If you're standing up, sit down. If you're watching television or listening to radio, turn them off. If you're drinking coffee, finish up, then put the cup away.
I want your complete attention on this one.
Because I am going to tell you about a brand new sporting event that is so big, so bold, so wide in scope, so cosmically significant, that it will change your life!
It's coming! The event we've all been breathlessly anticipating!
The Jim Brown-Franco Harris head-to-head, toe-to-toe, belly-to-belly "Just Call Me Macho Man" competition, is set for Super Bowl weekend at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City!
Rock bottom! They've got 'em!
Can you stand it?
I haven't been this excited about a sports event since Evel Knievel tried to blast over the Snake River Canyon!
On Jan. 18, live in the Royal Swan Ballroom of (as we insiders call it) the Trop, Brown and Harris will culminate their four-event duel with a 40-yard dash on a track set up smack in the middle of a fake football field!
What drama! What tension! ("What light from yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun." I like to throw a little Shakespeare into columns that are cosmically significant. Shakespeare and many exclamation points!!!!)
This is some kind of competition, huh?
And you wondered where the great, new sports ideas would come from.
Needless to say, this will be on TV. And Brown and Harris will share from a pot worth, according to the Tropicana's head of public relations, Glenn Lillie, "$100,000 in cash and promotional considerations."
You don't think Jim Brown and Franco Harris would settle this in some alley for nothing, do you?
Not as long as there are bozos out there with a checkbook.
To all you skeptics, Lillie says, "We're talking about a very real event."
Because, says Lillie, "There's bad blood between these two."
And because, says Lillie, "There's pride involved."
(Sounds like pro wrestling, doesn't it? Do you think Brown will call Harris "a pencil-necked geek"? Where's Capt. Lou Albano when you really need him?)
It's not often that two great competitors like this square off in a 40-yard dash. (Come to think of it, it's not often that two great competitors like this square off in a quilting bee, either.) I hope the Royal Swan Ballroom can handle it. These 220-pounders can be brutal on plush carpeting.
Now, here's Lillie with a little background on this monumental event: "The idea for the concept was conceived as a result of the confrontation between Jim Brown, Franco Harris and Walter Payton on a 'Donahue' Show last year."
(Phil, sweetheart, baby, you're the greatest. The check's in the mail.)
"At the time Harris and Payton were challenging Brown's NFL rushing record and Brown was saying some disparaging things about Harris, to the effect that Franco didn't deserve the record because he had a penchant for running out of bounds. Brown said that even then, at 47 years old, he could do anything that Franco could -- on or off the field. And he threatened to come out of retirement, if he could beat Franco in the 40-yard dash.
"So Bob Parkinson and Andy Friendly, who are producing this show, decided they might have something here. They thought up the idea for a television show, tentatively titled 'I Challenge You,' which they hope to make into a series."
Is this a great country, or what?
Now, here's some background on the production team: Parkinson and Friendly have already given us some high quality tube-ola: They are responsible (I trust that's the right word) for the recent update of "This Is Your Life." You may also be familiar with some of Parkinson's other contributions to educational television, such as "The Miss Universe Pageant," "The Miss USA Pageant" and "Circus of the Stars."
(Channel 26 for this guy? No way.)
With credits like that you can see why I feel quite comfortable believing Lillie's assertion that the Jim Brown-Franco Harris Go for the Gusto You Hairy Gladiators You show "isn't a Hollywood slick event."
I see it more as a microcosmic statement on the nature of the competitive ethic in western society. And I'm confident they'll present it in an elegantly understated and tasteful manner, which is to say that the casino showgirls who clock them in the 40 won't be completely naked.
By the way, don't bother driving up to the Tropicana to see Jim and Franco make their mad dash. It's for invited guests only.
When you have history in the making like this, you just can't be too careful about who you let in. The wrong element might sully the nobility of the concept.
"Of course, the media will be there," Lillie said. "We're hoping for a lot of them."
(Of course. How silly of me.)
In case you're wondering why I haven't listed the other three events Brown and Harris will compete in, it's because I don't know them.
No one does.
They won't be "officially announced" until the first week in January.
I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest three:
For dexterity: The two-handed ego massage.
For endurance: The let's take the money and two-mile run.
For strength: The one-handed pull the wool over the public's eyes.
I'll bet there are some of you out there who think you know why two great, heroic athletes like Jim Brown and Franco Harris would willingly play the geek in a sideshow like this. You think they're doing it for the $100,000 in cash and promotional considerations.
Shame on you.
It's for pride.