly recognizable. No explanation is needed. At the mere mention, everyone knows what you are referring to.

July 4th, 1776.

December 7th, 1941.

   Yet, certain dates are not quite as familiar, but are nearly as meaningful. Have had quite an impact on history. The events that occurred are instantly remembered as being significant.

   January 12th, 1969 is one of them.

   It has been said by oh so many people, oh so many times, "there are no coincidences". Events that appear to be coincidental have a way of bringing out the "wow", creating a sense of awe at times.

   On January 12, 1969, Joe Namath made history that transcended the sports world. After guaranteeing victory during the week preceding Super Bowl III, which caused Jet coach Weeb Ewbank to lose who knows how many hours of sleep, the brash Western Pennsylvania gunslinger by way of Alabama went out and upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. It is considered the greatest upset in the history of sports.

   In the process the modern NFL was created. When the Jest won Super Bowl III (which wasn't even called the Super Bowl at the time), after the Green Bay Packers had steamrolled through Super Bowls I and II, the upstart AFL was instantly legitimized.

   And it was done by a rebel. 

   By a guy who wore a mink coat on the sidelines and threw the ball downfield like no one had to that point. Joe Namath resonated with the kids. By flinging the ball all over the yard, he was seen as a breath of fresh air in comparison to the old guard NFL and the Packer Sweep.

   He stood tall in the pocket and threw rockets from behind his ear, darts that hadn't been seen in years. As great as Johnny Unitas was, the contrast in styles was evident when Johnny U relieved Earl Morrall late in the third quarter, almost bringing the Colts back from a 16-0 deficit.

  Clearly a new era in quarterbacking had dawned.

  Similarly, and not coincidentally, though overshadowed on that particular day, rock 'n roll was changed forever. On January 12, 1969, Led Zeppelin's first album, entitled Led Zeppelin I, was released. With their hard rock, heavy blues melodies, rock 'n roll was taken to new heights. 

   Although not initially critically acclaimed, it didn't take long for the album and the band to gain a fervent following. Even in an era of rebellion and change, Led Zeppelin stood out. Their raw energy and bluesy riffs had not been heard to that point and have rarely been heard since. It would take almost fifty years (Greta Van Fleet) for a band to create an original similar sound.    

   Led Zeppelin would go on to influence bands and inspire generations on the way to music immortality. Groups such as AC/DC and other hard rock bands emerged shortly thereafter.

   It is rare for one day to influence more than one segment of society. The NFL, the world of music, and life in general are better for the happenings of January 12th, 1969.

   It was quite a day!    


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