I’m going to have more thoughts on PostTV’s fabulous 18-minute retrospective on the Duke-Maryland rivalry, but this one section really deserves its own headline.
Steve Blake’s 2002 University of Maryland paper about Johnny Rockets has been infamous for years and years. A George Washington basketball blog posted about it in 2007. Duke message board posters were still writing about it in 2008, a half-decade after Blake had left College Park. The essay reached peak exposure when Deadspin posted it in 2010, nearly a decade after Blake had purportedly written it. Plus, it’s a pretty great piece of work. Read it here. One excerpt:
One of the main reasons why I like eating here so much is because of the upbeat atmosphere. With the friendly service of the waiters and waitresses and the singing and dancing they sometimes do makes this place just as fun as hanging out with your friends. This is a great place because it is the only one of its kind. I have yet to eat in another place like it. This restaurant takes us back to the 40’s and 50’s and reminds us how much fun they had back then. Johnny Rockets is like a time machine, it takes us back in time to see what it was like in the past. When you eat there, you realize how much fun you could have had if you lived back then. I think for an older person it helps them to remember what great times they had when they were younger. All age groups go and eat at this restaurant because it brings out the happiness in everyone. By having a restaurant like this, I think it shows how we haven’t forgotten about what has happened back in the 40’s and 50’s.
Now, as much as this essay has been entrenched in Internet lore, I can’t remember ever hearing Blake discuss it. But he brought it up — or at least, he brought up an online paper of his that was embraced by Duke fans — in the PostTV documentary, when he was asked about the crowds at Cameron.
“I had a class at Maryland where I had to post one of my papers [online],” Blake said. “And this kid found it online somehow, and he read my paper to me the whole pregame. Probably wasn’t a very good paper, either. So it was creative. And I give that guy a lot of credit.”
Now, Blake never exactly specified that this was the Johnny Rockets paper. But based on the sheer love Duke fans have for this paper, and the fact that Duke fans submitted the paper to Deadspin, and the fact that it’s Blake’s only online paper I’ve ever heard about, I think there’s a pretty good chance.
For the record, Gary Williams also discussed the Cameron chants in the movie.
“They would give me the Gary Sweat, Sweat Gary Sweat chant,” he recalled. “But I thought Duke [would be] a little more creative than that after a while. You know, that’s all they had.”